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NFL Draft 2023: Winners and losers as Houston Texans shine and Will Levis suffers

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Anthony Richardson at the 2023 NFL Draft
Anthony Richardson was the fourth overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft

After three days and 259 picks the 2023 NFL Draft is over and the 32 teams have stocked up with the top college prospects to give fans renewed hope of a Super Bowl challenge.

This year’s draft was full of drama, from big trades to shock selections and the usual star player sliding down the pecking order – all in front of a huge TV audience around the world.

Having what’s perceived as a good draft doesn’t always translate into immediate success on the field.

Last year the New York Jets selected two players who went on to win both the offensive and defensive rookie of the year awards, yet they missed out on the play-offs.

However, plenty of teams who made a big splash in the draft will hope their new arrivals pay instant dividends.

Winners

Texans take the draft by storm

The Houston Texans mean business and nothing said that more than drafting quarterback CJ Stroud with the second overall pick, then trading with the Arizona Cardinals to also get the third.

Will Anderson
Will Anderson was Houston’s second pick in the top three

Houston used that on defensive star Will Anderson, meaning they have their young pillars on either side of the ball to build a future around.

Stroud may not have the razzle dazzle of some of the other QBs selected, but the 21-year-old is accurate and a safe pair of hands for a team in desperate need of just that. The Texans also added wide receiver Tank Dell in the third round in a highlight reel of a draft.

A good year for quarterbacks

As expected, Bryce Young was the top pick for the Carolina Panthers, but he wasn’t the only quarterback to go. Three were selected in the first four slots as teams went in search of a long-term fix in the sport’s most crucial position.

Anthony Richardson at the 2023 NFL Draft
New Colts QB Anthony Richardson has been compared to Lamar Jackson in playing style

The exciting Anthony Richardson went to the Indianapolis Colts as part of a record 12 QBs selected in the first five rounds of the draft and 14 overall – three short of the record.

There was a late run on QBs in the fourth and fifth rounds, with five going in the space of 14 picks as teams looked to grab this year’s Brock Purdy – last year’s ‘Mr Irrelevant’ as the last overall pick of the draft, who then led the San Francisco 49ers to the play-offs.

Seahawks stock up for big challenge

The Seattle Seahawks, still playing with house money they won from the Russell Wilson trade, used their plethora of picks to grab the best receiver in the draft in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the best cornerbacks in Devon Witherspoon, edge rusher Derick Hall and running back Zach Charbonnet.

The NFC still looks the weakest of the two conferences and, with this haul, Seattle will be a team to watch next season.

Tight ends taking centre stage

Thanks to Travis Kelce, a star tight end looks to be the new NFL must-have after 15 were selected, including Dalton Kincaid going in the first round in an eye-catching pick by the Buffalo Bills.

Nine came off the board in the first two days, the most since 1967, with five in the second round as the position enjoys a boom in college that is translating to the NFL.

The Green Bay Packers grabbed two tight ends in their first draft without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, while their picking up three wide receivers will not have gone unnoticed by the now Jets star.

Losers

Levis made to wait

Will Levis
Will Levis was left waiting the entire first round without being picked

Kentucky QB Will Levis was expected to be a top-five pick but when the Colts chose Richardson, Levis had to suffer the indignity of waiting around in the green room for the entire first round, in front of a huge TV audience.

He’s not the first – and won’t be the last – to have every dejected look and shrug of the shoulders beamed to millions of homes across the globe, but Levis was eventually picked up early on day two of the draft by the Tennessee Titans.

Rodgers suffered a similar embarrassing slide on his draft day, and Levis will hope to use the chip he now has on his shoulder in similar fashion.

Detroit Lions running into trouble?

They may well prove critics wrong, but the consensus is that the Detroit Lions went too high with their surprise move for running back Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round when already well set at the position.

Detroit then traded away running back De’Andre Swift to the Philadelphia Eagles, having also lost Jamaal Williams in free agency, so after spending a first-round pick their running back options actually look weaker than last season.

San Francisco 49ers counting cost of Lance

It’s hard to make an impact when you’re without any picks in the first two rounds, as San Francisco were thanks to trades they made to sign Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey.

They then used one of their third-round picks on Michigan kicker Jake Moody, always a bold move that brings with it plenty of criticism. Overall, it’s a draft that was a consequence of their trade for Lance, who may not even be the starter next season.

Patriots surprise with kicker double

There were several teams with underwhelming drafts, while the Cardinals spent more time collecting picks for next year, but the eye-catcher was New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick drafting a kicker and a punter in the same round.

The special teamers are much-maligned in the league despite often having a huge impact at crucial times, and no team has picked a kicker and punter in the same draft for 23 years because it is almost seen like a waste of a pick.

Eight-time Super Bowl winner Belichick knows more than most, but his double kicker selection certainly raised eyebrows.

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