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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
15 Apr 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Pat Leonard’s NFL Notes: 5 most interesting teams who could shake up the 2023 NFL Draft

Some years, there is a lot of noise about possible NFL Draft day trades and action, and then the phones go cold and the picks roll in predictably and without much juice.

This doesn’t feel like one of those years.

In a draft without many can’t-miss studs but plenty of depth, the feeling among many league sources is that several teams are feeling out a trade up to get one of their few preferred first-rounders.

But not many teams have made a deal yet because they are having a difficult time predicting the board, even at the very top.

This could make for some exciting draft night trades on April 27 and some surprise picks by teams who stay put. And it could put some teams with significant capital in the drivers’ seat to clean up over the three-day event.

So here are the Daily News’ top five most influential teams who could shake up this year’s NFL Draft:

5. New England Patriots: The Detroit Lions probably belong here, with picks No. 6 and 18 in the first round and one of the league’s more exciting young teams and offenses. But Bill Belichick’s direction at the No. 14 and 46 overall picks will be fascinating. It is not out of the question that Belichick goes quarterback somewhere in the first few rounds after a tumultuous last year managing Mac Jones. New England arguably has to upgrade its QB position with their AFC rivals expected to include Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen and a speedy Dolphins receiving corps. The Pats need to make significant strides holding the ninth-most capital in this draft, per They have 11 total picks, including three in the fourth round and four in the sixth of a deep draft. Belichick should hit on some mid-round corners and defensive backs. How he proceeds in the first and second rounds, though, could shake up the draft.

4. Washington Commanders: Many league sources believe Washington is quietly a team to watch to possibly draft a QB in this year’s first round. GM Martin Mayhew holds the No. 16 pick. The franchise is on the verge of new ownership, which will want to step in with a splash. Head coach Ron Rivera is at least a year or two in on the hot seat. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is intent on proving he can be an elite coach without Andy Reid. And the QBs on the current roster are Jacoby Brissett, Sam Howell and Jake Fromm. If the Baltimore Ravens haven’t figured Lamar Jackson out by the end of April, who knows? Maybe Josh Harris’ incoming ownership group would make a play there, too. Fixing the team and doing something bold would be out of character for this laughingstock franchise run by owner Daniel Snyder. But a new day is near, and maybe draft day will be that day.

3. Philadelphia Eagles: Teams that reach the Super Bowl rarely select in the top 10, but GM Howie Roseman owns this year’s No. 10 pick thanks to last year’s trade with the New Orleans Saints. Roseman accrued three first-rounders for the 2022 draft but made only one pick, DT Jordan Davis at No. 13 overall, and unloaded the other two to New Orleans. The return included an extra first this year. So now the Eagles hold picks No. 10 and 30 after being the NFL’s best team almost wire to wire until a second-half Super Bowl defensive collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs. And Roseman has tons of options, including stacking his offensive tackle position (Ohio State’s Broderick Jones), adding to his defensive line (Georgia’s Jalen Carter) and snagging another offensive weapon (Texas running back Bijan Robinson).

2. Carolina Panthers/Houston Texans: The Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick after making a blockbuster trade to move up from No. 9 to select a quarterback, but who is to say they couldn’t move back down to No. 2 and swap spots with the Texans? Houston is believed to have a high opinion of Alabama QB Bryce Young (like everyone else). At the moment, GM Nick Caserio isn’t in position to draft Young, thanks to fired coach Lovie Smith’s legendary last-season win to throw a middle finger up at owner Cal McNair on his way out. But what if Carolina’s brass likes both Young and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud? And what if the Panthers would be comfortable moving back to No. 2, recouping some of the capital they expended in their expensive trade up with Chicago, and getting whoever Houston lets fall? It’s a fascinating potential scenario that would correct the current, curious idea that the Texans might not select a QB at all. And Houston holds the most capital in this entire draft (12 picks), including two first-rounders (Nos. 2 and 12), three in the top 33 and five in the top 73.

1. Seattle Seahawks: GM John Schneider is coming off a fantastic 2022 draft and a playoff berth. Now he owns the second-most capital in this year’s draft, including two first-round picks (Nos. 5 and 20) and two second-rounders (Nos. 37 and 52). And he is famous for trading back and moving around the board. He has 10 picks in his pocket, including eight in the first five rounds, and a veteran starting quarterback on a short-term extension in Geno Smith. That makes Schneider a candidate to draft a young developmental QB early, to control the entire three-day board, and to stack a young and ascending roster with a scary amount of talent. Not to mention that the Rams and Cardinals being down gives the Seahawks an opportunity to continue making waves in both the West division and the entire NFC.

Jets director of football systems Matthew Capogrosso tragically passed away Friday after a two-year battle with cancer at the age of 44, the team announced. Owner Woody Johnson called Capogrosso “an intricate part of our organization.”

“He was a brilliant programmer but an even better person who loved the Jets and played an essential role in our draft operations every year,” Johnson said in a statement. “A key member of our best-in-class IT department, Matthew embodied everything you want in a teammate and a friend.”

Capogrosso started with the Jets in 2008 and first served as a lead software developer for 13 years before transitioning to director of football systems. He created and maintained the Jets’ scouting system that supports all aspects of player evaluations. He was also responsible for the unification of analytic data into visual representations.

The NFL Draft in April was his time of year.

“The system he created allows us to work seamlessly across our scouting operations,” GM Joe Douglas said. “He was a programmer that understood football and could anticipate what made sense for the next iteration of the system before a football person could ask.”

Capogrosso, known as “Cappy,” was a native of Netcong, N.J. He played football at Lenape Valley High School, graduated from Muhlenberg College and got a master’s degree at Penn State, married his wife Courtney in 2009, and shortly thereafter had twins Leighton and Jude.

His seat in the Jets’ IT room will remain vacant. His impact with the team will live on.

This past Thursday, Saquon Barkley retweeted an endorsement of his talents from the Dallas Cowboys’ Micah Parsons, a fellow Penn State product, that said Barkley “is that offense” and the Giants should “pay him.”

Parsons was responding to a random fan’s opinion that Barkley was “wearing down” in the second half of last season.

“I mean yeah that’s what happens when you the best players on your team you idiot!!” Parsons wrote. “The scheme on Monday morning is we [will] not let SAQUON BARKLEY BEAT Us!! People just think we be out here playing free for all!! like gtfo! That mf is that offense! Pay him!”

Barkley, 26, apparently thought better of supporting a message that said he “is” the Giants’ offense and removed the retweet from his account. Maybe he is closer to making his case a bit more publicly, though, that GM Joe Schoen should pay him what he wants on a multi-year deal.

Barkley should know, however, that the issue is not whether or not he was the Giants’ offense in the past. It is what Schoen and coach Brian Daboll want their offense to look like now and how that dictates the distribution of their resources.

Daboll will face a challenge immediately on day one of his offseason program without Barkley or Dexter Lawrence, two of his best players, reporting due to their contract situations.

The Giants have Zoom interviews scheduled with the media for Daboll and select players but no in-person availability planned. Schoen is scheduled to hold his pre-draft press conference on Thursday, one week out from the first round.

“I was an underdog all my life. I wasn’t the number one receiver in my class. I was a four-star. I didn’t have it easy coming up until I got to New York and then I had some success. So I’ve been the underdog all my life. I’m still counted out. And that kind of excites me… It boiled down to: I’m in a place in my life where it means a lot more to be wanted than someone would love to have you.” — Odell Beckham Jr. at his introductory Baltimore Ravens press conference