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Assessing the 2023 NFL Draft: Evaluating Teams’ Receiving Corps Improvements

Assessing the 2023 NFL Draft: Evaluating Teams' Receiving Corps Improvements
Assessing the 2023 NFL Draft: Evaluating Teams’ Receiving Corps Improvements

With the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s now time to assess the draft performance of each team, with a particular focus on their receiving corps. This article takes into account all positions, including wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs, to evaluate the extent of improvement made by each team.

Green Bay Packers

Despite expectations that the Packers would select a top wide receiver or tight end with the 13th overall pick, the team surprised many by opting for a defensive lineman as their first choice. Nevertheless, the Packers continued to take multiple shots at enhancing their young receiving corps throughout the draft, indicating their need for a talent infusion.

In 2022, Luke Musgrave played only two games but managed to accumulate 15 targets, showcasing his potential as a talented matchup issue for defenses in the future. Meanwhile, Jayden Reed from Michigan State is known for his exceptional route-running abilities and work after the catch underneath, which adds a unique skill set to the team’s existing players. 

Additionally, Tucker Kraft’s selection marked the beginning of a trend in doubling up on positions to optimize the chances of finding a solution. As an NFL athlete at the FCS level, Kraft broke 25 tackles on just 102 catches in the last two seasons, demonstrating his impressive skills on the field.

On Day 3, the team also picked up Dontayvion Wicks and Grant Dubose as wide receivers. While it’s typically a challenging feat for players to succeed and make an impact at this stage, both Wicks and Dubose possess intriguing skills and have the potential to exceed expectations and surprise.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers upcoming odds needed a boost, and they addressed this issue by making multiple additions in the draft to improve their offense’s speed. Despite running a 4.51-second, 40-yard dash, Quentin Johnston’s true game speed was evident in the player tracking data, where he ranked among the fastest players in the country. With his remarkable big-play potential, Johnston is an excellent addition to the receiving corps, providing a perfect complement to the existing receivers at Justin Herbert’s disposal.

Furthermore, the Chargers picked up Derius Davis, Johnston’s teammate, in the draft. With an impressive 4.36-second, 40-yard dash time, Davis adds another skill set that was lacking in the offense. He excels at working shallow routes underneath, leveraging his speed and agility to gain yards after the catch. Additionally, he is expected to bring value to the return game.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have maintained their strategy of drafting top-tier athletes for the past few seasons, and this year was no different. Josh Downs, a highly-regarded early Day 2 prospect, was a steal for the team in the third round, being selected at No. 79 overall. With a 4.48-second, 40-yard dash and a lightning-fast 1.49-second, 10-yard split, Downs’ athleticism is remarkable, as evidenced by his vertical and broad jumps ranking in at least the 86th percentile. Additionally, his change of direction abilities are top-notch. Despite standing at just 5-foot-9, Downs has excelled in contested catches, having caught 13 out of 18 targets in 2022.

In the fifth round, the Colts picked up Will Mallory, who posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among all tight ends at the NFL combine. While his blocking abilities may be subpar at best, he possesses remarkable route-running and receiving skills, making him an excellent fit as a move-tight end at the next level.

The Houston Texans 

The Houston Texans aimed to strengthen their untested receiving corps by selecting C.J. Stroud as the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and using multiple draft picks on the position. Tank Dell, despite being historically small at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, was taken at No. 69 overall in the third round. He led the nation in open targets over the past two seasons and impressed during Senior Bowl practices, giving all-star players a tough time. Xavier Hutchinson, who caught an impressive 107 passes last season at Iowa State, was also a favorite sleeper pick for the team.

The Minnesota Vikings

Looking at the Minnesota Vikings, Jordan Addison has the potential to have the most significant impact in improving their passing game. Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award for the best receiver in the nation while playing at Pitt, may not have the best athleticism testing results, but his skills as a technician in the position make up for it. He can complement superstar Justin Jefferson by taking advantage of favorable opportunities and making an immediate impact on the Vikings’ offense.

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