The first-round of the 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the rearview mirror and it was a good one for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. As for the rest of the 30 picks, it was as unpredictable as many seemed to predict.
As always, some teams faired better than others. So, let’s break down winners and losers from night one.
Winner: Bill Belichick, Matt Groh, and the New England Patriots. As the kids say these days, the Patriots personnel department was ‘in their bag’ Thursday night. A trade back from No. 14 to No. 17 netted New England an additional fourth-round selection and they were still able to select a consensus top-10 talent in Christian Gonzalez at a position of need.
“Excited to be able to add Christian Gonzalez to the team,” Groh said Thursday night. “To be able to pick up Christian and pick up an extra fourth-round pick, feel very encouraged by Day One.”
Winner: Patriots Fans. The higher ups above don't care, but the Patriots first-round pick felt like it needed to inject some life into the fanbase. The Gonzalez pick certainly did so. Complaints about the selection were few and far to come by, while it seemed everyone on Twitter/online supported the pick. When's the last time that's happened?
Honorable Mention: QB Mac Jones. While the Patriots did not go out and add a top weapon for Mac Jones in the first-round of the draft, they stuck with their quarterback. Despite recent rumors and speculation, New England did not trade Jones or add a quarterback in the first-round. They had the chance too as well, as Kentucky’s Will Levis was not selected on Day One.
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Winner: Former Patriots Executives. It wasn't just Belichick Thursday night, as two of his former personnel staffers had big nights.
Down in Houston, former Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio pushed all his chips in with his back against the wall. After landing quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick, the Texans made an aggressive move up from No. 12 to No. 3 to grab Alabama edge Will Anderson.
In Arizona, new Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort played his cards perfectly. Many thought Arizona would land Ohio State’s offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with the third overall selection. But, Ossenfort struck a deal with Caserio, trading No. 3 and No. 105 to Houston for No. 12 and No. 33 and first- and third-round picks in 2024. The Cardinals then traded No. 12, 33 and 168 to the Detroit Lions and still ended up with Johnson Jr.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles. Howie Roseman continues to be good at his job as his master plan to recreate the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs defense continues to unfold. After taking Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean out of Georgia last year, Roseman moved up one spot to No. 9 and selected Jalen Carter - perhaps the best overall player in the draft - this year. With his second first-round pick, the Eagles then drafted Carter’s teammate Nolan Smith, who is an uber-atheltic edge rusher.
Loser: Detroit Lions. The Lions had an excellent second-round on Day One of the draft. After signing David Montgomery this offseason to pair with D’Andre Swift, they added Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 pick. With their second first-round selection (No. 18), the Lions took an off-ball linebacker in Jack Campbell. In fairness, perhaps we should have seen Dan Campbell going old school.
Honorable mentions: The Baltimore Ravens are likely pleased with their entire day. After locking up franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson to a five-year extension Thursday afternoon, they gave their QB a dynamic offensive threat in the draft in wide receiver Zay Flowers.
Speaking of wide receivers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who Seattle got at No. 20, will form a dangerous trio with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks also added one of the top cornerbacks in Devon Witherspoon, marking another strong draft out west.
We have to add the Miami Dolphins in here as honorable losers as they forfeited their pick due to tampering. At least that year of Tom Brady will be aweso-