2023 NFL Draft Winners and Losers: Day 2

Winners and Losers – Day 1 | Winners and Losers – Day 3

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
Published: May 3, 2023.

Second-Day Winners

    Indianapolis Colts
      Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
      Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
    Over the last five years, the Colts have been the best drafting team in the NFL, and they came through with another strong showing on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Colts needed cornerback help after losing Stephon Gilmore this offseason, and Brents was a good value in the second round. With good size and toughness, Brents is an asset who can match up against big wide receivers to take away fades and jump balls near the end zone. While Brents faces some speed limitations, those could be masked in Indianapolis’ defensive scheme, which utilizes a lot of zone coverage. Brents also is a good run defender who will be helpful in defending the divisional backs such as Derrick Henry, Dameon Pierce and Travis Etienne.

    Downs, meanwhile, was an excellent value in the third round. The 5-foot-9, 171-pounder has game-breaking speed, as suggested by his lightning-fast 40 at the combine. Multiple team sources said they thought Downs would go in Round 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, so landing him in the Round 3 was superb. Indianapolis needed a speed receiver to go with Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. The young playmakers of this trio complement each other, and new quarterback Anthony Richardson is superb at throwing the deep ball. Downs could be a great fit for letting Richardson to use his big arm and stretch defenses vertically. That will open up the running game for Richardson and Jonathan Taylor. Selecting Downs in the third round was a very astute move by Indianapolis.

    Atlanta Falcons
      Matthew Bergeron, OT/G, Syracuse
      Zach Harrison, LB, Ohio State
    The Falcons had an impressive second-day haul that filled needs and added high-upside players. In Round 2, Atlanta landed a force to run behind with Bergeron. Sticking Bergeron in at right guard will provide a plug-and-play upgrade for the Falcons. Bijan Robinson is going to love running behind Bergeron, who is a violent, nasty run-blocker and will blast open holes at the point of attack. While Bergeron needs some development as a pass blocker, moving inside to guard should help him with that at the pro level. He has the potential to be a Pro Bowl guard.

    Harrison also has huge upside. There are times where Harrison looks unblockable with his impressive size, speed and athleticism. Harrison was not consistent in college, but multiple team sources said that Harrison reminded them of Carlos Dunlap when he was playing well. Harrison could turn out to be a third-round steal if he plays more consistently as a pro. The Falcons have Calais Campbell joining the organization, and Harrison should really benefit from learning from the veteran. With Arnold Ebiketie on the other side, Atlanta has two good young edge rushers who could develop into a good starting tandem without having had to use a first-round pick. Harrison was sneaky good pick by the Falcons.

    Detroit Lions
      Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
         Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
      Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
      Brodric Martin, DT, Western Kentucky
    The Lions had an excellent opening night of the 2023 NFL Draft, but what they did on the second night was phenomenal. Detroit added at least two new starters, acquiring a superb value at each selection.

    With the pick they received from the Cardinals for trading down in the first round, the Lions selected LaPorta, which was a great choice. There were teams considering LaPorta late in the first round, and he is a well-rounded player who offers mismatch receiving ability, dangerous running after the catch, and tough blocking. He will be an upgrade over what Detroit had been getting from T.J. Hockenson back when he was with Detroit.

    Landing Branch in the middle of Round 2 was an absolute steal for the Lions because he was a consensus first-round pick. Branch is a superb nickel corner who can play safety and is a phenomenal tackler. He will give Detroit the flexibility to keep C.J. Gardner-Johnson at safety while Branch play nickel in five-defensive back sets. Branch will upgrade the Lions’ defense as well as their pass coverage in the middle of the field. Thanks to hihs tremendous instincts, Branch could be a real weapon for Detroit.

    Hooker was a good value in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and some were projecting him as a first-rounder. While Hooker needs development coming from a college scheme that is gimmicky, hr has a quality physical skill set of athleticism to go with a capable arm. He could be a good backup for Jared Goff for a year or two and may possess the upside to develop into a starter.

    Martin gives Detroit a tough run defender with size and power to help lock down the interior. Last year, the Lions missed out on the playoffs because of a late-season loss to the Panthers in which they couldn’t stop the run. With Martin joining other new additions in Jack Campbell, Brian Branch and C.J. Gardner-Johson, Detroit’s run defense should be significantly improved come 2023.

    In my final mock draft, I had Detroit taking Jack Campbell, and for a lot of the leadup to the 2023 NFL Draft, I had the organization taking LaPorta. LaPorta, Branch and Hooker all could become starters for the Lions, with LaPorta and Branch looking like safe picks to become impactful starters who possess Pro Bowl potential.

    Pittsburgh Steelers
      Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
      Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
         Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
    Thanks to the Bears mistaken trade for Chase Claypool, the Steelers had the 32nd pick of the 2023 Draft, which they turned into a potential starting cornerback in Joey Porter Jr. Porter is a big corner in possession of physicality and phenomenal length. Porter is not much of a playmaker and is only a fit for press-man coverage, but if used correctly, he could be a solid starter.

    Later in the second round, the Steelers landed a nice player in Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton. Benton gives Pittsburgh a quick three-technique who can get after the quarterback. With T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith on the outside, Benton could clean up as quarterbacks try to step up to avoid the edge rushers.

    Pittsburgh added a potential starting tight end in Darnell Washington later in the third round. Some teams had medically flunked Washington, and he comes with some off-the-field concerns, but Washington could be an asset as a run blocker for Najee Harris and pass protector for Kenny Pickett. Landing three starters on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft was an excellent result for Pittsburgh.

Second-Day Losers

    Houston Texans
      Juice Scruggs, C, Penn State
         Nathanial Dell, WR, Houston
    The Texans got a lot of media acclaim, but they had a very risky draft. The pick they gave up in next year’s draft for Will Anderson will probably be a high first-round pick, and they also gave up the 33rd-overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. Houston ended up taking Scruggs late in the second round, and he was a solid but unspectacular pick. Shortly later, the organization took Dell early Round 3. He is an undersized speed receiver who may be more of a backup in the NFL. Given the weakness of Houston’s roster and receiving room, it would have made more sense for the team to take other receivers available like Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman and Josh Downs. Some teams had Dell graded deep into Day 3, so he was a big reach by the Texans. The Texans put together a risky Round 1 and followed that up with an underwhelming group on Day 2.

    San Francisco 49ers
      Jake Moody, K, Michigan
         Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama
    The 49ers did not pick until 99th overall, and they used their first choice on Michigan kicker Jake Moody. That is not a good value for San Francisco given that competent kickers could be had later or off the street in free agency. Then at pick 101, the 49ers selected a backup tight end in Cameron Latu. Latu could be a decent backup, but he is not a candidate to develop into a starter who could replace George Kittle. The 49ers passed on some talented players who could have provided good depth along with the potential to develop into starters. Some prospects who still there for San Francicso include cornerback Kelee Ringo, offensive tackle Dawand Jones, cornerback Clark Phillips and defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore. While the 49ers did not have a lot of ammo to work with because of the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades, they definitely did not make the most out of their third-round picks.

Go to Winners and Losers – Day 1

Go to Winners and Losers – Day 3

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