2023 NFL Draft: Homers and Headscratches from Round 1: Eagles, Seahawks shine; lions amaze

The 2023 NFL draft promised to be polarizing, as many of the 32 NFL teams agreed that there were fewer than 20 players with true first-round grades. Thursday night lived up to that bill when not one, but TWO running backs fielded not only in the first round, but also in the first 12 picks in an NFL draft in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-three. If I had said beforehand that this would happen, I would have thought it was a weird dream or hallucination after a few days without sleep.

Many teams annihilated their picks, including the first two picks that saw Bryce Young take first overall to the Carolina Panthers and CJ Stroud take second overall to the Houston Texans smoke and mirrors.

Three teams with multiple picks hit picks I liked (the Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, and Seattle Seahawks), while one (the Detroit Lions) drafted like it was the 1990s all over again. Here are five tips I liked and five I didn’t like after the opening round in Kansas City.

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choices I liked

QB CJ Stroud (No. 2 for Texans)

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That makes all the sense in the world. I had my”What Teams Should Do” mock draft came out earlier this week, and I said the Houston Texans should take CJ Stroud and not reconsider. We’ve heard some talk that it might be Will Anderson Jr. A great football player, but he doesn’t throw touchdown passes. Stroud checks all the boxes. He can even win with his legs, which he showed in the college football playoff semifinals against the Georgia Bulldogs.

He’s arguably the most accurate passer in this class, and that includes Bryce Young. He doesn’t throw with as much anticipation as Young, but Stroud also had Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. These guys were always open. I understand why there were questions about this part of his game, but from what I saw no moment was too great. You get a personal sense of the sharpness with which he plays. I think this is a great pick for the Houston Texans.

CB Devon Witherspoon (No. 5 for Seahawks)

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I love this selection. The Seahawks already had their version of 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner in their freshman yearmate Tariq Woolen, whose six interceptions were the most in the entire NFL last season. Now you’ve got someone to line up opposite Woolen at Witherspoon, who didn’t allow touchdowns as a main defender during his college season at Illinois in 2022. he is a dog Even though he’s barely six feet tall and weighs 180-185 pounds, watch him play Indiana. He blew up boys.

He can also cover and blow up guys. Witherspoon feels like a classic Pete Carroll, Seattle throwback corner from the Legion of Boom when Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were there. I had heard they were tying in on Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who finished fourth for the Indianapolis Colts. I heard they left Jalen Carter so they went to their board and picked the best available player in Witherspoon.

DT Jalen Carter and EDGE Nolan Smith (Nos. 9 and 30 for Eagles)

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If you were watching football back in the fall and knew nothing else about Jalen Carter, you’d be wondering why he was still on the board at the time. It was because of one Couple misdemeanor charges They are from a fatal car accident on January 15th. Winning fixes a lot, so you have that winning culture in Philadelphia. Plus, there are people around him, like his Georgia teammates in linebacker Nakobe Dean and defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who can keep him in check. The idea of ​​him alongside Davis on that line of defense while playing with Dean in the front seven is a scary proposition for opposing offense. Carter led consecutive national champions in quarterback pressures (66), quarterback hurries (48), and tackles for loss (15.5) for the past two seasons. Big win to add outstanding talent to an already great Eagles defense.

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Georgia Edge Rusher Nolan Smith is a generational athlete, not just as an edge rusher, but throughout the NFL athletic landscape. Smith is the heaviest player at 6-foot-2, 238 pounds with a 40-plus-inch vertical (41.5″) and a time of under 4.4-40 (4.39 seconds) at the NFL Scouting Combine, since individual numbers have been publicly tracked since 2003. The second and third heaviest of these players to have accomplished these feats of athletic dominance at the combine: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (228 pounds) and New York Jets running back Breece Hall (217 pounds). Reddick, whose 16 sacks last season tied for the second-highest spot in the NFL behind 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa with 18.5, is simply unfair.

OT Broderick Jones (No. 14 to Steelers)

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Broderick Jones’ athleticism is off the charts: He ran a 4.97 40-yard dash, the fastest of any offensive lineman at the 2023 NFL Combine, while measuring 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds. He didn’t allow sacks and gave up just eight quarterback pressures on 449 pass-blocking snaps for the 2022 national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, while showing himself to be in perfect health in all 15 games. This is about the best pick for a Steelers team desperate to improve protection for 2022 first-round pick quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Tips I Didn’t Like (Or Didn’t See Coming)

RB Jahmyr Gibbs and LB Jack Campbell (Nos. 12 and 18 for Lions)

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I’ll say this: When Rick Spielman and I were at the Alabama Pro Day watching Bryce Young, Jahmyr Gibbs caught our attention while running routes and running back drills. He looked different. I just didn’t expect him to make the top 12 based on team requirements and other prospects available.

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Pairing the 2022 Butkus Award winner, college football’s top linebacker, with Malcolm Rodriguez creates a beautiful linebacking tandem amid head coach Dan Campbell’s blue-collar defense. Campbell had the fastest three-cone drill time (6.74 seconds) and the fastest 20-yard shuttle time (4.24 seconds) of any linebacker at the 2023 NFL Combine. I just wasn’t expecting a linebacker goes in the middle of the first round and the Lions are the ones to take one.

DT Mazi Smith (No. 26 to Cowboys)

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They needed help in the middle of their line of defense. I let her take Pitt’s Calijah Kancey, who was already off the board after going 19th to the Buccaneers in my last mock draft that came out earlier Thursday. Smith is 323 pounds and a nutty athlete, but it doesn’t show from game to game. One wonders why not? Does he love soccer? Is anything else possible? How will we deal with this? Luckily, Dallas has the players around him who can focus him on football. Defensive line depth is clearly the plan at Dallas.

EDGE Tyree Wilson (No. 7 for Raiders)

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Some teams were concerned that Tyree Wilson’s foot injury was not where it was medically needed after he injured his foot in November. He didn’t practice at the Senior Bowl, but I spoke to him there. Great young man. A great year despite the injury. He led the Big 12 Conference in quarterback pressure with 50 despite missing three games. Wilson also had the highest quarterback pressure rate in the 2022 conference, 20.7%. That was 5.2% more than the next player (Collin Oliver of Oklahoma State, 15.5%) with at least 150 pass rushes. This is the difference between the 2nd best pass rusher in the Big 12 and the 31st best pass rusher in the Big 12 in terms of pressure rate.

He takes football very seriously and wanted to train at the combine but it didn’t happen. The Raiders were a team that agreed with him. He’s 6ft 6 and weighs 270 pounds, but he’s so tall he looks like he’s 220. It’s a good complement to Maxx Crosby, but if you look at second place over there and you see that cornerback Christian Gonzalez is available, you might go into the defensive backfield first.

OT Darnell Wright (#10 for Bears)

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Coming into the 2022 college football season, Wright was considered a Day 3 pick until he switched from left tackle to right tackle. Wright had no sacks and five pressures allowed in 461 pass-blocking snaps last season. He finished his career with 19 straight games without a sack, the last 13 of which came in 2022. He just got better (young players get better when you face SEC competition regularly.) At the end of the day, however, the Bears could have had Jalen Carter, the best overall prospect in that draft, in 9th place before allowing the Eagles to advance trading them for only a choice in the fourth round.

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