Best dressed? Best reactions? Best fans? Here are the real winners from the NFL draft
The first round of the 2023 NFL draft is in the books.
So who were the night's big winners from the downtown Kansas City, Mo., event?
OK, so Alabama’s Bryce Young was the top pick of the Carolina Panthers, and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud went No. 2 to the Houston Texans ... and the Texans made huge waves by trading up to No. 3 and draft Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. immediately after Stroud ... which gave the Crimson Tide a pair of top three picks ... and later four straight wide receivers went off the board, the first time that's ever happened ... blah, blah, blah.
So with all that out of the way, here are some of the first round's real winners (plus one less fortunate player whose time surely will come Friday):
As far as fashion statements go, medallions, turtlenecks, sunglasses at night, outfits of all one color, bow ties and flowered jackets were all in.
The tradition suit-and-tie was out ... for everyone, that is, except for a very dapper C.J. Stroud.
If there's ever another "Starsky and Hutch" reboot, perhaps Will Anderson Jr. should be cast as the new Huggy Bear. After hearing his name called by the Houston Texans at No. 3 overall, the former Alabama linebacker immediately embraced a loved one — and didn't let go until 13.56 seconds later. He then lifted Goodell off his feet with an onstage hug that lasted another six seconds.
Not to be outdone, an emotional Anthony Richardson embraced Goodell for a solid 11.23 seconds after the former Florida quarterback was picked at No. 4 overall by the Indianapolis Colts. And former Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson really swept the commissioner off his feet with an extremely enthusiastic bear hug.
In most need of a hug
Sure, the former Kentucky quarterback soon will be a rich NFL quarterback, but it didn't happen Thursday night.
Levis sat in the Green Room and waited as three QBs went in the top four picks ... then continued waiting the rest of the night without hearing his name called.
As the TV broadcasts reminded viewers on multiple occasions, Levis was projected to go as high as No. 2 in some mock drafts (The Times' Sam Farmer had him going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 19 overall).
The ESPN broadcast added insult to injury by providing frequent updates as to the percentage chance its analytics department had given Levis' availability at that point in the draft (1.8% chance he'd still be on the board at No. 18; 0.8% at No. 21; 0.1% at No. 24).
To his credit, Levis usually had a smile on his face whenever the cameras cut to him during what must have been a frustrating evening. He likely will have an NFL home by the end of Friday's rounds.
Most emotional draftee
Former Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter had been through a lot in the months leading up to the draft.
Once projected as a possible No. 1 overall pick, his stock dropped after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing related to the car accident that killed Bulldogs teammate Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy in January. He was given was given one year of probation and fined $1,000 last month.
After the Philadelphia Eagles' picked him at No. 9 overall, Carter let it all out. He shook his head and wiped his eyes, unable to stand up for 18 seconds before taking a slow, emotional walk from the Green Room to the stage, where he finally embraced Goodell more than two minutes after his name was called.
Carter and Goodell must have watched a lot of "Saved By the Bell" episodes to get this one right.
This Jalen Carter-Roger Goodell handshake 😅 pic.twitter.com/Rbxc59t5SY
— ESPN (@espn) April 28, 2023
Most enthusiastic presenter
The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Kyle Stickles the opportunity to announce the first-round pick for his favorite team, the New York Jets.
The 13-year-old bone cancer survivor from Ghent, N.Y., made the most of the opportunity with his show-stealing delivery:
"With the 15th pick in the 2023 draft, the New York J ... E ... T ... S! JETS! JETS! JETS! select Will McDonald, Iowa State LET'S GO!!! YEEEEEEEEAAAAH!!! LET'S GO!!!!"
.@MakeAWish recipient Kyle Stickles announced the @nyjets’ pick and did not disappoint 🔥
📺: 2023 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/D3EqkrKLy4 pic.twitter.com/IDmNZJvfRu
— NFL (@NFL) April 28, 2023
Most spirited fans
Ummmm ... you pick.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.