The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books — and it was quite the show. Many noted that this year's draft was more challenging to predict than any in recent memory.
After Bryce Young at No. 1, there were trades and surprises throughout. Some teams, such as the Detroit Lions, turned in multiple head-scratching picks. Others, like the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, hit apparent home runs with their multiple swings. The board of available players looked perfect for the Chiefs before pick No. 20 — and it was dramatically worse by pick number 30.
By the time the Chiefs finally turned in the 31st pick, there was no shortage of storylines for the AFC West division and across the league.
Here are a few of the initial winners and losers from the first 31 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft:
The Las Vegas Raiders: Tyree Wilson shouldn't have been available at pick No. 7. Adding him to a defensive line that includes Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones looks brilliant on paper. The Raiders were patient and let one of the best players in the draft fall to their pick. The division seems to be continuing to build its rosters with the idea of slowing down the Chiefs' offense.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah: The hometown kid and the Chiefs are a match made in football or Hollywood heaven. What could be better than getting drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft hosted by your hometown months after winning the Super Bowl? Maybe getting added to a defense with a need at the position and a great coaching staff — and only being 21 years old. The scriptwriters got it right with this one. Anudike-Uzomah is a perfect fit on this Chiefs defense that has locked in starters on rookie contracts at both starting defensive ends with a chance to grow into a really well-rounded unit. We just have to practice spelling and pronouncing his name because Anudike-Uzomah is staying home.
Kansas City: One thing that wasn't surprising was how incredible the city showed out for this event. Attending the draft was a bucket list item for me, and it didn't disappoint — from the scale of the fan experience to the grandeur of Union Station as the backdrop, it was spectacular. The massive crowd covered the entire Liberty Memorial lawn with a sea of red. The lights, sounds, food and activities were brilliant, even if the lines were insanely long. It was a bucket-list event for football fans that peaked when the Super Bowl Champs were on the clock. And it put Kansas City on display for millions watching at home.
The Chiefs' organization: From beginning to end, this was a celebration of the greatness of this franchise. They built a fan experience catered to Chiefs fans, with the Lombardi trophies on full display, and with their stars on center stage. Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes were able to continue celebrating their second Super Bowl title, and Clark Hunt was able to announce the first-round pick in Kansas City with the world watching. When the upcoming season begins, this team will have another premium position filled on a cost-controlled basis for the next four years or more. It was a great night for the Chiefs.
The Denver Broncos: It's not just that the Broncos didn't have a first-round pick or that they don't have a selection until the top of the third round. But it had to be frustrating to watch the pick traded for Russell Wilson turn into a top-five pick, where they could have addressed other issues on their roster with a top-tier player. That trade continues to look like a franchise-altering mistake — unless, of course, new head coach Sean Payton can turn things around.
Quentin Johnston: Johnston is a player we liked for Kansas City because he has a skill set that the right coaching staff could turn into production. He is an odd fit for the Los Angeles Chargers, however, as they could use a quicker receiver to pair with the lumbering Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. The wide receiver run started just before the Chargers pick, with Jaxon Smith-Ngiba going right before them, Zay Flowers went one pick later, and Jordan Addison followed. Some analysts talk about building a basketball team in the wide receiver room by having a variety of body types. The Chargers are ignoring their "backcourt" and going with all power forwards. Unfortunately for Johnston, he may need a creative offense that can find ways to get him the ball in space while he develops as a route runner, and I'm not sure the Chargers will utilize him in the right way.
The Chiefs' wide receiver room: It looked like the receivers were going to slide right into the Chiefs' lap, but then they all went off the board between picks 20 and 23. If the Chiefs were serious about drafting one of these guys that worked out with Patrick Mahomes, they had the opportunity to trade up and get one of them. Perhaps there is some truth to the rumors coming out that other teams were unwilling to help the Chiefs move up. There continue to be rumors about the future of DeAndre Hopkins but no movement. So, the options for adding another pass catcher for Patrick Mahomes are dwindling. It's certainly a position to watch going into Day 2 of the draft, but on this day, the Chiefs could not improve the playmakers on offense.