- Arizona Cardinals take Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6: The Cardinals took the player they would’ve selected at No. 3 but did so three picks later while gaining a first- and third-round pick in next year’s draft. A huge win from a scouting and strategic perspective.
- Seattle Seahawks take Devon Witherspoon at No. 5: The Seahawks believed they needed secondary help and didn’t wait until pick No. 20 to address it. It was a power move that was a pleasant surprise.
- Deonte Banks lands with the New York Giants: This was one of the best fits in the class, as no defense in the NFL played more Cover 0 or Cover 1 (man coverage), where Banks thrives, than the Giants.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
With round one of the 2023 NFL Draft in the books, it’s time for a little instant analysis. There are plenty of teams happy with the short and long-term outlooks of their picks, but even then, there are a few that really stood out to me.
These are my favorite picks – and how they came about – from round one of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals take Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6
I absolutely loved this move from the Cardinals, as it was my favorite selection of the entire first round. First and foremost, Johnson is an impressive prospect. He was a first-time starter at left tackle last season and posted an 83.5 overall blocking grade with only two sacks allowed on 424 pass-blocking snaps. To me, he was worth a top-10 selection in this class. Second, I really liked how the Cardinals came about selecting him. They started the night at No. 3 overall, but once they were on the clock, they traded back with the Houston Texans, gaining first- and third-round picks next year in addition to a second-round pick this year as well as the No. 12 pick later that night. Then, the Cardinals traded that No. 12 pick and one of their two early second-round picks to move back up to No. 6 to select Johnson.
All in all, they took the player they would’ve selected at No. 3 but did so three picks later while gaining a first and third-round pick in next year’s draft. A huge win from a scouting and strategic perspective.
Seattle Seahawks swiping Devon Witherspoon at No. 5 before the Detroit Lions
This was when the draft really started to get interesting. For weeks, mock drafts were confident in Witherspoon fitting the Lions at No. 6 overall perfectly. From everything we have heard, they also believed that; however, out of nowhere, the Seahawks, who sat one pick in front of the Lions, swiped Witherspoon to claim the top cornerback in the class. The Seahawks believed they needed secondary help and didn’t wait until pick No. 20 to address it. It was a power move that I didn’t see coming, but one that I loved after it was confirmed – especially with them going Jaxon Smith-Njigba later in the first round.
Deonte Banks lands in the perfect spot with the New York Giants
This one was one of my favorite fits in the class, as no defense in the NFL played more Cover 0 or Cover 1 (man coverage) than the Giants, leading the league in both categories individually. Banks is one of the top man coverage corners in the class, as his athletic ability and how he can mirror wide receivers on the outside are incredibly impressive. He was also a 90th-percentile athlete in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump. Additionally, Banks finished 2022 with an 81.8 coverage grade and led his team with five force incompletions in Cover 0 or Cover 1 calls. He’s a perfect fit for a Wink Martindale defense.
Dalton Kincaid makes the Buffalo Bills more versatile
Kincaid is viewed as the top receiving tight end in a deep and talented receiving tight end class, as some mock drafts had him going as high as No. 13 overall to the Green Bay Packers. So the Buffalo Bills drafting him at No. 25 is great value. It was also ideal for Buffalo to get more involved with more multi-tight-end sets. Last season, only 8% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps came from 12 personnel formations — the lowest percentage in the league. Kincaid and Dawson Knox make a versatile pairing that will allow the Bills to be more multiple on offense. Though Kincaid won’t be much of a blocker (at least early on), his presence in line can create some tough assignments for defenses if there’s more than one tight end on the field.