The NFL Draft is a great time for all 32 NFL teams to rebuild their roster and get the most talented players at the collegiate level. For teams selecting high in the Draft, they have a chance to get the most pro-ready talent with the highest ceiling. That isn’t always the case for several teams picking high in the Draft. On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions traded their former third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, cornerback Jeff Okudah, to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick. In his three years with the Lions, Okudah had not lived up to the expectations set by the team. Okudah is one of several former third-overall picks that have failed or failing to live up to the hype and expectations. He is the latest example of the lack of proper picks that could be a problem for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
Buyer Beware: The Dangers of the Third Overall Pick
List of Third Overall Picks Since the 2012 NFL Draft
- 2022 NFL Draft: Houston Texans – cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU)
- 2021 NFL Draft: San Francisco 49ers – quarterback Trey Lance III (North Dakota State)
- 2020 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions – cornerback Jeff Okudah (Oklahoma State)
- 2019 NFL Daft: New York Jets – defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
- 2018 NFL Draft: New York Jets – quarterback Sam Darnold (USC)
- 2017 NFL Draft: San Francisco 49ers – defensive end Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
- 2016 NFL Draft: Los Angeles Chargers– defensive end Joey Bosa (Ohio State)
- 2015 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars – defensive end Dante Fowler (Florida)
- 2014 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars – quarterback Blake Bortles (UCF)
- 2013 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins – defensive end Dion Jordan (Oregon)
- 2012 NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns – running back Trent Richardson (Alabama)
Overview of the Last 11 Selections
It is too early to judge how well Houston’s pick for Stingley will be after one year. That same could almost be said for Lance at San Francisco, but a major ankle injury in his fourth career start with Brock Purdy playing great under center is not a great outlook. Okudah is the latest player to be drafted so high only to find himself on a new team shortly. Darnold, Thomas, Bortles and Richardson all had promising starts to their careers with the teams that drafted them. They, however, never became the stars expected to be. Both Jordan and Fowler were serious disappointments to their teams either due to poor performances on the field, injuries or issues off the field. Jordan is regarded as one of the worst early picks in the draft within the last ten years.
Not counting Stingley, only Bosa and Williams are players that have excelled early in their careers. Bosa is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in the 2016 season. He has accounted for 60.5 sacks, 76 tackles for losses, 135 quarterback hits, and 14 forced fumbles in his seven years with the Chargers. Williams has been a solid enforcer in the middle of the Jets’ defense in his first three years. His breakout year this past season was huge for the big defensive tackle. Williams became a first-time Pro Bowler and named an All-Pro selection. In his four seasons with the Jets, Williams had accumulated 191 total tackles, 118 solo tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 27.5 sacks and 60 quarterback hits.
Alarming Stats of the Third Overall Pick
Only four of the last 11 third overall picks are with the teams they were drafted by, including Stingley and Lance. Only two players, Bosa and Williams, have been named to the Pro Bowl. Finally, three players, Richardson, Jordan and Bortles, are currently not on an NFL roster.
Potential Moves in the 2023 NFL Draft
Currently, the Arizona Cardinals hold the third-overall pick. The Cardinals have seen several of their high-volume playmakers depart via free agency or retirement. Most of their glaring team needs are on the defensive side of the ball. The Cardinals remain interested to Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Both Anderson and Carter are considered two of the most pro-ready players in the draft and have the least amount of concerns on the field. If the Cardinals keep the third overall pick, they are going to get a serious potential future All-Pro defender on their roster.
There are serious reports that Arizona could trade their third-overall pick to a potentially quarterback-needy team. This would give Arizona more picks to fix their roster as well as give a team the chance to draft their future franchise quarterback if Kyler Murray disappoints for the second consecutive season. If Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are picked by the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans as projected, other teams will likely trade for Florida’s Anthony Richardson or Kentucky’s Will Levis. Several teams have been rumored and linked to trading for the third overall pick including the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, the Detroit Lions, the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Commanders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There is a huge risk for any team to take Richardson and Levis so high in the first round. Richardson is going to be a project that needs time to develop. Levis is nowhere near accurate enough to be a day-one starting quarterback in the NFL. The third overall pick curse could be growing if a team trading for either of these quarterbacks does not work out.
Main Photo: Doug Engle – USA Today Sports