The 2023 NFL Draft is upon us. Before you know it, will officially be welcomed to the pros. The first around alone is already set to be chock-full of drama, starting with the Panthers' inevitable quarterback selection at No. 1. And that's saying nothing of the ripple effects that all 32 teams will experience after adding fresh talent in Kansas City.
Truth be told, the draft isn't just about the top college prospects finding NFL homes. It's also a time when the rest of the league gets clarity on what lies ahead. As rosters get filled out and depth charts get shaken up, everyone from veteran players to head coaches to general managers can be significantly impacted by draft weekend decisions.
With that in mind, here are 10 players, coaches and executives destined to be most affected by this year's draft:
We almost wrote "Jets QB Aaron Rodgers" there; after all, everyone expects it's a matter of when, not if, the Packers will finally grant Rodgers' wish to suit up for New York in 2023. But that's also the point: A deal is not done, and the draft has always stood as a logical first deadline for action. If Green Bay truly covets immediate draft compensation in return for its franchise great, Rodgers could be most impacted by the start of the event, in that he might finally, officially, be on the move.
How confident is Baltimore that Jackson will be back, even after the QB publicly revealed a trade request and has yet to sign the $32.4 million franchise tag he received in March? The Ravens' actions on Day 1 of the draft should help inform us. Beyond Baltimore, however, Jackson's own desire to cash in elsewhere could be seriously hampered if/when other QB-needy teams invest early picks at the position. His market as a technical free agent has been surprisingly thin to begin with, and it's not likely to get all that better once multiple teams use premium picks on homegrown talent under center.
Texans GM Nick Caserio
Entering Year 3 atop Houston's front office, the ex-Patriots executive has yet to enjoy a single season with a proven answer at quarterback. In 2021, embattled star Deshaun Watson sat out while seeking a trade and fighting off-field allegations. In 2022, with Watson traded, young fill-in Davis Mills went unchallenged for the starting job and struggled amid a supporting cast of free-agent leftovers. Now, Caserio and new coach DeMeco Ryans are armed with two picks in the top 12, including No. 2 overall, with a chance to secure one of the consensus top two arms in Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Facing rumors of a looming split from the organization, the GM could instantly boost his stock by guaranteeing Houston enters 2023 with a promising new face of the franchise under center.
Colts GM Chris Ballard
Sticking in the AFC South, Ballard is under just as much, if not more, pressure to hit on a quarterback early in the 2023 draft. Unlike Caserio in Houston, he's actually taken one big-name swing after another at the position, only with little to show for it. So what now? The Colts aren't necessarily in a prime position to grab a "can't-miss" prospect at No. 4 overall, and the Ravens' Lamar Jackson, who's at least technically still available, looks like a long-shot alternative. The top of the draft will surely determine whether Ballard is able to give new coach Shane Steichen an adequately promising signal-caller for the future.
Panthers HC Frank Reich
For all the obvious reasons. After years of shepherding Ballard's one-year gambles in Indianapolis, Reich is assured a handpicked, homegrown QB to develop in Carolina. Whether it's Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, the two favorites to go No. 1, he should have plenty of reason to enter 2023 with high hopes. Both prospects would represent massive upgrades on his latest veteran stopgap, the aging Matt Ryan, and could be talented enough to keep the Panthers in the playoff picture out of the gate.
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Seattle believes in Smith to maintain his starting job through 2023, that much is clear. But the veteran's big-money extension is actually incredibly team-friendly, and the Seahawks have done lots of homework on the top QB prospects with two picks in the top 20. If they love a guy at No. 5 -- like, say, Florida's Anthony Richardson -- then it doesn't mean Smith's job will instantly be in jeopardy. But it will certainly start the clock on his departure as "the guy," even if he only just earned that title.
Like Smith, he's due big money to be his team's starter in 2023. Unlike Smith, he didn't just sign a new deal to do so, and Titans brass has left the door open for Tannehill to be replaced ahead of Week 1. That, and the team has been sniffing around every top QB prospect, perhaps in anticipation of a move up from the No. 11 overall pick. A first- or even second-round QB would almost certainly spell the end of Tannehill's once-inspiring run in Tennessee -- if not before 2023, then quite possibly before the end of the season. As an aside, keep an eye on the Falcons (and old Tannehill mentor Arthur Smith) if the veteran is ultimately released.
Packers QB Jordan Love
Obviously Aaron Rodgers' status could change on or ahead of the draft, which would officially catapult him into the starting job. But more than that, what the Packers do early, especially at No. 15 overall, will have a sizable impact on his offensive outlook for 2023. A starting-caliber pass catcher, whether at receiver or tight end, could very much be in play for Green Bay's first pick.
Commanders HC Ron Rivera
Rivera is assumed safe in Washington as a celebrated force of positive culture change in an otherwise maligned organization, and yet his track record as a football coach -- five straight non-winning seasons dating back to 2018 -- is lackluster. His biggest issue, self-identified in 2022, has been a failure to pinpoint or cultivate a sustainable answer at QB. Now, he's set to enter 2023 with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett in the saddle. But he's also got the No. 16 pick, with the ability to move up. It's possible he could buy himself even more time under forthcoming new ownership if he's able to further bolster that QB room.
Raiders HC Josh McDaniels
One year into his tenure as Raiders coach, McDaniels has already swapped out team icons like Derek Carr and Darren Waller in exchange for old Patriots pals Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers. Those moves on their own certainly aren't reprehensible. But what happens next at key spots like QB could determine how safe he really is as Mark Davis' chosen man post-Jon Gruden. Garoppolo is only in town as a placeholder, and it's very possible McDaniels will sign off on a QB at No. 7 overall.