2023 NFL Draft 5 Biggest Winners and Losers for the First Round

Andrew Morrone

Every year, all 32 NFL teams take turns picking the best college players to join their teams. The team with the worst record has the first pick and the team that won the Superbowl has the 32nd pick. Then the second round begins and the cycle starts over. However, this year the Miami Dolphins lost their first round pick for trying to trade for, at the time, New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, before his contract was up. This meant that there were only 31 first round picks this year. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers in the 2023 NFL draft:

This year, the first overall pick was Alabama quarterback, Bryce Young. The New York Giants took cornerback Deonte Banks from Maryland, and the New York Jets selected linebacker Will McDonald IV from Iowa State. 

Official 2023 NFL draft logo (Photo courtesy of USA Today)
Texans first round picks, CJ Stroud and Will Anderson Jr (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Houston Texans (Winners)

The Houston Texans held pick number 2 in the draft and selected quarterback, CJ Stroud from Ohio State. The Texans organization has high hopes for Stroud, and believe that he can be their franchise quarterback. Stroud is the best pocket passer in the draft, and has some scrambling ability. His NFL comparison is Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott. The Houston Texans then traded their 12th and 33rd overall picks, along with 1st and 3rd picks from 2024 for the #3 overall pick and pick 105. With the 3rd overall pick that they traded for, the Texans picked arguably the best talent in the draft, Will Anderson Jr. Anderson is an edge rusher from Alabama. His NFL comparison is Buffalo Bills pass rusher, Von Miller. With two top three picks, the Texans are setting themselves up well for the future. 

Washington Commanders (Losers)

The Washington Commanders have a strong defensive line but a weaker secondary and are starting an inexperienced quarterback. The commanders selected cornerback Emmanuel Forbes out of Mississippi State. He is a slot cornerback who is very talented. His NFL comparison is Carolina Panthers Donte Jackson. However, the Commanders passed on Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez who was projected to be a better prospect. The Commanders also have a talented slot receiver in Kendall Fuller. Washington could have taken a boundary corner or a quarterback like Will Levis who was still on the board. A player like Will Levis could have created a quarterback controversy between him and Washington’s current projected starter, Sam Howell. 

First round picks Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times)

Seattle Seahawks (Winners)

The Seattle Seahawks had a surprisingly successful season last year after quarterback, Geno Smith, had a breakout season. They look to improve next year with two first round picks. With the number 5 overall pick that they received last season in the Russel Wilson trade, the Seattle Seahawks took cornerback Devon Witherspoon from Illinois. He was the first selected cornerback in the draft, and his player comparison is Green Bay Packers, Jaire Alexander. The Seahawks had another pick in the first round that was their own. With pick number 20, the Seattle Seahawks selected an Ohio State wide receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He was the first receiver taken off the board, and is a very speedy slot receiver who is a very talented route runner. He is also taller than the average slot receiver, making him harder to be covered. His NFL comparison is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, Cee Dee Lamb. 

New York Jets (Losers)

The New York Jets had one of the biggest off seasons of the year trading for 4 time MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. They also signed receivers Mecole Hardman, Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. The Jets had a decent season last year and look like a promising young team. They had wide receiver Garrett Wilson win offensive rookie of the year, and cornerback Sauce Gardner win defensive rookie of the year last year. However, this year the Jets’ first round wasn’t as flashy as last year’s draft. They selected linebacker Will McDonald IV from Iowa. His NFL comparison is Leonard Floyd. The Jets were in desperate need of a tackle in the draft, and missed out on one. Although Will McDonald IV is a good prospect, the Jets don’t need another edge rusher. They have Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Meyers, who had a breakout season last year. The Jets could have taken a more impactful player with their pick instead of using it on a rotational player.

Patriots first round pick Christian Gonzalez
(Photo courtesy of Boston.com)

New England Patriots (Winners)

Last year, the New England Patriots reached on offensive guard Cole Strange who they drafted in the first round, when many expected him to be available in the third round. This year, the New England Patriots selected Oregon cornerback, Christian Gonzalez. The Patriots picked Gonzalez at 17 after trading down from the 14 spot to 17 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots also received a fourth round pick. Many experts believed that Gonzalez was the best corner in the draft, and were surprised to see him be the third cornerback taken. They were also surprised that he fell to 17 when some experts projected him to be a top 10 pick. The Patriots were able to fill a need with Christian Gonzalez who will be useful when facing off the dominant AFC East offenses. His NFL comparison is Atlanta Falcons AJ Terrell. 

Dallas Cowboys (Losers)

The Dallas Cowboys have been underwhelming in the playoffs for years now. America’s team always has a talented roster but can never execute and make it to the Superbowl. They have a strong defense and great offensive threats led by a decent quarterback. With the selected defensive tackle Mazi Smith out of Michigan. Although he is a great run defender whose NFL comparison is Dontari Poe, the Cowboys have a few holes on their roster. The Cowboys have more pressing needs at tight end and linebacker that should have been addressed in the draft. 

Eagles first round picks Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith
(Photo courtesy of NBC Sports)

Philadelphia Eagles (Winners)

The Philadelphia Eagles were runners up to the superbowl winning Kansas City Chiefs last year. The Eagles had two first round picks, their own at 23, and number 10 that they traded for last year from the New Orleans Saints. At number 10, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Georgia defensive tackle, Jalen Carter who is looked at as the best pure talent in the entire class. He slid down the board to 10 because of some off the field issues, and many teams fear that he may not be a great leader or even be in the league for that long. However, if he can control his off the field issues, he has the potential to have a Hall of Fame career. His NFL comparison is his new teammate, Fletcher Cox. At pick 31, the Eagles selected another Georgia player, Nolan Smith. Nolan Smith is an outside linebacker who’s NFL comparison is Dallas Cowboys Dante Fowler Jr. With these two picks, the Eagles have solidified themselves as the best pass rush in the NFL.

Detroit Lions (Losers)

The Detroit Lions had one of the most confusing drafts this year. They are a team with a bright future looking to be a competitive playoff team. With their two first round picks, fans were excited to see them pick players that could propel their team to the playoffs. With pick 12 that they received from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matt Stafford trade, the Lions picked Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs is a solid receiving back who is also a strong runner. His NFL comparison is Dallas Cowboys Tony Pollard. To me, this seems like a bad pick. Running backs are one of the easiest positions to draft, and taking one at 12 is early unless the player displayed generational talent. Also, the Lions signed running back David Montgomery from free agency. At pick 18, the Lions selected Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell. Campbell is a talented NFL-caliber inside linebacker but was picked way earlier than expected. He was projected to be a mid 2nd round pick. His NFL comparison is Dallas Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch. However, the Lions were able to fill holes through the draft although they reached on a few players. 

Vikings first round pick Jordan Addison (left)
(Photo courtesy of CBS News)

Minnesota Vikings (Winners)

The Minnesota Vikings had an impressive 13-4 record last season and had last year’s offensive player of the year, Justin Jefforson, who had 1,809 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. However, the Vikings lost their number 2 receiver in Adam Theilen last year who is now on the Carolina Panthers. With the 24th pick in the draft, the Minnesota Vikings picked their new wide receiver 2 from USC, Jordan Addison. In a draft class that nobody could decide on the best receiver in the class, Jordan Addison is definitely a top prospect. Many people believe he only slid to pick 24 because of his disappointing 40 yard dash time of 4:49 at the NFL combine. His NFL comparison is Los Angeles Chargers Keenan Allen. While Justin Jefforson works on the outside, Addison can play as a slot on the inside or line up opposite of Jefforson and make plays on the outside. Addison is just another solid player added to this dynamic offense and another weapon for quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

Buffalo Bills (Losers)

The Buffalo Bills have been a dominant team in the AFC and have won the AFC East the last three years. They are led by their quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stephon Diggs, and a solid defense. With pick 26 in the draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Utah’s tight end, Dalton Kincaid. Dalton Kincaid is a talented prospect and is the best tight end in the class whose NFL comparison is Arizona Cardinals Zach Ertz, but the Bills don’t need a tight end. Dawson Knox was the Bills starting tight end for the last two seasons and has been an incredible red zone threat. He scored 6 touchdowns last year and 9 the year before. The Bills have a need at linebacker and cornerback, and their safety core is aging. It seemed like the Bills picked best available when there were needs that could have been addressed.