The first round of the 2023 NFL draft is in the books and now it’s time for us to be able to examine the landing spots, debate whether anything changes for the rookies and start to figure out where we should draft them when Best Ball Mania IV opens on Saturday after the draft concludes. Thankfully, we have data from the Big Board contest and historical ADP data to indicate where the relevant rookies will settle.
The Panthers traded up to the first overall pick and reportedly were convinced by the 2021 Heisman winner, Bryce Young, early on in the process. Outside of Young’s size and weight concerns, which didn’t seem to worry the Panthers, there are very few holes to pick in Young’s game, and with a veteran core and good offensive line, there’s plenty of reason to believe Young can succeed early on in his career. Young was drafted as the QB22 in the two main Underdog contests pre-draft, with an ADP of 150 in single QB formats. Now that we are certain of his landing spot and situation, a climb of 15-20 spots, along with leapfrogging Derek Carr and the injured Kyler Murray would make some sense.
Prediction: 130 (QB18)
The Texans seemingly fooled everyone by keeping tight-lipped regarding their affection for CJ Stroud, putting to bed rumors that Stroud might experience a draft-night slide with their selection of him second overall. The Texans are not a team ready to compete but Stroud’s upside can be elite and his ability to progress through his reads will be useful with a receiving room that lacks a little in star power. The big question with Stroud will revolve around how much the Texans ask him to do with his legs, in college Stroud largely stayed within the pocket, outside of one game and rarely displayed the desire or ability to create huge returns in the rushing game. Predraft contests had Stroud as the QB26, which in part recognized some of the perceived doubts about where Stroud would be selected, now those are gone and Stroud will likely start every game, he should climb several spots.
Prediction: 165 (QB22)
The Colts had been heavily connected with fellow quarterback Will Levis in the days leading up to the draft but instead pivoted to the high upside pure adrenaline of Anthony Richardson. Shane Steichen has familiarity working with dual-threat passers who needed to develop and while the Colts aren’t flush with great pass-catchers, this still remains a great landing spot. The situation that will be often compared is that of Trey Lance in 2022, who saw his ADP climb as high as the mid-sixties. Lance had better weapons around him and a known quantity at head coach, along with a very good offensive line, Richardson does not have all of that. There will likely be some who consider Minshew a threat to Richardson’s starting time, but that is a threat we shouldn’t concern ourselves with as Minshew is simply not that good. Richardson’s path to starting plenty of games is very straightforward and his rushing floor makes him a day-one starter.
Prediction: 110 (QB14)
Arthur Smith and the Falcons bypassed quarterback and pushed all of their chips in on another top-ten selection of a skill position player with the undoubtedly excellent Bijan Robinson. Robinson is a true three-down elite prospect and could hold his own if he was drafted as a slot receiver, never mind the rushing work. Pre-draft Robinson was being drafted as the RB4 with an ADP of 13.1. There were concerns about where Robinson might end up, including potential landing spots like the Patriots where Robinson’s path to elite returns might have been congested, now Robinson has only Tyler Allgeier to contend with. For anyone with concerns they only need to look at how Breece Hall dominated Michael Carter in 2022, Robinson is going to eat.
Prediction: 8 (RB2)
As a league-mate of mine put it this morning, it was a rough night for the artist formerly known as ‘Our Lions’, as they spent draft capital on positions nobody expected them to and perhaps they didn’t need to. For the moment Gibbs is entrenched in a three-way battle for fantasy relevance with free agent signing, David Montgomery and the much-maligned D’Andre Swift. Swift is a slightly heavier back at 207lbs to Gibbs 199lbs but wasn’t used as a mauler or doing anything Gibbs couldn’t do. Much of Gibbs's outlook depends on what the Lions elect to do with Swift now, and the writing seems to be on the wall that Swift could be packing his bags soon.
Prediction: Three-way backfield: 125 (RB32)
Two-way split: 85 (RB22)
The unquestioned wide receiver one of this class had to wait a little longer than expected to hear his name called, but when it was the fit seemed perfect for all involved. The Seahawks have been craving a slot receiver and can plan around Jaxon Smith-Njigba being the long-term high-volume replacement for Tyler Lockett who will turn 31 in September. Pre-draft Smith-Njigba was drafted as the WR29 with an ADP of 51.3, five spots ahead of Lockett and 25 behind DK Metcalf. It would make sense for Lockett and Metcalf’s ADP’s all to drop because of Smith-Njigba’s ability to earn targets at a high rate but Smith-Njigba’s might climb slightly to mirror Amon-Ra St. Brown’s ADP in 2022, which hovered around 45. There was a chance Smith-Njigba had ended up with poor quarterback play, but thankfully he’s avoided that scenario.
Prediction: 45 (WR24)
In the days leading up to the draft, Quentin Johnston’s stock seemed to be falling closer and closer to the second round. Johnston avoided that and arguably ended up in one of the better spots he could land with the Chargers. Johnston has flaws in his game and will need time to develop, but the Chargers will find ways to use a big-bodied receiver who can make explosive plays, which will make for fun results in best ball in particular. Looking at 2022’s ADP Johnston’s situation compares to several teams where their third option was taken inside the fringes of the top 100.
Prediction: 95 (WR45)
The Baltimore Ravens offseason hasn’t been the most fun, but that all changed with the agreement of a contract with former unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson and then the drafting of Zay Flowers, a player compared to former Raven, Steve Smith Sr. Flowers can play both in the slot and on the outside, which new Ravens offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, will make great use of. While the Ravens will be far more pass-heavy than in recent years, it is fair to question how much volume there will be with Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman already on the team.
Prediction: 110 (WR50)
The Vikings needed to add another receiver after moving on from Adam Thielen and in Jordan Addison they drafted one of the very best in this class. Addison’s ability to manipulate defenses and excellent route-running ability will pair incredibly well with Justin Jefferson, with both players able to cycle in and out of the slot. Predraft Addison was the WR45 with an ADP of 89.7, but if we consider last year Adam Thielen was drafted as the WR32 with an ADP of 65, it feels like Addison’s value is going to jump steeply when drafts open.
Prediction: 72 (WR36)
Rumors of three tight ends being taken in the first round turned out to be off the mark, as the overall quality of this tight end class perhaps let teams consider waiting till the later rounds to select one. The Bills decided to make sure they got their guy however and jumped the Cowboys to do so. Kincaid is a pure pass-catcher with very limited skills as a blocker, but it’s unlikely he will be asked to do too much blocking in his first year with the Bills. Kincaid’s path to fantasy relevance is somewhat hampered by fellow tight end Dawson Knox, along with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis being more established talents in this team. Kincaid was being drafted as the TE25 with an ADP of 198 in predraft contests, and it’s hard to make an argument that should jump significantly. Kincaid is best drafted as part of Bills stacks to enhance your correlation.
Prediction: 186 (TE22)