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As should be the case, the newest crop of rookies gets most of the attention around the NFL Draft.
But the draft affects veterans in a big way. The draft shows each team's plan for the 2023 season and beyond. We see which part of the cycle is coming. New players can't come in without veterans leaving. And veterans don't leave without new players coming in.
Luckily, the Footballguys staff is here to sort out this movement. We asked them to name a player who was expected to get competition in this year's NFL Draft but came out of the weekend unscathed.
QB Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
Joey Wright: I thought we would see one of the top five quarterbacks land in Atlanta this weekend. Instead, the Falcons used their eighth overall pick on the unanimous fantasy 1.01 rookie, Bijan Robinson, and passed over both Will Levis and Hendon Hooker in the second round to bolster their offensive line. With an extremely shallow list of available quarterbacks, it looks as though Ridder may be an option this season in Superflex and two-quarterback leagues.
QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Dave Kluge: Yes, I’m a Bears fan. I am trying my best to take off my homer hat here. But trading back from 1.01 to get D.J. Moore was the first draft move for the Bears. From there, they did exactly what you’d like to see a front office do to set up a young quarterback for success. After scrambling for his life last year, the team added Darnell Wright, who is presumed to be the Week 1 left tackle. Tyler Scott fixes the abomination of last year’s Velus Jones selection. Roschon Johnson adds depth to a quietly strong backfield. Fields will have to step up as a passer this year, but the Bears are giving him every chance to do so.
QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Jay Stein: There was a ton of speculation that the Seahawks would try and select their quarterback of the future with pick five in the draft. Instead, the Seahawks went with a premium cornerback. Not only did the Seahawks stay away from selecting a quarterback in the entire NFL draft, but they also added high-quality offensive skill positions and interior offensive line depth to complement Smith. They took the best wide receiver in the draft, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, with their second pick in the first round. And in the second round, they picked up Zach Charbonnet, the talented running back out of UCLA and the only running back drafted in the second round. Now, Seattle has an embarrassment of riches at the offensive skill positions in DK Metcalf, Smith-Njigba, Tyler Lockett, Ken Walker III, Charbonnet, and Noah Fant. It's hard to envision Geno Smith not having another good year in 2023.
Gary Davenport: If you’re the type of fantasy manager who likes to wait to draft a starting quarterback, Smith has become a guy you should take a long, hard look at. Adding Jaxon Smith-Njiba to a receiver room that already included Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf gives Smith one of the most dangerous wideout trios in the league. Zach Charbonnet is a dangerous pass-catcher out of the backfield. Mind you, Smith was eighth in passing yards, fourth in touchdown passes, and a top-five fantasy quarterback in some scoring systems, He could better those numbers in 2023.
Chad Parsons: Seattle not only passed on all notable quarterbacks in the draft, but they also added the WR1 off the board in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, creating one of the best trios of wide receivers in the NFL. Smith's odds of repeating a quality season in 2023 jumped on both accounts. The team also boosted the running back group with a surprise Zach Charbonnet selection in the second round.
RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Jason Wood: We thought a handful of veteran fantasy-relevant running backs could be post-draft cuts, including Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and Austin Ekeler. While they may all still be sent packing, none of their teams took a rookie tailback early enough to credibly threaten their role based on merit alone. Ekeler is the clear standout, as the Chargers didn't draft a running back, period.
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