The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is, for now, shaping up to be one of the most difficult to predict in recent years. On that first night there will be some pivotal moments which will shape those initial 31 picks. Let’s look at some potential pivotal picks. Try saying that fast five times!
#1 Chicago Bears
The 2023 NFL Draft goes through Chicago, no doubt about it. Rumours are already abound that there is interest in the Bears pick. This makes sense as there are quarterback needy teams in the top 10 and anything up to four quarterbacks who could be seen as first round picks. It has been a while since the number 1 overall pick has been traded. Back in 2016 the LA Rams traded up to take Jared Goff. That trade took a fair amount of capital including future picks and the same would be true this year. This would be capital the Bears would value as they rebuild around Justin Fields. The likelihood is high that it won’t be Chicago first up on the night!
#3 Arizona Cardinals
For the same reason as Chicago pick number 3 could be up for grabs from the Arizona Cardinals. They are in rebuild mode with their new head coach Jonathan Gannon and will be weighing up the virtues of picking one outstanding player (possibly Will Anderson or Jalen Carter) or trading down to pick up capital (both for this year and next) to restock their roster. Two trades in the first three picks is a definite possibility.
#10 Philadelphia Eagles
In the most recent drafts the Philadelphia Eagles have enjoyed moving around the draft board and proactively seeking trades to get the players they want. Their trade up for DeVonta Smith in 2021 and the blockbuster on the night acquisition of AJ Brown stand out. At pick 10 they are in a prime position to potentially trade back and pick up additional assets or to use this pick as leverage around trading for a veteran. If not here then the Eagles pop back up at #30 and they could easily trade with a team looking to get another pick in the back end of round one.
#12 Houston Texans
Working on a couple of assumptions here. The Texans sit at #2 and still get their quarterback, what do they do at pick 12? Three possibilities for positions here which would then have a ripple effect through the first round. They could draft some protection for their QB or take a top receiver to provide a quality target. Or does DeMeco Ryans push to draft a top defensive player? Alternatively, given the number of holes on the roster, do the Texans trade out of #12 to secure more capital for their rebuild?
#22 Baltimore Ravens #23 Minnesota Vikings
Two teams in the same part of round 1 with the same issue staring at them. They both made the playoffs but were unable to challenge seriously for the Lombardi Trophy. Oddly enough both also have very little 2023 Draft capital with only five picks apiece. The Ravens have the added complication of murky waters with Lamar Jackson’s future unresolved. In terms of strengthening the Ravens may look more to the offense with the Vikings thinking more on the defensive side of their roster. It will be interesting to see whether they sticks and pick or look to move around in round one. Will either team be bold and see a player they need to go up and get to improve their 2023 Super Bowl chances?
#27 Buffalo Bills and #28 Cincinnati Bengals
Lastly, another scenario where in back-to-back picks there are two teams in similar situations. The Bills and the Bengals are in their Super Bowl window. Both will have been disappointed at their exits from the competition in 2022. The Kansas City Chiefs are not going anywhere. Will they be able to pick up a player at the back end of the first round who will instantly improve their chances? A decision will need to be made here as to whether they trade up, or do they use picks as leverage to trade for a top quality veteran.
Which picks do you think will be pivotal on round one of the NFL Draft? Let us know @ninetynineyards or drop me a note @47yards to talk all things Draft!