Lombardi: Whispers the day before the 2023 NFL draft

April 26, 2023 11:51 PM


In one of my favorite scenes of many in The Godfather Part II, Frank Pentangeli testifies against Michael Corleone in front of a Senate hearing.  Frankie Five Angels (One of the best mobster nicknames ever. It’s the Italian translation of his last name. Penta means five in Italian, and angeli means angel. Now, back to the draft column) sees his brother Vito entering the room. He realizes he cannot betray his sacred oath, so he decides to say everything he told the FBI was lies, lies, lies and more lies.  That perfectly sums up the days before the draft—it’s all lies. 

In fairness to all NFL teams, this year’s draft is truly in the eye of the beholder. There are few great players, and because of the lack of greatness, each team will have a different perspective on the talent.  There are few sure things, which is why the top of the draft is so uncertain that even the books cannot make sense of the first five picks. 

With the draft a day away, here are some conversations I’ve had with many teams:

No one in the league is buying the Will Levis stuff at number one—even though one club member told me that Levis does fit the Frank Reich profile for quarterbacks.  As I’ve mentioned previously, who would let Reich pick their quarterback based on his track record with Indy?  Silence was on the other end of the call—he agreed. 

Arizona might finally listen to Kyler Murray and take Paris Johnson.  Johnson is clean, and the Cards need help on both lines, so anything is possible. Based on Murray’s track record of recommendations, they should listen.  In the past, he wanted Tristan Wirfs and Creed Humphrey, and had they selected those players, Murray would have had protection, and there might not have been coaching and executive changes. 

Seattle is trying to move down and acquire more picks for the 2024 draft, which will have a better array of quarterback talent.  Can they?  Doubtful.  If they stay, it doesn’t sound like they will take Jalen Carter from Georgia.  Who will they pick?  My sense is, knowing John Schneider, he will try to move the pick.  Since arriving in Seattle in 2010, Schneider has made 34 draft day trades, 20 to move down and 11 to move up, with three for a player.  Knowing that history, trading down seems like a good bet. 

Detroit appears to be locked in on Carter and corner Devon Witherspoon from Illinois, who is now viewed as the top corner in the draft.  Detroit also needs an outside rusher. If Will Anderson slips, would they select him over these three?  Not sure.

Everyone has Atlanta taking running back Bijan Robinson, which doesn’t make sense.  Of their top five needs, DL, WR, LB, OC, and DS, the one position the Falcons are rock solid is running back.  I love Robinson and feel he is a top-ten-worthy player, but he makes no sense for the Falcons.  They need help on defense, and as good as Robinson will become, how does that improve the Falcons? 

I would be shocked if the Bears didn’t pick an offensive lineman.  When your quarterback is sacked 91 times over the last two seasons, getting line help is critical. 

Hearing the Packers love Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the wide receiver from Ohio State.  He is a lightning-quick receiver in the slot and can help their young quarterback Jordan Love. 

Anton Harrison from Oklahoma is an offensive tackle not many people have going high in the draft, but he is valued higher by NFL teams than the mock drafters.   Another player with more value by teams than his current mock rankings is Deonte Banks, the corner from Maryland.  He is a top-15 pick and could become the steal of the draft. 

Follow VSiN online and on Twitter all day and through the draft for the latest draft day information. 

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