NFL Picks, Reactions: Post-Draft Bets on Eagles, Ravens After Successful Offseasons

NFL Picks, Reactions: Post-Draft Bets on Eagles, Ravens After Successful Offseasons article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Hurts (left) and Lamar Jackson.

The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books after three frenzied days and 259 picks.

The top of the draft was dominated by the quarterbacks, and the Texans made the biggest splash early by trading up to secure two of the top three picks and use them on C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson.

But at the end of the day, this draft was for the birds — the Eagles and Ravens, that is.

Philadelphia and Baltimore were two of the most important winners of draft weekend. Below I make the case for why and how I'm already betting multiple units on both teams for next season.

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Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles came awfully close to winning the Super Bowl a couple of months ago, and this draft helps set them up for another run to finish the job this time.

Philadelphia had a pair of first-round picks this year thanks to some savvy dealings over the past year that landed them at No. 10 from the Saints. The Eagles traded up one spot from that pick at the meager cost of a fourth-rounder and added Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. In doing so, they may well end up with the best player in the draft.

We really gave the best player in the draft to the best roster in the NFL. Life isn't fair.

Carter was once the possible No. 1 overall pick before a difficult (for a number of reasons) Combine week, but there's little questioning his talent and now the best and deepest defensive front in the league adds arguably the most talented defender. And they added him effectively for free, with a pick they paid forward in past wheeling and dealing.

With their own pick near the bottom of the round, the Eagles somehow lucked into a guy many mock drafts had them taking at No. 10, George edge rusher Nolan Smith. They'll add those two to former Bulldog teammates Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis, one of last year's biggest steals. Any time you can replenish your loaded defensive front seven by adding four guys from the best defense college football has seen in decades, you're in pretty good shape.

The Eagles had the best roster in football last season and did so by winning in the trenches. In Carter and Smith, they likely found their future Fletcher Cox and Haason Reddick replacements while adding more bodies to rotate in with their relentless pass rush this year.

Philly also used a high third on Alabama OT Tyler Steen, focusing on its trenches again. Then it continued to rebuild its run game. Rather than overpaying Miles Sanders, a product of brilliant blocking and a run game built around Jalen Hurts, the Eagles let him go and brought in two cheaper, more talented options.

Rashaad Penny is wildly skilled but constantly hurt, and on draft weekend, the Eagles also traded for former Lions RB D'Andre Swift. Swift is not as gifted a runner but is a more well-rounded back, giving Philly a dangerous pass catcher and another option in the backfield. Both of these guys are talented enough to lead the league in rushing if the healthy king of a backfield. Instead, they'll rotate with Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, allowing Philly to run the ball even more relentlessly than ever.

This is Eagles football. It's strength on strength, depth on depth, leaning into established team identity.

It's the sort of depth that gives a super-talented team a very high floor, protecting it from injuries and other circumstances. Add depth to the best trenches in the league, improve the run game, and add all that to your MVP-level QB, elite WR duo, and outstanding defense and coaching, and you've got the formula for another run at the 1-seed as the best team in the conference.

This team was 13-1 with a healthy Hurts, and 11 wins should be a cinch with a roster this deep and replacements in tow. Carter, Smith and the rest of that Bulldogs defense only make Philadelphia more dangerous than ever.

Give me the Eagles over 10.5 (-140, FanDuel)

Pick: Eagles Over 10.5 Wins (-140)

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Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were huge draft weekend winners before the first pick even came off the board.

At long last, the news everyone's been waiting for all offseason finally arrived. Star QB Lamar Jackson has finally signed his extension and will be here for the long haul. Jackson is a great offense all unto himself, and he's played at a 12.5-win regular-season pace for his career. He's an MVP candidate in his prime, at his peak, and he's back.

And this year he'll have weapons. The Ravens spent their first-round pick on Boston College speedster WR Zay Flowers, who caught over 3,000 yards and 29 TDs in college. Flowers was the perfect fit for this offense, one of those guys in about half the mock drafts you saw, just the exact type of speedy weapon this team lacked last season after trading away Marquise Brown.

Flowers completes a group of pass catchers that looks like Jackson's best ever. Rashod Bateman should be back healthy and could be on the verge of a breakout, and don't forget this team signed Odell Beckham Jr. They also have the league's best pair of tight ends in Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely.

Now Jackson has all those receiving weapons, plus a running game that should be rejuvenated with the return of a finally healthy J.K. Dobbins, who averaged 99 yards per game the final month of the season. And this year he'll work a new offense under new OC Todd Monken, who helped elevate a national championship offense at Georgia along with electric passing games and attacking offenses at Oklahoma State, LSU, Louisiana Tech, and with the Bucs.

This could be the best offense we've seen with Lamar Jackson.

The rest is practically a foregone conclusion. John Harbaugh and the coaching staff are among the league's finest, and Baltimore is always loaded in the trenches and terrific in defense. The Ravens defense came on strong to close the season and now gets a full year of both Roquan Smith and Marcus Williams, and this team annually has one of the best special teams units too.

The Ravens are the whole package and should run up plenty of regular-season wins just like they always do, and I'm not sure books have adjusted Baltimore up yet post-Lamar signing in all the hubbub of the draft.

Many books have the Ravens line at 9.5, but we can bet them to go over 8.5 wins at -160 at BetMGM. The Ravens under Harbaugh have at least eight wins in 14 of his 15 seasons, an insanely high floor. They were besieged by injuries last season but won 11 anyway, three of them without Jackson with the help of Pro Bowl backup QB Tyler Huntley. Huntley raises this team's floor for when Jackson gets hurt again next.

I like the over 9.5 at FanDuel, as well. The Ravens have won at least 10 games in nine of Harbaugh's 15 seasons. That's a 60% hit rate and doesn't even count two 9-7 seasons before the 17-game era.

Doubt the Ravens' playoff hopes if you want, but this is a regular-season bet and Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh have proven they can plow through the 17-game grind and pile up wins.

Give me both overs, with the 9.5 as an escalator.

Pick: Ravens Over 9.5 Wins (-122)

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