The 2023 NFL Draft has officially kicked off in Kansas City, MO, and as expected, it was an eventful first round filled with surprises, trades, and plenty of talented prospects.
The annual draft is a pivotal moment for NFL franchises, as they have the opportunity to secure top-level talent that could shape the future of their team. The first round of the draft is always the most exciting, with some of the biggest names in college football being selected.
In this article, we will recap the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, running through each of the 31 picks and analysing the impact they could have on their new teams and the league as a whole.
1. QB, Bryce Young - Carolina Panthers
Despite being considered too small to succeed as a QB for many years, Bryce Young completely dominated in his collegiate career - throwing for 80 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions in 3 seasons. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner plays well from the pocket, while showing athleticism and composure on the move.
With comparisons to Drew Brees and Doug Flutie, Young gives Carolina the opportunity to truly bolster their offense - something they've been desperately needing since the loss of Christian McCaffrey and more importantly, multiple quarterbacks.
Enjoy 105 seconds of insane Bryce Young highlights— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) April 28, 2023
2. QB, CJ Stroud - Houston Texans
Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud led the Buckeyes to consecutive 11-2 seasons with a 70% completion percentage. It was always 50/50 for Stroud going at 1 or 2, so no surprises here.
This pick was a no-brainer for a Houston team that has been lacking offensive prowess since Deshaun Watson's move to Cleveland.
3. LB Will Anderson Jr. - Houston Texans (via Arizona)
Anderson's 34.5 college sacks speak for themselves. The 243-pound edge rusher has disrupted the backfield on every single snap of collegiate career, leading the Crimson Tide defense to a dominant run across 3 seasons.
The Texans picked up Anderson after a last minute trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Houston received the No. 3 and No. 105 overall picks in exchange for the No. 12 and 33 selections. The Cardinals also received a first-rounder and third-round selection in the 2024 draft.
It may seem like a hefty price to pay for the 3rd overall pick, but Anderson is set to be an elite NFL rusher the moment he touches the NFL turf. The Texans are already looking strong after just 3 draft picks.
4. QB, Anthony Richardson - Indianapolis Colts
Richardson's combine performance is pretty much all the Colts are banking on with this pick...
The athletic QB averaged just 53% completion in Florida and has just one season as a starter on his resume. But despite the low floor, Richardson also comes with an incredibly high ceiling...
The former Gator produced the most electrifying QB combine performance in recent memory, breaking multiple records in the process - with 40.5-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-9-inch broad jump. But the most impressive stat was his 4.43 40-yard dash.
I hope for Indy's sake that Richardson can improve his football IQ, because if he does, he could easily become a league MVP within the next 5-10 years.
5. CB, Devon Witherspoon - Seattle Seahawks
WItherspoon's aggressive play-style and ball skills ranked him among the nation’s top defensive players last season. Although a corner was a surprise pick for Seattle - as they haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first round since Kelly Jennings in 2006 - Witherspoon is set to bolster a defense that has been slacking since the Legion of Boom.
Pete Carroll should be very happy with this selection.
6. OT, Paris Johnson Jr. - Arizona Cardinals (Via Detroit)
Johnson is a versatile lineman with plenty of experience playing at tackle and guard, and should provide plenty of much-needed protection for Arizona's star QB Kyler Murray.
The former Buckeye is undoubtedly the best pass-protector in the draft class, and it was a great move by the Cardinals to trade up to No. 6 and secure Johnson for the upcoming season.
7. DE, Tyree Wilson - Las Vegas Raiders
Wilson has plenty to learn to become an elite edge rusher in the NFL, but Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones should be the perfect teachers for the rookie.
The Texas Tech defensive end is widely considered a raw talent with great potential and since the Raiders have bolstered their offense with recent trades, Wilson should improve the Raiders patchy defense to help create a well-rounded side for 2023, especially if he can pick up grown men with this much ease...
TYREE WILSON PICKED UP GOODELL LETS GO pic.twitter.com/3FX64dQlzC— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) April 28, 2023
8. RB, Bijan Robinson - Atlanta Falcons
By far the most talented back in the class is Bijan Robinson, who could become one of the top running backs in the league with his first snap.
With his 6-foot and 220-pound frame along with impressive body control, Robinson possesses the ideal size to play as a running back in the NFL. Over the course of three seasons playing for the Longhorns, he logged 3,410 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.
9. DT, Jalen Carter - Philadelphia Eagles (via Chicago)
The Eagles traded their No. 10 pick and a fourth-round selection in the 2024 draft to the Bears to move up just one spot and take the best tackle on the board.
Jalen Carter was billed as the No.1 overall pick for many months until off-field controversy moved him down the rankings. Putting that aside, last-season's sack-leading team have added to their stellar defense, picking up yet another QB rusher. It's clear where Philly's priorities lie.
Plus, Carter can do much more than just rush the pass.
Can’t wait for the Jalen Carter goal-line packages on offense. pic.twitter.com/u1OMAJKnQo— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 28, 2023
10. OT, Darnell Wright - Chicago Bears
Darnell Wright is undoubtedly a gifted lineman, but despite playing tackle in college, it's likely that he'll move to guard in the NFL. He had some struggles holding off elite edge rushers but does well in smaller spaces, so should suit an interior position for the Bears line - which saw 9 different combinations of starting linemen last season.
11. OT, Peter Skoronski - Tennessee Titans
Skoronski is a 3-year starter who was a first-team All-American tackle in his final collegiate season. He should serve as a good replacement for Taylor Lewan, who will work in unison with Andre Dilard to secure the left side of the line.
12. RB, Jahmyr Gibbs - Detroit Lions (via Houston)
Now, the last time the Lions went for an RB this early in the draft, it turned out to be a future Hall of Famer, in Barry Sanders. There's no arguing that Gibbs is an elite level back who can also return kicks, and he should make a good addition to the Lion's stellar ground game.
But I can't help wondering why Detroit made this pick... With David Montgomery and Deandre Swift already in the backfield, I'm unsure why they felt the need to add a third running back who would be a starter on many other teams in the NFL.
13. DE, Lukas Van Ness - Green Bay Packers
Van Ness is up there with the elite edge rushers in his class, he has great size and speed, and is continuing to build a variety of pass-rush moves.
The Packers have one lineman coming off the back of a torn ACL, while another is closing in on 30, so Van Ness should help rejuvenate the O-line heading into the new season.
Lukas Van Ness is a great combination of current production and future upside— IKE Packers Podcast (@IKE_Packers) April 28, 2023
• Explosive twitch athleticism like the Watts
• Led the Hawkeyes in sacks (13.5 last 2 years)
• Packers viewed his profile similar to Rashan Gary coming out@lukas_vanness pic.twitter.com/GExnUFOD92
14. OT, Broderick Jones - Pittsburgh Steelers (via New England)
Jones didn't become a full-time starter for the Bulldogs until midway through the 2021 season due to the team's already stacked offensive line. However, once he had the opportunity to shine, he dominated his opponents. As a result of his impressive performances, the Steelers traded their 17th and 120th picks to the New England Patriots to move up to the 14th pick in the draft.
15. LB, Will McDonald - New York Jets
With this pick, the Jets have acquired a super-fast pass rusher who only started playing football in his junior year of high school and currently holds the record for career sacks at Iowa State. He will be joining his college teammate, Breece Hall, in New York.
16. CB, Emmanuel Forbes - Washington Commanders
With six pick-sixes to his name, Forbes holds the record for the most in college football history. Despite weighing only 166 pounds, he possesses excellent instincts and a keen ability to anticipate the ball's trajectory.
Given the abundance of talented quarterbacks in the NFC East, Ron Rivera would do well to acquire as many skilled cornerbacks as possible, and a prolific pick-six scorer is an ideal addition to the team.
17. CB, Christian Gonzalez - New England Patriots
Gonzalez is a versatile DB who possesses great size and speed. After putting up a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, Belichick has picked up an elite corner who should help improve the New England defense that hasn't been as stable in recent years. It was a surprise to see someone so talented miss out on the top ten.
Oregon DB Christian Gonzalez is headed to New England at No. 17— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 28, 2023
Patriots just upgraded their secondary 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Z742VRrYRE
18. LB, Jack Campbell - Detroit Lions
Campbell earned a first-team All Big Ten selection after logging 128 tackles, including 5.5 for losses, in his senior year in Iowa.
The crafty linebacker will be joining Alex Anzalone in the box hoping to give Detroit's defense a better chance to stop the likes of Justin Fields in their divisional matchups.
19. DT, Calijah Kancey - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Given his size of 5'11, 280, Kancey was remarkably productive for Pitt, Tampa Bay will be hoping this can translate to the big league.
Vita Vea's production has already bolstered the Bucs defense, which could be the perfect person for Kancey to learn from.
20. WR, Jaxon Smith-Njigba - Seattle Seahawks
Following Geno Smith's breakout season, he earned a shiny new contract extension which was certainly deserving of some more talent in the receiving core.
Smith-Njigba emerged as an outstanding slot receiver last season, despite facing injury setbacks. He'll be joining DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to create what could be the best receiving trio in the league next year. Pete Carroll will just have to hope Geno Smith can keep up his productivity.
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba is headed to the Seahawks at No. 20— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 28, 2023
DK Metcalf X JSN 😈 pic.twitter.com/qhfcR98UXW
21. WR, Quentin Johnston - Los Angeles Chargers
Ignoring the fact that he was locked down in the national championship game, Johnston played a significant role in TCU's offensive success and has been named a first-team All-Big 12 selection for two consecutive years.
Given the Chargers passed on Jordan Addison, they'll have to hope Johnston out-performs him in the NFL.
22. WR, Zay Flowers - Baltimore Ravens
Zay Flowers left Boston College as their career leader in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. Lamar Jackson just became the highest paid NFL player of all time with his recent contract and now has another addition to his arsenal of weapons, on top of Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor.
23. WR, Jordan Addison - Minnesota Vikings
After spending two seasons at Pitt, Addison transferred to USC for his final season, where he was honoured with the 2021 Biletnikoff Award.
Addison will not only be a great source of production in himself, but will also help draw defenders away from Justin Jefferson who was by far the best receiver in the league last year.
24. CB, Deonte Banks - New York Giants (via Jacksonville)
Banks is a sturdy cornerback with a strong presence defending the run. Despite sitting out 11 games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury, his potential is undeniable.
In a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Giants gave up picks 25, 160, and 240 to move up one spot and select him. The Giants struggled with interceptions last season, but with Banks and Adoree' Jackson as bookends, things are set to change.
25. TE, Dalton Kincaid - Buffalo Bills (via Jacksonville)
Dalton Kincaid is perhaps the best pass catcher in the entire draft class, including wide receivers.
Following an injury to fellow Utah tight end Brant Kuithe last season, Kincaid was given the opportunity to prove himself and he did not waste a single snap - recording 35 touchdowns in his career.
In a trade with the Jaguars, the Bills gave up their Nos. 27 and 130 picks to move up two spots. By doing so, the Bills were able to surpass Dallas and select the first tight end in the draft. This pick presents a learning opportunity for the rookie with Dawson Knox already in the lineup.
26. DT, Mazi Smith - Dallas Cowboys
Smith, who was named Michigan's defensive player of the year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection, possesses an extraordinary combination of agility and speed for someone weighing 337 pounds.
Although the Cowboys originally had their sights set on a tight end, the Bills beat them to the punch. However, given Dallas' struggles in defending against the run last season, Smith's addition should be a significant help to their defensive efforts.
27. OT, Anton Harrison - Jacksonville Jaguars
Having shed approximately 20 pounds since his first year, Harrison now weighs around 315 pounds and displays impressive agility, making him a viable candidate for the tackle position. In light of Cam Robinson's imminent multi-game suspension, the Jaguars had to divert their focus to bolstering their offensive line, so this pick made perfect sense.
28. DE, Myles Murphy - Cincinnati Bengals
As a freshman All-American, Murphy showcased his potential and eventually became a full-time starter during his junior year. Despite recording just 17½ career sacks, it's clear that Murphy has the ability to be a challenging threat when rushing from the edge.
In light of the Bengals' desire for a more impactful pass rush, Murphy's proven ability to lead Clemson in sacks twice and overpower blockers makes him a promising addition to the team.
29. DT, Bryan Bresee - New Orleans Saints
Bryan Bresee displayed great versatility by lining up at various positions across the defensive front during his time at Clemson, despite dealing with multiple injuries and illnesses throughout his college career.
The Saints are in need of bolstering their interior line in order to better defend against the ground-game in a run-heavy division.
30. LB, Nolan Smith - Philadelphia Eagles
By far the biggest steal in the draft, is Nolan Smith at pick 30.
He was a member of a highly talented defensive line and managed to amass 12½ sacks throughout his career. Unfortunately, his senior year was abbreviated due to a torn pectoral muscle. In any case, it was widely acknowledged that Smith would be one of the most productive NFL linemen in the coming years.
There was plenty of talk that the Eagles might choose Smith at the 10th pick, making his selection at this point an absolute bargain. Philly now have 2 elite Florida rushers in the first round, with Smith and Carter - we can look forward to more of this next season...
Jalen Carter stunt outside with Nolan Smith worked to perfection. With Jordan Davis blowing up the play.— Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeeg_) April 28, 2023
Now these guys are all on the same team. pic.twitter.com/pAFkoiXncl
31. DE, Felix Anudike-Uzomah - Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas State edge rusher is a fierce lineman who has a knack for forcing strip-sacks. The only worry is that he may not be as proficient against the run.
Given the high calibre of quarterbacks in their division, the Chiefs are constantly seeking ways to improve their pass rush and Anudike-Uzomah could be a great option.