NFL Draft 2023: Surprise team takes a QB, veterans getting traded and other possible, but unexpected scenarios

By Josh Edwards

The idea of the Houston Texans not taking a quarterback at No. 2 overall in the upcoming NFL Draft was recently floated in the media and that led to a discussion about the unexpected scenarios that could alter the entire first round. First, parameters had to be placed on what constitutes as ‘unexpected.’

For example, the idea of Tennessee, Seattle or Las Vegas taking a quarterback is no longer considered a surprise. According to Caesars Sportsbooks, quarterback is the position most likely to be selected by the Raiders. It is second for the Titans, behind offensive line, and Seahawks.

Here are some specific scenarios that are considered ‘unexpected’:

Lamar Jackson is traded on draft night

Jackson has requested a trade but Baltimore does not have to grant it. If another team signs him to an offer sheet, the Ravens have right of first refusal to match. If they elect not to match, then Baltimore would get draft compensation in return. The alternative is that the quarterback signs his franchise tag and the Ravens negotiate a trade to send him elsewhere.

It is unknown who, if anyone, has interest in acquiring the quarterback. If he were to be traded, the trade would presumably include a first-round pick and that throws a wrench into Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Would Baltimore use its newfound draft capital to select a quarterback? It may not have a dramatic impact on how the actual draft plays out but it would certainly create a stir.

Lions or Falcons take a quarterback

Publicly, Detroit and Atlanta are supporting their incumbent quarterbacks: Jared Goff and Desmond Ridder, respectively. Is that the honest truth or are they guarding against the possibility that they may not get a chance to add a player at the position? It sounds as though neither has dug too deep into this year’s quarterback prospects but if they were, it could not be considered unexpected.

Ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears did a good job of hiding their interest in North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky prior to selecting him No. 2 overall.

The Lions are sitting at Nos. 6 and 18 overall. They may not need to move at all in order to select one of the top quarterback prospects. Goff is still only 28 years old so he still has plenty of ball left in the tank and only carries a $31 million salary cap hit this season and next; reasonable figures for the position in 2023 and 2024. The argument for either franchise taking a player at the position is this: does either Goff or Ridder have the ceiling necessary to aid in their team’s pursuit of a Super Bowl? The teams will have to determine that for themselves.

Anthony Richardson taken in the top 2

Most anticipate that the first two players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft will be Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young in some order. What if that vision gets shaken up and either Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson or Kentucky quarterback Will Levis crash the party?

In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns were believed to be deciding between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen when reports began to emerge that the team may actually be focused on Baker Mayfield. In my eyes, there is not a Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow in this draft class, which opens the door to other possibilities, much like that 2018 draft class. Although Stroud or Young would be my choice, getting into the mind of NFL teams is a dangerous game. It only takes one decision-maker to fall in love with Richardson’s potential and shake things up atop the draft order. If Stroud or Young fall below No. 2 overall, then it could create a feeding frenzy and Arizona is holding the chum at No. 3 overall.

Star defenders get traded

A year ago, Tennessee traded away its most talented offensive player on Thursday night of the draft. As contract values rise substantially and teams grow more self-aware, could fans see more trades involving top talents? Jacksonville has a winner on its hands but perhaps it does not view Josh Allen as a dominant player worthy of the contract he will be looking to receive. Neither general manager Trent Baalke nor head coach Doug Pederson were in town when Allen was picked. The Jaguars could add an edge rusher in this year’s draft to compensate for the potential loss of Allen.

In the case of Jeffery Simmons, the Titans have already completed one draft night trade involving a star talent. Could Simmons be next? Tennessee has a handful of needs on the roster. The team’s interest in quarterbacks suggests that the Ryan Tannehill era could be coming to an end and running back Derrick Henry may not be long thereafter. Who is the best player on that offense when those two are removed from the equation? Treylon Burks? The AFC franchise may look in the mirror and determine that additional draft capital is worth more than a defensive tackle on a $26 million contract.

Allen and Simmons are entering the final year of their rookie contracts and are the types of talent that could be traded for supreme draft assets; that is the reason for their hypothetical trade.

Again, these are not to suggest that anything is imminent or even likely, but just an attempt to create discussion as to what could happen in the 2023 NFL Draft, which takes place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.