Ah, the NFL Draft. It's one of my favorite events of the year across the sports calendar, right up there with the Champions League final and the Home Run Derby. Last night, 27 NFL teams made 31 first-round picks (the Dolphins forfeited their 2023 1st as part of a tampering punishment handed down by the league). This year's first round was one of the most entertaining in recent memory. We saw shocking trades, huge slides, and selections that shocked the fans that traveled to KC for the event,
Without further ado, I present to you some winners and losers from round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Things started off pretty chalk during the draft with Bryce Young and CJ Stroud going 1st and 2nd overall. Things started to get frisky when the Texans made a trade with Arizona to jump up 9 spots for the 3rd overall selection. It was the first time since 2018 that a team had 2/5 first picks and it rendered all mock drafts essentially useless from that point forward. In total, 15 of the 31 picks last night were made with a pick acquired via trade, seven of which happened during the first round.
Loser: Mel Kiper
One of Mel Kiper's two most famous moments came just before the 2010 NFL Draft when he bet his career on Jimmy Clausen being a good NFL QB (Clausen was not and Kiper did not follow through on his promise). This year, Kentucky QB Will Levis was Kiper's 4th highest rated player; Last night, you could see Kiper die a little bit inside every time that a QB-needy team passed on Levis. Levis eventually fell out of the first round entirely. It's a good thing Kiper learned a lesson about staking his entire career on a QB and won't be forced into early retirement when Levis disappoints.
Winner: Bird-dawgs (not the shorts that every guy currently getting asked "what brother do you know?" on a front porch is wearing)
The Eagles made a draft night trade to draft Jalen Carter 9th overall. Later in the first round they drafted Nolan Smith at 30th overall. Last year, Philadelphia drafted Jordan Davis in the first round and Nakobe Dean in the third round. All told, the Eagles have drafted four starters from the 2021 National Champion Georgia Bulldogs defense.
Philly is coming off a Super Bowl appearance and just added the player that many considered to be the most talented in the draft. They also added his first round teammate, to go with their two teammates that were already on the team. The Eagles bold strategy of taking the best players on defense has and will probably continue to pay dividends.
Loser: Detroit Lions fans
One of the greatest group of losers in professional sports, Lions fans were riding a high going into the draft. In January, the Lions beat the Packers at Lambeau Field to keep Green Bay out of the playoffs and end the Aaron Rodgers era. They signed a star running back, David Montgomery, from a division rival and owned two picks in the top-20 of the draft. The Lions used their picks to take Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell 18th overall. Gibbs and Campbell may end up being impact players for years for the Lions, but most analysts expected both to be available much later in the draft. Just when things seemed to be going great for Lions fans, the team had to bring them back down to Earth a little.
Loser: Me (a New York Rangers fan)