The 2023 NFL draft was one of the most interesting in recent history. There were loads of surprise trades and picks that left some players in an incredible spot. Three players in particular stood out amongst the rest as those that won the NFL draft whether this be as a result of being drafted higher than expected or landing in a great situation.
The first player that won the 2023 NFL draft is C.J. Stroud. Shortly before the draft, Stroud’s name was being dragged through the mud in two major stories. The first was that he turned down an offer to attend the Manning Passing Academy, and the other was his extremely low score on the S2 test.
Turning down the Manning Passing Academy for many, was a negative reflection on Stroud’s character and his commitment to the game. Peyton Manning was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and many QB prospects would drop everything for a chance to learn from him. However, it would end up coming out that Stroud let the Manning’s know well ahead of time that he would be unable to attend the event.
Secondly, the S2 Cognition test is one of the newest tests NFL teams have been using to measure the ability to quickly and accurately process information. This is something that teams desperately need from their young players, especially if they are going to use such a high pick on them.
As a result of both of these stories coming out just weeks before the draft took place, many believed that Stroud could potentially slide out of the top ten despite being projected to be a top-two pick for the majority of the offseason.
Despite all of these stories working against Stroud, he would still be selected by the Houston Texans with the second overall pick in the draft. While this may not be the best landing spot for a quarterback in this year’s draft, being selected second rather than outside of the top ten, made Stroud millions of dollars.
The second winner in this year’s draft is Bijan Robinson. Coming into the draft, Robinson was regarded as one of the top players in the draft. Despite this, it was projected that he would be selected around the 10th overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, he would be taken earlier than expected and was the 8th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons may not be the best team next season, this is still an incredible landing spot for the very promising running back. Atlanta is a team that will heavily rely on their run game next season as quarterback Desmond Ridder did not do much to prove that he is an NFL-caliber quarterback through the air in his rookie season.
Last season, the Falcons’ 5th-round pick Tyler Allgeier was able to run for 1000 yards in his rookie year. There is no reason why Robinson could not have a much better rookie season and could even potentially finish as the Rookie of the Year if he can stay healthy.
The final player that won this year’s draft interestingly was a player that is going into their fourth year in the league. It appeared that D’Andre Swift’s touches would be greatly cut next season after the Detroit Lions selected Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick.
Using a pick that high on a running back means that they likely will go into the season as the starter. This would have caused a big hit to Swift’s production after he had a very solid season last year. After the Lions let Jamaal Williams walk in free agency, it appeared that it was Swift’s backfield heading into the 2023 season. Williams was a player that the team brought in on the goal line, and as a result, cut into a lot of potential touchdowns that could have gone to Swift.
Shortly after the Lions selected Gibbs, the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in and made a trade to add him to their team. The Eagles were a team that lost their starting running back Miles Sanders to free agency and were looking to find their new starting back. After they missed out on Robinson in the first round, Swift will go on to serve as an elite consolation prize and should have a big year next season.
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