Justin Fields isn’t an outright bust, but time seems to be up on him becoming a franchise QB for a team still very early in a re-build. The Bears need assets and could do with re-starting the clock on a franchise QB. Williams has elite potential, but has a concerning habit of playing poor on-script and shrinking in the big moments. At the moment, Williams and Maye are very much “1a and 1b” for me rather than Williams being the clear-cut No.1 pick. Maye has played better this season, and Williams has a “unique character” to quote this site. Despite this, his upside is through the roof and has some great tape amidst his mid-season struggles, so calling it now, I would still opt to take a gamble on Williams here.
This is interesting as the Cardinals could opt to take Williams/Maye here, and themselves reset at the start of a rebuild. However, despite my opinions of Kyler Murray being somewhat overrated, he is - when healthy - a top-half of the league QB, and to his credit has had an abysmal offensive line and defense in recent years. I’d draft BPA throughout this draft and re-visit the QB situation (especially with his obscene contract) in 2024. Harrison Jr. would qualify as BPA, considering he’s a truly elite - dare I say generational - receiver prospect. He looks even better than his HOF father, and is in the Ja’Marr Chase category of elite prospects who look close to a sure thing for the next level. He’d be a WR1 and franchise cornerstone for years to come.
The Giants’ front office should be fired after their mishandling of the Daniel Jones contract. He has returned to his truly awful state of play, and offering him a big, multi-year deal at the time felt like a huge mistake. They’ve also really whiffed on their first two drafts outside of Kayvon Thibodeaux and - maybe - Jalin Hyatt; Evan Neal, in particular, is absolutely awful, and their mid-round choices have been highly questionable by and large. Either way, although Jones’ contract is disgusting, if they wish to be remotely competitive, they’ll have to take the huge cap hit for a couple of years and bite through it. Maye is an exponentially better prospect with a franchise QB skill-set. For now I have Maye as QB2, but he’s trending up, whereas Williams is trending down. It’ll be interesting to see how different teams feel come April.
Much like the Giants, they are stuck with an awful former 1st round QB they need to move off; however, the Patriots’ offense as a whole is a complete mess, and outside the top-3 may miss out on Williams and Maye. If so, they’d do their best to draft BPA too. Belichik loves his tight ends, and Bowers is an elite prospect. He’s not quite on a Kyle Pitts level for me, but he’s the 2nd best non-QB in this draft and a receiver No. 1 talent who could be the Patriots’ next Gronkowski. OL and WR would not be dismissed here, either.
The Bears beat the free agent market by trading early for Montez Sweat - a questionable decision, in my opinion, given the state of their franchise - but they need more pass rushers even with Sweat now rostered. Latu has been one of, if not “the” biggest risers of this process thus far. Playing well in 2022, he’s taken his play to another level in 2023. He’s been an animal, with speed and power moves, winning with technique and athleticism. He’s nightmarish for offensive lineman and the clear EDGE 1 for me at this stage. He’d be a great 4-3 fit in Chicago and give them a substantially better pass-rushing duo entering 2024.
The Rams started the season much stronger than anyone could have realistically envisioned, but their lack of talent is now starting to show after 4 losses in 5 games. They made a nice selection last year in Steve Avila, and trade acquisition Kevin Dotson is suddenly playing really well, but they need serious upgrades at offensive tackle. This year is absolutely staked with OT talent, much like the 2020 draft - if not even more so. I have 7-8 OT’s with potential first round grades at this stage. Although Mims’ skill-set entices me the most, I’m nervous at his lack of play - whereas Joe Alt has played really well. Charlie notes that teams have some reservations with his stiffness and lack of blindside ability, but right now, Alt looks like the safest tackle with upside. It’ll be interesting to see how the tackle group develops over the pre-draft process.
The Packers draft defense early, but that needs to change as their offense is putrid. Their line - Elgton Jenkins and Zach Tom aside - has been weak, and David Bakhtiari cannot stay healthy. Now also approaching his mid-30’s, the Packers need a long-term solution at tackle. Mims hasn’t played much, but in limited action in 2023 showed why pre-season reports were so bullish on him. He looks like a monstrous tackle with an elite skill-set, and Charlie has reported comparisons to future HOF tackle Tyron Smith.
The Buccaneers are holding on to some essence of competitiveness, but if they weren’t in the worst division in football, they’d be getting blown apart more frequently. They are due a rebuild. Baker Mayfield has played adequately, and there are tires to kick there - I think he’s fine as a stop-gap - a bit like Jared Goff for Detroit, who has subsequently become much more than that. The Buccaneers have some bad contracts and some big needs in their pass rush, and on the offensive line. However, their duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans surely won’t last beyond 2023. Here is a potential mismatch replacement who has been on a tear thus far in 2023, putting some premium tape in.
The Broncos’ pass-rush hasn’t been the same since they traded Von Miller. They have some decent rotation pieces, but need a premium investment. I was skeptical of Turner entering the season, but to his credit, he’s been really good in 2023 and improved from last season, making the most of his opportunities. He’s a good fit as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker and has been compared favorably to Panthers star Brian Burns.
I loved Peter Skoronski coming out of last year’s draft, and thought he was an excellent pick. However, the Titans offensive line still needs a lot of work. Andre Dillard is amongst the worst Left Tackles in the sport, and Nick Petit-Frere has not proven himself to be a capable starter. They need a premium tackle upgrade. Olu Fashanu is one of my favorite OT prospects, but has had a sobering hot press report here with teams seemingly lower on him than the media, albeit still a solid Round 1 prospect. Right now, I can’t put any of the other tackles in front of him, but watch this space. For now, I like this fit and Fashanu’s NFL potential.
The Falcons’ front office has done a good job in the draft and free agency by and large. I love their approach of “fire power, no matter what” in the 1st round, and filling defensive needs with proven veterans. However, they have not figured out the QB position yet. Ridder has proven that he is not an NFL starter, and they need to seriously consider being aggressive and trading up if they want a franchise QB. I’m not convinced Sanders will declare; if he does, he’s my QB3 and a prospect I really like. Walter Football reported that Sanders is getting 1st round grades of teams, and the tape more than matches it. Recent drafts - and being a 49ers fan to witness the Purdy/Lance situation - have shown that as much as physical talent is super important in the early rounds, great college players are often overlooked for athletic reasons, yet become great pros, whereas athletic “ceiling” players fizzle out. Sanders isn’t an elite athlete, but a cerebral quarterback and a good leader. He’d be a solid bet for Atlanta moving forward, and a full circle moment for his father Deion.
Howell deserves to keep his job entering 2024; he’s been far from perfect, but has played well at times behind a shoddy OL that needs work. That side, they traded both Montez Sweat and Chase Young to the Bears and 49ers respectively, and now need a premium injection at the position. The OL is shaping up to be much deeper than the EDGE group, so at this stage, I’d take the pass rusher now and make several OL picks later in the draft. Verse isn’t quite living up to his top-5 billing entering the season, but he’s improved from his cold start and looks like a comfortable mid-1st round edge rusher still. He’s being double teamed a lot, and still putting in some good tape. He’d be a quality investment.
JuJu Brents was a quality selection 44th overall last year, and he’s started his career well; however, the Colts need another franchise CB to make their secondary imposing to an improving division, with Lawrence, Stroud and potentially Levis. Wiggins has elevated himself - for now - to CB1, with good range, size and athletic ability. His ball skills aren’t exceptional, but he is very disruptive and a balanced corner between man and zone.
The Raiders are about to hit the reset button - again - on their front office and coaching staff. Hopefully this time they’ll find a competent group who can draft and manage their roster. The Raiders defense, outside of Maxx Crosby, is an utter disaster. They need interior defensive line and corner upgrades specifically, with the latter carrying better Day 2 depth. In an underwhelming class at the position, Newton has himself not looked quite as good in 2023 as 2022. However, he’s got a body of tape showcasing his ability to rush the passer from the inside, an extremely valued quantity in the NFL.
The Cardinals could justify an upgrade literally anywhere on their defense, with corner probably being the most pressing need. However, there seems to be a clear tier of Latu, Turner, Verse and Robinson developing, with a lot of Day 2 talent at corner. Robinson is undersized for 4-3 defenses, but could be a great 3-4 OLB with great bust and quickness. He’s played well in 2023.
The Jets still need a lot of help on their OL. Alijah Vera-Tucker is fantastic when healthy, but unfortunately, has had season ending injuries in 2 consecutive seasons. Duane Brown is not long for the NFL, and Mekhi Becton - whilst finally back - is not the same player he was as a rookie. The Jets could do with at least 1 solid tackle for Aaron Rodgers, and shouldn’t run out of options this time. Latham is a high-floor RT starter with good strength and anchor. However, he’s similar to former alumni Evan Neal insofar that his footwork and athleticism may hinder him from starting at LT in the pros.