Mellor’s 2-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Will Levis go in the first nine picks

This iteration of a 2023 NFL Mock Draft is headlined by four signal-callers hearing their names called in the top 10 picks.

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

17) Tennessee Titans: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

A second defender from the Clemson defensive line to go in the top 17 picks, the Tennessee Titans grab Myles Murphy to bolster their edge presence. Murphy is a large man with a ferocious attitude on the outside. He uses his strength at times and athleticism to knife through the line. Murphy has a large upside and a larger-than-life persona on the field. He’s a massive man at 6’5″ but moves around incredibly well with that frame in both facets on defense.

18) Indianapolis Colts: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Indianapolis Colts are set at a few positions on the offensive line. However, Peter Skoronski offers a potential upgrade at left tackle or even inside at guard, opposite Quenton Nelson. Though a tad undersized for tackle, he’s not let it deter him yet, offering a terrific set of pass-protecting skills. He’s sound in the run game, but his ability to anchor and recover is a testament to his combination of lateral movement and strength.

19) Minnesota Vikings: Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama

A second Alabama cornerback in the top 20, Malachi Moore heads to the Minnesota Vikings in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Minnesota has needed to upgrade their secondary for the long term for a few years now, it feels, and Moore offers such services. A lockdown cornerback, Moore is sticky in coverage and fluid with his movement. His ability to find the football in all types of coverages is almost second to none in this class.

20) Arizona Cardinals: Ali Gaye, EDGE, LSU

A bit of a surprise to some, sure, but Ali Gaye is every bit of a top edge rusher in this class. Gaye has ridiculous size at 6’6″, yet he moves around like a featherweight at times. He played in just four games a season ago after breaking out as a freshman in 2020. It’s safe to say that if Gaye has a similar season to the one he had during his freshman year, he’s firmly back into the upper echelon of edge rushers in this class. To be honest, he never really left.

21) Baltimore Ravens: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

The way the board has fallen has gifted the Baltimore Ravens a top-tier wide receiver. Kayshon Boutte has some of the best after-the-catch moves in this class and has plenty more to like. He uses his size and speed combination well, weaving his way to open spots in coverage or dominating over defenders at the catch point. Make no mistake about it, if Boutte has a crease, he’s a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball.

22) Cincinnati Bengals: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame

One of last year’s top underclassmen prospects, Brandon Joseph opted to return to college and transfer to Notre Dame this season. If all goes to plan for him, he’ll be right back into the discussion as the top safety prospect in this class. A year after leading the nation in interceptions, Joseph heads to the Cincinnati Bengals here as they attempt to get younger and more physical at the safety position alongside Jessie Bates.

23) Houston Texans: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

The other LSU edge defender this season, BJ Ojulari is just barely second fiddle to his own teammate taken three picks before him in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Ojulari, the younger brother of current Giants EDGE Azeez Ojulari, is incredibly bendy and strong off the edge, a rare combination. He’ll whip the corner with ease or push past outmatched tackles when getting after the passer. Ojulari also has a great ability to find the ball carrier and force them back inside in the run game.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Three-down linebackers are hard to come by nowadays, but that’s what Trenton Simpson is. He was ridiculously effective when blitzing a year ago for Clemson, but his underrated coverage elements make him an intriguing prospect. While the Dallas Cowboys saw the dividends in allowing Micah Parsons to do what he does best, they can slide Simpson to the weak side and allow him to do what he does well: cover and occasionally blitz. That tailormade ability to do his best feats comes only with a few teams, and Simpson fills a big need in the process in Big D.

25) Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

There is a lot to like about Quentin Johnston. In fact, there really isn’t anything not to like about him. Johnston is a big threat on the outside at 6’4″ and has plenty of speed and after-the-catch ability. He’ll go up and get the ball in contested situations and presents more than one challenge with his separation ability. Though he can improve his route tree, there isn’t any better teacher than Keenan Allen to help hone his craft with the Los Angeles Chargers.

26) Seattle Seahawks: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

As speedy and fiesty as they come, Clark Phillips III anchors a newfound secondary in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Seahawks need to form a new identity on the back end of their defense, and Phillips allows them to do just that. He’s a lockdown cornerback with plenty of speed to close on the football or stick with any receiver out there. He also has a knack for finding the football, both in run defense and in coverage.

27) Miami Dolphins: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Now is the time, Dolphins fans. Now is the time to take the running back of the future. In all likelihood, it’s pick No. 16 that the Fins are selecting Bijan Robinson, but not the way my board fell (nor the value of an RB in the first round).

Robinson breaks through the glass ceiling that is RB value, however. He’s a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands, offering first-class rushing ability between the tackles or on the outside. He has the best vision we’ve seen in some time and is deceptively fast as he loses no speed through his breaks. He’s a surefire Pro Bowl candidate from Day 1 in the NFL.

28) Green Bay Packers: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

As speedy as they come, Josh Downs quietly produced a ridiculously effective season a year ago. He’ll rip through defenses with his after-the-catch ability, but he also showcased an ability to create that natural separation you want to find in a top receiving prospect. Working on his hands will be crucial as his consistency issues a year ago were the only thing holding him back.

29) Detroit Lions: Justin Flowe, LB, Oregon

Though Justin Flowe has hardly played meaningful snaps at Oregon, when he has been on the field, he’s been truly game-changing. As lofty as expectations can be for one athlete, Flowe is at the top of that list of expecting greatness from someone we haven’t seen it from yet. Flowe has fallen on hard times with injuries through two seasons. If he has a healthy season and plays double-digit games, there is no doubt he can factor into the top of the linebacker ranks for this class.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

The Kansas City Chiefs need to grab some more weapons on offense. Though they tried to recoup from the loss of Tyreek Hill on the outside this free agency, a wide receiver was in play. With the first-round players drafted, however, the Chiefs had to go to their next biggest need: right tackle.

At a massive 6’9″, Dawand Jones is essentially an immovable object. He needs to work a bit more on his movement and hand usage as well as his recovery skills, but the old adage about not being able to coach size is true here. Bring him in, develop him, and have a massive man protecting your franchise QB for years.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

With Tom Brady coming back, again, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in line to make some noise in the playoffs. They made the right moves to fill the hole left after Ali Marpet surprisingly retired, but the need for youth and depth at guard is still there. If O’Cyrus Torrence plays the kind of football he did at Louisiana in his first (and only) season at Florida and against SEC defenders, you can bet he’ll be a first-round pick. His blend of power and technique in all facets doesn’t come along very often.

32) Buffalo Bills: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Picking 32nd in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft means the Buffalo Bills won the Super Bowl and need to replace very few players. While safety was a thought here with their duo aging a bit, the need to get some additional bodies on the inside was vaulted to the top when Calijah Kancey was still available. In the vein of Aaron Donald, Kancey is a bit undersized but uses leverage and technical skill to uproot linemen in the pass-rushing game. He’s a dominant pass rusher with a great motor.

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