Every year, the NFL draft changes players’ fortunes across the entire league. Rookies come in and replace veteran players. The young and old, nobody is exempt from competition. For this article, I would like to look at some veteran Quarterbacks most affected by the NFL draft. We will examine several players and determine the biggest winners and losers. Without further ado, let us dive in.
Desmond Ridder, ATL
My biggest winner of the veteran QBs due to the 2023 NFL draft is Atlanta’s Ridder. The former Cincinnati Bearcat star slipped to the third round last season after a stellar career in the College ranks. After sitting behind Marcus Mariota for most of his rookie year, Ridder took over the starting role for the season’s last four games. His numbers improved weekly, with the Falcons winning their final two, including a game against the division-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You can see his stats from those games below.
Heading into the offseason, many in the dynasty community believed the Falcons would look to replace Ridder with a top-10 pick. Atlanta had this chance but passed on Will Levis at pick seven. They then proceeded to pass on Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker in the second round. Following the team’s signing of former Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke to backup money, the 2023 draft represented the Falcons giving Ridder their blessing as the franchise QB heading into the season.
Looking back on Ridder as a prospect, he possesses many talents teams to look for in their top man. He is a plus athlete with a big arm. While he does lack a bit in the accuracy department, the Falcons have mitigated that by giving him a pair of hulking targets in TE Kyle Pitts and WR Drake London. You can see Ridder’s athletic chart below.
While the Falcons didn’t give Ridder any new receivers in this year’s draft, they did bring him some top-shelf help. They added quite possibly the best overall weapon in the entire draft, with RB Bijan Robinson, and a quality lineman, Matthew Bergeron, to boot. They also re-united Head Coach Arthur Smith with TE Jonnu Smith during free agency. The latter enjoyed his best career production under Smith in Tennessee.
Ridder was undoubtedly a veteran QB winner but will still be behind the gun in 2023. If he doesn’t take the opportunity before him, he could easily be replaced by either a rookie or free agent next year. I believe the Falcons will morph into a run-first team that uses 12-personnel as their base package. Ridder will use his mobility and put up Mid-QB2 stats throughout the season. The potential you see below was displayed in his first game last year. For me, Ridder is an upside QB2 gamble in 2023.
here go some Desmond Ridder Falcons highlights after that game…#DirtyBirds pic.twitter.com/rjR1vpBGGv— 𖧵 (@InPittsWeTrust) November 6, 2022
Baker Mayfield/Kyle Trask, TBB
The Bucs found themselves in a unique situation heading into the 2023 NFL draft. The Bucs were saying goodbye to the greatest QB of All-Time, Tom Brady. They already had a player in-house, Trask, who they drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft. Team brass wasn’t comfortable handing the reins to the youngster, so they brought in some heavy competition. That came in the form of former number-one overall pick Mayfield.
I will put my money on Mayfield, but either QB could win this job. Both are winners in my book because the Bucs did NOT bring in high-end competition to fight it out with them despite seeing multiple shots at Levis and Hooker. Mayfield has been successful in the league before and inherits a nice group of weapons in Tampa.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will represent the best pair of receivers that Mayfield has played with at any given time, with no disrespect to Jarvis Landry and OBJ. The former Heisman winner loves to take shots deep in a play-action-based passing attack. He should mesh well with new OC Dave Canales. His new coach helped revive the career of Geno Smith in Seattle. Mayfield represents a much better rough ashler for Canales to polish up. You can see some of Mayfield’s early career numbers below.
Much like Ridder, Mayfield will play with his feet to the fire. This will likely be his last chance at a starting role in the NFL. After washing out in Cleveland despite a record-breaking start, he struggled mightily in Carolina before being cut and shining in Los Angeles.
He will be motivated and surrounded by excellent talent on the field and in the classroom. I expect Mayfield to bounce back and challenge for Pro Bowl honors in the NFC. He could easily be a mid to high-end QB2 for your Superflex squads in 2023. Arm talent and moxie have never been an issue for him, as you see below in his first game last season with LA after joining the team just a couple of days prior to the game.
Baker Mayfield on 2 days of being a #Rams player leads LA over #Raiders on last second TD 17-16 pic.twitter.com/3dzNCQqYWR— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) December 9, 2022
Sam Howell, WAS
You can argue that no veteran QB was a bigger winner in the 2023 NFL draft than Sam Howell. He is currently the lowest-drafted NFL starting QB in the entire league. On the heels of a single NFL start in which he threw for less than 200 yards, a TD, and an INT, the Commanders seem intent on going into the 2023 campaign with him as their starting QB.
Howell came out of North Carolina last year after a disappointing final season in Chapel Hill. In that Junior season, his passing numbers were down across the board. He did make up for his total yards by drastically increasing his rushing output. You can see his college numbers below.
Much like Ridder and Mayfield, 2023 will be a make-or-break season for Howell and his career. He will get one season to stake his claim to the top job in D.C. He will have a nice set of weapons at his disposal. The Commanders have one of the top WR groups in the entire league. For my money, Howell is a low-end QB2 with upside for your Superflex squads.
Jordan Love, GBP
Poor Aaron Rodgers. For years it felt like the Green Bay Packers organization passed on giving him a high-end set of skill players to work with. Year after year, they would pass on drafting receivers and tight ends. Then the very month he is traded away, the team makes a splash in the draft bringing in three receivers and a pair of tight ends. In particular, Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft will bolster a group that lost veteran Robert Tonyan to free agency.
Love will take the reigns of a stable organization that has made the playoffs 16 times since 2000. They have made it to the NFC Title game in two of the last three seasons. Love has benefited from sitting behind and learning from a future Hall of Famer for the past three seasons. During that time, Love has seemingly progressed, looking better every preseason. During his only game action last year, he looked dynamic against the eventual Conference Champion Eagles, going six of nine for 113 yards and a TD.
Coming out of Utah State, most believed Love would need time to acclimate to the NFL game. Fortunately for him, the Packers gave him just that opportunity. He is big and physical, boasting plenty of arm talent to boot. You can see his athletic profile chart below.
The Packers are currently working with Love on his fifth-year option season. That would mean that unlike the majority of the QBs mentioned above, Love should be guaranteed two seasons to justify the first-round pick the Packers spent on him all those years ago. He will have some young weapons to grow with over the next several seasons in Green Bay. Sophomore Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, in particular, have the looks of bonafide playmakers in this league. Couple that with a strong running game featuring Aaron Jones and bruiser AJ Dillon and this offense looks ready to hit the ground running despite losing its long-time captain. Throw in Love’s mobility, and you have the recipe for fantasy success. I believe Love can be a mid to high-end QB2 for your Superflex squads.
Kirk Cousins, WAS
At this point, we should call Cousins by his alter ego, Neo. It seems like every single off-season reports come out that Cousins could be replaced as the Vikings QB. Then the draft rolls around, and Captain Kirk dodges the bullets every single time. The Vikings again failed to bring in any significant challenge to Cousins. They extended the contract by a year and gave him a shiny new toy to work with. The Vikings replaced Adam Thielen with the former Belitnikioff Winner out of Pittsburgh and USC, Jordan Addison.
Cousins will once again be a QB1 for your dynasty teams. All he does is make starts and put up fantasy points. Few players around are as consistent as the former Michigan State Spartan. You can see just how consistent his numbers have been below.
Cousins represents one of the best values in all of Superflex. The Vikings signal-caller has some of the best weapons in the entire league, including Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, Dalvin Cook, and Alexander Mattison. He is almost guaranteed to put up high-end QB2 numbers and has zero chance of losing his starting gig for the season. Cousins will headline a weak free-agent class if the Vikings decide to move on in the offseason.
Malik Willis, TEN
While fellow 2022 mid-round QBs Ridder and Howell were winners in this year’s draft, Malik Willis found himself on the other end. From a QB perspective, Willis was one of my biggest losers from the draft. Not only did the Titans not trade Ryan Tannehill, but they also went out and traded up to draft Will Levis early in the second round. This means there is very little chance that the Titans will view him as the future.
In all likelihood, Willis will spend this and the next two seasons as a backup in Tennessee. His skill set should make him a decent fit to serve as the number two behind Levis following Tannehill’s likely departure shortly. While his NFL job is secure, his spot on your dynasty squads should not be.
Gardner Minshew, IND
The former Washington State star was one of my favorite sleepers heading into the 2023 off-season. I initially thought he would be a perfect fit with the Cardinals to bridge the gap on Kyler Murray’s return to the field. That all went poof when Kliff Kingsbury was fired. Minshew ended up following his Philadelphia position coach to the Colts.
Minshew found himself on the losing end of this year’s draft after Indianapolis drafted Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick. Initially, it looked like Minshew would be a shoo-in to begin the season under center as the extremely Raw Richardson was eased into the offense. Cold water was thrown on that when team owner Jim Irsay immediately came out and endorsed Richardson as the starter.
Cooler heads may prevail, and Minshew may draw some starts this season. However, the talented kid who flashed in Jacksonville during his first two seasons is on the Ryan Fitzpatrick plan to bounce around the league as a talented backup and, consequently, not a valuable dynasty asset.
Daniel Jones, NYG
You may be reading Jones’ name and wondering how he was a loser from the 2023 draft. That is a fair question, but hear me out before you judge my take. The Giants went into the 2023 NFL Draft desperately needing to add weapons around their newly paid franchise QB. In my estimation, they failed in that regard.
Sure, they did manage to draft Jalin Hyatt in the third round. The reigning Belitnikoff Award winner flashed some big play potential during his final season at Tennessee. My biggest issue with Hyatt is that he feels like a redundant type of receiver. The Giants drafted a smaller speed receiver in the second round in WanDale Robinson last season. They also signed Parris Campbell in the off-season, another smaller speed receiver. I hoped the team would add a big-bodied target for Jones to work with moving forward.
In all likelihood, newly acquired TE Darren Waller will serve as that big-bodied target Jones has been missing. It’s not like Daboll and the front office did nothing to help Jones. I was just disappointed and considered him somewhat of a draft-day loser.
Dynasty football is a game that varies from league to league and owner to owner. One owner’s draft day winner could be another’s loser. These are just a few players I considered to have won the draft for one reason or another. Most of this year’s draft winners have a short leash to stake their claim to long-term spots. All of them will have a chance to start for their NFL teams and, consequently, your Superflex squads.
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I wouldn’t consider Jones a loser, he got Waller, Hyatt, and they drafted a Center in the second round that many had mocked in the first round.