2023 NFL Draft Winners and Losers: Day 1

Winners and Losers – Day 2 | Winners and Losers – Day 3

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
Published: May 2, 2023.


First-Day Winners

    Detroit Lions
         Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
      Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
    The Lions have received a lot of media criticism and fan consternation for their picks on the opening night of the 2023 NFL Draft, but that criticism just illustrates how clueless many in the media actually are. Both Gibbs and Campbell were highly graded across the league. Gibbs was viewed as one of the few elite players in the 2023 NFL Draft, and other teams like the Jets were targeting him in Round 1 as well. Campbell was also in discussion for other teams in the first round and was the consensus top linebacker in the 2023 NFL Draft. Some teams picking high in Round 2 were hoping to trade back into Round 1 to land Campbell. Hence, Gibbs and Campbell were not reaches, according to teams, and the media just did not do their jobs well enough to know where those players were being valued.

    Gibbs is a dynamic playmaker with game-breaking speed as a runner; he is basically a tougher version of Alvin Kamara. Like Kamara, Gibbs is a phenomenal receiver, plus Gibbs is a superb blocker. He also is a dangerous kick returner. Gibbs is a hard worker and great teammate as well who will be a real upgrade over the now-departed and oft-injured DeAndre Swift.

    Campbell will be a huge upgrade for the Detroit defense. He is a tackling machine and a force as a run defender. On top of being a player who will probably average well over 100 tackles per year, Campbell is a skilled in pass coverage and possesses excellent instincts. He will be a plug-and-play upgrade at linebacker next to Alex Anzalone.

    Both Gibbs and Campbell are just flat out good football players. On top of landing them, they also were able to move down to add pick 34 and get another future starter with a high second-round pick. Gibbs and Campbell could both easily contend for Rookie of the Year honors next season, so don’t be surprised if the Lions have the last laugh over a lot of clueless NFL media.



    Atlanta Falcons
      Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
    The Falcons made an excellent selection in taking Robinson with the eighth-overall pick and landed the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft on many teams’ draft boards. He could be a superstar thanks to his rare and amazing skill set, which includes size, speed, power, athleticism, and phenomenal receiving ability. He also is a tremendous blocker and pass protector.

    With Robinson leading the Falcons’ rushing attack, defenses are going to be in a very difficult position to stop their playmaking weapons. If the opponent’s safeties stack the box to stop Robinson, that will open up the deep part of the field for Kyle Pitts and Drake London. If the defense play its safeties back, Robinson could run roughshod over weak boxes. Robinson will be a huge help to Desmond Ridder in his first year as a starter. It would not surprise me if Robinson becomes one of the greatest players in Falcons franchise history.



    Seattle Seahawks
         Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
      Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
    The Seahawks filled two needs on the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft with the top cornerback and the top wide receiver. Assuming Witherspoon can stay healthy, he will be an excellent starter across from Tariq Woolen, which will give Seattle a pair of cover corners capable of making game-changing plays. Smith-Njigba could immediately form a dangerous trio as the slot receiver to go in between D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Landing the best corner and the best wide receiver were nice value picks for Seattle.



First-Day Losers

    Minnesota Vikings
      Jordan Addison, WR, USC
    Addison was not a horrible pick on the part of the Vikings. Other teams in the 20s had Addison as one of their potential picks as well. However, Minnesota faced much bigger issues than a No. 2 or 3 receiver. The 173-pound Addison is very undersized for the NFL, and his 40 time around 4.5 seconds is not great for a smaller speed receiver.

    The Vikings fielded one of the worst, if not the worst, defense in the NFL during 2022. The organization had the opportunity to land a good young starter for that side of the ball with available prospects like defensive end Myles Murphy, defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, outside linebacker Nolan Smith, cornerback Joey Porter Jr., defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and Mazi Smith. Any of them would have been a bigger upgrade for Minnesota compared to adding a third option at wide receiver. The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft was a missed opportunity for the Vikings to add an infusion of talent for their defense.



    New England Patriots
      Christian Gonzalez, WR, Oregon
    You often hear around the scouting community that the Patriots had a lot of bad drafts under Bill Belichick that were disguised by Tom Brady. In recent years, owner Bob Kraft openly stated that New England’s drafts had not been good and they needed to get better. The 2023 NFL Draft seems like the organization’s drafting could still stand to improve.

    Gonzalez seems like an odd fit for the Patriots. He is a smooth cover corner with size, speed, and fluid athleticism. He is also very good at maintaining tight coverage and not allowing separation. However, Gonzalez slid out of the top 10 because he is a finesse defender who lacks physicality. His missing grit was put painful on painful display against Georgia in 2022.

    Gonzalez’s unwillingness to tackle at times, along with allowing himself to be pushed around and bullied, is a real concern for fitting in with Bill Belichick. It would not surprise me if Belichick gets frustrated with Gonzalez’s lack of fight and tackling. That could lead to New England being a bad fit for Gonzalez and him not meshing with the organization.





    Green Bay Packers
      Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
    The Packers have made a lot of questionable and odd first-round picks under general manager Brian Gutekunst, and Van Ness continues that trend. A year ago, Green Bay added two defenders to the front seven with Quay Walker and Devante Wyatt. The team also already has good proven pass rushers in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. With Kenny Clark playing well on the inside, the Packers had bigger needs than another defensive lineman. They had great options available to help their offense and new starting quarterback Jordan Love. Green Bay could have given Love a potential No. 1 receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a mismatch tight end in Dalton Kincaid, or a young left tackle in Broderick Jones. Instead, the Packers took a defensive lineman who struggles to get off blocks. Van Ness is a player who a lot NFL sources liked but were not in love with. He should become a solid pro for the Packers, but if Love does not turn into a good starter, that will lead to Gutekunst and the coaching staff getting fired.

    With so much riding on Love playing well, it would have made more sense for the Packers to help him with their first-round pick. Green Bay has used a ton of first-round pick capital on its defense. Aside from Love in 2020, the last time the Packers drafted an offensive player in Round 1 was Derek Sherrod in 2011. The Packers are not spreading out their resources to both sides of the ball, and that could come back to really hurt Love, Gutekunst, and the coaching staff.

Go to Winners and Losers – Day 2

Go to Winners and Losers – Day 3




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