Friday’s Den: Thoughts after the first round of the NFL Draft

— NFL had big news hours before the draft started; Baltimore Ravens finally signed QB Lamar Jackson, giving him a 5-year, $260M contract, with $185M of it guaranteed.

Not sure what took so long, but now the Ravens can focus on the 2023 season- they even picked a WR with their first draft pick, Zay Flowers from Boston College.

— Last fall during college football season, I don’t remember any analysts praising QB’s and their chances of being NFL stars, other than USC’s Caleb Williams; I’m pretty sure everyone is already touting Williams as an NFL star— he’ll most likely be the first pick in next year’s draft.

But here we are, the first round is over and three of the first four picks in the 2023 draft were quarterbacks. Go figure. 

— Carolina has a new coach (Frank Reich) who started a different QB every year when he was coach of the Colts. They have the wealthiest owner in the league (which means he ain’t patient) and now they have a new QB, Bryce Young from Alabama.

Young is the first Alabama player ever to be the first pick of an NFL draft.

Andy Dalton figures to start the season at QB for Carolina, but Young will be the starter before long, because that is what #1 picks do these days. They learn by doing.

— Houston Texans have a new coach, and now CJ Stroud is their new QB; the history of Ohio State quarterbacks in the NFL isn’t great. Stroud threw 85 TD’s, 12 INT’s in college, starting for two years in Columbus.

Texans traded up with Arizona and got the #3 pick too, taking LB Will Anderson from Alabama. Houston is 11-38 the last three seasons; they were bold Thursday night, but they paid a big price.

Arizona got the #12 pick, the #33 pick, and Houston’s 1st/3rd round picks next year.

— Mel Kiper Jr has Kentucky QB Will Levis ranked ahead of Stroud in his ratings, but Levis was surprisingly not taken at all in the first round. Tough night for the young man; ESPN’s cameras kept showing him sitting there, waiting to hear his name called. It wasn’t. 

Levis will have a huge chip on his shoulder when he finally is drafted; once upon a time, Miami Dolphins drafted a quarterback after five other QB’s had been taken that year. Guy turned out to be a pretty good player………Dan Marino.

— Indianapolis Colts, Reich’s old team, drafted QB Anthony Richardson from Florida; they have Gardner Minshew to be Richardson’s veteran mentor, but Minshew has started only 24 games in four NFL seasons (8-16 W-L record). Can they afford to let Minshew play the whole year?

Richardson started only 13 college games at Florida; he completed 9-27 passes in his last game and is only 20 years old. QB’s who complete only 53.8% of their passes are usually more suspect than prospect, but he is mobile and new Colts’ coach Shane Steichen worked wonders with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia, also a mobile QB, albeit a more experienced one.

— Arizona traded out of the #3 pick to the #12 pick, then traded up to the #6 pick, taking OT Paris Johnson from Ohio State, which should make Kyler Murray happy. One of the guys on NFL Network said “……right now, I think they have the worst roster in the league” referring to the Cardinals.

— Since they blew a 28-3 lead and lost the Super Bowl to New England six years ago, the Atlanta Falcons are 42-56; they took RB Bijan Robinson from Texas with the #8 pick, to try and spruce up their offense, with a young QB (Desmond Ridder) already in place.

— Philadelphia spent a 4th-round pick to move up from the 10th pick to the 9th pick, then they took Georgia DL Jalen Carter, who had slipped because of off-field concerns. He gained nine pounds in two weeks after the NFL Combine, and word was the Georgia coaches didn’t give him much of an endorsement to scouts, which is why he slipped.

Eagles have some other Georgia alums on their squad; they think Carter will be just fine.

— Of the top 10 players in the draft, five played for SEC schools.

— NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes around $40M a year; he is very good at his job, seems like a good guy. Not wearing a tie at the draft gives everything a more casual air. I’m surprised that Goodell isn’t a lawyer, thought that was part of the deal.

Goodell is terrific at the draft; when the Make-a-Wish kids come out to announce a team’s pick, he is a gracious host.

— I’m off to Las Vegas in ten days, am hoping the NFL will announce the 2023 schedule while I’m there. Want to watch the betting activity in the casino when the first games are posted, think it’ll be fun.

Here’s the thing: they haven’t announced when they’re releasing this year’s schedule. Last year they released the schedule May 12th; I’m hoping for May 11th (or 18th) this year. We’ll see if I’m a good travel planner. If not, I’ll still be in Las Vegas, which is always fun.

— Four of the first 14 players drafted Thursday were offensive tackles; quarterbacks are really expensive, so they have to be protected.

— There wasn’t a wide receiver taken until the 20th pick, but then four in a row were picked.

— Tennessee Titans took OT Peter Skoronski from Northwestern with the #11 pick; the young man has good blood lines, his grandfather is Bob Skoronski, who was a linemen for Green Bay in Super Bowls I, II— he played 11 years in the NFL.

— They had 125,000 people in Kansas City to watch all this Thursday night; rounds 2-3 are tonight, with the rest of the draft on Saturday.

The draft is a fascinating process; not everyone is good at it, which is why it is so interesting. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.