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Trends and takeaways from the 2023 NFL Draft

Bryce Young and Roger Goodell
Bryce Young and Roger Goodell (© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

There is so much that goes on during the NFL Draft weekend that it’s impossible to cover it all but Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney has some thoughts about news and trends that stood out:


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A record 14 quarterbacks were drafted including three of the first four picks in Bryce Young and CJ Stroud first and second and then Anthony Richardson fourth but after that, NFL teams waited a long while before taking others.

So long that former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis had to wait through the first round with all the cameras on him at the draft as he wasn’t taken until the early second round. Levis was the only taken in the second and then former Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker was the only one taken in the third.

After that it was a quarterback bonanza as Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell were taken in the fourth, Houston’s Clayton Tune, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Penn State’s Sean Clifford and BYU’s Jaren Hall were fifth-round picks

The only one in the sixth was Stanford’s Tanner McKee and the last QB pick was TCU’s Max Duggan in the last round.

It could be a one-off draft or it could be a trend but it’s definitely something for us to consider in recruiting rankings: Quarterbacks are taken early in the first round or not much at all until the middle rounds.



Jalen Carter
Jalen Carter (© Chris Kwiecinski / USA TODAY NETWORK)

It’s now becoming more than a trend - or happenstance - that the Philadelphia Eagles are targeting Georgia players in the NFL Draft. Smart move by the Philly brass.

In 2022, the Eagles drafted defensive lineman Jordan Davis in the first round and took Nakobe Dean in the third. This year, Philadelphia went even heavier on the back-to-back national champions with first-round selections Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith and then dipped back into the Athens alums in the fourth round to get former five-star cornerback Kelee Ringo.

And how can you argue with any of those picks?

Carter might be the best overall player in the draft when healthy and focused. Smith has incredible speed off the edge, an awesome motor and he’s a great teammate so he should be loved in Philadelphia and Ringo slipping to the fourth round was a surprise but he can play, he has elite speed and whether he’s a corner or safety, he has special qualities.

Next year might be more of the same for the Eagles and it will only make their defense better if they keep tapping the Georgia well.




Will Anderson
Will Anderson (© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Is it any coincidence that the four teams that made the College Football Playoff last season were also the four teams that had the most draft picks? Probably not.

Alabama and Georgia had 10, Michigan finished with nine and TCU had eight as cohesiveness, roster development and overall talent clearly not only played a role in getting to the playoff but also reflected in the draft as well.

Alabama QB Bryce Young was the first overall pick and there’s no argument with his impact in Tuscaloosa nor from edge Will Anderson, the third overall pick. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs going No. 12 overall was a surprise since running backs haven’t gone much in the first round recently and then defensive back Brian Branch going in the second round seems like a steal for the Detroit Lions.

Georgia had Jalen Carter, former five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones and Nolan Smith were first-rounders and then former five-star tight end Darnell Washington was a third-rounder followed by Ringo. Star quarterback Stetson Bennett went in the fourth among others.

It was a banner year for TCU as receiver Quentin Johnston went in the first round followed by OL Steve Avila in the second, RB Kendre Miller in the third and then defensive end Dylan Horton and WR Derius Davis in the fourth. But it was the later-round guys who might end up being the steals in sixth-rounders Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and LB Dee Winters and seventh-round QB Max Duggan.

Defensive tackle Mazi Smith was the first-rounder for Michigan followed by TE Luke Schoomaker in the second along with CB DJ Turner. Kicker Jake Moody was a third-round selection which is always a surprise to one taken that early and then Wolverines were well-represented in the later rounds as well.



One of the considerations we’ve had in recruiting rankings is that offensive guards are becoming more valuable and so there should be an even more focused consideration on making some of those players five-stars. Based on having no interior offensive linemen in the first round - and a blowout list of offensive tackles taken early - we might have to reconsider some of those things.

At offensive tackle, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. was sixth overall, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright went No. 10, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski (who could move inside in the NFL) was No. 11 and then Georgia’s Broderick Jones (No. 14) and Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison at No. 27 rounded out the first-round offensive tackles.



Kelee Ringo
Kelee Ringo (© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Here are four guys who I think should have been taken higher in the draft and who could excel in the NFL over the coming years.

Zachary Evans: He was the top-rated running back in the 2020 class and a five-star prospect who was a physical specimen in high school but never really got it going at either TCU or Ole Miss as other running backs were ahead of him and Evans could never gain traction. That doesn’t mean he isn’t supremely talented, though, and going in the sixth round to the Los Angeles Rams could be perfect for him. Let coach Sean McVay work with him and Evans could shine.

Noah Sewell: It’s borderline ridiculous that Sewell was not taken until the fifth round - especially as you look at some of the linebackers taken ahead of him. NFL execs overthought this one and whether they were concerned with his size or whatever, I don’t know but the former five-star linebacker makes plays and can tackle. I don’t love that he had 114 tackles to 56 over the last two seasons but it’s nuts Sewell didn’t go earlier.

Kelee Ringo: There has been a contingent of Georgia fans that didn’t love Ringo during his career there and whether he’s a corner or a safety in the NFL at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, what’s the difference? For the former five-star who ran 4.35 at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and then 4.36 at the NFL Combine along with being a big contributor for the Dawgs not to be picked until the fourth round? Come on.

Antonio Johnson: The former East St. Louis, Ill., standout was a fringe five-star consideration, a safety who had tremendous length and playmaking ability and he always played hard. Johnson went to Texas A&M where he had 150 tackles over the last two seasons patrolling the secondary. I thought he could be one of the top safeties taken off the board, maybe even in the second round. But eight safeties taken before him and Johnson not selected until the fifth round? No way.