NFL Draft 2023 - Five AFC Teams—Almost An Entire Division Including The Chargers—Must Make Good Picks
With the 2023 NFL Draft just a few weeks away, all 32 teams are eager to add talented players to their rosters. The five AFC teams—almost an entire division including the Chargers must make good picks.
Of course, different teams have different draft objectives, but it's undeniably more important for some to get it right than for others, whether because of where they're slated to pick or their team situation.
On Monday, my colleague Jordan Dajani examined five NFC teams that must get the draft right this year. I'll go over the AFC in the space below.
The Texans not only have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, but they are also set to make a league-high 12 picks, including two in the top half of the first round, five of the top 73 picks, and Mr. Irrelevant.
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This has the potential to be a franchise-changing class, and it all starts with securing the No. 2 pick, which is widely expected to be used on the team's quarterback of the future.
The most likely candidates appear to be Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, but whoever it is will be thrown into a somewhat friendlier offensive environment than Davis Mills operated in the previous two seasons, thanks to Houston's plethora of picks and offseason signings that focused on solid, dependable veterans who will be in the right place at the right time and raise the floor of the offense. They can use the draft in the future to raise the team's ceiling.
The Colts, like their division rivals, are widely expected to be looking for their future quarterback in this class.
Will they be able to stay at No. 4 in order to get him, or will they have to give up something valuable to the Arizona Cardinals in order to prevent another team from stealing the No. 3 overall pick? This is a significant turning point in this year's draft.
However, the Colts have had a bit of a swoon in their player-acquisition decisions in recent years. The roster is not as good as it was a few years ago when this team appeared to be just a quarterback away from being a perennial contender.
The cupboard needs to be restocked, and that process must begin with this draft class. (This task is made more difficult if the Colts are forced to move up from No. 4 on the board to No. 3.)
We're not doing this on purpose, but with the Titans picking just outside the top 10 and seemingly preparing to embark on a full-scale rebuild under a new front office, it seems critical that they lay the groundwork for the next era with a strong draft class.
Tennessee has already had a lot of roster turnover this offseason, and it's entirely possible that by this time next year (if not sooner), both Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill will be gone.
Will the Titans try to move up in the draft to get their quarterback now? Will they attempt to trade back and acquire more assets? Is Henry going to be on the move during the draft?
There are many paths this team can take, but whatever they do should be with the goal of contending in a few years, which is a significant shift for a team that has been all-in on the win-now mode in recent seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers
Year 3 of the Brandon Staley era has arrived. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs on the final day of the season the last two years and then blown a 27-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs.
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This team has now changed offensive coordinators, and last year it spent heavily to improve its defensive personnel. On defense, the results have yet to come, and this team needs to be about more than "Justin Herbert is awesome and we have Austin Ekeler and our coach sometimes goes for it on fourth down."
The Chargers desperately need to add some explosiveness in this draft, whether it's a perimeter receiver, a tight end, or a backfield complement to Ekeler. They must also improve their run defense, which was far from adequate last season.
There's a lot of work to be done here, picking from the back half of the first round.
For several years, the Bills have been one of the best teams in the NFL, but they have yet to break through and reach the Super Bowl. Unlike last year, they did not make a significant free-agent addition with an elite player (Von Miller), so they will have to upgrade their talent base through the draft.
Quietly, they could use some more weapons for Josh Allen because when Stefon Diggs didn't have his A-plus game last year, Buffalo didn't have much else to move the ball.
The offensive line still needs work, and with Tremaine Edmunds leaving in free agency, the defense's second level could use some help as well. The Bills are still extremely talented, but they require an infusion of talent to help them reach their ultimate goal.