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Three Brilliant 2023 NFL Draft First Round Value Picks

Don’t be sad that it’s over, just be glad that it happened. Round One of the 2023 NFL Draft is behind us, and while there is still so much unknown heading into the second night of action, we can at this point recognize a few spots where our consensus as NFL fans and media see value picks. “Value” means the player was drafted lower than their perceived consensus ranking at a “discount.” Let’s focus on the three main value picks from last night and why these teams went home with some good ole bargain shopping. And who doesn’t love a good sale?

Jalen Carter – 6’3, 314 lbs – Interior Defensive Lineman – Georgia

We cannot continue letting Howie Roseman get away with this in the NFL Draft. You knew when you opened this article the Eagles would be here somewhere, whether you liked that or not, because you cannot deny it. The Eagles General Manager walked out with the top player on my board (Jalen Carter) and paid a ninth overall price tag for him. Yes, they did have to trade up one spot with the Chicago Bears, but at the cheap price of a 2024 fourth rounder: signed, sealed, delivered. Keep the change and buy yourself something nice.

For even more perspective on the financial value in Carter’s NFL Draft capital, he will be set to head into this year as the 34th highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the league, with real potential to offer elite top-ten productivity. Look at the current 2023 Eagles depth chart: talk about a perfect fit in terms of veteran leadership in a position to mentor Carter. Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, and the forever bad man Fletcher Cox will be running the show on that defensive line along with fellow Georgia Bulldog alum Jordan Davis. No matter what Carter does, he will not be the boss in that room. He won’t even be able to pretend to be.

Christian Gonzalez – 6’1, 197 lbs – Cornerback – Oregon

Jalen Carter will get more communal NFL Draft publicity in terms of the “wow” factor, but I’m not convinced Christian Gonzalez going to the New England Patriots at 17th overall was not the best value pick of the night. Ranked number six on my board going into the evening and my CB1, I was obviously a tad higher on Gonzalez than the league. Gonzalez was the 17th player taken and the third cornerback off the board behind Devon Witherspoon (Seahawks) and Emmanuel Forbes (Commanders).

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Bill Belichick deservedly gets accolades and bravado over his developmental career success in the secondary, with such success with Patriots such as Jack Jones (Round 4), Asante Samuel (Round 4), Devin McCourty (27th overall), etc. Handing Belichick a freak like Gonzalez registering a 9.95 Relative Athletic Score is diabolical. For an even further perspective, that puts Gonzalez as the 13th most athletic tester out of 2,222 cornerbacks in the last 36 years of the NFL Draft. Hip fluidity, prototype size, ball skills, range of motion, closing speed, etc. are going to make it impossible to keep Gonzalez off the field early.

Nolan Smith – 6’2, 238 lbs – Outside Linebacker – Georgia

Hi Eagles fans, me again. Hi fellow Dawgs fans, me again. Nolan Smith going to the Eagles is too perfect for a number of reasons. First, referring back to an earlier number, this will put Smith as the 59th highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL. I personally had Smith at 14th overall on my big board, coming out to roughly a half-round discount for Philadelphia. Relative Athletic Score comparisons show just how freaky athletic Smith is. While this is a new town and a multitude of new faces for Smith, it is also a reunion of the Dawgs. Excuse my ignorance, the two-time defending National Champions Georgia Bulldogs.

Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis, and Jalen Carter offer a seamless transition from one home to another. Another point, while this is qualitative versus quantitative and speculatory versus factual, Smith is one of if not the biggest leaders in this class and a positive locker room piece. He will be marketable to the Philadelphia community beyond words, just check in Athens, there was not a more popular player with the fans and the team. NFL Draft value picks like Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, Jalen Hurts, Nakobe Dean, Jordan Mailata, Josh Sweat, and Jason Kelce for example are why the Eagles are always good and will remain that way.



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