The 2023 NFL Draft brought a dizzying amount of transactions in addition to the 259 selections made. We saw 14 quarterbacks selected and a record 43 trades throughout the three-day event. Teams aggressively looked to plug holes in their rosters.
Best Landing Spots for Remaining Free Agents
Leonard Floyd, EDGE
The best pass rusher available is easily Leonard Floyd. Floyd, turning 31 before the start of the 2023 season, had three straight years of nine or more sacks with the Rams. However, he’s proven to be more of a complementary piece than a creator who opens opportunities for others.
Still, there’s always a need for a second or third competent pass rusher with a 6’5″, 240-pound frame. Floyd should be particular at this point since he’s on the back end of his career.
Best fits: Cardinals, Giants, 49ers
Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE
Whether by choice or not, Jadeveon Clowney has often been the worst enemy in his own career. He’s endured a multitude of injuries, playing more than 14 games only twice in nine seasons, and was sent home by the Browns after an odd criticism that Cleveland wanted Myles Garrett to produce as much as possible.
Nevertheless, the 30-year-old is still an effective run defender who can occasionally get to the quarterback. He’s tough as nails, plays injured, and brings tenacity to the trenches. He has plus versatility to play defensive end, outside linebacker, and defensive tackle in 3-4 fronts.
Best fits: Patriots, Steelers, Titans
Carson Wentz, QB
Now a journeyman at this point in his career after ugly endings in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Washington, Carson Wentz is a talented but unpredictable player. He’s inefficient by modern-day standards and has posted an interception rate of at least 3.3% in two of his last three years. When he’s on the field, you’re hoping his big plays overcome the disastrous ones and easy misses.
However, most backups lack the upside Wentz has. He totaled seven touchdowns in his first two games with Washington last year, and if he has to play for a few games, teams would hope that’s what he could bring to the table.
Best fits: Bills, Bengals, Chiefs
Marcus Peters, CB
One of my all-time favorite prospects and players because of his ball-hawk nature and underrated ability in coverage, Marcus Peters is entering a critical juncture in his career. After tearing his ACL at the start of 2021, Peters underwent significant personal growth as his career was disrupted once again. He bounced back for a solid season in 2022 but forced only one interception and six pass breakups in 13 games.
It’s possible Peters’ explosiveness comes back now that he’s more removed from his injury. He was once on a Hall of Fame pace with turnovers, but that has slowed since leaving Kansas City in 2018. Nevertheless, he’s a highly-qualified CB3 or a solid starter when he can play in zone or off-man.
Best fits: Ravens, Lions, Cardinals, Bills, Colts, Vikings
John Johnson, S
John Johnson enjoyed a stellar career with the Rams but was a big free agent bust signing by the Browns. For his next career move, the right fit will be everything.
Only 27, Johnson was miscast as a free safety with Cleveland instead of playing the Cover 2, run-supporting role that worked in Los Angeles. Though that’s limiting for his next landing spot, Johnson is an excellent box player who can total 100 tackles with ease.
Best fits: Steelers, Raiders, Buccaneers, Rams
Leonard Fournette, RB
The Buccaneers’ offensive line was unable to open any rushing lanes for Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White but it’s also not surprising teams haven’t rushed to sign Fournette. Now 28 and coming out of a loaded draft at the position, we have more clarity on where Fournette can be a solid backup or second-fiddle in a 1A, 1B situation. He can still produce on short-yardage situations and as a pass-catcher.
Best fits: Bengals, Colts, Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
There’s no question that Ezekiel Elliott is no longer the explosive star he was until his fifth season in Dallas. Since then, he’s been durable, reliable, and a helpful contributor even as the big plays disappeared. Elliott’s a low-end starter but has value because he’s a three-down back and does everything at a solid level.
Best fits: Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Cardinals
Dalton Risner, G
Good blockers rarely last this long on the market. Dalton Risner’s best attributes are his durability and strength, but he’s a bit scheme limited because he’s not able to move laterally effectively. Turning 28 this offseason, Risner can be an absolute steal for teams needing a left guard who is competent in pass blocking at an affordable price.
Best fits: Chargers, Bengals, Giants
Donovan Smith, OT
A massive, 6’6″, 338-pounder with knee issues, Donovan Smith might be served best by moving to the interior as he turns 30 this offseason. Smith is tough as nails and was durable until this past season. However, he’s best suited as a backup or fill-in for the short term since he’s never been particularly impressive as a left tackle.
Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Patriots
Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE
There aren’t many players like Yannick Ngakoue. He’s a true pass-rush specialist thanks to his speed, producing at least eight sacks in every season he’s played. Despite this, he’s looking for his sixth team since 2019. Ngakoue’s horrible in run defense, so he needs the right rotational situation to succeed.
Best fits: Browns, Rams, Commanders
Shaquill Griffin, CB
A back injury ended Shaquill Griffin’s 2022 season, and Darius Williams’ emergence as a boundary corner ended his Jaguars career. Though he was a massive free agent bust for the Jaguars, Griffin is only turning 28 this offseason. He needs a return to a zone scheme that limits how often he doesn’t have safety help.
Griffin is an effective coverage player when he’s in the right scheme. Both rebuilding and competitive teams should roll the dice on a longer cornerback who was a Pro Bowl talent not long ago.
Best fits: Ravens, Lions, Colts, Raiders, Cardinals, Rams
Poona Ford, DT
Nothing that the 5’11”, 310-pound Poona Ford does is sexy, but the man knows how to eat blocks. He successfully filled in the nose tackle role in Seattle for five years, adding 7.5 sacks on top of being a force in the center of their defense. Defenses that need someone who can hold his own against two blockers and open gaps for teammates would benefit from Ford’s presence.
Best fits: Browns, Titans, Packers, Cardinals