The 2023 NFL Draft is underway and the first round did not disappoint. Not only was the scene beautiful and the atmosphere electric, but the first round was as entertaining as I can remember. Let’s take a quick look at some things that stood out to me during round one.
To Hell With the Mock Drafts
In the days and weeks leading up to the draft, analysts and fans do mock drafts, make big boards, and rank players based on where they think they will be drafted.
Every year, we’re reminded why those mocks and rankings are only so much of the full picture.
Six trades, plenty of surprise fallers and head-scratchers later, everyone is still catching their breath.
Some of the biggest surprises?
- Houston selecting C.J. Stroud at number two and then trading right back into the third pick for Will Anderson Jr.
- Indianapolis getting their QB in Anthony Richardson at number four after speculation of a fall. In my opinion, Richardson has the highest ceiling in this draft so, if the Colts play it right, we may be needing to watch out for “Cam Jackson” soon.
- A running back in the top 10! And then ANOTHER at 12!!!! After the NFL has completely devalued the running back position in recent years, Atlanta and Detroit completely buck the trend by drafting for scheme over value at picks eight and 12, respectively. Robinson is generational and not as much of a shock, but Gibbs at 12 sent plenty of people’s draft boards into a frenzy.
- Philly just continues to pick up pieces from that all-time great University of Georgia defense from their back-to-back championship teams. Last year they snagged what many considered the most talented player in the draft in Jordan Davis. This year, they followed that up by capitalizing on the fall of this draft’s “most talented player” in Jalen Carter to add to an already loaded defensive front. They wrapped the first round up by grabbing another slipping talent in Nolan Smith, another UGA standout. Nobody can accuse the Eagles of being devoid of talent on the roster.
There was plenty more happening in round 1, but I wanted this to be quick so we’ll leave it at these. Some of the other takeaways are more Chiefs-related, anyway.
Draft Boards Crumble at Veach’s Feet…Or So We Thought
We all saw what the Chiefs did with a draft board that fell to them in 2022.
Through the first 19 picks, it looked like the Chiefs were about to have their pick of options in 2023 as well with no receivers or tight ends off the board yet and an expected first-round QB still in the green room. Surely the Chiefs were in striking distance of a trade-up for a player they liked. At the very least we expected one of those highly coveted players to fall. Instead, the draft did its draft thing, 4 straight receivers off the board followed by all of the sliding “top-tier” defensive line talent left. Well, other than the obvious choice coming in for many Chiefs fans, and a player that I actually did see mocked to the Chiefs a decent amount leading up to draft day.
Another Local Standout
Plenty has been said and will be said about Felix Anudike-Uzomah the player, and his fit with the Chiefs I’ll leave that to my colleagues, but I did want to explore this trend of local college standouts ending up in Kansas City.
Brett Veach & Co. have now drafted a local power 5-star in two of the last three drafts. The first selection was Nick Bolton out of Missouri in 2021. While Bolton fell into the Chiefs’ range that year, not many believed the Chiefs would select him based on need and the recent investments they had made at the position.
Taking Anudike-Uzomah out of Kansas State seemed more realistic based on need, but it’s hard to ignore the local connection as well. Felix not only played at a college that is firmly part of Chiefs Kingdom, but he attended high school at Lee’s Summit as well, less than 20 minutes from Arrowhead. This is a homecoming all around.
Maybe the Chiefs are starting to do more homework on these guys playing in their area, or they’ve just so happened to stumble upon them recently. Only time will tell for sure.
What we do know is that Bolton looks like a fantastic pick, let’s hope Felix Anudike-Uzomah can follow in his footsteps.