Trades shape first round of NFL draft

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Would the Houston Texans draft their future franchise quarterback, or pass on the position and take a stud on defense?

With a little trade magic, the Texans had it both ways, making a stunning trade in order to pick both second and third overall in Thursday’s first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Houston used its No. 2 overall pick on Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud before wheeling and dealing with the Arizona Cardinals to get into the No. 3 spot, where they selected star Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

“The trade was about doing what was best for the organization,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. “It’s not about what the points say on the chart. We’re not worried about what the points are. Trade was driven by player we thought would bring a lot of value to our team.”

The Texans acquired the No. 3 pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 105 overall) from Arizona in exchange for Nos. 12 and 33, plus a first-rounder and third-rounder in 2024.

Reports indicated the Cardinals were interested in moving down from No. 3, but for the Texans to be their dance partner was the shock of the night in Kansas City, Mo.

The Texans don’t have a pick in the second round after all the maneuvering, but Caserio said they are ready to move if the right “player-driven” opportunity presents itself. Houston has two picks in the third round (65, 73).

The last draft-day trade of a top-five pick was at No. 2 overall. In 2017, the Chicago Bears moved up one spot in a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The last time an NFL team picked at both Nos. 2 and 3 was Washington in 2000 (LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuel).

The Cardinals weren’t done, however. They participated in the second trade of the night as well, moving up from No. 12 to No. 6 by giving the Detroit Lions their No. 34 overall pick early in the second round. In addition to the first-round pick swap. Arizona also sent Detroit a fifth-rounder (No. 168) and received a third-round choice (No. 81) as part of the trade.

Arizona took Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. — mocked to the Cardinals by many analysts at No. 3.

The Philadelphia Eagles, a team with no glaring needs, moved up from 10th to ninth with the Chicago Bears to grab defensive tackle Jalen Carter, whom many consider the best overall talent in the draft but who had fallen due to off-the-field concerns.

The Bears, while sliding back one spot, picked up a 2024 fourth-rounder in the deal.

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired the No. 14 overall pick from the New England Patriots for picks No. 17 and 120, the latter a fourth-rounder. Pittsburgh picked Georgia OT Broderick Jones, the fourth offensive tackle selected on the night.

The New York Giants later moved to slide up one position from No. 25 to 24, sending two picks — in the fifth (No. 160) and seventh (No. 240) rounds — to the Jacksonville Jaguars. New York chose Deonte Banks 24th, the fourth defensive back taken.

The Jaguars again traded back in the sixth and final trade of the night, moving that No. 25 pick to the Buffalo Bills, who skipped from 27th ahead of the Dallas Cowboys to take the first tight end of the first round — Utah’s Dalton Kincaid. The Jaguars added Buffalo’s fourth-round pick (No. 130) in the maneuver.

After Dallas picked Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith 26th, Jacksonville finally made its first pick of the draft, grabbing Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison.

The Seattle Seahawks reportedly fielded calls for the No. 5 overall selection, but they stayed put and picked Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.

–Field Level Media

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