2023 NFL Draft: Perfect player fits for teams that spent big in free agency

Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) pressures Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

  • New QB in Seattle?: The Seattle Seahawks are now in a position to take QB of the future.
  • Perfect match for Chicago's offensive and defensive lines: The Chicago Bears have two trenches players who could be perfect fits.
  • Denver's perfect fit in the mid-rounds: The Denver Broncos can find their ideal player, even in the third round.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

With the initial wave of free agency in the books, it's time to take a look at some of the perfect player-team fits for the franchises that spent big in free agency. 

Houston Texans

The Texans were a busy team this free agency period, which was expected given the state of the roster. They signed Chase Winovich, Case Keenum, Jimmie Ward, Noah Brown, Sheldon Rankins, Dalton Schultz, Devin Singletary, Cory Littleton, and even traded for Shaq Mason. However, their biggest needs remained the same: passer and pass-rusher.

With the No. 2 overall pick, there is still a chance they get their hands on Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, but if not him, we’d expect Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud to be the pick. As for their other first-round pick, they should be in a good place to land a high-ceiling pass-rusher at No. 12, and that’s exactly what Nolan Smith can be. Smith’s pass-rush production isn’t going to “wow” anyone, but after seeing his near-historic combine performance, his potential certainly does.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks hit the jackpot. They traded away Russell Wilson for premium draft picks and still found a gem in Geno Smith to make them a contender. The Seahawks signed Smith to an extension this offseason and added Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, Julian Love, and even brought back franchise legend Bobby Wagner. Nonetheless, they’re still missing a dominant defensive line presence, which is where Anderson becomes an obvious fit.

However, there is also a reality where their perfect pick could be a quarterback who takes over for Smith when the time is right. Many look at Richardson and love the talent ceiling while admitting he’s not ready to start in his rookie year. The Seahawks selecting him could be his best-case scenario. As for their second first-round pick, wide receiver Smith-Njigba would give Seattle a great WR trio.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons spent a ton of money re-signing Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, but that didn't stop them from also bringing in Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata and Taylor Heinicke. As the team with the second-least sacks in 2022 (21), the Falcons still need major help in their pass rush.

If Anderson is somehow still on the board, he’s truly their perfect player. However, it’s much more likely he’s off the board by No. 8, so Wilson could be another great, and more realistic, match.

Chicago Bears

The Bears were big spenders this free agency period, and they needed to be. Not only did they finish with the worst record in the NFL last season, but they also had a ton of cap space and needed to spend just to hit the cap floor. Therefore, they brought in T.J. Edwards, Nate Davis, Tremaine Edmunds, DeMarcus Walker, Travis Homer, Andrew Billings, Robert Tonyan, D'Onta Foreman and more. 

Though Davis was a nice addition to the interior of their offensive line, that side of the trenches remains one of the biggest areas of need for team. Picking No. 9 overall, the Bears could have the chance to take the first offensive tackle off the board. If they do, the versatile and talented Johnson should be the man for the job. Nonetheless, this is also a wildcard spot for Carterwho, before the off-the-field issues came up, was projected to be the Bears' top pick when they still had the No. 1 overall pick. In theory, Carter as the three-technique defensive tackle in Eberflus’ defense is the best fit in this draft.

New York Giants 

The Giants have been busy, as they were able to bring back both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley in addition to acquiring Darren Waller via trade and signing Bobby Okereke and Parris Campbell. Losing Julian Love does hurt some of their safety versatility. In 2022, Love played 494 snaps at free safety, 271 in the box and 154 as a slot defender. Bringing in a player like Branch, who can assume roles as both a safety and a slot player, would be a great addition to an aggressive Wink Martindale defense.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints signed Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd after losing Shy Tuttle, Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata in free agency. Though those additions mean they have some new strength in the trenches, they still need more juice for the interior pass rush. Because the Saints' have one of the bigger defensive lines in the league, Kancey could be a great piece to get in one-on-one situations. He’s lighter (just 281 pounds) for a defensive tackle, but he is lightning quick with his hands and pass-rush moves. He’s not the kind of defensive lineman they typically target in the draft, but he feels like the one they need.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos added a ton of new names to their roster this free agency period, signing Ben Powers, Mike McGlinchey, Zach Allen, Samaje Perine, Jarrett Stidham and plenty more. They feel like one of the most complete rosters in the NFL (they just have to play better), but they could use some size on the edge, and there is a perfect player for that need.

The Broncos have their speed rushers in Randy Gregory, Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto. At 6-foot-5 and 274 pounds (with an 85 ½-inch wingspan and 36 ½-inch arms) Harrison would round out that room with some good size. You could play him anywhere from a 4i (inside shade of offensive tackle) technique to a standup outside linebacker. He feels like the perfect power to add to this group. 

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