Iowa State Cyclones

Seven Takeaways on the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft kicked off on Thursday night and the first round is now in the books. It certainly was a memorable one as there was plenty of drama and fireworks, but it also was a huge night for the Big 12 Conference. A total of six Big 12 players were selected in the first round and here are seven thoughts from round one of the 2023 NFL Draft.

1.  A Red Raider Turned Las Vegas Raider

Coming into the draft, Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson was one of the most sought-after defensive players on the board. Some people thought he could be the first defensive player drafted but he ended up going to the Las Vegas Raiders with the seventh overall pick. Wilson is a physical specimen standing at 6-6, 271-pounds. Over the past two seasons he has a total of 14 sacks and 27½ TFLs despite his 2022 season being cut short due to a foot injury. I am fully confident that Tyree will make an immediate impact for the Raiders in an AFC West division that has some great quarterbacks. He even got a shoutout from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Twitter.


2. Bijan Robinson is a Top Ten Player

With the eighth overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons selected Texas running back Bijan Robinson. It has been five years since a running back was drafted inside the top ten and Bijan Robinson ended that streak on Thursday night. Robinson has been widely considered as the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley back in 2018 and Atlanta must have felt the same way. Bijan is a true three down back who can do it all and will likely be a starter from day one.

Robinson had 1,580 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground in his final season with Texas. On top of that, he had 314 receiving yards and two more scores through the air. His 1,894 yards from scrimmage were second most in the FBS and he becomes the first Texas player to be selected in the first-round since 2015.

3. The New York Cyclones

The New York Jets love players that come from Iowa State. After drafting Breece Hall last year and acquiring wide receiver Allan Lazard through free agency this offseason, the Jets selected Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV with the 15th pick. Last season Will recorded 36 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and had a team-high 5.0 sacks, while earning first Team All-Big-12 honors. Will has been a first team All-Big 12 selection three times and his 34 career sacks is tied for the most ever in Big 12 history. If you are an Iowa State fan, I think I know which NFL team you will be rooting for if it’s not already San Francisco.


4. QJ to LA

Jaxon Smith-Njigba may have been the first wide receiver selected but Quentin Johnston was picked right behind him with the 21st pick by the Los Angeles Chargers. Quentin had a career year at TCU last season as he had over 1,000 receiving yards and helped the Horned Frogs reach the National Championship game. Standing at 6-3, 208 pounds, Quentin is a big wide receiver who will play opposite Mike Williams in Los Angeles. This is a fantastic landing spot for the former TCU star as he will play alongside Mike Williams and Keenan Allen with Justin Hebert throwing him the football. That Chargers offense should be really fun to watch in 2023.

5. Anton Harrison is a Jaguar

With the 27th pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison. Anton has been a guy who has gotten a lot of praise over the last couple of months as most mock drafts had him penciled in as a first rounder. Harrison has been a staple on the Oklahoma offensive line over the last two years as he has started 24 games and earned first team All-Big 12 honors last season. I thought this was a great pick by the Jaguars who will need some help up front and Anton is a solid athletic tackle and has the size to go along with his athleticism.


6. King Felix Stays Close to Home  

Sometimes it feels like certain NFL franchises are spoiled with riches and the Kansas City Chiefs added a big-time pass rusher with the last pick in the first round. The Chiefs took Felix Anudike-Uzomah who will be making the short trip from Kansas State to Kansas City. He was the Big 12 defensive player of the year after recording 46 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles last season. King Felix has been a fierce pass rusher during his time in Manhattan and becomes the first Kansas State player taken in the first round since Josh Freeman back in 2009.

7. Thursday Night Was a Memorable One for the Big 12

Over the past two years, I have been extremely disappointed as the Big 12 Conference failed to get a single player drafted in the first round. That all changed on Thursday night as the Big 12 had a total of six players that were selected in the first round which was the most since 2010. The Big 12 also had the third most first round selections on Thursday behind only the Big Ten and SEC. For years this conference has been known for their offensive firepower, but they had three defensive players selected in the first round which included Tyree Wilson who was a top ten pick.

I know the Pac-12 ended up getting three players picked in the first round but before they even had their first player selected, the Big 12 already had three players off the board. I have said before that the Big 12 could easily be the third best conference in college football and it certainly looked like that on Thursday.

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