NFL draft winners, losers: Eagles, Texans have both picks with ace in the first round

NFL draft winners, losers: Eagles, Texans have both picks with ace in the first round

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What a wild first round the 2023 NFL draft had, both in terms of who got picked (and when) and who didn’t.

It was a big night for contenders and pretenders alike. And another banner night for Southeastern Conference forces. And as usual, quarterbacks stole the show early…but others became no-shows as the night wore on.

With just 31 picks off the board, it’s still early days – and the next six rounds can greatly change the complexion of each team’s overall haul. But Thursday provided a snapshot — a large and vivid one — of where this holistic draft assessment is headed.

Your Round 1 winners and losers:


Philly Eagles: The NFC champions appeared to further differentiate themselves from the rest of a largely monotonous conference – while continuing to build a north satellite campus for the University of Georgia – by beating Bulldogs DT Jalen Carter (No. 9) and OLB/DE Nolan Smith (No. 30) . They join ex-Dawgs DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean, who Philly picked last year. A defense that finished second overall in 2022 and overtook the NFL with 70 sacks in the regular season gets even deeper and scarier.

CJ Stroud: Coming out of this year’s scouting combine — and certainly after the Chicago Bears dealt the No. 1 — it was widely assumed that the Ohio State star was the first or second player off the board. That narrative has changed in recent weeks, with Stroud the subject of some unflattering (and unfair) press. But he was picked second overall by Houston and became the Buckeyes’ highest-draft quarterback of the joint-draft era (since 1967). And his relief and emotion were palpable when the call came.

Houston Texans: By the time the, ahem, smoke cleared, recent AFC floormats had actually enlisted their new quarterback (Stroud) as second overall before making a bold move — at a big, big cost (two first-rounders, a second and a third party). All-rounder) – to jump back up to No. 3 for Alabama OLB/DE Will Anderson Jr., who should be a defensive captain for the next decade. The Texans became the third team in the joint draft era to be selected twice in the first three slots of the first round. It may be a few more years before Houston is back in the playoffs, but this organization is on its way to relevance and likely won’t be a walkover for much longer.

Bryce Young: The first ‘Bama player to be picked first overall in the joint-draft era brings his amazing talent to a Carolina Panthers roster desperate for a quarterback and a new face to the franchise. And the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner could have this team in the playoff mix after the Panthers narrowly missed out on winning the NFC South last season.

Daniel Jeremiah’s mock draft: The NFL Network’s chief draft analyst, who also acts as a good guy, nailed it Wednesday night – predicting that Stroud and Anderson would go to Houston with the second and third picks, respectively, by predicting the Arizona trade . Anyone else have this? Feel free to pick my Powerball numbers, DJ.

Arizona Cardinals: They were the beneficiaries of trading the Anderson pick to Houston and shortly thereafter came in 6th for Ohio State LT Paris Johnson Jr., filling a huge need for a team trying to recover injured QB Kyler Murray (ACL op) to get. back to the field. It feels like the new GM Monti Ossenfort already has this rebuild way ahead of schedule.

Anthony Richardson: The supremely gifted – but woefully inexperienced – Florida quarterback finished fourth overall with the Indianapolis Colts … and new HC Shane Steichen, who was instrumental in developing Los Chargers QB Justin Herbert and budding Eagles superstar Jalen Hurts. And with Gardner Minshew in the group, Richardson doesn’t need to play right away – but if he does, he’ll spend plenty of time giving up to 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor.

Lamar Jackson: Before the draft began, the Baltimore Ravens superstar quarterback finally brokered his long-awaited contract extension and became the highest-paid player in league history (measured by average annual compensation) with a five-year, $260 million mega-deal. . He also had a new weapon a few hours later, GM Eric DeCosta getting a receiver in Round 1 for the third time in five years by picking the explosive Boston College’s Zay Flowers.

Teams needing a quarterback in 2024: The Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings have all predicted starting quarterbacks who will be free agents a year from now. But en route to Round 2, everyone has a good chance to pick a potential replacement… more on that later.

New England Patriots: They got a top-10 talent, Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez, with the 17th pick, while holding it to division rivals Jets…more on that later.

Running backs: One runner (Bijan Robinson of Texas) made it into the top 10 for the first time since Saquon Barkley, who was picked runner-up overall by the New York Giants in 2018. Two made it into the top 12, with Detroit taking Jahmyr Gibbs there for the first time since on 2017 (Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey). The 2019-2022 drafts marked the first time in the co-draft era that no RBs were listed in the top 15, a streak that has now died.

Makes five: For the first time in the joint drafting era, every first-round pick came from the quintet of major conferences based on the leagues’ current membership affiliations. Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State each had three Round 1 selections. The Crimson Tide fielded the draft’s first offensive (Young) and defensive end (Anderson), the first time a school had done so since Michigan State in 1967.


Pac-12, ACC: They’ve still kind of raised the have-nots of the Power Five, the “coastal” conferences, failing to crack the top 15…much like they’ve failed to make the to qualify for the college football playoffs. This draft was the first to limit the top 15 selection to three conferences.

Bijan Robinson: He’s a great player with 4.4 speed, sweet feet, soft hands and lots of production (more than 3,300 yards from scrimmage over the last two seasons averaging 6.7 yards per touch). But you want a defender of his caliber to join a team that’s ready to win straight away – like Buffalo or Philadelphia. Robinson will certainly have a big impact on the Atlanta Falcons offense, but how much of his performance will be consumed by what projects as an average team at best over the next few years? If Robinson is lucky, HC Arthur Smith will continue to lean heavily on Tyler Allgeier, a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie last season.

New York Jets: Everyone in America knew he needed another offensive lineman to protect newly acquired QB Aaron Rodgers — including the Pittsburgh Steelers, who called the Patriots and earned the 14th pick, skipping the Jets and the highly regarded Georgia LT Broderick Jones landed. The Jets, obviously really hit by that trade of 13th and 15th picks with the Green Bay Packers, didn’t seem to be recovering well either, taking the lean Iowa State pass rusher Will McDonald IV in place of, say, Oklahoma LT Anton Harrison. As optimistic as Wednesday was amid Rodgers’ introduction, Thursday was…not so good.

Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love: The former leader of the pack and the newcomer can’t get any offensive help yet in the first round, Green Bay opts for Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness. The more things change…

Pennsylvania: Does anyone have CB Joey Porter Jr., son of former Steelers star linebacker, dropped out of Round 1? And the Nittany Lions, amazingly, have never picked a defender in the first round.

Miami Dolphins: Their pick for the first round lapsed because owner Stephen Ross rigged Tom Brady and Sean Payton when both were signed elsewhere, Miami’s ban stood as the team didn’t reappear via trade either. The Finns went into the draft with four picks, just like they did in 2022 when they also had the fewest.

Tight Ends: The position is said to be among the deepest of the 2023 draft … but only one, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, was selected Thursday (by the Buffalo Bills). Expect Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta and others to resign from the board fairly quickly Friday. The wideouts were also suspended for much of the night, but then four were successively recruited by picks 20 through 23 for the first time since 1967.

Detroit Lions: Gibbs in 12th place? Iowa LB Jack Campbell in 18th place? Feels like both are big overdrafts – and even if you’re concerned that Gibbs might go later in the round, eh, are the Jets solid and trading for 15th?

DeAndre Hopkins: Still a cardinal … and seemingly dwindling odds that the 30-year-old Pro Bowl wideout will be escaping the desert anytime soon.

Will Levis: The former Kentucky star was widely expected to be one of at least four first-round quarterbacks and was even tied with the Colts at No. 4. But the call never came for Levis, who suffered (literally) a physically demanding 2022 season for the Wildcats ahead of a disappointing Thursday night when he looked increasingly uneasy while waiting in the Green Room. Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker also remains available, although that’s less surprising given his ongoing recovery from reconstructive knee surgery and how the 25-year-old will transition from the Vols’ gimmicky offense to the NFL.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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