The NFL Draft 2023 First Round started as I expected with Young and Stroud going first and second overall. After that, things got wonky.Embed from Getty Images
I don’t think anyone outside of ESPN’s broadcast was all that shocked Bryce Young to Carolina and C.J. Stroud to Houston went first and second overall respectively in the first round of 2023 NFL draft. But then the Houston Texans destroyed every ones mock draft by trading up to make the first back-to-back top-5 picks since 2012. As much as I love Will Anderson Jr. I don’t like any quarterback not named Bryce Young or Hendon Hooker.
The second move that made pretty much every draft “expert” burn all five million mocks they did over the last 12 months was the Indianapolis Colts taking former Florida QB Anthony Richardson at fourth overall. This was the start of the 2 of the biggest draft falls we have seen in recent memory. Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Kentucky QB Will Levis are still on the board after 31 picks have been made (Miami was penalized their first-round pick due to tampering charges).Embed from Getty Images
The biggest steals of the first-round both belong to the Philadelphia Eagles who took “you can never have too many pass-rushers” as a team building etho. A season after they totaled more than 70 sacks, Philly went out and got the two most gifted pass rushers at their respective positions, and yet again they tapped into the Coach Smart defensive assembly line with DT Jalen Carter at ninth-overall and edge-rusher Nolan Smith at 30th overall. This adds to the two Bulldogs they took a year ago in DT Jordan Davis and MLB Nakobe Dean. This Eagles defense is going to be an absolute blur, they have to have the most physical freaks per square inch of turf in the NFL.
I know running-backs probably hate me, I do truly love them and believe a good one is a vital member of every team. I also understand they are not the essential force of nature necessary to win a championship in the modern NFL. The last time the NFL’s leading rusher also hoisted the Lombardi was when Broncos Country’s own Terrell Davis did it with Denver in 1998. The last running back to do it more than once was Emmitt Smith with the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the early 1990’s when he did it three times. Yet we saw the Atlanta Falcons take Texas RB Bijan Robinson at eighth overall and the Detroit Lions took Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs at 12th-overall. I do believe both of these players will be extremely productive in the NFL, But, Atlanta has many more issues than filling a hole that could be capably filled in almost any round. Arthur Smith should know more than any that an elite running back means very little when it come to winning a super bowl after spending most of his time as an NFL coach with Derrick Henry as his bell cow. Henry has almost as many rushing crowns (two) as playoff wins (three). and zero championship rings.Embed from Getty Images
Quarterbacks matter more than any other position, it’s not a dig at any other part of the depth chart, it’s just what it is. Which is why we saw 3 of the top four picks spent on the position. Yet it seems more and more like teams are getting more critical at evaluating the position overall. Despite my doubts about Stroud and Richardson, I understand their respective teams falling in love with their traits. We saw a year ago the only QB to go in the first was Pittsburgh Steelers current starter Kenny Pickett. This year tantalizing talent Will Levis and injury related penalty Hendon Hooker have fallen to at least the second round.
But the biggest fall I do not understand is that of Penn State CB and NFL lineage holding Joey Porter Jr. Porter is an extremely long corner with superb athleticism.
You can view his relative athletic score (RAS) courtesy of @Mathbomb below.
That 9.35 out of 10 score comes with a 6’2.5″ 193 LB frame. Porter Jr. has 34 inch arms, that gives him longer arms than Julio Jones. He has plenty of speed with a 4.46 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine, and explosiveness with a a 10’9″ broad jump. The only reason I can see why he could plummet like this is the fact he only has one interception in his college career. He could also serve to be a bit more physical in the run game. But all this feels like nit-picking on a top-notch athlete with unteachable traits at a premium position that he face some of the best talent in the country on a weekly basis. He more than held his own against recent first-round picks in Chris Olave, Jackson Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson, etc.
Whoever gets Porter Jr. is going to get a blue-chip prospect with an extra chip on their shoulder. I have heard nothing credible when it comes to anything negative about Porter Jr. so his slide is extremely perplexing. He’s no slouch in ball skills as he led the Big-10 with 11 passes defensed and played a lot of press coverage which is not conducive to racking up INTs, ask Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. how that works.Embed from Getty Images
This along with the landing spots of QB’s Will Levis and Hendon Hooker will make for a most entertaining day two of the NFL Draft 2023 version. See you back here after for my second and third round reactions.
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