Not every team can ace the NFL draft every year. There are always going to be some teams that did better than others. Now that the 2023 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, we can look back and start asking some questions about certain teams’ decisions during the draft.
These three teams have the biggest questions to answer about their draft strategy in 2023.
Seahawks drafting a running back, then doing it again
One year after spending a second-round pick on Kenneth Walker III—a move that aged excellently as the former Michigan State Spartan finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting—the Seahawks spent another second-rounder on UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet. The next day, they rounded out their draft class by taking another running back: Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh.
Those were a couple of head-scratching moves, but the Charbonnet selection stood out in particular because of how good Seattle’s picks were before it. The Seahawks have a clear-cut lead running back, so the team had more pressing needs to address elsewhere on the roster (perhaps on the interior offensive line) that early in the draft. Taking RB3 in the second round and then another running back in the seventh were two moves that didn’t make much sense despite an otherwise strong draft class.
What are the Falcons doing?
With their first two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Falcons didn’t address their most pressing need: an edge defender that can get after the quarterback. Instead, head coach Arthur Smith doubled down on his run-first offensive mentality by taking Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the eighth overall pick then a strong run-blocking offensive lineman in Syracuse product Matthew Bergeron with the 38th.
To be clear, Robinson and Bergeron are two excellent players and are bound to have success at the NFL level, but they don’t fill the most glaring holes in a roster that seems close to contending in a weak NFC South. The Falcons haven’t accumulated 100 sacks as a team in the last four years combined. They need someone besides Grady Jarrett and a nearly 40-year-old Calais Campbell to get after the quarterback if they want to have success in a pass-happy league.
Speaking of the pass-happy league, not surrounding second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder with any more weapons in this draft to play alongside tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London betrays a massive lack of trust the team has in Ridder. No disrespect to Mack Hollins and Scotty Miller, but come on. Atlanta’s plan in 2023 is clearly just to run the ball over and over with Robinson and second-year Tyler Allgeier while two excellent young pass-catchers, Pitts and London, waste away playing on their rookie contracts.
What is the Buccaneers’ plan for the future under center?
A record number of quarterbacks (11) were taken in the first five rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft with two more off the board in the last two rounds of the draft. How many did Tampa Bay take? Zero. Additionally, as of Monday afternoon, the team hasn’t even signed an undrafted free agent at the position.
Baker Mayfield is playing on a one-year contract with the Buccaneers in 2023. Kyle Trask, a former second-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft with ten snaps under his belt, is the only other quarterback on the roster. Tom Brady retired. The GOAT is gone. So the question remains: who is their long-term answer under center? If he’s not in the building—which certainly doesn’t seem to be the case currently—why not draft or even sign any of the young quarterbacks available in this year’s class? With receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans hitting free agency after this season, Tampa Bay looks set to strip everything down and start over in 2024, and it’s only been two years since they won the Super Bowl.
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