For the last week in April for as long as anyone can remember, the NFL becomes the main talking point of the sporting world with the NFL Draft. This year was no exception. There’s always going o be winners and losers during a weekend filled with surprising trades and unexpected picks. In this article, I will determine who these winners and losers are. Obviously, it’s the NFL; anything can happen, but these will be determined based on immediate reaction and what the picks and decisions do for their teams now and in the future.
The new regime in Arizona started off their times in the Grand Canyon State and the NFL Draft with a bang, trading out of number 3 with the Houston Texans, picking up the 12th and 33rd pick, along with Houston’s 1st and 3rd round picks in next year’s draft.
However, Monti Ossenfort and company weren’t done just yet; as the Cards traded back up to 6 with the Detroit Lions to take Paris Johnson Jr. (OT)
The best part? Arizona didn’t give up any of their newly acquired picks except for #12.
Paris Johnson Jr. is objectively the best Offensive Line prospect in this year’s draft, along with being Arizona’s biggest need, and will prove vital in keeping QB Kyler Murray healthy coming off of an ACL tear last season.
Adding on the additions of B.J. Olujari (EDGE) and Garrett Williams (CB) in the next two rounds; who could both start right away in Jonathan Gannon’s new defense, and the future assets acquired from a rebuilding Texans team, the Cardinals look to be soaring high into the future.
If you just looked at Arizona’s side of the trade at pick 3, you’d think the Texans came out of this draft looking sheepish.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although all the assets Nick Caserio gave up is a lot, when you trade up to land a player like Will Anderson Jr.(EDGE), it’ll always look like a bargain. Anderson is a game wrecker that will (get it?) take over games like it’s a normal thing; especially in a division where offensive line play isn’t necessarily the best. Anderson alone makes H-Town a winner this year.
That’s not even mentioning their other top 5 pick; C.J. Stroud. (QB)
An elite passer of the football that led would have led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a national championship if not for a missed field goal, Houston has finally found their guy at the Quarterback position to succeed Deshaun Watson.
Along with weapons for Stroud such as Tank Dell (WR) who C.J. wanted the front office to get, and Xavier Hutchinson (WR) with reinforcements on the offensive line in Juice Scruggs (IOL) and Jarrett Patterson (IOL), Space City looks to shoot for the stars in the future on the backs of Stroud and new head coach Demeco Ryans.
For someone who went to Florida, Howie Roseman really likes to draft Georgia players.
Roseman and the birds started the draft off strong by trading up a spot to take Jalen Carter (IDL) 9th overall, a consensus top 3 player in this year’s draft. With their second pick in the first round, Philly got Nolan Smith (EDGE) at 31, another Georgia Bulldog who some predicted to go as high as 8th overall to Atlanta. Finally, the Eagles took one more dog from Kirby Smart’s defense; Kelee Ringo (DB) in the 4th round.
Pair this with Jordan Davis (DT) and Nakobe Dean (LB) from last year’s draft and the Eagles now have 5/11 starters from the 2021 Georgia defense that won a National Championship and is widely considered one of the best defenses of all time.
Rounding out the draft, Philadelphia took Tyler Steen (OL) and Sydney Brown (DB) to help fill out needs left by Isaac Seumalo and CJ Gardner-Johnson after both left in free agency.
With a team that has a super bowl in grasp, Roseman’s birds look poised to repeat as NFC Champions and potentially snag a second Super Bowl back to the City of Brotherly Love.
New York Jets
With the addition of future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Jets look to be back in the playoff hunt for the first time in a while, and this draft looked to continue their track record from last year and push this roster over the top.
Unfortunately for Jets fans, Joe Douglas failed to meet these expectations.
Gang Green reached on Will McDonald IV (EDGE) at pick 15 when he more than likely would have been there in the second round. While New York did fill their offensive line needs with Joe Tippman (IOL) and Carter Warren (OT), they didn’t do much to improve the roster outside of depth for the rest of the depth.
The Jets didn’t necessarily have a BAD draft, but in a division where all 4 teams could realistically sneak in to the playoffs, you need all the top-end help you can get.
San Francisco 49ers
The aftereffects of the Trey Lance trade are being felt in a big way in the bay area.
Although John Lynch didn’t have a lot of picks to work with, he could’ve used them a LOT better. Trading up for Ji’Ayir Brown (DB) works, but there were multiple players that all play safety that are better still on the board such as Christopher Smith (DB) from Georgia and Jordan Battle (DB) from Alabama. The 9ers followed up Brown with Jake Moody (K) from Michigan, which was a major overdraft for a kicker as a top 100 pick.
Outside of Ronnie Bell (WR) at pick 253, the rest of the draft is nothing to write home about. Most of these players will not see the field for the Super Bowl contenders, so this poor draft doesn’t hurt them too bad. However, as teams like the aforementioned Eagles continue to get better, the Niners need to learn to match that pace.
Washington left a lot to be desired. Emmanuel Forbes Jr. (DB) from Mississippi State is a good ball player with great ball instincts, but taking him over Christian Gonzalez (DB) from Oregon was a shaky decision at best due to Gonzalez’s ability to cover like a blanket.
The Commanders double dipped at cornerback with Jartavius Martin (DB) from Illinois, who would have been there later. However, they made up for it in the third round with the selection of Ricky Stromberg (IOL) by way of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
However, with the team’s biggest question mark being the quarterback position, it makes no sense not to at least take a flier let alone pass up on the position all together. Their current starting QB Sam Howell has a sample size of one meaningless game, and with Hendon Hooker (QB) and Will Levis (QB) both falling to day 2, Washington really missed out on an opportunity to add some competition to the QB room.
With the passing up of a quarterback, it seems Washington is all in on Caleb Williams (QB) from USC for next year’s draft, so don’t expect the Commanders to surprise anybody this year.