Future stars align at the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City

Vincent Callahan, Crier Staff

The NFL Draft is an exciting time in the football world because it is a way for a team to boost its roster with younger and more electric talent. The draft was held in Kansas City this year, and was the first time that season’s Super Bowl Champs host city hosted the Draft in the same year. 

This year, there were only 31 picks because the Dolphins had to forfeit their first-rounder due to tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton a couple of offseasons ago. Heading into this draft all eyes focused on the Panthers and who they would take. 

Would it be Bryce Young, a quarterback out of Alabama who won the Heisman last year, CJ Stroud who almost upset the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP this year, or would it be Will Levis who shot up people’s draft boards due to the raw talent he has? 

The Panthers took Bryce Young number 1 overall, cementing his legacy at Alabama. Now all eyes shifted towards the Texans, who held the second pick and the twelfth pick. They picked CJ Stroud at number 2 which shocked a lot of people because most analysts thought they would go with Will Anderson Jr., the LB from Alabama. 

Shockingly the Texans traded up to the number 3 spot to take Will Anderson Jr. which shocked everybody. The Seahawks also made a splash and decided to take Devon Witherspoon at number 5, who was projected to go later. 

The Falcons decided to take Bijan Robinson at number 8 which puzzled some because they had two breakout running backs this year. 

The Lions also made a puzzling move by trading up to pick number 12 and taking Jahmyr Gibbs who was projected to be a late first to an early second-round pick as well as the Lions having a duo of Swift and Montgomery in the backfield, but Saturday April, 29 the Lions traded Swift to the Eagles. 

All eyes were on the Patriots who had pick number 14 with Jackson Smith-Njiba still on the board, but Head Coach Bill Belichick decided to trade back with the Steelers at 17 while acquiring a 4th-round pick in the process. 

The Patriots at 17 decided to make a move to solidify their defense by adding what many assumed was a top 5 talent, Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon. 

The Chargers made a puzzling move and took TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnson when there were other needs for the team on the defensive side of the ball. 

The Bills traded up to pick 26 and drafted the number 1 tight end in the class, Dalton Kincaid out of Utah, which will make a scary pairing with their current tight end Dawson Knox.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys picked Mazi Smith at number 26 which was not a bad move, but there were better defensive tackles still available such as Bryan Breese, who fell to the Saints at number 29. 

Throughout the first round, all eyes were on Kentucky Quarterback Will Levis and where he would go. Some thought he would go number 1 overall, others thought he would be a mid-rounder, but the consensus was that he would be taken in the first round. 

That however did not happen. All night he was sliding down people’s draft boards, eventually falling out of the first round. This, by many, viewed Levis’s slide as one of the worst in draft history. Throughout the night as each pick was made the camera would show Levis and his family and slowly see the disappointment in the young QB’s face. 

Fortunately, though he did not go undrafted for long when at pick 33 the Tennessee Titans traded up to select him. This now creates an interesting three way Quarterback Competition between Levis, Ryan Tannehil, and Malik Willis. 

Tennessee Quarterback Hendon Hooker was another name that was being monitored in the first round, but he fell all the way into the third round where the Lions took him at 68. Mostly due to his age and the fact that his stellar season was cut short due to an ACL injury.

This year’s Mr. Irrelevant was Desjuan Johnson, a defensive end out of Toledo who the Rams took as number 258. If last year has taught us anything, it is that Mr. Irrelevant can make a name for themselves as we saw with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Brock Purdy.

One heartwarming story of this draft was when the Cowboys, at pick 212 took Deuce Vaughn whose dad is a part of the Cowboys scouting department, and gave him his call asking if Deuce would like to come to work with him next week. This moment left everyone in the Dallas draft room up and arms, over the selection.

This Draft was an entertaining one with ups and downs, puzzling moves, and heartwarming stories, but the Draft means that football season is approaching and teams now have to begin preparing for the upcoming season. Only time will tell whether or not these rookies will make their mark in the NFL.

All photos courtesy of WikimediaCommons.

CJ Stroud selected 2nd by the Texans.
Bryce Young selected 1st by Panthers. 
Patriots first round pick Gonzalez.