Veterans Who Won the 2023 NFL Draft: Lamar Jackson, Nico Collins & More!
We have gone over all the teams and rookies who won and lost and the 2023 NFL Draft. Now we will focus on the players who are already in the league and how this draft made them winners of the weekend and boosted their value.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson may have had the best draft day of any current NFL player. Not only did the team go out and get him a dynamic wide receiver in Zay Flowers in Round 1, they also gave him the bag. On Day 1 of the NFL Draft, the Ravens signed him to a five-year $260 million contract. So his future is now seemingly secure in Baltimore in a system built around him and he now has who he hopes will be his WR1 for at least the remainder of his brand-new contract. While Flowers does have some bust potential he also has the most upside of any receiver in this draft. Hopefully, the Ravens can finally hit on a wideout in the draft.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Not that Mahomes needed any more help, but he went into this draft with a terrible WR corps and came out with perhaps the steal of the draft at the position. In the second round, the Chiefs drafted Rashee Rice who we graded out as a first-round talent and the third-best wideout in this draft. We are now projecting Rice to be the WR1 in Kansas City as soon as this season and for him to be the best wideout Mahomes has had not named Tyreek Hill. This pick flew under the radar, but it won't take long for NFL fans and fantasy owners to learn this kid's name.
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D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles
It was a roller coaster for Swift and his fantasy owners during the draft. First, the Lions shockingly drafted Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall tanking Swift's already shaky stock. There was an immediate fire sale. The next day he was traded to the Eagles and the buyers celebrated while sellers lamented their knee-jerk reaction. This is a massive upgrade for the young running back. In Detroit, we know we couldn't trust his workload. Now in Philly, he is in an elite offense behind arguably the best line in the league. His only true competition is Rashaad Penny, who won't last more than four games or so. There will still be some sort of split in Philly because that's what they do, but we expect way more touches, more TD opportunities, and an easier time behind a great O-line that has to account for the quarterback pulling that handoff back and taking it himself.
Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have been linked to every running back this offseason. Many projected them to trade up to get Jahmyr Gibbs in this draft, but he went much earlier than expected. There were also draft day rumors of them trading for Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and multiple other backs. None of that happened; instead, they drafted Devon Achane in the third round. Granted, he is an explosive player in his own right, but he's a 5'9, 185-pound third-round pick. That's not a high draft capital pick or a Pro Bowl running back. Achane will get the ball in space at times, but for now, Mostert and Wilson look penciled in as the co-starters atop the Dolphins' depth chart. However, Cook is still a possibility in June.
D.J. Chark, Carolina Panthers
We now have Chark locked in as the Panthers' WR1 heading into the season with his only competition being Terrace Marshall and Adam Theilen. Marshall hasn't proven much in his young career and Theilen is a shell of his former self collecting one last payday. If you are higher on Marshall or Theilen, feel free to insert their name instead of Chark's though. We project Chark as the WR1 because he is now two years removed from his broken ankle in 2021 and we've seen him as the top guy before. In 15 games in 2019, he posted 1,008 yards and eight TDs and followed that up in 2020 racking up 706 yards and five TDs in just 13 games. Those aren't world-beating numbers, however, it makes him the best player in a bad WR corps. Chark also got himself a first-overall pick at quarterback. Size may be a concern for Bryce Young, but there isn't much else not to like about Bryce Young. Even if he isn't what we think his potential is far greater than anyone else on that roster.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans
Collins is in a similar situation to Chark. The Texans drafted him a QB second overall and didn't add any other wideouts to the team. Again, if you're a John Metchie truther you can apply this to him, however, we aren't ready to take that risk on him as of now. This means Collins now is the WR1 in Houston with who he hopes is the best QB he's ever played with. That's a massive upgrade in situation for a guy who has already shown flashes of his upside. He will be a popular sleeper pick this summer heading into the fantasy season.
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Durham Smythe, Miami Dolphins
Everyone expected the Dolphins to draft a tight end on Day 2 of the NFL Draft after letting Mike Gesicki go this offseason. Instead, they extended Smythe and are rolling with him as their TE1 in one of the most explosive offenses in football. We don't expect him to have a monster year, but he could very well be a guy who is one of the top streaming options from week to week this season. Anyone who follows the Dolphins closely knew they weren't using a Day 2 pick on a TE though because a big-time pass-catching TE isn't a critical part of the offense unless they can also block like a lineman. Smythe is an excellent blocker who now has a chance at catching five TDs this season.
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