Fragoza’s 2-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. battle for first overall

It may be too early for a 2023 NFL Mock Draft, but at PFN, it is always draft season. In this two-rounder, five franchises select QBs.

2023 2-round NFL Mock Draft | Round 1, Picks 17-32

17) Tennessee Titans: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Being the younger brother of a former top-five pick has to be a lot of pressure. But Noah Sewell doesn’t seem to care and plays with the same physicality Penei did at Oregon. At 6’3″ and 250 pounds, Sewell is a brick wall in the middle of the defense. Yet, he doesn’t move like it, matching far smaller and lighter athletes in the open field. While he can improve his coverage prowess and tackling technique, Sewell’s disruption ability in run defense and as a pass rusher are elite.

18) Indianapolis Colts: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Broderick Jones is merely a redshirt sophomore with four starts under his belt. However, the big man from Athens is deserving of the preseason hype he has received thus far. At 6’4″ and 315 pounds, he looks like a future NFL starter. The 2020 five-star prospect could be a year away from vaulting into the first round if he manhandles defenders from the blindside this season.

19) Minnesota Vikings: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Like many other prospects early in the 2023 cycle, Quentin Johnston’s profile is all about potential. Across two years at TCU, he has produced 55 receptions for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns. Although nothing to scoff at, those numbers look even more impressive when you realize he accounted for 22% of the Horned Frogs’ passing production in 2021 while averaging 19.2 yards per catch. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Johnston is 6’4″ with long-strider speed, top-of-class contact balance, and the ceiling of a No. 1 WR.

20) Arizona Cardinals: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

Eli Ricks could conceivably go much higher than 20th overall in the actual 2023 NFL Draft. Following an outstanding true freshman campaign, injuries slowed down the former LSU Tiger last season. Instead of returning to the Bayou, Ricks took his talents to Alabama. Now under the tutelage of Nick Saban and new CB coach Travaris Robinson, we should see Ricks rebound to — or, possibly more likely, improve upon — his 2020 form.

21) Baltimore Ravens: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters need reinforcements in the cornerback room. Enter Cam Smith. Smith is often compared to former South Carolina teammate Jaycee Horn due to his confidence and physical nature. However, Smith is also smooth in and out of breaks and when accelerating/decelerating. in 2021, he posted three interceptions and 11 pass deflections — not too shabby for a redshirt sophomore in the SEC.

22) Cincinnati Bengals: Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M

The Bengals already selected a safety/slot hybrid in the first round this year (Daxton Hill). However, they could use another in the 2023 NFL Draft, especially one with Antonio Johnson’s skill set. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Johnson has the length and physicality to contribute in the run game and break up passes. He smothers receivers underneath and didn’t allow a reception longer than 20 yards in 2021.

23) Houston Texans: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

It’s rare to find Day 1 contributors at the tight end position — in college or the NFL. But Michael Mayer is not your average TE. He is an easy projection with the pass-catching prowess and run-blocking ability to start right out of the gate. Sure, he isn’t Kyle Pitts, but his skill set is more well-rounded than the former Gator. While Pitts is basically a wide receiver at TE, Mayer can play an inline role and dominate in all facets.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

If you were a fan of Isaiah Simmons and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, I present to you, Trenton Simpson. The Clemson defender is this year’s defensive Swiss Army knife. At 6’3″ and 225 pounds, he moves more like a DB than LB and has played all over the Tigers’ defense. Simpson has lined up along the line of scrimmage, in the box, in the slot, and even a handful of snaps at deep safety and outside corner. Having such a versatile piece next to Micah Parsons in Dallas’ LB room is simply unfair.

25) Los Angeles Chargers: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

This year’s Charles Cross could very well be Anton Harrison. The Oklahoma OT owns possibly the best mirror ability in the class at 6’5″, 309. But there is a reason he is in the back end of the first round in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft — and that might even be too early. Harrison can be easily overpowered, which he can amend by adding muscle mass and working on his anchor. Nonetheless, Harrison has the upside to go in Round 1 — whether this year or next.

26) Seattle Seahawks: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

The brother of Azeez Ojulari, it’s not surprising that BJ is a pass-rushing threat in his own right. After a freshman season that announced his presence on the college football stage, it was much of the same last year. That’s both a positive and negative, as Ojulari maintained his success off the edge but didn’t take a massive step forward. Incorporating more physicality into his game will do wonders for his draft stock in 2022.

27) Miami Dolphins: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

While I typically subscribe to the idea that running backs don’t offer enough value to be a first-round pick, that isn’t the case for Bijan Robinson — especially in Mike McDaniel’s offense. If you look up “elite RB prospect,” a picture of Robinson shows up next to Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey.

Is that hyperbole? No. Robinson is worthy of a first-round selection due to his all-around skill set. Need him to stonewall a blitzer in pass pro? How about catch passes out of the backfield and out wide? Make a defender miss in the hole or in the open field? You name it, Robinson can do it.

28) Green Bay Packers: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame

Brandon Joseph looked like an impressive safety prospect in 2020 when he snagged six interceptions in nine games for Northwestern. Although he took a bit of a step back behind a struggling Wildcats squad, Joseph still recorded three picks and 79 tackles as a team captain last year. Now, the star safety is joining new head coach Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame. While Joesph is no Kyle Hamilton, he has the opportunity to showcase his tremendous range in the back end.

29) Detroit Lions: Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama

The Lions’ secondary quietly sports a reasonable duo of Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye. But behind them are a whole lot of names and not a lot of proven success. What better way to bolster the unit than by adding an Alabama corner? Well-coached, Malachi Moore is dependable in coverage and against the run — something you need from a starting slot CB. He had his struggles last season, but another year in the system and away from injury should prove a catalyst for a breakout campaign.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU

Jaquelin Roy is overshadowed by Jalen Carter and Bryan Bresee, but he is an exceptional prospect in his own right. He may not have the same level of athleticism in his lower body, but Roy packs a massive punch in his upper body. He is a stout 6’4″ and nearly 300 pounds with room to grow as a true junior, and he has already demonstrated his pass-rushing skill in 2021. The Chiefs would do well by adding a DT of Roy’s caliber to pair with (and likely replace in the future) Chris Jones.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU

As much as Tom Brady is an ageless wonder, Father Time is undefeated. He will eventually retire (again), forcing the Buccaneers to scramble for a QB. But why scramble for one when you can take a swing in the 2023 NFL Draft? If Brady returns next season, he could lead by example for the young gun-slinger — if he takes the hands-off approach of mentoring. Jaren Hall owns a locked-and-loaded arm with more than enough athleticism to extend plays. Like any QB, he could learn a few things from the GOAT for a season (or more).

32) Buffalo Bills: Justin Flowe, LB, Oregon

Justin Flowe is currently an even bigger projection than Ark Gilbert. With the Georgia TE, we have at least seen him be productive on the college stage. Flowe has played significant snaps in one game over two seasons at Oregon. Still, the potential is there for an enforcer from the second level. Should he bounce back from injury and exhibit the talent that earned him a five-star rating, the Bills would be lucky to nab him at 32nd overall.

James Fragoza is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.

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