I’ve been a fan of a tanking team for a couple of years now, and I think the hardest part of staring at big boards before the season even hits its dog days is when that big board is dumbed down to a bar menu. The 2023 NFL Draft is one such menu. It’s airport Chick-Fil-A, going to Frontera when Topolobampo is right there, an In-N-Out food truck that doesn’t do the secret menu.
“Fuck, man, I can’t even get it animal style? I drove seven hours without AC for this?!” That’s why Chicago traded down, and pundits want them to do it again. (I don’t know about all that. Follow Bill Belichick’s draft approach at your own risk.) Look at Carolina. They traded up to get a franchise QB, but are still thinking it over.
A lot of fans and experts are Pokerfacing those reports yet you’d have to be Charlie Cale to know the truth (or have seen the Peacock procedural to get the reference). I do believe the Panthers though. They’re first up and are staring at two damned-if-you-do, SOL-if-you-don’t options. Might as well just flip a coin and be happy that you get a chance to develop Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. If I’m Houston, I’m honestly glad to have the decision made for me.
I’m not going to go at length about Will Levis and Anthony Richardson because I’ve already done that. However, we could poke holes in a ton of players, especially the high-value skill positions. And seeing as that’s the point of this piece, let’s do just that.
Save for tight ends, the top 50 is barren of top-tier skill players
I love contradicting myself less than four paragraphs after I talked shit, which is why I’m happy to say maybe teams should try the two TE Patriot way that worked so well until New England no longer wanted to talk about Aaron Hernandez. Despite the best player at that position not being eligible yet, I’ve seen prospect lists with almost as many tight ends as receivers (four to five of each depending on the site) in the top 50.
Jordan Addison changed teams, helped earn Caleb Williams a Heisman, and his draft stock didn’t budge. While TCU’s Quentin Johnston has the body and speed to be a No. 1, he’d need Addison’s route-running skills to move into the top 10. I mixed on pretty much every receiver — Jaxon Smith-Njigba barely played last year; Zay Flowers is tiny, and the ACC doesn’t play any defense; ditto for Josh Downs; and Jalin Hyatt might be really good, or he simply might’ve been in an incredible offense.
Apparently, Bijan Robinson is that dude, but no franchise wants the public shaming that comes with taking a running back in the first round. I also think Jahmyr Gibbs was the best running back I watched last year and is better suited for today’s NFL than Robinson. (He’d be a perfect Austin Ekeler replacement for the Chargers, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen because Dean Spanos is a turd.)
Alright, moving on.
I hope you like linemen
If you don’t appreciate good line play, join the club. Nothing is less sexy than taking defensive and offensive linemen, and holy shit are there a lot available in this draft. This is 2023 though, and if you don’t have an explosive offense, you aren’t shit. Look at the teams that led the league in sacks and sacks allowed, and tell me a title can still be won in the trenches.
It’s great if you can run the ball and be physical like San Francisco. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a Super Bowl. Would you rather have the Niners’ glass ceiling, or the Bengals’ quarterback and skill players? Yes, Will Anderson and Jalen Carter could conceivably wreck opposing quarterbacks. I also could be talked into either or both of them not panning out.
We know about Carter’s off-field issues that have led to his draft stock tumbling like a volatile crypto company. Anderson had fewer tackles this season than he had as a freshman and half as many as his sophomore year. To be fair, college defenses in general take long intervals off, but that’s a product of the game’s evolution toward a kinder, gentler, and more QB-friendly iteration.
There will be a lot of fans talking themselves into selections and beefy linemen in a few weeks, and just as many bitching about a stagnant offense in six months.
Spending the entire NFL season watching your team jockey for draft position only to end up with the 2023 class is absolutely brutal. I remember talking myself into Tavon Austin 10 years ago, and because I’m a jilted ex-St. Louis Rams fan, I can’t wait for more people to be as miserable as me. So I personally can’t wait for the shit to start flying because this edition strikes me as exceptionally crap shoot-y. We have multiple fan bases hoping for a franchise-altering talent who are most likely going to get judo chopped in the nether regions.
Oh, you thought Will Levis was a franchise QB? PI-YAH! Knee to the junk! Anthony Richardson is the best athlete to ever play the position? BOOM! Donkey-kick to the balls! If Quentin Johnston would only fall to the Giants? How about this elbow falls on your… CROTCH! The Bears are geniuses? Well, nothing smarts like a… CUP CHECK! I thought this guy was going to do a callback to the bar menu analogy? SMASH! End of column!