We are officially one month away from the 2023 NFL Draft and roughly two weeks removed from the peak of free agency activity. And I’ve got questions, a whole lot of them, actually.
While we have a general sense of what each team’s rosters, strengths and weaknesses are, there’s still a ton of uncertainty as Draft season reaches its peak. Let’s dig into some of my biggest questions entering April.
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2023 NFL Draft Burning Questions
Who Are the Panthers Taking at No. 1?
Of course, we have to start with the Carolina Panthers, who traded pick No. 9, No. 61, their 2024 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick and D.J. Moore to Chicago for the first overall selection. With a month to go, we really have no idea who Carolina is taking. But their choice will certainly have long-lasting ramifications beyond Draft night.
Things could get really interesting if the Panthers take Anthony Richardson first overall. That could prompt a QB-needy team picking outside the top four to get aggressive and try to trade up to No. 3 overall in pursuit of either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, the consensus top two quarterback prospects in this year’s class.
Richardson is by far the most polarizing prospect in this draft class. He’s an elite athlete but really didn’t show much as a passer during his final year at Florida. I think part of that can be attributed to Florida’s offensive system. But there aren’t many people who believe Richardson is a plug-and-play starter as a rookie. Then again, new coach Frank Reich may benefit from time on his hands.
The top pick in any Draft often has lasting consequences. But this year, it feels particularly significant.
What Do the Seahawks Do at No. 5?
The Seahawks are playing with some serious house money after the Russell Wilson trade netted them the fifth-overall pick that should’ve been Denver’s. But Seattle could have a tough decision on its hands with this pick.
Without a trade-up, there’s almost a 100% chance that one of the draft’s top four quarterback prospects is still on the board when the Seahawks go on the clock at fifth overall. Seattle just gave Geno Smith a three-year contract extension worth $75 million. Do they take their potential quarterback of the future? Or do they address another area of need to help build off of last year’s playoff appearance? And does the answer change based on whether it’s Will Levis still on the board or if it’s Richardson?
I’ll be fascinated to see what Seattle does.
Speaking of House Money, What Do the Lions Do With Pick No. 6?
Like Seattle, Detroit finds itself in a unique situation with two first-round picks, the higher of which came via trade. The Lions are coming off their best season in a long time and will be a popular pick to make the playoffs in 2023. They have a talented, young roster. They have the infrastructure on offense and some pieces on defense.
But do they have the long-term answer at quarterback? Is Jared Goff, who is coming off arguably his best season, really the future? The Lions maybe don’t have to answer that question in this year’s Draft. But they may be hard-pressed to find a quarterback prospect with more upside than Richardson or Levis in future drafts. And who’s to say they’ll have a chance to pick in the top 10 down the road? In fact, Detroit would be an ideal situation for a quarterback project because Goff’s under contract through 2024.
But the opportunity cost of taking a quarterback is passing up an opportunity to bolster a defense that played well down the stretch but still has massive holes. Detroit is a couple of pieces away from breaking their playoff drought. Do they pass that up to set up a potentially brighter future under center?
Does Philadelphia Make the Ultimate Luxury Pick at No. 10?
The Eagles lost a handful of key players from last year’s NFC Championship team during NFL Free Agency, including running back Miles Sanders. The Eagles brought in Rashaad Penny and still have Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. But Penny is injury-prone, and Gainwell and Scott are more committee members than featured backs.
Could the Eagles – a team without many glaring needs – go with the ultimate luxury pick and take running back Bijan Robinson? The Texas product is highly regarded as one of the best running back prospects in recent years.
Maybe this is more fantasy than reality. But boy, oh boy, Robinson’s fantasy value would skyrocket if he wound up in Philly. And the Eagles’ offense could be nearly impossible to stop.
Will the Packers Be Picking 13th Overall, or Will the Jets?
Heck, will Aaron Rodgers even be dealt before the first night of the Draft? The more this drags on, the more I suspect the Jets are content to let this play out. Rodgers has declared he wants out. He’s declared he wants to play for the Jets. I think the Jets get a bit more leverage with each day leading up to the Draft as Green Bay’s desperation to get compensation in this year’s Draft grows.
But should the trade happen and involve the 13th overall pick, I’ll be interested to see what Green Bay does. My guess is they get some pass-catching help for new starter Jordan Love at wide receiver, and names like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston and Zay Flowers could certainly still be on the board. In this scenario, Green Bay would also have pick No. 15. Perhaps they double-dip and take a tight end like Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid. Love needs all the help he can get.
If the Jets stay at No. 13, they’re almost certainly taking the best offensive tackle available.
When Does the Fifth Quarterback Get Drafted?
A lot has been made about the top four QBs in this year’s draft, and rightfully so. But one other name to watch is Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. And I’m curious to see if a team picking toward the end of round one takes a stab at his upside.
Maybe a team like Minnesota picking 23rd overall looks for an eventual replacement for Kirk Cousins. Perhaps the Ravens use the 22nd overall pick to find a potential replacement for Lamar Jackson, who requested a trade. Or maybe a team that struck out on one of the top-four prospects trades back into round one for Hooker. It’ll be an interesting storyline to watch as day one wraps up.
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