No. 3: Youngsters On Defense Take A Massive Leap
The defense lost one of its leaders this offseason when Jessie Bates III moved down south and inked a long-term pact with the Atlanta Falcons. Going further, the polarizing Eli Apple also departed, leaving a couple of starting gigs open in the secondary.
The two replacements likely hail from the 2022 draft class, as Daxton Hill is poised to step into the void left by Bates at safety. In addition, Cam Taylor-Britt will hold down the fort at cornerback again after an impressive rookie campaign.
The 2023 NFL Draft brought in a few more exciting pieces for the defensive backfield. D.J. Turner and his 4.2 speed headed to Cincinnati on Day 2, while Jordan Battle and his Alabama pedigree fell to No. 95 overall later on in the day.
One more addition worth mentioning comes in the form of Myles Murphy. The Clemson pass rusher was a top 15 player on my final big board before the draft, making his value at No. 28 a downright steal. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Murphy led all rookies in sacks in 2023.
The front office is banking on a leap from its 2022 class, with some immediate contributions from the most recent draft class helping out along the way. It’s never easy to replace two starters on the defense, but drafting well sure takes a lot of the pressure off.