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2023 NFL Draft - Round 1

By John Toth


The first round of the NFL Draft has come and gone and, as usual, there were some picks that made you scratch your head, players still on the board who you didn’t expect, and several first round trades.


Oregon cornerback, Christian Gonzalez, shockingly lasted until pick #17 as the Patriots took Gonzalez after trading down with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In hindsight, the Patriots killed two birds with one stone by knowing Pittsburgh wanted tackle, Broderick Jones, out of Georgia and with the trade they stopped the Jets, their division rivals, from getting him. It was easy to see Belichick making this deal. The cherry on the top for New England was still being able to select one of the best cornerbacks in the draft.


On the other side of the coin, Will Levis was this year’s winner of the “green room survivor” game. I guarantee this is one time Levis did not want to win as he went all night without hearing his name called. Most mock drafts saw Levis go in the top 5-10 and be the third or fourth quarterback off the board. Levis should hear his name early today and with Pittsburgh with the first pick of night two, may benefit with teams wanting to trade up.


Here is a recap of Round 1 and what the team at Draft 412 thinks about each of the first

night’s moves:


1) Carolina- QB-Bryce Young-Alabama


After moving two first round picks, two second round picks and WR, D.J. Moore to make this selection, they better be right. Since 2000, 368 quarterbacks have started in the NFL, and only 9 have been under 6’0” tall. We would have taken Stroud over Young.


Grade (C)


2) Houston- QB- C.J. Stroud- Ohio St.


Any time you pick second, take the same position as the team who picked first, and get the better player, it is a win. C.J. Stroud is the safest bet at QB in this class. We will take 6’3” over 5’10” every time. Pinpoint accuracy the Texans' fans will love.


Grade (B+)


3) Houston- Edge- Will Anderson Jr.- Alabama


The Texans make a deal with Arizona, acquiring pick #3 and #105 for #12, #33, a 2024 first and third round pick as well. It was a lot to give up, but DeMeco Ryans gets his Alabama linebacker he wanted.


Grade (A+)


4) Indianapolis- QB- Anthony Richardson- Florida


Anthony Richardson became a household name in Indianapolis during the combine in March. So much so that the Indianapolis Colts took him at #4. This pick and its grade will have to be a work in progress. Richardson is not ready to run an NFL team in 2023 and will need to sit behind Minshew or Foles, wanting to improve on his 53% completion rate at Florida last year. Draft 412 would have felt safer with Will Levis here. Richardson has a high ceiling but the lowest of floors.


Grade (C)


5) Seattle- CB- Devon Witherspoon- Illinois


Thought this may be where DT Jalen Carter would go. Witherspoon could easily be the best CB in the draft, though I believe it is Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez. Either way, Seattle needed a CB and got a good one.


Grade (B)


6) Arizona- T- Paris Johnson Jr.- Ohio State


The Cardinals make their 2nd trade in the early going, trading picks #12 and #34 to Detroit to move up to #6 to take T-Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State. Draft 412 has no problem with this pick at all and obtaining the extra picks earlier from the Texans made this deal feasible. Johnson should be a long-term fix on the left side of the Cardinals' offensive line.


Grade (B)


7) Las Vegas- Edge/DE- Tyree Wilson- Texas Tech


Tyree Wilson was a rising player during the mock draft season. The Raiders get great value at #7 and one of the best pure pass rushers in the class.


Grade (B)


8) Atlanta- RB- Bijan Robinson- Texas


During this pick, we thought Atlanta could go several ways—DT-Jalen Carter, QB-Will Levis or RB-Bijan Robinson. They chose Robinson who is far and away the best RB in this class. With WR-Drake London and TE-Kyle Pitts, QB-Desmond Ridder will have another weapon at his disposal.


Grade (B-)


9) Philadelphia- DT- Jalen Carter- Georgia


The Eagles traded a 4th round pick to move up one spot. Usually, I would not condone this, but in this case, the Eagles wanted to grab Carter before somebody tried to do the same thing. Jalen Carter could very well be the best NFL player to come out of this class. As my cohort, Joe 412, said, “The Eagles are becoming Georgia North.”


Grade (A+)


10) Chicago- T- Darnell Wright- Tennessee


Adding a 4th round pick to move down one spot, the Bears were able to still obtain the man they wanted. Wright struggled at LT his first 3 years at Tennessee but had an amazing senior year at RT. If Chicago gets what Darnell Wright brought in 2022, they may have a future pro bowler. Great footwork should be athletic enough to protect a Justin Fields offense.


Grade (B-)


11) Tennessee- T- Peter Skoronski- Northwestern


After releasing Taylor Lewan this off-season, the Titans were left with a decimated offensive line. I thought this could be a Will Levis pick (Tannehill and Willis are their only options in Nashville), but I can’t fight what many think is the best OT prospect in the draft.


Grade (B+)


12) Detroit- RB- Jahmyr Gibbs- Alabama


With bigger needs on the table, specifically at CB, I felt that this was a reach. With pick #6 (before trading down), Detroit could have chosen Oregon CB-Christian Gonzalez and had the one of this year’s best CBs.


Grade (C-)


13) Green Bay- DE- Lukas Van Ness- Iowa


Did not see DE/Edge as a big need for the Packers who seem to refuse to add offensive weapons early in drafts. The tight ends in Packer County are terrible, and they could have had Mayer or Kincaid here. I like Van Ness, just didn’t see this as a need.


Grade (D)


14) Pittsburgh- T- Broderick Jones- Georgia


The Steelers traded picks #17 and #120 to move up 3 spots and select Jones. Draft 412

had Broderick as a top 3 tackle, and this trade and pick makes a ton of sense. With young Kenny

Pickett at the helm, the “Pickett Fence” is starting to come together.


Grade (A)


15) NY Jets- OLB- Will McDonald IV- Iowa State


The Jets got “done dirty” by the Patriots who moved pick #14 to Pittsburgh to take the

last of the blue-chip tackles in the draft. Not sure if they tried moving down, but OT-Anton

Harrison or even a pick of an interior lineman makes a lot more sense here.


Grade (C-)


16) Washington- CB- Emmanuel Forbes- Mississippi State


Not that I don’t think Forbes is a first-round talent, but with Gonzalez still on the board, I

believe they missed out on the best CB in the draft. I think Forbes can still play and have a nice

career.


Grade (C)


17) New England- CB- Christian Gonzalez- Oregon


New England got the steal of the draft and hurt a divisional foe. Gonzalez has no

weakness as a corner and is Draft 412’s clear #1 CB prospect.


Grade (A+)


18) Detroit- ILB- Jack Campbell- Iowa


I love Jack Campbell as a football player, but I believe Detroit reached for a player that could

have been secured in later rounds or by trading back. Thought this could have been Joey Porter

Jr., or possibly Deonte Banks here.


Grade (C)


19) Tampa Bay- DT- Calijah Kancey- Pitt


Tampa Bay has several needs, including QB. I thought this could be Will Levis or Hendon

Hooker but Kancey does fill a need in the middle of the defensive line.


Grade (C+)


20) Seattle- WR- Jaxon Smith-Njigba- Ohio State


With Devon Witherspoon already under wraps, Smith-Njigba checks off another big need

in Seattle. Jaxon should fit in nicely with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. This pick started a run

on WRs.


Grade (B)


21) Miami-FORFEITED


22) LA Chargers- WR- Quentin Johnson- TCU


The WRs continue to come off the board as the Chargers add our #1 ranked WR in the

draft. Johnson is tall and fast but a little raw. The Chargers and Justin Herbert will enjoy their

new toy in LA.


Grade (B+)


23) Baltimore- WR- Zay Flowers- Boston College


On the day you sign your star QB, Lamar Jackson, to record money, you go out and select

a WR with your first pick. Flowers is fast and shifty and could be used many ways in the Ravens

offense (jet sweeps, reverses, etc.).


Grade (B)


24) Minnesota- WR- Jordan Addison- USC


This was the 4th WR taken in a row. This pick wasn’t necessarily a “need” pick. I felt Minnesota could have used a DB here, either Branch or Porter would have been a nice pick. But Addison does seem to be a good match with Justin Jefferson.


Grade (B-)


25) NY Giants- CB- Deonte Banks- Maryland


The Giants traded #25, #160 and #240 to Jacksonville to move up one spot. I don’t understand losing two picks to move up a spot with a lot of CB talent still on board.


Grade (C-)


26) Buffalo- TE- Dalton Kincaid- Utah


When you are as good a team as Buffalo, you can make picks at times that are not the

biggest needs. Kincaid will stretch defenses and be yet another weapon you must worry about

when playing the Josh Allen-led Bills.


Grade (B)


27) Dallas- DT- Mazi Smith- Michigan


Though Dallas has a hole at NT, I thought this would have been a great spot for LB-

Nolan Smith to go. Could you imagine the speed and playing ability of Micah Parsons and Nolan

Smith? Not a bad pick, but not the one I would have made.


Grade (C)


28) Jacksonville- T- Anton Harrison- Oklahoma


After trading down one pick with the Giants, Jacksonville moved down again with

Buffalo, obtaining this pick plus #130. NY Jets, pay attention! The Jaguars played the game right,

they needed an OT and got themselves a nice one at the end of the round after trading down

twice and still securing more draft capital.


Grade (B+)


29) Cincinnati- DE- Myles Murphy- Clemson


The Bengals fill a need and get one of our top 15 players in the draft. The Bengals

continue to do a great job in drafting these past few years.


Grade (A)


30) New Orleans- DT- Bryan Bresee- Clemson


New Orleans goes after their biggest need and gets a solid DT who can line up anywhere

on the line. Injuries are his biggest concern, and he was listed as a late first/early 2nd round talent.


Grade (B-)


31) Philadelphia- OLB- Nolan Smith- Georgia


The Eagles put the winning touches on round one by selecting yet another Georgia

standout defensive player. Nolan Smith is fast and powerful and will add another defensive

weapon to a team that has plenty of those already.


Grade (A+)


32) Kansas City- DE- Felix Anudike-Uzomah- Kansas State


The Chiefs don’t have many weaknesses, but the one they do have is putting pressure on

the quarterback. Anudike-Uzomah will be a nice addition to the Chiefs' defense.


Grade (B)

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