The 2023 NFL Draft is around the corner and represents the best possibility that teams have to upgrade their roster for the long haul. But the best way to do that — selecting a player in the first round — is not available to every team. Which teams don’t have a first-round pick this year, and how did they lose them?
There are five NFL teams without a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft: the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49ers. Here’s how they lost those picks.
Which Teams Are Missing Their First-Round Draft Picks in 2023?
Last offseason, the Broncos traded their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, along with their second-round picks for both years, and their 2022 fifth-round pick for quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. As a result, the Seahawks own Denver’s first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (fifth overall).
The Broncos do have some additional picks throughout the draft, including a third-round selection from the Indianapolis Colts they acquired in last year’s draft, but Denver doesn’t have enough draft capital to trade into the first round without also packaging a player.
The Broncos did acquire a first-round pick at the trade deadline when they traded Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins, but they traded that away to the New Orleans Saints for the rights to Sean Payton’s contract as a head coach. That selection originally belonged to the San Francisco 49ers, who traded it to Miami for the third overall selection in the 2021 draft, where they drafted Trey Lance.
Los Angeles Rams
Originally slotted to have the sixth overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams traded their rights to that selection to the Detroit Lions in 2021 for Matthew Stafford. The total trade package included LA’s first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, a third-round pick in 2021, and Jared Goff. The Rams have not picked in the first round since 2016 — strangely, the very pick they used to draft Goff.
The Rams do have their original second- and third-round picks, as well as a third-round pick from the Dolphins, which they acquired (along with TE Hunter Long) from trading away Jalen Ramsey. That might allow them to trade up into the bottom of the first round if they feel the need to.
The Cleveland Browns’ draft slot for 2023 is 12th overall in Round 1, but they traded that away in 2022 for quarterback Deshaun Watson and a 2024 fifth-round pick. In addition to their 2023 first-round pick, Cleveland also traded away their first-round picks in 2022 and 2024, as well as a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024.
As a result of sexual misconduct allegations, Watson did not play in 2021 and only played six games in 2022 but is slated to play all of 2023. In his last full season (2020), he was an MVP candidate.
The Browns do not have a second-round pick after trading for WR Elijah Moore and a third-round pick from the New York Jets. As a result, Cleveland is virtually locked out of trading into the first round without trading future picks or a player.
Miami is the only team in the 2023 draft to have lost their first-round pick without trading it away. The Dolphins were penalized their first-round selection in the 2023 draft because they were determined to have violated the NFL’s tampering rules when they attempted to recruit Tom Brady and Sean Payton while both were under contract with Tampa Bay and New Orleans, respectively.
Teams are not allowed to contact players or coaches while they are under contract with other teams without permission outside of certain parameters — the “legal tampering” window prior to the beginning of the new league year is one such example. It would be quite a journey for the Dolphins to acquire a first-round pick. They generally don’t have the capital in this year’s draft to move up from No. 51 overall to move into Round 1 and would have to move picks next year or a player on their roster.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were granted the 30th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft but traded the rights to that pick to the Dolphins in 2021 when they traded for the third overall pick in that year’s draft, where they selected Lance. In addition to their 2023 first-round pick, San Francisco traded away their first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, as well as a third-round pick in 2022.
The 49ers’ 2023 first-round pick has been on a journey. After being traded to the Dolphins, it was traded to Denver for Chubb. Then, the Broncos used that pick to trade for the rights to Payton’s contract from New Orleans.
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