NFL Draft 2023 winners and losers: Cardinals excel, while Titans and Commanders are adrift

The 2023 NFL Draft has concluded, and now teams know what the bulk of their 2023 roster looks like with four months until Week 1.

Some teams maximized their assets to help the franchise's long-term prospects. (With four teams with multiple first-round picks, many teams could have done so.) Others did not.

Here are our winners and losers in this weekend's draft. Yes, the Titans did make one of the lists.


Arizona Cardinals

Monti Ossenfort did a very good job in starting this roster rebuild in his first draft as GM.

Houston's trade with Arizona from No. 12 to No. 3 did each team some good. The Cardinals now own a 2024 first-round pick from a team that isn't ready to win now. And they were able to use some capital to move back up to No. 6 for Ohio State's Paris Johnson, the best offensive lineman in the draft and someone they may have drafted No. 3 anyway.

In Day 2, the Texans helped their defense by adding LSU edge rusher BJ Ojulari and Syracuse CB Garrett Williams.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle added two premium players at valuable positions in the first round with Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon and Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba. That is adding to strengths at both positions, with Witherspoon joining Tariq Woolen in the secondary and Smith-Njigba joining D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the best receiver room in the NFL.

Seattle has to show proof that it can stop the run next season, but in terms of helping the passing game and pass defense, the Seahawks excelled like no other team in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Zach Charbonnet and Anthony Bradford were good value picks later in the draft and can contribute.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo continues to build around Josh Allen with its first two picks, Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid and Florida offensive lineman O'Cyrus Torrence. Either could be starters by the end of their rookie seasons.

The Bills still need to add a pass rusher but weren't in a great position to grab an early impact edge player in the first round. They made out OK and can look for veteran help for better odds at improving on the defensive front for 2023.

Also liked: Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh


Washington Commanders

The Commanders did not have the best first two days of the draft. There is high bust potential with Mississippi State DB Emmanuel Forbes, and Ricky Stromberg was a reach.

Washington appears set to go into the season with Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett as the starting quarterback. The Commanders opted not to build too much around either via the draft, not tapping into the deep tight end class in Day 2 to back up Logan Thomas, who has missed 14 games the past two seasons. The offensive line needs more help than Stromberg, too.

From a long-term standpoint, given how long Rivera has been in Washington and with new ownership reportedly coming in soon, the Commanders are somewhat directionless. In a division where the Eagles and Cowboys appear to be much better, Washington is stuck in neutral.

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans made a solid pick at No. 11, selecting Northwestern's Peter Skoronski. Then, Tennessee got decent value in trading away a 2024 third-round pick to move up to No. 33 overall and select Kentucky QB Will Levis.

Tennessee's draft class boils down to whether or not Levis grows into a quality starting quarterback by the end of his rookie deal and whether Skoronski can play left tackle. The Titans can fill two huge long-term holes if the answers to those questions are yes. If not, there's not a lot of potential with this draft class outside of Skoronski somewhere along the offensive line.

This team needs young talent desperately. Tennessee has opted to ride with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry for one more season instead of extracting some draft-pick value out of either veteran. The Titans aren't nearly as good as they were two years ago, especially on offense. In this AFC, it'll be very difficult for the Titans to be a true contender with this offensive line and receiving corps.

Detroit Lions

The Lions did very well in Day 2, getting Sam LaPorta (instead of Michael Mayer, but LaPorta fits the Lions offense), Brian Branch and Hendon Hooker.

But Detroit, armed with picks Nos. 6 and 18 in the first round, could have had a franchise-shaping draft at the top. Instead, the Lions reached for a running back at No. 12 after trading down and reached for a linebacker at No. 18. Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell are good players, but at low-value positions in the first round. In the past 12 months, Bradley Chubb and A.J. Brown were worth first-round picks in trades, while Christian McCaffrey and Roquan Smith did not get one in return in recent trades.

Detroit failed to get an impact player at an impact position with two picks in the top 18. No matter how well the rest of the draft fared, that's how they got on this side of the list.

Next up: Tampa Bay

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: NFL Draft 2023 winners and losers: Cardinals excel; Titans adrift