2023 NFL Draft: Grading all six Round 1 trades, including the Eagles' move up for Jalen Carter

Kansas City, MO, USA; Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles ninth overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft was turbulent, to say the least.

As always, there were winners and losers, steals and reaches. And, of course, PFF was there all night to grade all 31 picks

Let's look back at the six first-round trades from last night to see which teams came out on top.

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The Carolina Panthers trade up to No. 1 to select Bryce Young

We broke down the Panthers' move up to No. 1 back in March — it wasn't an overly positive move for the Panthers then, and it's not an overly positive move now.

But while it will be an uphill battle for Bryce Young to justify the investment made in him, he definitely has the ability to do so. 

Related: Breaking down the Bears-Panthers trade — Bears walk away as easy winners, Panthers will be lucky to justify the investment


The Houston Texans trade up to No. 3 to select Will Anderson Jr.

The worst trade of the night. There was some change in the form of later picks involved — which also went in the Cardinals’ favor — but the Texans essentially gave up the 33rd overall pick this year, along with their first-round pick next year.

The fact that it was their own first-rounder instead of the pick they acquired from the Cleveland Browns also goes a long way here, as the Texans are projected to be the worst team in the league in 2023.

 

Using simulations based on these estimated team strengths, the Texans' median draft position next year is No. 6. Mean outcome, median outcome, ceiling or floor — you name it. The Cardinals win this trade in a landslide.

In terms of surplus value, the 12th pick is worth roughly $35 million over four years, the 33rd pick is worth roughly $22 million over four years and the future first is also projected to be worth $35 million.

And that adds up to $92 million in lost surplus value. Add in the fact that Will Anderson Jr. will sign a $35 million contract with the Texans, and we come to the conclusion that he has to generate $127 million on the field to imitate the average outcome of the three picks they’ve given up.

Considering that edge rushers’ rookie seasons tend to be worse than their potential, that’s like $27 million in the first year and then $100 million over three years— basically a very good rookie season and then coming close to breaking the single-season sack record for three years straight. Good luck with that.

Another fitting historic comparison is that they essentially give up the picks the Bengals used to select Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase to support Joe Burrow. Do you want to imagine the Bengals without those two receivers? I bet Bengals fans don’t. Texans fans will have to get used to this idea, though.

Texans Grade: F
Cardinals Grade: A


The Arizona Cardinals trade up to No. 6 to select Paris Johnson Jr.

The Cardinals were linked to Johnson in the lead-up to the draft, and they made sure they landed their guy by giving up some of the house money they earned through the trade with the Texans.

Here's what I like about this trade for the Cardinals: Including the swap of later picks makes this a fairly reasonable trade compared to past trades in that range. For example, the Bills had to give up two second-round picks to go from No. 12 to No. 7 in 2018, while the Cardinals gave up only one second-round pick (though it is higher) and also moved up 90 spots later in the draft. The Dolphins gave up a mid-first-round pick and some change to move from No. 12 to No. 6 in 2021.

What I don’t like: The Cardinals traded up specifically to draft the best of the four top-tier offensive tackles. Historical data shows that we (as well as NFL teams) can’t be really confident about picking the best among a tier of players at the same position. Waiting and taking the offensive tackle who fell to them would have been preferred here.

From the Lions' perspective, this was a fine trade that left them with five top-60 picks. Let’s not talk about what they did with their 12th overall pick.

Cardinals Grade: C
Lions Grade: B


The Eagles move up one spot to select Jalen Carter

I praised Howie Roseman before it was cool, but I’m not going to celebrate this trade. I actually don’t think there is much to analyze here from the Eagles’ perspective other than that they were obviously scared that another would trade with the Bears.

Would that have happened? We will never know. Basically, the Eagles paid the equivalent of a fifth-round pick to stop someone from sniping them.

From The Bears' perspective, it was smart to take the future pick instead of this year’s pick. After all, the Eagles’ fourth-rounder next year can’t be any lower than this year. There is only upside to this.

Eagles Grade: C+
Bears Grade: B+


The Pittsburgh Steelers trade up to No. 14 to select Broderick Jones

If you want to trade up in the first round, do as the Steelers did — they did it for a player at a premium position and a player who was the last of a tier at his position. The price they paid is fairly reasonable.

From New England’s perspective, they probably should have asked for more, as this is a below-market trade according to the Jimmy Johnson chart.

Given that the Steelers were probably desperate to jump the New York Jets, this sounds like a low trade compensation. Maybe Bill Belichick was OK with the idea that this meant the divisional-rival Jets weren't getting their offensive tackle.

Steelers Grade: B-
Patriots Grade: B-


The New York Giants move up one spot to select Deonte Banks

Just like the Eagles, the Giants were scared that someone would jump them and trade with the Jaguars if they didn't do it. Giving up two picks to remove that fear is not ideal, of course.

Since they traded down again after that, the Jaguars were obviously open to moving down further and they still traded with the Giants, which has me believe that nobody tried to jump them or the Giants simply overpaid. And that’s why the Jaguars accepted their offer and not another offer.

Giants Grade: D
Jaguars Grade: B+


The Bills move to No. 25 to select Dalton Kincaid

I’m not exactly a fan of drafting tight ends in the first round, as they yield fairly low surplus value. Add the fact that Dalton Kincaid was among a tier of three tight ends, and I’m not convinced that this was a good process.

The Bills were overconfident in the evaluation of Kincaid, and they were also overconfident that the Cowboys wanted to select him.

The Jaguars are the beneficiary party here, adding another Day 3 pick to their assets. Instead of panicking after Cam Robinson’s suspension transpired, they calmly analyzed the market, added three extra picks and still got the supposed best offensive tackle after the first tier went off the board. That’s good business.

Bills Grade: C-
Jaguars Grade: A-


 

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