With quarterbacks expected to come off the board at pick Nos. 1 and 2, the third overall selection — currently held by the Arizona Cardinals — could become the fulcrum point of the 2023 NFL Draft. Given that the Cardinals already have Kyler Murray under contract through 2028, they’re unlikely to draft another passer, allowing first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort to trade down and acquire more draft capital.
Unsurprisingly, Arizona’s No. 3 pick is already garnering plenty of interest, as “at least six teams have inquired” about acquiring the selection from the Cardinals, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. With that many clubs in the mix, Arizona should be able to extract a hefty asking price if it decides to trade the pick.
Let’s run through the draft board and try to figure out which six teams might have contacted the Cardinals about moving into the No. 3 slot.
Six Teams Interested in Cardinals’ No. 3 Pick in 2023 NFL Draft
Trading up to the third pick could be feasible for several clubs scheduled to draft inside the top 15. But clubs outside that range might find it difficult to move up that far.
In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers swapped three first-round picks and a third-rounder to move from No. 11 to No. 3 and draft Trey Lance. So while teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 19) or Minnesota Vikings (No. 23) might want to trade up to acquire a franchise quarterback, that type of leap probably isn’t realistic.
Still, six clubs could have the means to land the Cardinals’ No. 3 selection.
Indianapolis Colts (No. 4)
Sitting at No. 4, the Colts should have the chance to get off the quarterback carousel they’ve been riding for the past five seasons. After starting Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, and Andrew Luck over the last five years, Indianapolis is in a position to draft a rookie signal-caller.
However, general manager Chris Ballard might only be able to land the draft’s fourth-best quarterback. The Panthers and Texans are expected to take passers with the first two selections in the draft, while any team that trades up to No. 3 would do so with the intention of adding a QB.
Moving up to No. 3 would at least give Indy multiple quarterback options to choose from. If the Colts believe another team is planning to jump ahead of them in the draft order, they might be willing to trade with the Cardinals to ensure they secure at least the third-best quarterback prospect.
In 2017, the Bears went from No. 3 to No. 2 by sending a third-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and a 2018 third-round choice to the 49ers. It would probably require a similar package for the Colts to acquire the Cardinals’ pick in 2023.
Seattle Seahawks (No. 5)
The Seahawks made a surprise playoff appearance in 2022, but they still have a top-five draft pick, thanks to last year’s Russell Wilson trade. Seattle is currently scheduled to make five selections before the end of Day 2.
Geno Smith was a driving force in the Seahawks’ success last season, as the former journeyman finished seventh in QBR and won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award after leading the league in completion percentage and throwing 30 touchdowns.
Seattle re-signed Smith to a three-year deal worth $75 million, but it’s really more of a one-year, $27.5 million contract. As such, the Seahawks could be in the market for a young quarterback in the upcoming draft.
“We’re totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” Pete Carroll said in February. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time you just don’t get the chance with some of these guys. So we’re deeply involved with all that.”
The Seahawks have met with all the top quarterback prospects (and made sure to take selfies with all of them). Due to Smith’s presence, Seattle could allow a rookie QB to sit for a season before taking over in 2024. That could make the Seahawks an ideal landing spot for a prospect like Richardson, who may need seasoning before becoming a full-time starter.
Detroit Lions (No. 6)
Nearly everything went right for the Lions’ offense in 2022. Jared Goff looked reborn as Detroit finished third in yardage, fifth in scoring, and sixth in expected points added per play.
The Lions are now in a similar position as the Seahawks. They’re still reaping the benefits of the Matthew Stafford trade, as the Rams will sacrifice the No. 6 overall pick to Detroit. General manager Brad Holmes will make four picks in the top 55.
Detroit nearly made the playoffs last season, and they’re the betting favorites to win the NFC North in 2023. If everything goes according to plan, and the Lions’ roster keeps ascending, they likely won’t be in a position to draft this high again anytime in the near future.
Goff isn’t going anywhere this season, so a rookie Detroit quarterback could sit for a season before taking over in 2024. The Lions would then have the opportunity to acquire even more draft capital by trading Goff next year, when he’ll still be just 29 years old.
Las Vegas Raiders (No. 7)
The Raiders’ offense looks a lot different than it did when Josh McDaniels took over last offseason. Derek Carr, Darren Waller, Bryan Edwards, and Zay Jones have been swapped out for Jimmy Garoppolo, Davante Adams, and Jakobi Meyers, and Las Vegas could continue to overhaul its offense by moving up for a young quarterback.
Garoppolo offers familiarity with McDaniels’ offense and is a workable stopgap option, but he might have limited upside outside the friendly confines of a Kyle Shanahan system. While the Raiders gave him a three-year deal, they could exit the pact after 2023, having paid Garoppolo $33.75 million.
McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler haven’t been afraid to take big swings and reformulate the Raiders’ roster in their image. Trading first- and second-round picks for Adams was a surprise and an indication that Las Vegas doesn’t plan to wait around for a contention window.
Whether they can truly compete over the long term with Garoppolo, especially in a division that includes Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, is an open question. Taking another home-run swing and trading up for a QB prospect might be the final touch on McDaniel and Ziegler’s offensive plan.
Tennessee Titans (No. 11)
“Can I give you the team that I have been told to keep an eye on that’s exploring this and looking into this?” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said last week. “Again, this is just people around the league who said do not sleep on numero 11: the Tennessee Titans.”
By drafting Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft, the Titans proved they’re willing to take a chance on a mobile quarterback prospect and are open to tailoring an offensive scheme around a signal-caller with rushing ability.
While it’s difficult to write off a player after three starts, Willis didn’t look like an NFL-caliber prospect last season. However, Tennessee could be interested in a quarterback like Richardson, who can succeed through the air and on the ground. But they’d likely have to trade up to get him.
Ran Carthon is in his first season as the Titans’ general manager, so he may not want to give up future Round 1 selections right out of the gate. Admittedly, Carthon worked in the San Francisco front office when the 49ers made their 2021 leap up the board, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Carthon will be that aggressive about trading future assets.
While Tennessee has some interesting young offensive pieces, including wide receiver Treylon Burks and tight end Chig Okonkwo, they might not be ideally set up to drop a rookie quarterback into the mix. The Titans could be among the worst teams in the NFL in 2023, which would put them in a position to draft a QB early in the 2024 draft. Taking their lumps this year before finding a passer in 2024 might be a better approach for Tennessee.
New England Patriots (No. 15)
What isn’t debatable is that Jones took a significant step backward in 2022. The former first-round pick fell from 16th in QBR in his first pro campaign to just 28th last season and was briefly benched in favor of fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe.
Jones was forced to work within an offense led by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, coaches whose experience had largely come on defense or special teams. New England has tried to right that wrong this offseason by reuniting with Bill O’Brien, who should be able to get the Patriots’ offense back on track.
Still, there are questions about Jones’ physical limitations. As Bill Belichick tries to escape the Tom Brady shadow, would he consider moving up for a quarterback with more upside?
Historically, Belichick has been much more willing to trade down than up. Since 2000, the Patriots have traded up in the first round just four times. None of those deals involved the sort of leap New England would have to make to get from No. 15 to. No. 3.