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12 thoughts about the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft

A collection of FTR thoughts that weren’t turned into their own articles ...

Well, the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is all done and, WOW!

What a first round it was.

The Carolina Panthers did what everyone knew they would do with the first overall pick in the draft.

Nick Caserio loudly proclaimed, “These aren’t your father’s Houston Texans!”

The Seattle Seahawks took a cornerback at No. 5, which is 85 picks higher than John Schneider and Pete Carroll had ever selected one (buh-bye to that narrative).

And that was just the first hour of the draft.

Things got wilder from there.

Thought No. 1

This year’s draft is being held at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.

A few months back, the hometown team won the Super Bowl.

I’ve sort of hated that for the past few months.

And yet . . .

It was a whole lot of fun.

Especially, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but . . .

Especially when Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce walked onto the stage with the Lombardi trophy and did the SUPER BOWL FLEX.

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Yeah, they earned it.

And, yeah, it was a really fun moment!

Note: The last time the NFL Draft was held in the reigning Champions’ home town was 2012, when the draft was held at Radio City Music Hall after the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

As I recall, 2012 was a pretty good draft for the Seahawks. Perhaps this year’s draft will be remembered just as fondly.

Thought No. 2

The Texans power move at the top of the draft was HOT!

They might have given up a hair too much, but kudos to them for having the gumption to make a baller move that clearly tells their fan base that they expect to compete in the AFC South NOW!

Here are the terms of the trade that netted them the pick they used to select Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. one pick after they used their native R1 to select Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud:

Here’s to hoping the Texans represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season so our NFC West rivals get the worst-possible picks from them in next year’s draft.

Thought No. 3

Eff the Colts.

So mad.

But . . . I have a feeling that our pick at No. 5 would have been the same even if Anthony Richardson had been available.

Pete clearly fell head-over-heels in love with Devon Witherspoon prior to the draft.

Thought No. 4

Speaking of Witherspoon (which we’ll be doing for a very long time) . . .

Here are some numbers from his PFF profile:

  • 92.0 Overall grade
  • 92.5 Coverage grade
  • 18 forced incompletions in 2022 (tied for 2nd nationwide)
  • 35.5% completion rate (22 of 62)
  • 25.3 passer rating allowed
  • 0 TDs allowed
  • 3 INTs

Also from PFF’s profile:

Witherspoon had one of the best seasons we’ve ever graded from a college cornerback. He was targeted 63 times in 2022 and allowed only 22 catches for 206 yards with three picks and 14 pass breakups. That comes out to 3.3 yards per target. He’s one of the feistiest cornerbacks in the class.

First Round Grade: Witherspoon may not have an elite physical skill set for the position, but his senior-year tape was as good as we’ve seen in our nine years of college grading.

Where he wins: Processing speed: You want 11 defenders that see the game the way Witherspoon does. With 2,334 snaps to his name, Witherspoon has seen it all, and it shows on tape. Expect him to get his hands on a ton of footballs in the league.

What’s his role? Island No. 1 CB: Witherspoon has the kind of reliable man coverage skillset that enables him to play on an island consistently. Due to his ball production, you may think he’s a boom-or-bust type of cornerback, but he’s not that by any means.

Where he can improve: Penalties: This is a very minor gripe, but I could see Witherspoon’s play style leading to a lot of illegal contact penalties in the league. He already accumulated six penalties in 2022 and five in 2021.

Last, but not least (also from PFF):

(Witherspoon) finished top-five in the country in completion percentage allowed, forced incompletions, passer rating allowed when targeted and yards allowed per coverage snap. And he did that while playing more man coverage than any other cornerback in this class.

Thought No. 5

After all the debate about positional value, the top running back in this year’s class went No. 8 overall . . . to the team that I expected would take him.

As I wrote in my fifth (and final) mock draft:

R1.08: RB Bijan Robinson (ATL)

The Falcons give their 2nd-year QB (Desmond Ridder) the most dynamic player in the draft, adding serious firepower to a young arsenal that includes RB Tyler Allgeier (210-1,035-3), WR Drake London (72-866-4), and TE Kyle Pitts (68-1,026-1 in 2021).

Patting myself on the back?

Maybe a little bit.

Really though, I’m just pointing out that the Atlanta Falcons have a very good, very young offensive core.

  • QB Desmond Ridder: 2022 R3.74, entering age-24 season
  • RB: Bijan Robinson: 2023 R1.08, age-21 season
  • RB Tyler Allgeier: 2022 R5.151, age-23 season
  • WR Drake London: 2022 R1.08, age-22 season
  • TE Kyle Pitts: 2021 R1.04, age-23 season

Thought No. 6

In addition to Bijan Robinson being selected at No. 8, a second running back was selected EARLY on Day One.

Personally, I think the Detroit Lions effed up by selecting Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12, even though he was RB2 on probably every Big Board in existence and a player that I would have loved to see the Seahawks pick . . .

On Day Two.

And therein lies the problem.

The Lions selected Gibbs way too early.

Still, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that two running backs were selected within the first twelve picks of the 2023 NFL Draft.

When I first started writing this thought, I was sure it was going to have been at least a decade since two RBs went as early as Robinson and Gibbs went this year.

Turns out I was wrong.

Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were selected at No. 4 and No. 8, respectively, in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Hopefully the combo of Robinson and Gibbs are at least as good as Fournette and McCaffrey have been thus far.

Note: Fournette has played in 79 games (61 starts) and has 1,132 carries for 4,478 yards and 34 TDs, plus 312 receptions for 2,219 yards and 7 TDs.

McCaffrey has played in 75 games (68 starts) with 1,025 carries for 4,726 yards and 38 TDs, plus 442 receptions for 3,756 yards and 22 TDs.

Thought No. 7

Raise your hand if you thought Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald IV (R1.15) would be selected before Kentucky QB Will Levis.

And not just before Levis, but at least half a round before Levis.

According to the ESPN Draft Day Predictor tool, Levis had less than a 0.1% chance of being available on Day Two.


Not everything can be predicted with an algorithm.

Thought No. 8

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey at No. 19.

Admittedly, I was sort of hoping Kancey would be on the board at No. 20.

But I love, love, LOVE the pick we made at No. 20 so . . .

All good.

Thought No. 9

Speaking of the No. 20 pick, here’s a thought-provoking tweet from ESPN’s Brady Henderson:

Have I mentioned that I love, love, LOVE the JSN pick?

Well, I DO!

Thought No. 10

Shout out to Tyler Jorgensen for coining a phrase that I may use 1,000 times over the next couple years . . .

From the Comments section of the ‘NFL Draft picks 2023: Seahawks select Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20’ article:

WR1C . . . yeah, I like that.

  • WR1A: DK Metcalf
  • WR1B: Tyler Lockett
  • WR1C: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Opposing defenses are going to hate us this year - especially if Geno Smith is hitting on 70+ percent of his passes.

Thought No. 11

The first round trades were interesting.

Trades No. 1 and No. 2:

I already touched on the trade the Texans made with the Cardinals to move from No. 12 to No. 3 (Thought No. 2).

After moving down from No. 3 to No. 12, the Cardinals moved back up to No. 6.

Here’s what those two moves look like when combined:

  • Arizona gets No. 6 (OT Paris Johnson Jr.), No. 33 (R2), No. 81 (R3), plus Houston’s R1 + R3 in 2024
  • Detroit gets No. 12 (RB Jahmyr Gibbs), No. 34 (R2), and No. 168 (R5)
  • Houston gets No. 3 (EDGE Will Anderson Jr.) and No. 105 (R4)

Trade No. 3:

I’m not sure why, but the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 10) and Chicago Bears (No. 9) swapped spots. It cost the Eagles a 2024 fourth-round pick.

At No. 9, the Eagles selected Georgia DT Jalen Carter, and at No. 10, the Bears selected Tennessee OT Darnell Wright.

Trade No. 4:

The New England Patriots moved back from No. 14 to No. 17 in a swap with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots added pick No. 120 (R4) as a result.

For the Steelers, the move was made to get in front of the New York Jets (No. 15) to select Georgia OT Broderick Jones.

The Patriots used No. 17 on Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez.

Trades No. 5 and No. 6:

The Jacksonville Jaguars made back-to-back trades, first sliding back one spot (from No. 24 to No. 25), and then sliding back two spots (from No. 25 to No. 27).

Combined, those two trades look like this:

  • The Bills get No. 25 (TE Dalton Kincaid)
  • The Jaguars get No. 27 (OT Anton Harrison), No. 130 (R4), and No. 160 (R5)
  • The Giants get No. 24 (CB Deonte Banks)


Teams moving up one spot always boggles my mind. And it happened twice.

The Jaguars using two trades to move back a total of three spots was fun.

The Cardinals adding an R1 and R3 next year is no bueno.

Pretty wild day, trades-wise.

Thought No. 12

Excluding our picks (Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba) . . .

And excluding the two players I was most obsessed with in this year’s draft (Anthony Richardson and Bijan Robinson) . . .

My favorite pick on Day One was either the Houston Texans selecting Will Anderson Jr. at No. 3 -OR- the Philadelphia Eagles selecting EDGE Nolan Smith at No. 30.

I like the Anderson pick because it took a super aggressive move by Nick Caserio that NO ONE saw coming for the Texans to end up with back-to-back picks at No. 2 and No. 3.

The polar opposite of that move was Howie Roseman waiting ever-so-patiently at No. 30 while Nolan Smith’s inexplicable slide continued pick after pick after pick after pick, until the Eagles inevitably added him to their “Georgia North” defense.

I can only choose one though, so . . .

I’m going with the Will Anderson Jr. selection - for the reasons I mentioned above, but also because it kept Will Anderson out of our division.

Go Hawks!