IDP Winners/Losers post 2023 NFL Draft
By Joe Goodwin
Every year, the NFL draft brings with it excitement for those college players about to realize their dreams by being selected to a NFL team, and the anxiety for others as their teams draft players at their position to potentially replace them or create competition. As many say that the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” the NFL Draft highlights that sentiment as younger players enter the league. We will take a look at some of those developments, and more in our IDP Winners and Losers of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Will Anderson (DE, Houston Texans)
With the 2nd pick in the draft, the Houston Texans selected CJ Stroud. And with that pick, all the rumors of Anderson going to the Texans flew out the window. Then, shocking most NFL Draft experts and fans alike, the Texans traded up to the 3rd Pick and selected Will Anderson. Will Anderson was most likely the pick the Cardinals would have taken with the 3rd pick, but instead, chose to add draft capital and trade down. Will Anderson will be given as much playing time he can handle on a team that is rebuilding in every sense. Will Anderson was considered the safest pick in this year’s draft, but he may also turn out to be the most talented as well. Anderson deserves all of your consideration as the first overall pick in your IDP Rookie drafts.
Christian Gonzalez (CB, New England Patriots)
Heading into the draft, Christian Gonzalez was considered as the top cornerback in the draft class. On draft night, Christian Gonzalez was the 3rd cornerback selected after Devon Witherspoon and Deonte Banks. And on draft night, I’m sure Gonzalez was wondering why he was getting passed over for other players. Hindsight being 20/20, Gonzalez gets added to a defense that was already a top 10 defense from last year and joins a defensive backfield that already includes Kyle Dugger and Jabril Peppers. Not only does Gonzalez win by joining an organization that knows how to develop talent and win, the Patriots also win by drafting the best cornerback in the class without having to move up to do so. Gonzalez might not be an elite IDP player yet, he should be considered as a strong taxi squad player with the hopes of turning into the next great DB in New England.
Micah Parsons (LB/DE, Dallas Cowboys)
Huge win for Micah Parsons seeing Mazi Smith, out of Michigan, drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. That particular spot in the draft felt a little earlier for Mazi, but it shows how committed the Cowboys are to making sure Parsons doesn’t see as many double teams. Last year, the Cowboys recorded 54 sacks; which tied for 3rd overall in the league. However, they also gave up 4.4 yards per carry. The middle of the defense needed to be addressed and Mazi Smith checked that box. Now, Michah Parsons (and Dexter Lawrence) should see more single man blocking as long as Mazi Smith is able to occupy blockers in the middle.
Terrell Edmunds and TJ Edwards (LB, Chicago Bears)
The Bears approached their linebacking corps a bit oddly, allowing Roquan Smith to leave last year, only to then sign Edmunds and Edwards this year. I can only wager a guess, but I think the Bears underestimated the impact linebackers have on their defense and vowed to rectify that problem heading into this year’s free agency. So, after signing Edmunds and Edwards to free agent contracts that essentially added up to the contract Roquan got from the Ravens, the Bears drafted DL’s: Gervon Dexter, Zach Pickens, and Travis Bell. What do each of them have in common? They all take up space, hold blockers, and will allow the linebackers to move freely and make plays. This concept is similar to the Eagles where Edwards shined last year. Although both LB’s are Top 20 IDP relevant, with the additions to the defensive line, they hope to remain as LB elite for the next few years.
Philadelphia Bulldogs/Georgia Eagles
After last year’s draft, the Eagles came away with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean to add some youth to their defensive core. Then, this year provided them with the opportunity to add Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, and Kelee Ringo. All of them played for the Georgia Bulldogs and won national championships in the process. The Eagles are prioritizing players coming from elite-level college football (like the SEC) to add to their team. The familiarity with athleticism, and most likely the scheme, makes it easier for players from Georgia to acclimate to the rigors of the NFL. We can snicker and laugh all we want about the number of Georgia Bulldogs being drafted by the Eagles, but the Eagles defense does not expect to miss a beat as they turnover a defense that lost CJ Gardner-Johnson, TJ Edwards, and Javon Hargrave off a NFC championship team that was thisclose to winning a Super Bowl.
Dorian Williams (LB, Buffalo Bills)
After the Buffalo Bills lost Terrell Edmunds in free agency to the Chicago Bears, many thought the Bills were a prime target to take a linebacker early in the NFL draft. I had mocked Jack Campbell to the Bills, however, the Lions threw out all conventional wisdom and took him 18th overall. I’m sure the Bills decided to hang back and allow the board to fall to them. After Drew Sanders, Daiyan Henley, Trenton Simpson, and DeMarvion Overshown all went in the 3rd round, the Bills decided to pounce on their guy and select Dorian Williams at 91st overall. Williams will pair nicely with Matt Milano. Dorian Williams is a great sleeper pick in IDP formats that are deeper. Williams is a huge winner coming out of the draft as he joins a strong Buffalo Bills defense.
Malcolm Rodriguez (LB, Detroit Lions)
Jack Campbell’s selection in the first round surprised many by player, position, and draft spot. The Lions sorely needed a player in the middle of the defense like Campbell. Yes, Malcolm Rodriguez and Alex Anzalone did a fine job holding down the middle for the Lions. And that’s just it. They did FINE. Campbell is the reigning Butkus Award Winner (College Football’s top linebacker) and Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. If you were watching the draft from “Rodrigo’s” seat, there is no way you wouldn't figure out that the Lions just drafted a player in the first round to replace you; or at least push the entire linebacker room by drafting the draft’s top linebacker. Jack Campbell just put Rodriguez (and others) on notice that his 6 '5, 250 lbs is coming to Detroit to play with grit and reward those IDP managers when they draft him right after Will Anderson.
Patrick Queen (LB, Baltimore Ravens)
In one swoop, Patrick Queen’s 5th year option is NOT picked up the Baltimore Ravens and Trenton Simpson gets drafted in the 3rd round of this year’s draft; not a good off season for Patrick Queen. At this point, Queen can only hope for a trade to another team to boost his value heading into free agency. Simpson is not a perfect player by any means, but with Roquan Smith lining up next to you, a few deficiencies can be masked as he learns the position. Patrick Queen heads into 2023 in a contract year where his replacement is already on the roster. These are not ideal circumstances for a Patrick Queen and his long term value as an IDP player.
Derek Barnett (DE, Philadelphia Eagles)
Although the Eagles love to rotate defensive ends regularly, it couldn’t have been a good sign for Derek Barnett to see the Eagles sign Nolan Smith at the end of round one. After tearing his ACL in week 1, Barnett now has to come back from injury as well as earn his spot in the rotation with Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Nolan Smith. With Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox most likely playing in their last seasons, the Eagles could be on the verge of getting younger and more dynamic on the defensive line. This all spells bad news for Derek Barnett’s short and long term production as an IDP contributor.
BJ Ojulari (DL, Arizona Cardinals)
The Arizona Cardinals drafted BJ Ojulari in the 2nd round to offset the departures of JJ Watt (retirement) and Zach Allen (free agency). And, having passed on drafting Will Anderson after trading down in the draft to 12th, then trading back up to 6th to select Paris Johnson, Ojulari will always be stuck in a game of “what if” during his career.
What if the Cardinals stayed at 3 and selected Will Anderson? What if the Cardinals traded up and selected Jalen Carter? I hope for Ojulari’s sake, he is able to create his own path and not worry about all the “what ifs” that exist from his draft experience. Ojulari has a ton of upside and could be relevant in IDP very soon. However, he has lost the game of “what if” when compared to the top 2 defensive talents in his draft class.
Shane Bowen (Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee Titans)
If any team was in need of an infusion of youth on defense, it was definitely the Titans. They gave up over 4,600 yards in the air last season to opposing offenses. All while giving up 350 total yards on defense per game. This defense was in desperate need of finding playmakers on defense, and did nothing in the draft. Not a single player was drafted on the defensive side of the ball in the 2023 NFL Draft. Defensive Coordinators lose jobs over the types of numbers the Titans gave up last year, but they did nothing to help Bowen improve his unit. All is not bleak for the Titans as Justin Simmons, Kevin Byard and Roger McCreary make up the nucleus of the defense. However, I can’t help but believe this team would have been better served drafting Lukas Van Ness, Christian Gonzalez, or Jack Campbell in the first round to provide more elite talent to a defense that is lacking in the area. All of the Titans defensive players lost by not adding skill to the unit, but it is Bowen who captains the ship on defense and his boat is sinking.
Full time teacher, full time fantasy sports enthusiast. I try to look at fantasy sports through my own lens and share that vision with my readers I love to explore and find new, and exciting fantasy football options including: C2C, dynasty, IDP, and Devy. See me on Twitter @JGoody77
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