• Bears have to be smart when trading down: The common sentiment is that Chicago will trade down, but it's paramount that they don't fall too far in the draft order.
• Eagles should avoid Bijan Robinson at No. 10: Set to lose a bevy of players in the trenches to free agency, Philadelphia shouldn't force the running back pick early despite having two first-rounders.
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When it comes to the NFL draft, the possibilities for improvement are endless — that’s what makes writing, reading and talking about it so much fun. But we also know that not every draft pick pans out. Plenty of factors beyond just the analysis of the selections go into whether a prospect hits in their rookie contract, but there have been some common picks on PFF's Mock Draft Simulator that give a little bit of hesitation with the potential excitement.
Here are four mistakes a few teams should avoid in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
CHICAGO BEARS TRADING DOWN TOO FAR
The Bears are in a great situation. They hold the No. 1 overall pick in a draft class with alluring quarterback talent while they themselves don’t need to address the position. Such a situation could yield a great haul of draft assets for the Bears in a trade-down from their top spot, which would be perfect for them as a team in a rebuilding phase.
As of now, there are four main contenders to trade up to the No. 1 spot, likely for their choice of whichever quarterback they want in this class: the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers. Those likely aren’t the only teams that will make the call to check on the Bears’ asking price, but they feel like the most plausible.
While a trade-down would be advantageous for the Bears, going too far down the list might be a regret in the end. Though Chicago doesn’t need a quarterback, they need top-tier defensive talent. In this class — outside of quarterback — that list feels small: interior defender Jalen Carter and edge defender Will Anderson Jr. Not that there won’t be other good players from this group, but those two present a truly elite ceiling and are well on their way to excelling in the NFL.
The Texans and the Colts hold Pick Nos. 2 and 4, respectively. A trade-down with them would keep the Bears in range of Carter or Anderson. But a swap with the Raiders and the Panthers, who own Pick Nos. 7 and 9, respectively, would likely mean the Bears would miss out on those star defensive prospects.
In this class, it feels like a mistake to miss out on Carter or Anderson, even if the haul of draft assets from teams further down the board contains multiple first-round picks.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES TAKING BIJAN ROBINSON AT NO. 10
We already mentioned Carter and Anderson as two of the blue-chip prospects in this class. If there is an offensive player on that level, it would be Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Robinson is a special talent, a true playmaker in both the run and pass games. Because of that, taking him high in this class is alluring, especially for a team like the Eagles, who are playing with house money having made the Super Bowl while also having a top-10 pick (from the New Orleans Saints).
But the Eagles have made it to the Super Bowl by continuously investing their top picks in the trenches, and I believe that’s where they should look here. Robinson would be a great player for them, but given that guard Isaac Seumalo; tackle Andre Dillard; interior defenders Fletcher Cox, Ndamukong Suh and Javon Hargrave; and edge defender Brandon Graham are unrestricted free agents, and with tackle Lane Johnson turning 33 next season, adding to the trenches feels like the better decision.
GIANTS, RAVENS, CHARGERS FORCING WR IN ROUND ONE
There are three teams at the backend of the first round who have big wide receiver needs: the Giants, Ravens and Chargers. New York would love to get a true “X” receiver to be a strong and reliable presence on the line of scrimmage against press who can win by the sideline and in the red zone. The Ravens need an outside receiver who can stretch the field horizontally to pair with Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman. The Chargers really need speed. They’d love to get a deep vertical threat to stretch defenses, force safeties back in coverage and open things up around the field to make the most of Justin Herbert’s arm.
The issue is that this class isn’t heavy at the top with those kinds of players. There are some, but it’s just not the richest year to grab receiver talent, whether in the draft or in free agency. Each of these teams has needs beyond receiver, and so the wise thing to do is address the position without forcing a pick early on just because.
ATLANTA FALCONS, DON’T FORCE DEFENSIVE LINE AT NO. 8
The Falcons have a handful of needs on the defensive side of the ball. After recording just 21 total sacks as a team in 2022, their most glaring one feels like the defensive line. Luckily for them, they have a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But unluckily for them, the edge rushers and interior defensive linemen who are projected to be available at their pick feel risky.
In some years the No. 8 pick can yield a great defensive line prospect. That’s not to say that couldn’t happen this year, but it’s not as confident of a bet as it has been in the past, specifically after Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. are off the board. The advice here is to not force it. Investments in the trenches are good bets to place, as they involve some premium positions like offensive tackles and pass rushers. But where bets in the trenches are fine, forced picks in the trenches — or forced picks at any position — can get you in trouble.
The free agency pass-rush class is decently strong this year. It feels the better value for defensive improvement for the Falcons is to shore up the defensive line in free agency, allowing them to take the right player at No. 8.