The first day of the 2023 NFL Draft is slated to begin April 27, but it will not include all 32 teams. As part of an era when more general managers are willing to trade away draft capital, there are five teams not currently in position to make a pick in the first round. Here are how those teams can still find success through the draft:
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Eight picks beginning with No. 74 overall
- Team needs: DL, LB, RB, EDGE, OT, TE
Cleveland has traded picks in this draft class to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Elijah Moore. The moves made this offseason suggest that they believe they are only a few pieces away from being a contender. In an ideal world, they would find a few more players who can contribute to that goal.
The defensive front seven is the quickest path for a rookie to find the field in Cleveland. However, general manager Andrew Berry is not someone who is going to reach to fill a need. If a talented prospect falls, much like safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Greedy Williams did in their respective drafts, then he will not be afraid to move back up the board.
Five picks beginning with No. 67 overall
- Team needs: C, OG, CB, LB, S, DL
The first year of the Russell Wilson experience in Denver was a massive disappointment, and that led to sweeping changes on the coaching staff. Incoming head coach Sean Payton was hired to re-direct the 34-year-old quarterback down a path that leads to good fortunes for the franchise. The upcoming season will be very important in learning whether Wilson still has anything left in the tank.
There have been public murmurings that the team could trade wide receivers Courtland Sutton and/or Jerry Jeudy. Those moves would not be conducive to aiding the quarterback. For the Broncos to have a successful draft, that entails finding a long-term starter or two on the interior offensive line. They have a few needs on the defensive side of the ball as well but have playable options across the board.
Eleven picks beginning with No. 36 overall
- Team needs: OG, TE, EDGE, CB, DL, QB, OT, S, LB
Los Angeles traded this year's first-round pick as part of the Matthew Stafford deal. The Rams have needs up and down the roster, and the team is probably not going to compete this season regardless of how many starters it finds through the draft. With that being said, a successful draft for the NFC franchise would be finding some of those building blocks, particularly at premier positions like edge rusher, cornerback and the offensive line.
Los Angeles has been wired to chase a Super Bowl at all costs over the past two years, but having some self-awareness of the current state of the roster should be liberating. The Rams can stick to their board, draft the best players available and bring the youthful energy to training camp this summer.
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Four picks beginning with No. 51 overall
- Team needs: DL, OG, WR, TE, RB, LB
Miami is another franchise that has gone all in on a Super Bowl window. It traded a first-round pick to Denver as part of the Bradley Chubb trade and then lost a first-round pick through the NFL's findings of tampering with quarterback Tom Brady. The best-case scenario for the Dolphins is that they are able to find another key contributor or two without forcing the franchise to dip into its 2024 draft assets. The Dolphins may be hoping to find a quality interior offensive lineman in the second round who can protect quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. TCU's Steve Avila could fit that profile in the second round.
Eleven picks beginning with No. 99 overall
- Team needs: OT, OG, S, CB, WR
San Francisco has 11 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but only one is inside the top 100. Fans should grow comfortable seeing the 49ers on the clock on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. General manager John Lynch has found significant contributors in Round 3 and beyond, from tight end George Kittle to linebacker Fred Warner to running back Elijah Mitchell and many others. The franchise will need to continue down that path to not only contend this season but to sustain those expectations. The team has been able to trade and allow good players to walk in free agency because it has drafted their replacements so well.
The bottom of Round 3 looks like it could be a good place to add interior offensive line help, whether that's Notre Dame center Jarrett Patterson, UCLA offensive guard Atonio Mafi or USC offensive guard Andrew Vorhees. Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown, Minnesota cornerback Terell Smith and TCU cornerback Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson are a few who could be within range to fill out that secondary.