KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We're two days into the 2023 NFL Draft, and Friday was all about feel-good stories. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis went from being passed over in the first round to being a hot prospect at the top of the second. Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. also didn't hear his name called on Thursday, then wound up joining the franchise his father starred for a couple decades ago. Nearly every big name that didn't have a fun night in the first round had their dreams realized in the second or third.
That's what Day 2 is really about in the draft, and Day 3 for that matter, as well. This is the time when you see teams unearth true value in their picks, as they see just how well their scouting departments have delivered. The first day of the draft tends to focus on star power. The remainder of the event is all about building the heart and soul of a team.
So that's where we'll continue with the next special draft edition of The First Read. Here are the winners and losers from Friday's action ...
1) Brad Holmes, general manager, Detroit Lions: Holmes started the draft with five picks in the first three rounds, and he used them masterfully, spinning them via a series of trades into six players by the end of Friday night, including a QB to develop for the future. He showed some strong convictions on the first day, trading back to select Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs and landing Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell with the 18th overall spot -- jumping at two prospects who, in his words, "are ready to go right now," even if many draft graders balked at the picks after the fact. In Round 2, Holmes narrowed in on more needs. Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta should make up for the departure of T.J. Hockenson in a midseason trade with Minnesota last year. Alabama safety Brian Branch is smart and versatile and one more asset in a secondary that was in need of a major overhaul. And in Round 3, Holmes nabbed Tennessee signal-caller Hendon Hooker, who could be prepped as Jared Goff's eventual replacement, then cashed in a trio of Day 3 picks in a trade that allowed him to take Western Kentucky defensive tackle Brodric Martin at No. 96.
Holmes has talked about the importance of this offseason in terms of how the Lions continue the momentum they created in the second half of last season. Everything he's done so far indicates he's more than up to the challenge.
2) Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers clearly want to give Love as many weapons as they can find. After using three picks on wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft, Green Bay found three more pass-catchers on Day 2 of this year's draft. Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave is an athletic target who should get plenty of opportunities to fill the void created by the departure of Robert Tonyan, as should South Dakota State's Tucker Kraft, selected in Round 3. The other second-round selection was Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed, a savvy route-runner with great hands. There's a lot of anticipation about the growth Love can show in his first season as a full-time starter. If these young receivers can develop quickly, that optimism will increase even more.
3) Michael Mayer, TE, Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders traded star tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants earlier this offseason, creating an opportunity that Mayer should capitalize on. Mayer had first-round talent, so his availability in the second round means the Raiders found a nice bargain, even if they had to trade up to grab the Notre Dame product. He's also joining a team that is likely to take full advantage of his impressive skills. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels loved to feed future Hall-of-Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski when McDaniels was the offensive coordinator in New England. New Las Vegas quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had great chemistry with one-time All-Pro tight end George Kittle during their time together in San Francisco. The safe bet is that Mayer becomes a big part of this offense as a rookie. As an added bonus, he's also an effective blocker who should make life easier for All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs.
4) Teryl Austin, defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers: Austin had to be grinning after his good fortune on Day 2. Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. -- a player with first-round ability -- was still available early in the second round, and Pittsburgh pounced on him with the 32nd overall selection. Porter has a 6-foot-3 frame, long arms and the tenacity to challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage. It's clear that the Steelers are looking to get nastier on defense, as they also added defensive tackle Keeanu Benton out of Wisconsin later in Round 2 -- and that was after signing linebackers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts and cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency. Finding a bargain like Porter only makes this unit that much better. He could end up being a star.
5) Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins hired Fangio to lead a defense that needed plenty of help. They've since given him All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey via a trade with the Rams, and now they've added another gifted cornerback with their second-round pick, South Carolina's Cam Smith. Smith is a reliable cover corner who should fit nicely into a secondary that also has a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback (Xavien Howard), a rising star safety (Jevon Holland) and another young corner who surprised as an undrafted rookie last year (Kader Kohou). Fangio loves using creative coverage schemes and exotic pressure packages to rattle opposing passers. Smith gives him one more weapon in his arsenal.
1) Aaron Rodgers, QB, New York Jets: The Jets found an offensive lineman in the second round -- Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann -- but they still have concerns at tackle that haven't been addressed thus far. Jets GM Joe Douglas watched the top four prospects at that position go before the team made its first selection on Thursday, and the end result was the acquisition of Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV with the 15th overall pick. McDonald wasn't a bad option. It's just that Rodgers is supposed to be the missing piece in this team's Super Bowl puzzle, and he turns 40 in December. The Jets need to do everything possible to keep him healthy. They may be betting on tackles like Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown or Max Mitchell getting the job done, but all three battled injuries in 2022. If they can't stay on the field -- and the Jets can't find another option in this draft or on the street -- this could be the fatal flaw that kills this franchise's dreams.
2) Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions: Though it helped Brad Holmes jump into the "winners" tier above, the decision to draft Hendon Hooker creates an intriguing situation for Goff moving forward. Hooker became a trendy prospect as the pre-draft evaluations gained steam, and he even scheduled a visit to the Lions. Now that he's officially going to be on the roster, the question of what Holmes sees in Hooker becomes a lot more critical. Holmes made it clear earlier this offseason that he's not afraid to take a young quarterback, sit him behind an established starter and then see what happens down the road. That apparently is exactly what he's about to do.
Hooker has his issues -- he's 25 years old, recovering from ACL surgery and in need of serious development -- but Goff, who was traded to Detroit in 2021, has just two years left on the deal he signed with the Rams in 2019. That's enough time for Goff to either continue playing at a high enough level that he secures another big extension or to give Holmes ample reason to see if Hooker can be a cheaper solution to running this team in the future. Whatever happens, the potential for this situation to get complicated is high.
3) Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants: There was enough buzz around this speedy wide receiver out of Tennessee that some draft pundits thought he could make it into the first round. He wound up going in the third, where the Giants selected him 73rd overall. The upside here is that Hyatt is going to a team that desperately needs more big-play ability in the passing game and employs a head coach, Brian Daboll, who gets the most out of that position. The reality was, Hyatt simply wasn't as well-rounded as the other receivers who went on the first day. His jaw-dropping speed is his calling card, but his long-term future in the league depends on how he develops other aspects of his game.
4) Malik Willis, QB, Tennessee Titans: The Titans used a third-round pick on Willis last year because they hoped he could be the successor to Ryan Tannehill. It took them all of one year to decide they needed another option in that quest to find a quarterback of the future, which ultimately became Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. We all know how awful it was to watch Levis, a player many thought could be a top-five pick, go undrafted in the first round (one year after Willis, ironically, went through the same humiliation). However, the Titans took him with the 33rd overall selection, and Levis is now part of a well-coached team that has a history of playing to the strengths of its quarterbacks. It's clear the Titans plan on giving Tannehill another year as their starter. After that, Levis seems likely to get the shot that once was supposed to go to Willis.
5) Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Walker was one of the star rookies of 2022, gaining 1,050 yards before becoming a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year. After doing all that, Walker enters his second season with another youngster, UCLA's Zach Charbonnet, joining the Seahawks' backfield. Seattle took Charbonnet with the 52nd overall pick, which seems high for a franchise that already had a lead back. However, head coach Pete Carroll loves him some running game, and Walker did have to battle through an ankle injury in the second half of 2022. This feels more like a situation where Walker is the definitive starter and Charbonnet is a capable second option (after all, last season, Walker was also paired with Rashaad Penny, who signed with the Eagles this offseason). Still, it's going to mean less touches for Walker in the long run. And that won't be good when he starts talking about his next contract.