2023 NFL Draft: 5 Best Moves Of Day 1

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) greets fans Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, after defeating Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) greets fans Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, after defeating Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /

The 2023 NFL Draft was billed as the most unpredictable draft in years, and Day 1 lived up to the hype — and then some! Exciting trades, shocking selections, and several other jaw-dropping moments highlight the first day of the event, but these five moves stood out the most.

2023 NFL Draft: 5 Best Moves Of Day 1

Eagles Select Jalen Carter AND Nolan Smith On Day 1 Of The 2023 NFL Draft

General manager Howie Roseman did his best Thanos impression Thursday night, as the Eagles acquired two more core members of the legendary Georgia Bulldog defense. After adding Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean in last year’s NFL Draft, Philly reunited the duo with Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, adding two more infinity stones to the roster.

Carter is arguably the best player in the class, boasting the rare ability to generate consistent pressure on the pocket from the interior. He is a dominant run defender, and if the Eagles can keep him in shape, Carter is poised to become an anchor for the defensive line.

Smith wins in different ways, using his mystifying 4.4 speed to blow by blockers on the edge. The star pass rusher proved capable of dropping back in coverage during his college career and is one of the better run defenders available in 2023.

Smith and Carter are versatile weapons for a defense on the verge of “best in the NFL” status. The rich get richer in the City of Brotherly Love. Well played, Howie, well played.

Cardinals Trade Back, Then Trade Up, Still Land The Guy They Wanted All Along

The Cardinals traded down from No. 3 overall, as many expected. New general manager Monti Ossenfort received the No. 12 and No. 33 pick in 2023, plus Houston’s first-round pick in 2024 and another day-two pick next year. Following this move, Arizona traded back up the board, sending No. 12 and a second-rounder this year to Detroit for the No. 6 pick.

At No. 6, the Cardinals drafted a player they would have taken at No. 3 anyway. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. provides stability on an offensive line sorely lacking it. Quarterback Kyler Murray constantly is flushed out of the pocket, but Johnson should immediately fix this, as the Buckeye allowed only three sacks in 925 career pass-blocking reps.

No One Drafted Will Levis Or Hendon Hooker

This is not a hit piece on Will Levis or Hendon Hooker, but drafting either prospect on Day 1 would have been a mistake that a franchise might never live down. According to ESPN, there was a 99.9% chance Levis would be taken on the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft, while Hooker’s name was gaining steam in the week leading up to the event.

As for Levis, his talent is undeniable. The Kentucky signal-caller boasts remarkable arm strength, impressive mobility, and experience in an NFL-style offense. However, Levis shows sloppy footwork on tape and is prone to playing ‘hero ball’, which creates several turnovers and turnover-worthy plays.

With Hooker, he is 25 years old and coming off of an ACL tear late in the college football season. The Vols quarterback is precise, mobile, and experienced behind center, but it would be shortsighted to take a player who would be 30 by the time his first-round rookie deal ended.

The Texans Go All In On CJ Stroud And Will Anderson Jr.

Not only did the Texans snag a franchise signal-caller in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they also selected the best defender in the class following a shroud trade up the board. General manager Nick Caserio gave his new head coach DeMeco Ryans a blue-chip defender, and he still snagged a day-one starter at quarterback.

CJ Stroud is deathly accurate and knows how to rally his team and get the most out of them. The Buckeye star exhibits impeccable touch and anticipation on his throws and is a much better passer on the move than he gets credit for. He is a culture changer for the Texans.

Will Anderson Jr. fits the same mold in terms of leadership and a dedicated work ethic. A protege of Nick Saban, Anderson knows what it takes to be a professional at the next level. He possesses a wide array of pass-rushing moves and holds his own in run support. Similar to the Jets in 2022, Houston has a chance to win the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards this upcoming season.

Seahawks Continue Assembling The Legion of Boom Part 2, Bring In High-Upside Pass Catcher

The Seahawks surprised many by taking cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 5 overall. Seattle typically looks at longer, traitsy cornerbacks in the NFL Draft, but Witherspoon’s tape and personality are enough to cause general manager John Schneider to stray from his standard approach.

Witherspoon doesn’t just have that dawg in him… he has the entire pound in his 5-foot-11, 181-pound frame. He hits like a Mack Truck and displays teach-tape technique in both man and zone coverage. After striking gold with Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant in last year’s draft, the cornerback room is complete with Witherspoon.

At No. 20, the Seahawks selected arguably the best wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a proficient route runner with zero wasted motions as he works downfield. JSN is shifty and tough to corral in open space, and with his sure hands, the Buckeye pass catcher is capable of hauling in 100+ footballs as a rookie.