Texans, Eagles ace both first round picks

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected third overall by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station.


Here’s how wild the Texans’ first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is, both in terms of who was selected (and when) and who wasn’t.

It was a Texans big night for pretenders and pretenders. And another banner evening for Southeastern Conference power. And, as usual, the show was stolen early by the quarterbacks… but as the night wore on, others wound up being no-shows.

With just 31 picks off the board, it’s still early — and the next six rounds could drastically change the complexion of each team’s overall appearance. But Thursday provided a snapshot —a big and vivid one — of where this holistic draft assessment is headed.

Your winners and losers from Round 1:

Texans winners

Philadelphia Eagles: Bulldogs DT Jalen Carter (No. 9) and OLB/DE Nolan Smith (No. 30). He joins former Dogs DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean, who the Phillies picked up last year. A defense that was second overall in 2022 and led the NFL with 70 regular-season sacks gets deeper and scarier.

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CJ Stroud: Coming out of this year’s scouting combine — and certainly after the No. 1 pick by the Chicago Bears — the Ohio State star was widely considered the first or second player off the board. Texans that narrative has changed in recent weeks, with Stroud the subject of some unflattering (and unfair) press. But he was selected second overall by Houston, becoming the highest-drafted Buckeyes quarterback in the regular draft era (since 1967). And his relief and emotion was palpable once the call came through.

Houston Texans: Ahem, by the time the smoke cleared, the recent AFC doormats had actually listed their new quarterback (Stroud) second overall before making the bold move — at great, big expense (two first-rounders, a second- and third-rounder) — to Alabama. Back to the No. 3 slot for OLB/DE Will Anderson Jr., who should be the defensive captain for the next decade. The Texans became the third team in the regular draft era to select twice in the first three slots of Round 1. It may still be a few years before Houston returns to the playoffs, but this organization is on the way to relevancy and the odds are slim. A long walkover.

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected third overall by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station.

Bryce Young: The first ‘Bama player selected first overall in the regular draft era, he takes his prodigious talent to a Carolina Panthers team desperate for a franchise quarterback and fresh face. And the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner could keep this team in the playoff mix as the Panthers missed out on winning the NFC South last season.

Mock Draft of Daniel Jeremiah: The NFL Network’s chief draft analyst, who doubles as a swamp guy, nailed it Wednesday night — predicting a trade with Arizona, Stroud, and Anderson would go to Houston with the second and third picks, respectively. Does anyone else have it? Feel free to choose my Powerball number, DJ.

Arizona Cardinals: They were the beneficiaries of trading the Andersen pick to Houston and soon followed at No. 6 on the board for Ohio State LT Paris Johnson Jr., who fills a huge need for a team trying to get injured QB Kyler Murray (ACL surgery). Back to the field. It appears that new GM Monty Osenfort has this rebuild ahead of schedule.

Anthony Richardson: The highly talented – but woefully inexperienced – Florida quarterback landed fourth overall with the Indianapolis Colts… and new HC Shane Steichen, who was instrumental in the development of Los Chargers QB Justin Herbert and rising Eagles superstar Jalen Hurts. And, with Gardner Minshew, Richardson doesn’t need to play right away — but if he does, he’ll spend a lot of time handing off to 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor.

Lamar Jackson: Before the draft began, the Baltimore Ravens superstar quarterback finally brokered his long-awaited Texans contract extension, becoming the highest-paid player (in terms of average annual compensation) in league history with a five-year, $260 million mega contract. A few hours later, he also had a new weapon, GM Eric DeCosta taking a receiver for the third time in five years by selecting Boston College’s explosive Zay Flowers in Round 1.

Teams that need a quarterback in 2024: The Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Minnesota Vikings all have projected starting quarterbacks who will be free agents a year from now. Heading into Round 2 though, all have a good chance of picking a potential replacement… more on them later.

New England Patriots: They got a top 10 talent, Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez, with the 17th pick and stuck him with the division rival Jets in the process … more on them later.

Running Backs: A running back (Texas’ Bijan Robinson) went in the top 10 for the first time since Saquon Barkley Texans was selected second overall by the New York Giants in 2018. With two top-12 picks, Detroit took Jaamir Gibson there, the first time since 2017 (Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey). The 2019-2022 drafts marked the first time in the regular draft era that no RBs were tabbed in the top 15, a streak that has now died.

Power Five: For the first time in the regular draft era, each first-round pick came from a quintet of major conferences, based on the league’s current member affiliations. Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State had three Round 1 picks. The Crimson Tide provided the draft’s first offensive (Young) and defensive player (Anderson), the first school to do so since Michigan State in 1967.


Pac-12, ACC: They still wound up non-Power Five, “coastal” conferences unable to crack the top 15 picks… just as they failed to qualify for the College Football Playoff the past two years. This draft was the first when the top 15 picks were limited to three conferences.

Bijan Robinson: He’s a great player, with 4.4 speed, sweet feet, soft hands and loads of production (over 3,300 yards over the last two seasons while averaging 6.7 yards per touch). But you want to see a back of his caliber join a team that’s ready to win right away — like Buffalo or Philadelphia. Robinson is sure to make a Texans big impact on the Atlanta Falcons offense, but how much use will his move be by what projects as an average-at-best team for the next few years? If Robinson is lucky, HC Arthur Smith will continue to lean heavily on Tyler Allgear, a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie last season.

New York Jets: Everyone in America knew they needed another offensive lineman to protect newly acquired QB Aaron Rodgers — including the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had a phone conversation with the Patriots and acquired the 14th pick, leapfrogging the Jets and Georgia LT Broderick Jones. Highly respected. The Jets, apparently stung by swapping the 13th and 15th picks with the Green Bay Packers, didn’t recover well, taking lanky Iowa State pass rusher Will McDonald IV instead of Oklahoma LT Anton Harrison. As exciting as Wednesday was between Rodgers’ introductions, Thursday was not so good.

Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love: The former leader of the pack and freshman still unable to find any offensive help in the first round, Green Bay picks Iowa DE Lucas Van Ness. More things change…

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Penn State: Does anyone have CB Joey Porter Jr., son of former Steelers star linebacker, going out of Round 1? And the Nittany Lions, amazingly, still have never selected a defensive back in the first round.

Miami Dolphins: Owner Stephen Ross’ manipulation of Tom Brady and Sean Payton, who forfeited their first-round pick while both were under contract elsewhere, held Miami’s ban because the team could not rebound through trades. The Finns entered the draft with four picks, the same as 2022 when they also had the fewest.

Tight end: The position is supposed to be the deepest in the 2023 draft … but only one, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, was selected Texans Thursday (by the Buffalo Bills). Notre Dame’s Michael Meyer, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta, and others are expected to come off the board very quickly on Friday. The wideouts were also shut down for much of the night, but then four of the 20-23 picks were consecutively fielded, the first time that had happened since 1967.

Detroit Lions: Gibbs at number 12? Is Iowa LB Jake Campbell at No. 18? It seems like both were big overdrafts — and even if you’re worried about Gibbs potentially going later in the round, like, are the Jets solid and trading up at No. 15?

DeAndre Hopkins: Still a Cardinal … and the odds are seemingly diminishing the 30-year-old Pro Bowl wideout will escape the desert anytime soon.

Will Lewis: The former Kentucky star was widely expected to be one of at least four first-round quarterbacks and was also linked to the Colts at No. 4. But the call never came for Lewis, who endured (literally) a physically taxing 2022 season. Before a disappointing Thursday night for the Wildcats, he looked increasingly uncomfortable as he waited in the green room. Tennessee QB Handon Hooker is also available, though that’s not surprising given reconstructive knee surgery and questions about how the 25-year-old will transition from the Vols’ tactical offense to the NFL.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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2023 NFL Draft Projections: Will Lewis falls out of Round 1;  Predicting five possible landing spots for QBs

2023 NFL Draft Projections: Will Lewis falls out of Round 1; Predicting five possible landing spots for QBs


OLED is great, but where are all the mini LED laptops?