The 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the books. With 259 selections made, the league’s teams will soon begin to figure out how to fit all of these puzzle pieces together.
Obviously, it will take some time to figure out how well or how poorly each franchise has done. But that doesn’t stop us from weighing how things look, at least on paper.
Here’s a rundown of the biggest winners and losers in this year’s draft.
GM Howie Roseman appears to have delivered again, quality pick after pick. Roseman devoted most of his team’s draft resources to rebuilding a defense that lost several key contributors in free agency. Georgia teammates Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith should help anchor a formidable defensive front while another Bulldog (Kelee Ringo) and Illinois product Sydney Brown should help advance a revamped secondary. And on top of that, he traded for D’Andre Swift on the cheap to help improve the depth of the rushing attack.
Grading the trade: Eagles send picks to Lions, buy low on explosive RB D’Andre Swift
John Schneider and Pete Carroll continue to position their team for success (and cash in on the Russell Wilson trade last offseason) with a deep draft class featuring 10 selections led by cornerback Devon Witherspoon and wide receiver who is Jaxon Smith-Njigba. From there, the Seahawks added a collection of players who would initially bolster depth and eventually become key contributors on both sides of the ball.
Successful teams understand the importance of winning in the trenches. The Steelers first added a talented offensive tackle in Broderick Jones, and then drafted one of the best blocking tight ends available in Darnell Washington, both of whom will help make Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris more successful. They also acquired pieces to upgrade their defensive front, such as interior lineman Keeanu Benton and edge rusher Nick Herbig.
Not only did the Texans get their franchise quarterback in CJ Stroud, who is considered the best pocket passer in the draft, but they also added a potential face of their defense in Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. Wide receiver Nathaniel Dell should blossom into a key red-zone threat.
QB run rolling in 2023 NFL Draft, most picked at the end of Round 5 since 1995
The Cardinals did a lot to help themselves this year, getting a Day 1 starter in offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and eight other prospects to improve depth on both sides of the ball. But they also made sure they had plenty of draft assets to continue building next offseason (two firsts, a second, three third-rounders, two fourth-rounders, two fifths and a seventh). That’s huge after ineffective drafts in recent years.
The mission is clear: upgrade the defense to make life easier for Joe Burrow and harder for Patrick Mahomes. Pass-rusher Myles Murphy, cornerback DJ Turner and safety Jordan Battle should help make it happen.
Mortgaging the future for Deshaun Watson means the Browns have fewer resources to significantly upgrade their roster through the draft. Could their top pick, third-rounder Cedric Tillman, be a threat? Are the rest of the mid-to late-round picks (including UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson) more than just depth acquisitions?
2023 NFL Draft by the numbers
They had to find support for Dak Prescott and did so to a degree, adding a much-needed tight end in Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker. But Dallas also needed offensive linemen and didn’t pick one until the fifth round. The Cowboys needed strong talent at wide receiver and didn’t take one until the seventh round.
After trading down twice in the first round, they made a need pick in Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison, although there are better players at other positions available. They went on to make some head-scratcher picks, like linebacker Ventrell Miller and running back Tank Bigsby.
Dolphins in Miami
A first-round pick sure would be nice to help Mike McDaniel’s squad take another step forward. But dealing with Tom Brady made the Dolphins, with just four picks and none before No. 51, big loss in this year’s draft.
They entered this draft with a somewhat shaky quarterback picture and refused to address it, even though Hendon Hooker and Will Levis were both available on Day 2. First-round pick Emmanuel Forbes is a ball hawk, but there are durability concerns about the thin DB , and there are better and better rounded cornerbacks available at No. as well. 16.
(Photo of Jalen Carter and Roger Goodell: David Eulitt / Getty Images)