10 perfect player-team fits from the 2023 NFL Draft
10 perfect player-team fits from the 2023 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NFL Draft isn’t always about picking the best player.
Many factors come into play when a team is on the clock. Decision-makers must weigh positional value, scheme fits and, perhaps most importantly, personalities.
If a prospect is talented but plays a less valuable position, he could drop down the board. Ditto if a prospect comes from a particular scheme that might not translate to the NFL. Then there’s the all-important team culture, which coaches can get a feel for when they bring prospects in for visits.
With all of those factors in mind, here are 10 ideal player-team matches from the 2023 NFL Draft (listed in order of their draft position):
Anthony Richardson, Colts
Of the three first-round quarterbacks, Richardson arguably landed in the best situation. New Colts head coach Shane Steichen served as the offensive coordinator for Justin Herbert when he won Rookie of the Year in 2020. Then, he assumed the same role for the Eagles and helped Jalen Hurts ascend to stardom. On the surface, the Florida product has similar tools with his size, speed, mobility and arm strength.
Devon Witherspoon, Seahawks
Drafting Witherspoon at No. 5 was a surprise to some, but the Seahawks loved the former Illinois cornerback. Head coach Pete Carroll compared him to Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu, who he coached at USC. It feels like the Seahawks are slowly forming a “Legion of Boom 2.0” after drafting Pro Bowl corner Tariq Woolen, who had six interceptions as a rookie last year.
Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo, Eagles
Howie Roseman has a type. The Eagles GM drafted three Georgia defenders – Carter and Smith in the first round, Ringo in the fourth round. That was after adding two Bulldogs – Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean – last year. Oh, and he traded for former Georgia running back D’Andre Swift during the draft. It’s a safe bet that Carter, Smith and Ringo will fit right in with the defending NFC champions.
Christian Gonzalez, Patriots
Everything worked out for Bill Belichick in the first round. The Patriots traded down from No. 14 to No. 17 and still walked away with Gonzalez, who many considered to be on Witherspoon’s level as the draft’s top corner. The Oregon alum fit exactly what New England was lacking in its secondary: size. At 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, he’ll tower over his teammates and give Belichick a different body size to throw at bigger receivers.
Jordan Addison, Vikings
Goodbye Adam Thielen, hello Jordan Addison. The Vikings replaced their longtime wideout with an exciting first-rounder. Addison, a USC product, won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver in 2021. Now he gets to play alongside Justin Jefferson, arguably the league’s top pass-catcher. Addison should exclusively get single coverage and could quickly become a favorite second target for Kirk Cousins.
Deonte Banks, Giants
The Giants had several holes entering the draft, and they filled one in the first round with Banks. The former Maryland cornerback has all the traits you look for in a defensive back: size (6-foot-1), speed (4.32 40-yard dash) and athleticism. He could immediately start for a team that had just six interceptions all last season (and just one by a cornerback).
Joey Porter Jr., Steelers
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, Joey Porter Jr.’s father played for the Steelers. He even won a Super Bowl with the team. Looking beyond the off-field connection, the younger Porter is an excellent fit within the Steelers’ team. The former Penn State cornerback can fill right in for Cameron Sutton, who left in free agency. Between the family ties and the obvious positional need, Porter and the Steelers are a perfect pair.
Sam LaPorta, Lions
No team entered the draft with a bigger need at tight end than the Lions. In LaPorta, Detroit added a versatile weapon who can excel as a receiver and a blocker. The Iowa product had over 50 catches in each of his last two seasons, so he should fill right into the role left vacant when T.J. Hockenson was traded last fall.
Michael Mayer, Raiders
The tight end run continued in the second round when Las Vegas drafted Mayer, a Notre Dame alum. Over 36 college games, he had 180 receptions, 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns. After trading Darren Waller to the Giants, the Raiders needed a young weapon. New Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a great connection with his old tight end George Kittle, so keep an eye on his relationship with Mayer this summer.
Devon Achane, Dolphins
There’s only one word to describe the Dolphins’ offense: fast. It’s all about speed in South Beach. There are wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who can take any completion to the house. And now they have Achane, a 5-foot-9 running back from Texas A&M who was in the 98th percentile for the 40-yard dash (4.32) and 86th percentile for the 10-yard split (1.51). Mike McDaniel and Co. have assembled the league’s fastest offense.