NFL Draft Recap | Top 5 Most Surprising Selections from the 2023 NFL Draft

by Al Scherer · Dynasty Leagues

This year’s NFL Draft was filled with surprises. There were trade-ups, trade-downs, reaches, and players falling well beyond consensus. Here we’ll perform an NFL Draft Recap. We will take a look at some of the most surprising and interesting picks for fantasy players from the 2023 NFL Draft.

1) Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12!

Jahmyr Gibbs has long been the consensus RB2. Therefore, his being the second back selected did not surprise anyone. What did surprise everyone, though was Gibbs being selected No. 12 overall. Gibbs was picked ahead of every wide receiver in this class.

Modern NFL franchises devalue the RB position.  They don’t like drafting backs early. They don’t like to give running backs second contracts, preferring to replace them with more draft picks or free agents. Over the past 10 years, only five running backs had been selected within the first 12 picks. Those that were fit a single profile – a fast, 225-plus bell cow who showed pass-catching chops and handled goal line duties. These backs averaged over 20 TDs in their last full college season.

None of that describes Gibbs. He is a lightning-fast, albeit undersized pass-catcher, a part-time player in college who never saw 200 touches or posted more than 10 scores. Alabama took him off the field in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

How many more touches and what kind of Red Zone usage can we expect in the NFL? Sure, they moved Swift. However, they brought in David Montgomery. Montgomery outweighs Gibbs by 23 pounds. He is a proven goal-line back and just signed this year’s second-biggest free agent RB contract. Imagine what he’ll do behind the stronger Detroit offensive line. If Gibbs is the new, improved Swift, Montgomery is the new, improved Jamaal Williams. Gibbs is an exciting playmaker. He’s just not the type of player typically taken in the top-half of the NFL Draft.

2) Will Levis falls to Round 2!

Heading into draft night, Levis figured to be one of the favorites to be selected with the second overall pick. Levis was flown into Kansas City so he could parade onto the podium when selected. Well, that parade never happened. With three QBs taken in the draft’s first four picks, every other QB-needy team in the first round elected to pass on Levis. When he finally was selected at the top of the second, it was telling that Tennessee didn’t trade up to get him in the late first. Doing so would have given the Titans a fifth-year option should Levis pan out. With the going rate of second QB contracts, that tell proves that maybe even Tennessee isn’t so sure about him.

While every decade or so you’ll find a second-round Jalen Hurts, Drew Brees or Brett Favre, you’ll find plenty more Kyle Trasks, Drew Locks and Christian Hackenbergs. Levis will get a chance at some point in 2023. But, he won’t have a strong supporting cast and won’t get much time to show he can lead the Titans or risk being “Josh Rosen‘ed” in 2024.

3) Historic Round 2 Run on Tight Ends!

Though only Dalton Kincaid was selected in this year’s first round, five more TEs would be taken before the end of the second round. By the time Brenton Strange was selected at No. 61, NFL teams had drafted as many tight ends as quarterbacks and RBs combined.

This was the first time in 10 years that more than four tight ends had been selected this early. These early-pick tight ends, including fantasy long shots like Luke Schoonmaker and Brenton Strange, were all selected before PlayerProfiler favorites Marvin Mims. They were taken rounds before Roschon Johnson and Israel Abanikanda.

Our fantasy question is how many of these TEs will be fantasy-relevant. That is, how many were drafted for their receiving prowess versus  their blocking? Among these rookies, Michael Mayer landed in a strong spot in Las Vegas. Luke Musgrave, with his physical talents and the Law of Conservation of Targets on his side, has a great opportunity in Green Bay. And you have to love Dalton Kincaid hooked up to Josh Allen.

4) Johnson Falls to a Great Spot in Round 4!

PlayerProfiler favorite Roschon Johnson fell out of Day 2 on draft weekend. Two NFL teams decided they’d rather draft kickers rather than Johnson. But, with Johnson, we’re talking about a 22-year old back with decent speed and prototypical three-down size. He’s strong in pass protection and is a good pass catcher. Additionally, Johnson only fumbled once in 392 college carries. Had he not been behind all-world Bijan Robinson, Johnson would not have lasted beyond the NFL’s second round.

Just as things looked darkest for Johnson this weekend, he landed in a great spot with Chicago. With a departed lead back in David Montgomery, Johnson will get a significant opportunity right away and a chance to snag the lead role as a rookie. Khalil Herbert doesn’t catch passes, is not a strong pass blocker, and is only signed through 2024. D’Onta Foreman is on a one-year deal at 27 years old. Behind an improving offensive line, Johnson is a strong dynasty pick who we can now select later in fantasy drafts than we would had he not fallen.

5) Achane in Miami!

Devon Achane has world-class speed. His 4.32 (99th-percentile) 40-yard dash will make him the fastest back in the league. While it is true Achane has speed, he lacks the size to be a true bell cow.

Miami selected him in Round 3. On a team already loaded with speed in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Achane is now one of their fastest offensive players. Achane won’t hold up to backfield carries, especially in Miami’s stretch zone running scheme, so he’ll have to be a space back. Miami seems capable of doing that and making Achane an interesting if low-end dynasty RB3.

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