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Recapping the Wild 2023 NFL Draft

The first round of this year’s National Football League (NFL) draft was full of unexpected trades and surprising drops. By day two, many first-round talents still remained on the board, a testament to the wild nature of this year’s NFL draft.

After selecting their next franchise quarterback (QB) C.J. Stroud, at pick two, the Houston Texans traded up with the Arizona Cardinals to pick three. They then drafted the cornerstone of their defense, edge rusher Will Anderson. This year’s Texans became one of only three teams in NFL history to have two consecutive top-ten picks. Picking back-to-back allowed the Texans to select their team’s newest offensive and defensive leaders as they fight for relevance in the QB lush American Football Conference (AFC). 

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Georgia Bulldogs defensive linemen Jalen Carter and edge rusher Nolan Smith at picks 9 and 31, respectively. Eagles fans hope the teammates’ chemistry can carry over into the NFL. The two combined for a total of 17.5 sacks in their collegiate careers and were defensive anchors for Georgia’s back-to-back championship teams (2021 and 2022).

Both QB Will Levis and cornerback (CB) Joey Porter Jr. were projected to be taken in the mid-late first round but surprisingly remained on the board after day 1. Porter’s father, Joey Porter Sr. played a pivotal role in the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XL run. Coincidentally, the Steelers held the first pick of round 2 after trading away WR Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears. With two first-round talents on the board, teams across the league barraged the Steelers with calls of potential trades for their pick. The value they could have received skyrocketed throughout the hours leading up to round two- teams were desperate for Levis and Porter. However, Pittsburgh retained their original pick and kept the Porter family tradition alive by drafting Porter Jr. In describing his excitement leading up to the pick, Steelers fan Rafi Katz ‘24 stated, “I was worried we were going to trade it away… Joey is a great player who will make an immediate impact in the secondary.”

A pick later, Will Levis was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and will be battling against Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis for the starting job. His drop may have been due to his lower ceiling than other QB prospects and a nagging toe injury. 

As we move into the 2023-2024 NFL season, keep your eyes on these rookie stars. This new generation of talent has been more explosive and athletic than the league has ever seen, bringing more excitement and firepower to the game of football.

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