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Winners and losers from Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft

Who nailed it in the first round and who didn’t?

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

Yes, I’m borrowing Mookie Alexander’s ‘Winners and Losers’ schtick to recap the opening day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

But only because it’s so awesome.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Winner: Kansas City

The host city for the 2023 NFL Draft is also the home of the reigning Super Bowl Champions and, from what we were able to see on TV, it looks like they threw a heck of a party.

Our own John P. Gilbert was on the ground at the event.

I was going to share one of his tweets, but Mookie’s response was too hilarious to not use (love the phrase “On-site Gilbert shitposts”):

Winner: The Houston Texans

For the past few weeks there have been rumors and reports that the Texans and their new GM, Nick Caserio, were going to shake up the draft by grabbing a defensive player with the No. 2 pick instead of doing the “smart” thing and grabbing a QB.

As it turns out, they took the QB at No. 2, selecting Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

They also took the draft’s first defensive player . . .

At No. 3

How did the Texans end up with back-to-back picks at the top of the draft?

A lot to pay? Maybe. But it sure did send a message: These aren’t your father’s Texans!

In the span of about 20 minutes, the Texans grabbed both C.J. Stroud and Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

That’s a baller move!

And one heck of a first round.

Winner: The Seattle Seahawks

No, they didn’t take any defensive linemen.

Yes, they passed on the most talented defensive tackle in the draft (Georgia‘s Jalen Carter).

Admittedly, their selection at No. 5 surprised a lot of people.

Not Seaside Joe.

He NAILED the Devon Witherspoon pick.

Cornerback may not have been viewed as Seattle’s biggest need, but if you want to know why the Seahawks took Devon Witherspoon at No. 5, Bob Condotta’s tweet lays it out pretty well . . .

Fifteen picks later, Seattle was on the clock again with every wide receiver and every tight end still on the board.

To the delight of many, the Seahawks selected Ohio State wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba (aka JSN).

Seattle’s newest cornerback was especially pleased with the pick.

Let’s close with this:

  • Witherspoon was the top-ranked cornerback in the draft
  • JSN was the top-ranked wideout
  • Witherspoon was No. 4 on PFF’s Big Board
  • JSN was No. 9

The Seahawks got those two players at No. 5 and No. 20, respectively.

Winner: The Philadelphia Eagles

The defending NFC Champions moved up one spot, from No. 10 to No. 9 by giving the Chicago Bears a 2024 4th-round pick.

They then used No. 9 to add DT Jalen Carter to their “Georgia North” defense.

The NFC’s best / most complete team adding the draft’s best / most-talented defensive player is a Win in and of itself.

The Eagles had a second first-round pick though, and what Howie Roseman did with that pick was truly epic.

It’s also something that I called 2-1/2 hours earlier.

At 6:22pm, I sent my son a text that read:

If they get Nolan Smith with their second R1, I’m going to laugh my ass off.

To give you an idea of how long of shot that was, Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith was the No. 13 prospect on PFF’s Big Board.

Four EDGEs who were ranked lower than Smith came off the board before him.

By the time the Eagles went on the clock at No. 30, I was already cracking up. Then the Commissioner walked to the podium and . . .

8:45pm: I am a fucking prophet.

The Eagles now have four of the defensive standouts from Georgia’s 2021 National Championship team:

  • 2021 R1.13: DT Jordan Davis
  • 2021 R3.83: LB Nakobe Dean
  • 2022 R1.09: DT Jalen Carter
  • 2022 R1.30: EDGE Nolan Smith

All of them are on rookie contracts, and three of the four will be eligible for 5th-year options. Philly. Is. STACKED.

Loser: The Detroit Lions

My second-favorite team made some very questionable decisions in the first round.

Let’s look at their night:

  • The Lions traded No. 6 and No. 81 to the Arizona Cardinals for No. 12, No, 34, and No. 168.
  • With the No. 12 pick, the Lions selected Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibb.
  • At No. 18, Detroit took Iowa LB Jack Campbell.

The trade was basically a push, but the Lions made the trade immediately after the Seahawks selected CB Devon Witherspoon at No. 5.

While there’s no concrete proof that the Lions wanted Witherspoon, or moved off of No. 6 because they didn’t get him, Witherspoon was the player mocked to the Lions most often and, according to Sports Illustrated, “many pundits believe(d) Devon Witherspoon (was) a perfect fit for (the) Detroit Lions”.

By moving back six spots, the Lions missed out on Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas RB Bijan Robinson, and Georgia DT Jalen Carter, among others.

Robinson would appear to be the one that hurt the most since the Lions reached for PFF’s 34th-best prospect (Gibbs) at No. 12.

Then, six picks later, they reached for PFF’s 39th-ranked prospect (Campbell).

The Lions could have had Bijan Robinson and Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey (for example), instead they have Gibbs and Campbell.

Don’t get me wrong, I like both players (and would have liked to see them in a Seahawks uniform), but the circumstances under which they were selected (especially Gibbs) and the picks used to select them . . .

As a Lions fan, I’m very disappointed.

I’m not the only one.

Loser: Anyone who thought they nailed their mock draft

That was one of the wilder first rounds in recent memory.

Interestingly, a lot of the mock drafts we’ve seen over the past few months nailed the first three picks, even if they got the order and the teams wrong.

  • QB Bryce Young
  • QB C.J. Stroud
  • EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

A fair number of recent mock drafts even had QB Anthony Richardson going to the Colts at No. 4.

But beyond that . . .

How many people mocked CB Devon Witherspoon to the Seahawks?

Or RB Jahmyr Gibbs to the Lions?

How about EDGE Lukas Van Ness to the Packers or CB Christian Gonzalez to the Patriots?

TE Dalton Kincaid to the Bills at No. 26?

Nolan Smith to the Eagles at No. 30?

My guess is not many.

Certainly not any of mine or any of the ones that I chose to write about during the past couple months.

Final Notes

One. I “might” have yelled the F-word louder than I’ve ever yelled a curse word in my entire life when the Indianapolis Colts’ pick at No. 4 was announced. Apologies to my girlfriend for that.

Two. Kudos to the Atlanta Falcons for being brave enough to select the draft’s BEST player with the No. 8 pick. Adding Bijan Robinson to a young offensive core that includes QB Desmond Ridder (2022 R3), RB Tyler Allgeier (2022 R5), WR Drake London (2022 R1), and TE Kyle Pitts (2021 R1) is NASTY, and the Falcons are going to be FUN to watch.

Three. Thank you to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for making sure my #1 draft nightmare didn’t happen (Calijah Kancey won’t be joining the Rams - YAY!).

Four. Pfffftttt to the Dallas Cowboys for taking a player that I hoped would be available at No. 37 (Michigan DT Mazi Smith). C’est la vie.

Go Hawks!