The 2023 NFL season isn't that far away, especially with the draft now complete and every team starting offseason minicamps in preparation for the new league year. Outside of veteran free agents searching for new teams, many players on rosters know where they stand on the depth chart heading into minicamp. These players have a much clearer view on their job status and who is standing in the way of them claiming that position.
Of course, there are the veteran players who immensely benefited from the draft, based on what their teams did to improve the roster over the course of the three-day selection meeting. Some rosters certainly improved over the course of the weekend compared to how they appeared on paper after the first two waves of free agency.
Which players are worth buying stock in with the draft completed? How about the players to stay away from? Here are the veterans to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Five veterans the draft helped
Jackson was the biggest winner on draft weekend -- as he became the highest-paid player in NFL history (in terms of average annual salary). With the contract extension finally in tow, the Ravens wasted no time giving Jackson another pass-catching wide receiver who is expected to contribute right away.
Baltimore drafted Zay Flowers in the first round, and he immediately can start in the slot with Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman occupying the outside. Jackson will have his best wide receiver unit since he was drafted by the Ravens in 2018, while having Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely as his tight end options in the middle of the field.
Not only did Jackson get paid, he has a security blanket in Flowers he can go to underneath. Jackson should have his best passing numbers of his career in 2023 -- and he once led the league in touchdown passes and passer rating.
Once the Detroit Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round, Swift's future in Detroit was in significant limbo. The Lions already signed David Montgomery, diminishing Swift's role, but Gibbs essentially was the long-term replacement for Swift -- who is a free agent at the end of the season.
Swift landed in the best possible spot, the Philadelphia Eagles. He'll split carries with Rashaad Penny in Philadelphia, running behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. The Eagles have the most rushing yards (5,224) and rushing touchdowns (57) over the last two seasons -- and now they have their best pass-catching running back since LeSean McCoy.
No longer asked to carry a run game, Swift should thrive in Philadelphia. It also helps that he grew up in the city, attending nearby St. Joe's Prep.
Does Herbert have a long-term extension with the Los Angeles Chargers yet? No, but the Chargers are making sure their franchise quarterback can make the most money he can get.
The Chargers added another explosive pass catcher to their offense by selecting Quentin Johnston in the first round, pairing him with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in the team's wide receiver unit. Johnson is another big-play wideout who should get plenty of open looks with Allen and Williams needing to be accounted for. Herbert should have no trouble finding Johnson downfield and racking up the passing yards.
Not only are the Chargers deep at wide receiver (Los Angeles also has Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, and rookie Derius Davis), but Austin Ekeler still remains employed by the franchise. Los Angeles was unable to trade Ekeler during the draft, so the Chargers appear to be retaining the player with the most touchdowns over the last two seasons.
The Chargers offense is loaded. A huge season for Herbert will make him even more money than what he's already set to earn.
The Seattle Seahawks certainly gave Smith all the playmakers he needs to succeed in the draft, starting with adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba to a wide receiver group that already has Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Smith-Njigba immediately goes to the slot, creating a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses -- while Seattle arguably has one of the the best wide receiver trios in the league.
Seattle also added Zach Charbonnet to the running back room, as he'll spell second-year back Kenneth Walker with his speed out of the backfield. Not only does Smith have a lot of talent at the skill positions, every top running back and wide receiver not named Tyler Lockett is 25 or under.
Smith has a loaded offense with an offensive line that improved throughout last season. He also received a new contract this offseason and Seattle didn't draft a quarterback. This is Smith's team -- and the Seahawks gave him all the playmakers to have an even better 2023.
Cox took a hometown discount to stay with the Eagles, but the veteran defensive tackle was asked to carry the interior with Jordan Davis entering his first season as a starter. Milton Williams was also going to have a significant role in the rotation, yet things got much easier for Cox thanks to Jalen Carter's stock falling in the draft.
Carter fell to the Eagles' range at No. 10, so they traded up just one draft spot to get him. Cox will either be starting with an instant impact rookie like Carter or play significant snaps and a defensive tackle rotation with Carter, Davis, and Williams -- preserving his body for the second half of the season.
With the Eagles pass rush loaded on the edge and deep at defensive tackle, Cox should have another strong season at 32 -- while providing crucial veteran leadership in an already strong locker room.
Five veterans the draft hurt
This will be another year where Tannehill will be looking over his shoulder at quarterback. The Titans selected Malik Willis in the third round of last year's draft, and though he never provided much of a challenge for Tannehill's job, Will Levis might provide a more serious threat.
The Titans traded up to draft Levis with the second pick of the second round, getting a quarterback that was once projected to go in the top five of the draft. Levis certainly has the potential to be the next franchise quarterback in Tennessee and will have a year to develop in Tim Kelly's offense.
Can Levis unseat Tannehill this year, the final year of his contract? If Tannehill struggles or suffers a multi-week injury, he may not get his job back if Levis plays well. Tannehill will be the starter to open the season, but will he be the starter in January?
Tannehill's starting quarterback job in Tennessee appears to be for one more season -- at the most.
The reward for rushing over 1,000 yards in a rookie season? Allgeier watched the Falcons use a top-10 pick to select a generational running back.
Atlanta Falcons drafted Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall, the first running back taken in the top 20 in the draft since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Robinson will be the lead back for a team that was third in the NFL in rush yards per game (159.9) and second in rush-play percentage (55.3%) last season -- so he's going to put up big numbers behind one of the better run-blocking offensive lines in football.
What about Allgeier? All he did was rush for 1,035 yards and average 4.9 yards per carry last season (on 210 carries). The Falcons will still use Allgeier in the offense, but he'll be getting significantly fewer carries in his second season in the NFL. Cordarrelle patterson is also part of the running back rotation.
Allgeier will likely be productive, yet won't see close to the 16.7 carries per game he received the final six games of last season.
Here's another running back who won't be getting the same average number of carries per game as he received in his rookie season. Walker was one of the best rookie running backs last season, rushing for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns (4.6 yards per carry) -- averaging 18.6 carries per game as the starter.
Walker will still be the featured back in Seattle, but some of his touches will be taken away by Zach Charbonnet this season. Seattle didn't draft Charbonnet in the second round to sit him on the bench -- ditto with Walker when Rashaad Penny was the incumbent No. 1 running back last season.
They're going to make a strong combination for the Seahawks running game, but Walker's playing time will be affected to make it work.
The Colts were going to be players for one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but the Anthony Richardson selection at No. 4 overall likely sealed Minshew's fate. Minshew will likely be the top quarterback on the depth chart heading into training camp, but will he perform well enough to hold off Richardson for Week 1? Will it matter?
Richardson is the future for the Colts -- who may want to play him in Week 1 and develop him with on-field experience. Head coach Shane Steichen did this with Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts when he was an offensive coordinator and will likely want to do the same with Richardson.
If Richardson gives the Colts the best chance to win games, he will play. Minshew may be the No. 2 quarterback in Indianapolis, just like he was in Philadelphia.
Jones was one of the biggest free-agent disappointments last season, not having the impact the Las Vegas Raiders hoped when they signed him. While Jones had 47 pressures and a 10.6% pressure rate (the same amount as 2021), the sack total dipped from 10.5 to 4.5. Jones didn't have a game with a full sack until Week 13; not good, considering Maxx Crosby played on the opposite edge.
The Raiders drafted Tyree Wilson at No. 7 overall, who is expected to be an immediate contributor to the pass rush. Whether Wilson or Jones will get the majority of snaps will be determined in training camp, but top-10 picks are expected to be instant impact players. Wilson is going to get snaps in his rookie season.
Jones is still a good pass rusher at age 33, but will need to earn his snaps going forward. He can still play a significant amount of snaps if he's productive on the field.