The NFL Draft is used by teams to fill immediate holes and find depth throughout their rosters. It’s also a team-building event that can set organizations up for success and failure over the long-term.
Typically, general managers use the draft to find upgrades over current starters. That’s why there are so many veterans who pay attention to the annual event.
It is going to be no different in Kansas City as the league prepares for the 2023 NFL Draft. From a former first-round pick of the Chiefs to a young edge rusher in the NFC East, there are several veterans who could lose their jobs based on what happens in the annual event. Let’s look at 10 of them below.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
A first-round pick of the Chiefs back in 2020, Edwards-Helaire already lost primary ball-carrier duties to a lesser-known Isiah Pacheco a season ago. This comes with inconsistency being the name of the game for the former LSU star. CEH has seen regression take hold in his first three NFL seasons, putting up 803 rushing yards as a rookie before seeing that number dip to 302 in 2022.
The Chiefs don’t have a traditional RB2 to call their own behind Pacheco. That’s what makes the 2023 NFL Draft so interesting from this standpoint. We don’t envision Kansas City using any of its picks in the first two days on a running back. Instead, mid-round options such as DeWayne McBride (Alabama-Birmingham) and Kendre Miller (Texas Christian) could make sense. If so, CEH might be me moved on Day 3.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors
Teven Jenkins, offensive line, Chicago Bears
Jenkins, 25, was on the trade block leading up to last season after struggling to find a role as a rookie. A second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jenkins ultimately moved inside to guard as a sophomore and started 11 games. He’s now penciled in as Chicago’s starting right tackle.
We just don’t envision general manager Ryan Poles and Co. actually going in that direction. Chicago picked up extra draft capital in the draft by moving out of the first pick. It has been linked to both Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) and Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) with the ninth overall pick. If one of those is the selection, Jenkins will likely be traded.
Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will add a defensive tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s not even in question given their MO in recent seasons. Even if, somehow, that weren’t to happen, Kinlaw could be on his way out. Sportsnaut NFL insider Benjamin Allbright reported recently that Kinlaw could be had on the cheap during the annual event. Given that he’s appeared in all of 10 games over the past two seasons, that makes sense.
San Francisco added Pro Bowl defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on a big-money contract during free agency. It has Kevin Givens and Kalia Davis to back up at this position. Moving off Kinlaw for a late-round pick just makes too much sense.
Mekhi Becton, offensive tackle, New York Jets
Yet another player from the 2020 NFL Draft who has seen limited action during his career, Becton has played in all of one game since his rookie season. Conditioning has also been an issue as it relates to the former No. 11 overall pick.
The Jets also find themselves in an interesting position heading into the draft. Veteran Duane Brown is set to return for another season at left tackle. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets opt for either Skoronski or Johnson Jr. if either one is available at 13, making Becton expendable.
Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Denver Broncos
There has been rumblings throughout the offseason that Denver might opt to trade Jeudy rather than pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The former Alabama star has been inconsistent since Denver made him the No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
It must also be noted that new Broncos head coach Sean Payton doesn’t necessarily rely on high-priced wide receivers. His offense seems to cater to fellow Denver receiver Tim Patrick more than Jeudy, leading to further speculation about a trade. It just remains to be seen whether Denver will get the necessary value in a trade to pull the trigger. Thus far, that has not happened.
Dalvin Cook, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Traded or released? That’s pretty much the question surrounding Cook with numerous reports indicating that the cost-cutting Vikings are looking to move off this four-time Pro Bowl running back. It’s somewhat of a shock given just how good Cook has been since he found himself as a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Dalvin Cook stats (2017-22): 5,993 rushing yards, 4.7 average, 221 receptions, 1,794 receiving yards, 7,787 total yards, 52 TD
Minnesota did re-sign young running back Alexander Mattison in free agency. It also has Ty Chandler on the roster. If the team were to add a mid-round back in the draft, Cook could be on the move. It would either come via a trade with the Vikes receiving a late-round pick or an outright release.
Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Commanders
The Commanders’ decision to decline the fifth-year option on Young’s rookie contract was not a surprise. Said option would have come in at an estimated $17.45 million for the 2024 campaign. That is a whole lot of cash for someone who is coming off a serious knee injury and has recorded a mere 1.5 sacks in 12 games over the past two seasons.
Washington also has to worry about re-signing a more-productive edge guy in Montez Sweat. He’s set to play out his fifth-year option and will hit free agency. With defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne playing under huge contracts, it makes very little sense to retain Young long-term. If that is Washington’s thought process, a trade during the NFL Draft could be in the cards.
Davis Mills, quarterback, Houston Texans
Houston might be looking to avoid quarterback with the second selection in the NFL Draft. However, a trade down from that spot could be in the cards. Also boasting the 12th pick in the draft, the Texans could simply use that selection on a quarterback if Anthony Richardson or Will Levis were to fall that far. Heck, going EDGE at two and trading back up for a quarterback could also be in the cards.
What we do know is that the Texans don’t view Davis Mills as QB1 material after he struggled big time as a sophomore last season. Regardless of how things play out, we expect the Texans to add an early-round quarterback. That makes Mills’ job insecure.
DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
On the trade block throughout the offseason, we wouldn’t be surprised if Hopkins were moved on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s going to be all about whether receiver-needy teams add talent early in the draft at that position. It is seen as a weak draft class at wide receiver, leading to the possibility that several teams will go the veteran route.
Coming off a 2022 season in which he was suspended six games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug (PED) policy, the 30-year-old Hopkins could be had on the cheap. From 2014-20, the former All-Pro averaged 99 receptions for north of 1,300 yards.
Zach Wilson, quarterback, New York Jets
Imagine the dynamics in play with the Jets after they acquired Aaron Rodgers in a blockbuster trade with the Green Bay Packers. Prior to the trade, several Jets stars were seen on social media lobbying for them to acquire Rodgers. How will that sit with a former No. 2 pick in Zach Wilson who fell out of favor big time as a sophomore last season?
The idea of Wilson returning to the Jets as Rodgers’ backup really makes no sense at this point. Given his terrible performance through two seasons and a rift with the organization, moving off Wilson for pennies on the dollar during the 2023 NFL Draft should be in the cards.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.