2023 NFL Draft order: 27 of 31 first-round picks locked in; Cowboys hold 26th selection
This is a look at the first-round order for the 2023 NFL Draft heading into the conference championship round of the playoffs, along with the top three needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker. The first 27 picks are set as of this writing; the order for picks 28-31 will be determined by the outcome of the remainder of the postseason.
The 2023 draft is scheduled to be held April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.
NOTE: The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.
Biggest needs: Edge, DL, OL
DP: It took a dramatic comeback by the Texans to make it happen, but the Bears hold the first overall pick for the first time since 1947. Now the real intrigue begins. Will Chicago keep the pick or trade it? There are more than a few pressing needs to address, with wide receiver among them even though it didn’t make the top three spots listed above.
Biggest needs: QB, OL, DL
EE: The Texans have plenty of needs outside of quarterback, but that’s the position where they theoretically can improve the most — and the quickest — this offseason. Would they consider using their draft ammunition to land a veteran QB? If they do, the Texans also need OL and WR help on offense and more difference-makers in the front seven.
Biggest needs: OL, Edge, CB
DP: How much different will the Cardinals’ defensive front look next season? Arizona is set to lose its top pass rusher, with J.J. Watt announcing he’s retiring, and Zach Allen, who is second on the team in sacks (5.5), headed for free agency coming off a breakthrough year.
Biggest needs: QB, OL, WR
EE: We’ve discussed the QB need a lot here, so it’s worth a reminder that almost every other offensive position could use reinforcements, too. The interior offensive line could be improved. Even with 2023 free agent Parris Campbell’s breakout season, wide receiver is one or two playmakers shy of ideal.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE DENVER BRONCOS
Broncos’ record: 5-12 (.481)
Seahawks’ biggest needs: Edge, DL, QB
DP: The Seahawks’ decision-makers should be eyeing help for the interior D-line this draft season. Poona Ford is heading for free agency in March, and Shelby Harris, Al Woods and Quinton Jefferson are entering a contract year.
NOTE: See the playoff teams section of this article for analysis of the Broncos’ needs.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
Rams’ record: 5-12 (.517)
Lions’ biggest needs: DB, DL, LB
DP: It seems like Jared Goff has removed any doubt about whether he’ll be the Lions’ starter heading into next season, so quarterback is not on the needs list. However, with Detroit holding two first-round picks — including the sixth overall selection via the Rams — team brass still has to determine if there is a quarterback available in the draft that they might prefer for the long-term. With the Lions are clearly on an upward swing, an opportunity to land a top prospect at the position might not present itself again soon.
NOTE: See the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams’ needs.
Biggest needs: QB, OL, Edge
EE: With Derek Carr’s split from Vegas all but official, the Raiders could have some fascinating options at quarterback. They could go the veteran route if they move on from Carr, with my colleague Bucky Brooks identifying Tom Brady as a fit to rejoin old friend Josh McDaniels. But that would be a short-term fix, and the Raiders could opt to draft a McDaniels-approved prospect if they’re not convinced Jarrett Stidham is part of the solution.
Biggest needs: Edge, QB, WR
DP: Atlanta has the lowest sack percentage (3.6%) and second-lowest QB pressure rate (22%) in the league one year after they finished last in both of those categories. Someone has to find a spark for the Falcons’ pass rush.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, TE
DP: On a day when the Panthers were without their top corners, the defense was torched for 432 yards through the air by Tom Brady in a game that removed Carolina from contention for the NFC South title. The group fared much better against Andy Dalton a week later, but the team has to surround Jaycee Horn with better complementary pieces at the position.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Saints’ record: 7-10 (.507)
Eagles’ biggest needs: DB, Edge, DL
DP: Keeping one of the best defenses in the league together will be a tough task. Four of the top 35 players in colleague Gregg Rosenthal’s ranking of the top 51 2023 free agents are Philadelphia Eagles defenders.
NOTE: See the bottom of this article for analysis of the Saints’ needs.
Biggest needs: OL, WR, TE
EE: Getting younger on offense is a key this offseason, and the focus needs to be on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Treylon Burks is a young piece worth building around, but there’s a lack of speed elsewhere. Two 2022 O-line starters — Nate Davis and Dennis Daley — are slated for unrestricted free agency.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE CLEVELAND BROWNS
Browns’ record: 7-10 (.524)
See Pick No. 2 for analysis of the Texans’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Browns’ needs.
Biggest needs: OL, S, QB
EE: If the Jets go the veteran route to stabilize the quarterback room for next season, their needs come draft time could be rather streamlined. One spot we’ve harped on is the offensive line, specifically at left tackle and center. Connor McGovern will be a free agent, and it seems unlikely that the offensive tackle trio of Duane Brown, George Fant (an impending free agent) and Mekhi Becton will return intact in 2023.
Biggest needs: OT, WR, DB
EE: It’s hard to imagine the Patriots will run it back in 2023 with the same offensive line as they had for most of this season. Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn were among the league’s penalty leaders at tackle, per PFF, even with Wynn missing more than half the season’s reps. It would not be a surprise to see New England target a first-round tackle.
Biggest needs: S, TE, Edge
DP: There are plenty of questions facing the Packers after they blew a fourth quarter lead to the Lions at home in Week 18, ending their playoff hopes. Among them: Who do they want to play tight end? Josiah Deguara is the only player at the position under contract beyond this season.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, OL
DP: Washington had only one of PFF’s top 80 highest-graded cornerbacks this season — Kendall Fuller — and Fuller has just one year left on his contract.
Biggest needs: OL, CB, DL
EE: The Steelers played better in the trenches late in the season, but they really could use help on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The biggest need on the offensive line would be at tackle, where Dan Moore Jr. gave up too many sacks (seven, per PFF) and was flagged too many times (10) to not have some kind of competition. On the defensive line, Cameron Heyward will be entering his age-34 season, and the Steelers have three soon-to-be free agents in Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley and Tyson Alualu.
NOTE: See Pick No. 6 for analysis of the Lions’ needs.
Biggest needs: QB, DB, OL
DP: Big questions abound for the Bucs, starting with what Tom Brady’s future holds. A secondary that features multiple starters ticketed for free agency figures to be a high priority for Tampa Bay as well.
NOTE: See Pick No. 5 for analysis of the Seahawks’ needs.
Biggest needs: DB, OL, WR
EE: Could the Chargers consider drafting an offensive lineman in Round 1 for a third straight season? It might feel gratuitous for one position, but it does represent 45% of the offensive starters after all, right? If the Chargers can’t retain free agent Trey Pipkins, right tackle becomes a big concern, unless they plan to move Jamaree Salyer to that spot.
Biggest needs: CB, WR, Edge
EE: Right now, it seems fair to assume impending free agent Lamar Jackson will be back in Baltimore in 2023. However, if the Ravens opt to use the franchise tag on Jackson, the team’s salary cap maneuvering will bear monitoring, since they might have to make cuts that will affect other positions. The situation makes the team’s needs difficult to project.
Biggest needs: DB, DL, WR
DP: Will Minnesota be able to re-sign Dalvin Tomlinson? His departure would leave a huge void in a Vikings defense that is in need of upgrades.
Biggest needs: DL, OT, CB
EE: GM Trent Baalke has a history of targeting defensive linemen with plus athletic traits early in the draft, and he could do so again. DaVon Hamilton is a standout up front, and Folorunso Fatukasi likely isn’t going anywhere, but Roy Robertson-Harris could be a cut candidate. Reserves Adam Gotsis and Corey Peters are due to become free agents. Jacksonville could double dip up front and not be overdoing it.
Biggest needs: WR, interior OL, DB
DP: Signs are pointing to the Giants finding a way to keep impending free agents Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley on the team in 2023 and perhaps beyond. It might not be easy, or cheap, to do so, but for now, QB and RB are off the needs list.
Biggest needs: DB, WR, OL
DP: T.Y. Hilton has made some nice plays for the Cowboys since joining the team in December, but will finding a longer-term fix be a priority for Dallas in the offseason? Keep in mind that Hilton and Noah Brown will be free agents. There will be a void at tight end, too, if Dalton Schultz hits the market.
Biggest needs: OL, WR, LB
EE: The interior of the offensive line is an area we could absolutely see the Bills wanting to upgrade this offseason, both in terms of talent and depth. But will they use the draft to try to do that? Since GM Brandon Beane has taken over, they’ve not used a Day 1 or 2 pick on a projected guard or center. (2019 second-rounder Cody Ford was tried first at right tackle before being moved inside.)
Biggest needs: DB, OT, TE
EE: If impending unrestricted free agent Hayden Hurst walks this offseason, there will be a need for a three-down blocker and receiver at tight end to help balance the offense. Two other tight ends on the roster, Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox, also have expiring deals, and Devin Asiasi is entering a contract year in 2023.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS THROUGH THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
49ers’ record: 13-4 (.417)
Broncos’ needs: OL, WR, DL
EE: The list of Broncos needs is long. But if they’re going to give Russell Wilson another shot to improve next season under the next head coach, he’ll need to be better insulated by the offensive line, which features several prospective free agents. The defensive line can’t be ignored either, especially with Dre’Mont Jones due a big payday.
NOTE: See the bottom of this article for analysis of the 49ers’ and Dolphins’ needs.
Biggest needs: OT, Edge, DB
EE: Once compensatory picks are factored in, the Chiefs could have double-digit selections in 2023. They could use some of their late-round capital as trade chips or perhaps to keep stockpiling depth. The Chiefs have five players taking up nearly $140 million in cap space next year, so don’t discount the latter option as a realistic plan, even a year after the Chiefs made 10 picks.
NOTE: See Pick No. 10 for analysis of the Eagles’ needs.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE HOUSTON TEXANS
Biggest needs: DT, WR, TE
EE: The defensive issues from earlier in the season were never completely fixed, but the late-season improvement was tangible. So, that side of the ball won’t be ignored this coming offseason, but the key focus should be surrounding Deshaun Watson with as much talent as possible. If the Browns want to become more of a 12 personnel (two tight end sets) team, they likely will need to consider a higher pick on another tight end.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE DETROIT LIONS
Biggest needs: Edge, OL, DB
DP: How much turnover will there be in the Rams’ secondary after a highly disappointing 2022 campaign for the team? Starting safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott are scheduled to reach free agency, and starting cornerback Troy Hill’s contract voids after the season.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS TO THE DENVER BRONCOS
Biggest needs: OL, CB, TE
EE: How critical is the tight end in Mike McDaniel’s offense? That question could be answered, in part, this offseason, as the Dolphins lack a first-round pick. Mike Gesicki will be a free agent in March, and Durham Smythe will be entering a contract year. Those two have taken the lion’s share of snaps at the position.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Biggest needs: QB, DL, interior OL
DP: The interior O-line is mentioned here due to the possibility of Andrus Peat becoming a salary-cap cut this offseason or next and the need for more depth even if Peat returns. He’s played in just 17 games since the start of the 2021 season.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Biggest needs: OL, DL, DB
DP: Right tackle Mike McGlinchey will be coveted if he gets to the open market this offseason, but he’s not the only impending free agent on the front line for San Francisco. Starting center Jake Brendel and backup Daniel Brunskill — who returned to a starting role following Aaron Banks’ injury — have expiring deals, too.
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