Who won and who lost in the 2023 NFL Draft

Howie Roseman, the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, hustles like a pool shark. Detroit Lions coach, Dan Campbell displays his tough individualism. And the Green Bay Packers, juggling a merry divorce after the Aaron Rodgers trade, swelled with new playmakers.

This year’s NFL draft provided some of the league’s most lucrative decision makers and franchises with an opportunity to really express themselves. Here are the teams that made smart moves, and some players that came up just short.

Eagles shouldn’t be able to do the things they do.

A team that won 14 games and reached the Super Bowl last season should not pick a top 10 pick in the next draft. That team shouldn’t miss the opportunity to draft both Jalen Carter, possibly the most talented player in his class, and his Georgia defensive linemate Nolan Smith, who produced surprising workout results at the scouting combine.

That team shouldn’t have been able to land four more potential starters afterward: offensive lineman Tyler Stein, a steady performer for Vanderbilt and Alabama; Illinois safety Sidney Brown, who intercepted six passes for one of the best defenses in the country in 2022; cornerback Kelly Ringo, another member of Georgia’s back-to-back national championship teams; And, via a trade, veteran running back D’Andre Swift (Georgia, again), who scored eight touchdowns last year for the Detroit Lions.

Finally, a team nursing a Super Bowl hangover shouldn’t have been able to lock down its star quarterback, Jalen Hurts, in a five-year, $255 million contract extension before the draft. Such teams are typically bound by a salary-cap, and such contracts are considered before months of melodrama.

The Eagles accomplished all of those things, thanks to Roseman’s Wolf of Broad Street wizardry. In other feats, Rosman secured the ninth overall pick the Eagles (whose stock had slumped due to his involvement in a fatal car accident) used on Carter to return to 2021 as part of a complex web of trades. ; Future balloon payments filled the bulk of Hearts’ compensation so that the Eagles could retain other core veterans; and engineered the trades that landed Ringo Pic and Swift Team as a Saturday aperitif.

Other teams may have had more work to do than the Eagles to improve their rosters in this weekend’s NFL draft. However, neither team did much else to improve their chances of winning the next year’s Super Bowl. Of course, it helps that the Eagles, thanks to their draft-weekend talent in past years, didn’t have many improvements to make.

One of the fundamental principles of football analytics is that running backs and linebackers are poor investments in the first round of the draft: there is a surplus of talent at those positions, running back careers are short and linebackers have a limited role in the pass-happy. modern nfl

The Lions, coached by Campbell, the archetypal tough guy, gave the analytics community a nuclear veggie in the first round by picking Alabama running back Jahmir Gibbs and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (no relation to Dan) in the first round. Gibbs wasn’t even the first running back selected — the Atlanta Falcons selected Texas’ Bijon Robinson eighth overall — and Jack Campbell is the type of 249-pound run-stopping sledgehammer that’s been on the verge of extinction for years.

The selection of Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta early in the second round—tight end is considered another position of low marginal value—further raised the ire of analytics nerds.

The temperature cooled when the Lions selected Alabama defensive back Brian Branch, who according to many experts was a first-round talent, with the 45th overall pick. The team selected Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker with the 68th pick. Hooker could have been a first-round pick if he wasn’t already older than many NFL starters (he turned 25 in January) and if he hadn’t torn his anterior cruciate ligament in November.

Suddenly, the Lions’ efforts look less like a fantasy draft of a drunk father-in-law and more like a master class in resource management.

A Second Order of Football Analytics emphasizes that scouting is so imprecise that obtaining an abundance of additional draft picks is a far better strategy than trading up to target a coveted prospect. The Lions received a bundle of picks from the Los Angeles Rams when they traded quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2021, and they received an additional second-round pick from the Arizona Cardinals before selecting Gibbs. As a result, they left Friday night with several potential starters and a potential franchise quarterback. He did this in an unusual order.

The 2023 draft class was filled with shifty, speedy receivers who won’t weigh 180 pounds even after a never-ending pasta bowl. It turned out that NFL teams were indifferent to such prospects.

Southern California receiver Jordan Addison, who weighed in at 173 pounds at the scouting combine, went in the first round, joining the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd overall pick. However, other receivers who had first-round prestige but weighed less than 180 pounds were forced to wait until the third round: Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee (177 pounds, Giants, 73rd overall), North Carolina’s Josh Downs (171 pounds, Indianapolis Colts, 79th overall) and Nathaniel Dale of Houston (just 165 pounds, Houston Texans, 69th overall).

Bigger but less heralded receivers like Mississippi’s Jonathan Mingo (220 pounds, Carolina Panthers, 39th overall) and Southern Methodist’s Rashee Rice (204 pounds, Kansas City Chiefs, 55th overall) heard their names called earlier than expected.

Boston College receiver Jay Flowers bulked up to 182 pounds and joined the Baltimore Ravens with the 22nd overall pick. When it comes to reaching NFL scouting benchmarks, an extra helping of troubled Hash Browns can go a long way.

Still, NFL teams are more willing to invest in sub-180 pound receivers than they once were. Three such prospects were selected in the first two rounds of the 2022 draft, but their fortunes reflect the upside and downside of drafting receivers the size of high school soccer players. The Lions’ Jamison Williams missed most of the season due to a collegiate injury and is now serving a gambling suspension. Jahan Dotson of the Washington Commanders performed brilliantly, but missed five mid-season games due to a hamstring injury. The Giants’ Van’Dale Robinson had begun to establish himself as an elusive catch-and-run threat before suffering an ACL injury.

If Hiatt and Robinson can stay healthy, the Giants will not only have a dynamic, unpredictable offense, but they’ll also save a bit on grocery bills.

Some teams draft the best available athletes. Do draft for other need. The Packers may be the first NFL team to draft Speight. After Rodgers was traded to the Jets earlier in the week, the Packers assembled a draft class that was poised to make Rodgers jealous.

The Packers added three pass catchers on Friday evening: Oregon State tight end Luke Musgraves (42nd overall), Michigan State receiver Jaden Reed (50th) and South Dakota State tight end Tucker Craft (78th). The Packers selected Musgraves, a 6-foot-6 target of the Rodgers choice type, one spot ahead of the Jets, using one of the picks Rodgers obtained in the trade.

The Packers were depleted at tight end, and they needed to rebuild their offense thanks to their new starting quarterback, Jordan Love, so of course they didn’t choose three versatile playmakers because football was the marriage of an ex-husband. I was equivalent to wearing a white dress. ,

Still, the Jets had a quiet weekend — their picks included defensive end Will McDonald IV, center Joe Tippman and offensive tackle Carter Warren, who are fine additions but not headline-grabbers — while the Packers happily picked Rodgers. Embrace the future without

After all, living well is the best revenge.