Ten Takeaways from Round 1 of NFL Draft

One down, six more to go. The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft did not disappoint. Thursday night saw surprising selections and trades alike.

Below are the biggest takeaways from the first round.

1. Three Quarterbacks Among Top Four

The top-4 selections saw three quarterbacks drafted. It was no surprise when Young and Stroud were chosen as the No.1 and No. 2 overall picks.

Bryce Young

The Carolina Panthers, who back in March traded with the Chicago Bears for the top pick, selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young as the No. 1 overall pick, as expected. Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, will join a rebuilding team led by first-year head coach Frank Reich. Despite a 5-foot-10 frame, Young showcases an impressive scouting report with the numbers and reputation to back it up.

C.J. Stroud

Next up was Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, who was selected No. 2 by the Houston Texans. Prior to the draft, rumors outlined Houston as preferring other quarterbacks while some mocks had them not selecting a quarterback at all. The Ohio State standout threw 85 touchdown passes in two seasons for the Buckeyes. In joining the Texans, Stroud will look to lead a team that has won as many games in the past three seasons (11) as Ohio State won in one with him at the forefront.

Anthony Richardson

A flash of a smile would giveaway who the Indianapolis Colts had selected as the fourth overall pick of the draft. A smile that Gator Nation knows all too well. The next quarterback to be drafted was none other than Gainesville’s very own Anthony Richardson.

Richardson has undoubtedly the highest ceiling among all prospects and is the most naturally talented quarterback in the draft. At 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, Richardson was, according to Pro Football Focus, the “single most impressive athlete at the quarterback position in scouting combine history.”

Clocking in at 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, Richardson recorded the fourth-fastest time among quarterbacks at the NFL Combine since 2000. Furthermore, Richardson had the all-time best measurements for a vertical leap (40.5 inches) and longer broad jump (129 inches). He is arguably the most athletic quarterback the draft has ever seen with a perfect combination of arm strength, size, speed and potential.

2. Outlook for Richardson in Indy

With Indianapolis, Richardson will join a quarterback room that has Gardner Minshew II, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles. Additionally, he will be coached by first-year head coach Shane Steichen.

While Richardson may have the strongest arm and best physicality in the class, he will look to improve on his mechanics through reps and experience. Luckily for Richardson, Steichen has proven to be successful with developing young quarterbacks.

In 2020, Steichen contributed to Justin Herbert earning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Additionally, last season he coached Jalen Hurts to second in NFL MVP voting in what was the quarterback’s second season as a starter. The possibilities for Richardson with the Colts are endless, especially with Steichen at the helm shaping Richardson’s development.

3. Levis Left Behind

So, what about Will Levis?

Fans around the league expected an early run on the quarterback position to result in a rush to move up the board for the remaining quarterback. Unfortunately for fans of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, that was not the case. The only action Levis would see on Thursday would be the initial drop of a rollercoaster.

After being a top-ten favorite, Levis fell outside of round one. That may be in part due to reports coming out on NFL teams questioning his character. Does mayo in coffee and eating banana peels cancel out his previous ability to entice teams with his all-around talent? Potential day two landing spots for Levis could be the Los Angeles Rams (No. 36), Seattle Seahawks (No. 37), Las Vegas Raiders (No. 38), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 50) or Minnesota Vikings (No. 87).

4. Eagles Keep Winning

The Eagles selected two members of Georgia’s National Championship defense, adding on to last year’s selections of Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. After trading up one spot, the Eagles picked up defensive tackle Jalen Carter. With their second selection in the first round, the Eagles selected another ex-Bulldog in edge rusher Nolan Smith. Smith provides additional pass rush capability for Philadelphia’s hopes of returning to the Super Bowl.

5. Houston Says go Big or go Home

The Texans provided the first real surprise of the evening by trading their 12th overall pick and moving back up to No. 3. The player they drafted, however, came as no surprise as Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. was the favorite to be selected third overall.

This marked just the third time in the NFL Draft that a singular team made two of its selections within the first three picks. Furthermore, Alabama became the first school since Michigan State in 1967 to have both the first offensive and defensive player selected.

6. Two Running Backs Among Top-12

In the modern NFL, some positions take an obvious order of priority. One position that falls near the bottom of that list is running backs. However, round one brought about a different scenario.

Before Thursday, a running back had not come off the board in the top-20 selections of the draft since Saquon Barkley was selected as the No. 2 overall pick by the Giants back in 2018. A major storyline heading into round one of the draft was the devaluation of the position in recent years.

However, Thursday night saw the narrative change, thanks to the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions. The Falcons selected Texas standout Bijan Robinson as the No. 8 overall pick, who should pair nicely with QB Desmond Ridder, WR Drake London and former Gator TE Kyle Pitts. Atlanta will look to build upon what was the third-best rushing attack in the league last season.

The Lions struck an even greater surprise, landing Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12, after trading down from their No. 6 selection. Detroit is likely not confident in D’Andre Swift staying healthy. Still, it was nothing short of a surprise to see the Lions select their RB2 in the draft within the first 12 picks.

The Falcons and Lions raise questions of whether or not the 2023 draft will be a rare case or will NFL teams begin to value running backs earlier on in the draft.

7. Lions go Heavy on Positional Value

Moreover, this leads to the next biggest takeaway from Thursday. The Lions were roaring loud when it came to positional value. Aside from selecting Gibbs at No. 12 overall, Detroit added Iowa LB Jack Campbell just six picks later.

While Detroit landed top talent, the team drafted lesser-valued positions among the top-20 picks. The selections may be questionable for a team that signed multi-year contracts with free agents at the same positions.

GM Brad Holmes shared his confidence in the decisions while addressing the media.

8. The Run on Wide Receivers

Nineteen picks came and went with no wide receivers being selected. The last time a draft saw no wide receivers selected among the top-12 was back in 2019 with Marquise Brown coming off the board at No. 25 to the Ravens.

The first to change the game on Thursday night was Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was drafted to the Seahawks at No. 20.

The move sparked a rapid-fire WR run with four consecutive wideouts being drafted. Next up was Quentin Johnston to the Chargers at No. 21, followed by Zay Flowers to Baltimore at No. 22 and lastly Jordan Addison to the Vikings at No. 23.

And just like that, the best four receivers in the class were drafted back-to-back. The manner in which they were drafted shows how little separation existed between the top prospects at the position. After these four, round one wouldn’t see any additional wide receiver action.

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

Check Also

Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: NFL Draft Shows Lack Of Talent On ’23 Gators

The Back Nine comes at you after a lazy weekend that included a lovely nine …