Mellor’s 2-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Will Anderson Jr. headlines three defenders taken in the top five

In this latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft, which players should you be aware of for your favorite team to select based on their most recent set of team needs?

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Heading into the mid-September schedule for both levels of football brings up our latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft. We’ve shifted the NFL draft order a bit, and after three weeks of action in college football, we know a bit more about what the top prospects could look like come next April.

2023 2-round NFL Mock Draft | Round 1

The order for this 2023 2-round NFL Mock Draft is taken from the reverse Super Bowl odds. We don’t necessarily think that your team isn’t great, but Vegas definitely does. That said, the Atlanta Falcons are on the clock with the first overall pick.

1) Atlanta Falcons: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

The best player available heads to the team needing a ton of talent. The Atlanta Falcons grab Will Anderson Jr. to radically transform their defensive front. Anderson is a talented pass rusher with plenty of versatility to ensure the Falcons can maximize his talents across their front.

2) Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Once again, the Davis Mills experiment may go better than anticipated. However, current Super Bowl odds have the Houston Texans picking second overall, signifying they still lost a bevy of games with him at the helm.

C.J. Stroud gives the franchise hope moving forward as he is a prototypical passer with perfect size and incredible arm talent. Stroud can make every throw and has shown improvement over his brief time as Ohio State’s starter.

3) New York Jets: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

A large man with larger upside, Jalen Carter is more than just a defensive tackle. He’s a penetrator, two-gap stuffer, and an instinctual beast to contain on the defensive front. With Carter’s influence on the interior, the New York Jets pass rushers should be freed up from double-teams or chip blocks as Carter will command attention from at least two blockers on every snap.

4) Seattle Seahawks: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

The Seattle Seahawks have to contend with the pass-happy offenses out west, and their secondary isn’t getting any younger or more talented overnight. Kelee Ringo has great size and even better range. He’s fast, athletic, and has plenty of skill to cover opposing No. 1 receivers.

5) Detroit Lions: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Like the Texans, if the Detroit Lions are projected to select in the top five, you have to expect grabbing one of the top quarterbacks on the board is a very real and probable scenario.

Bryce Young doesn’t quite have the prototypical frame for an NFL quarterback, but he’s shown time and time again that his size doesn’t matter. Young has a bevy of talent in his arm, and he’s like Houdini in the pocket if pressure gets to him.

6) Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

All offseason long, the study of Will Levis was an interesting one. He turned it on down the stretch last season and started to understand coverage schemes and when to take his shots. This year, he’s added traits to his arsenal that should make an NFL franchise excited for his selection. Levis has elevated the Kentucky talent around him, showing intense leadership skills and a gritty nature to finish drives with his arm, legs, or both.

7) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Despite going out with an injury in Week 1 for Ohio State, Jaxon Smith-Njigba‘s body of work to date is still enough to cement him in the top 10. Smith-Njigba is elusive on his routes and after the catch. He also has a full route tree that he runs perhaps better than anyone else in college football. Though he’s not the fastest receiver out there, Smith-Njigba’s ability to create separation is second to none.

8) Chicago Bears: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

All Jordan Addison has done this season is elevate his own lofty expectations. He’s a deep threat with contested-catch ability. Addison is also a reliable receiver at any level of the field with terrific separation ability due to his excellent feet. The Chicago Bears need someone who can get open at every level, and that is Addison to a T.

9) New York Giants: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Myles Murphy can two-gap like the best of them and instinctually get to the football in the blink of an eye. He’s a swarming defender who uses strength and sound fundamentals in every defensive aspect. New York grabs the massive Clemson defender because of his versatility and prowess along a bevy of defensive line positions.

10) New England Patriots: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The New England Patriots offense is seemingly predicated on getting the ball to a dominant tight end. Michael Mayer is just that: dominant.

No matter what he’s asked to do — run block, pass block, catch — he does it with precision, power, and skill. Mayer will become a fan favorite due to his hard-nosed nature to fight for every yard or plant defenders on their backs with his blocking.

11) Washington Commanders: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

A defense that is maybe just a player or two away from being elite, the Washington Commanders shore up their secondary with Cam Smith. A long cornerback with great burst, Smith is sticky in coverage and has plenty of speed and acceleration to cover any receiver. He’s also shown an ability to get to ball carriers in the run game, either pushing them back into traffic or bringing them down himself.

12) Pittsburgh Steelers: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a great edge rotation but certainly lack top-tier talent on the interior of their defensive front. Bryan Bresee has arguably the best get-off at the line of scrimmage with his speed. But he’s also no slouch in the weight room and can bully offensive linemen with his combination of short-area strength and an overwhelming nature in which he plays the game.

13) Arizona Cardinals: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

A few games in and it’s clear that Paris Johnson Jr.‘s switch to left tackle has taken him to new heights. He’s a mauler in the run game and dominant in pass protection.

Johnson is at his best when he’s moving forward but also stymied his biggest test to date in Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey off the edge. Johnson’s versatility will also be key as he can play either guard or tackle in the NFL.

14) Tennessee Titans: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Ranging from sideline to sideline, Trenton Simpson is the prototypical NFL linebacker for today’s world. At his best in coverage, Simpson acts like another DB against the pass. But he’s also a downhill thumper against the run and brings with him size, speed, and athleticism. Tennessee gets their next, pure three-down LB with elite upside.

15) Dallas Cowboys: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

It’s very apparent that the Dallas Cowboys need to be reshaped, restructured, and are on the brink of needing a complete rebuild. Quentin Johnston fixes an issue that was clear in their first outing of the 2022 season that saw Dak Prescott (when he was in) fail to find receivers separate. There is a bevy of directions they can go here but grabbing a complement for CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup — even with Jalen Tolbert yet to play — is key.

16) Las Vegas Raiders: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is as “anti-running back in the first round” as I am. That being said, Bijan Robinson won’t be the only RB selected in Round1 of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

It’s because of one reason: three-down ability. Robinson is a bell cow by nature, but he’s also more than that. He’s a terrific pass catcher downfield and a valuable asset for Derek Carr out of the backfield in the passing game.

17) Houston Texans (from CLE): BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

The Texans have a bevy of positions to choose from here, but they go with BJ Ojulari to improve their pass-rushing front. Ojulari has great strength and fast hands. His tenacious attitude will ingratiate him with the fans quickly, as he’ll use his high motor, bend, athleticism, and speed to chase down quarterbacks for various alignments.

18) Philadelphia Eagles (from NO): Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

The Philadelphia Eagles need more talent at the mid-level of their defense this season and for the future. Noah Sewell is a talented coverage defender and comes downhill well. He’ll use his athletic profile — which includes top-notch speed and strength — and use those skills well in each facet at the next level.

19) Indianapolis Colts: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

The rightful owner of the single-game sack record, Felix Anudike-Uzomah can literally take games over. It’s clear that the Indianapolis Colts need an influx of talent on the edge of their defense and Anudike-Uzomah is just that: talent. He’s big, fast, long, and lean. He’ll beat tackles with a variety of pass-rush moves and has shown the ability to disrupt the point of attack in the run game as well.

20) Cincinnati Bengals: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

Though the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have struggled this season, Isaiah Foskey has still shown some of his talents in each game. He’ll disrupt passing lanes with his length and blow up rushing lanes with his strength. Cincinnati needs to add a situational pass rusher who can develop into a three-down EDGE. Foskey is their man here.

21) Miami Dolphins (from SF): Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

As I said, two first-round running backs is almost blasphemous for me to write. But Jahmyr Gibbs joins the Miami Dolphins a few picks after Robinson went to the Raiders in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft Round 1. And he does so because of the same reason.

Gibb is a three-down RB with elite pass-catching abilities. He also has special-return abilities as one of the most talented players with the ball in his hands that we’ve seen in some time.

22) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

For Seattle, getting better on defense is key with their first-round haul. Gervon Dexter is a massive man with a massive upside. He can play a variety of positions on the defensive front, including nose tackle or as far out as 7-tech. He’ll bully smaller linemen while also possessing enough skill to scoot by slower linemen all the same.

23) Minnesota Vikings: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

In the mold of former Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald, Calijah Kancey has shown to be a disruptive defensive interior player in his own right. Kancey has wild strength for his “smaller frame” on the inside. He’ll push and pull blockers off him in the blink of an eye or use his speed to simply get past would-be blockers just as fast.

24) Baltimore Ravens: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

Kayshon Boutte‘s skill that he’s shown for a brief time in 2021 and back in 2020 is impressive. Though limited so far this season, Boutte’s a great after-the-catch threat who possesses a great route tree that he uses to create natural separation. Can he rebound and get back to that form in 2022 under new head coach Brian Kelly and a whole new team around him at LSU this fall? If he does, he’ll likely not be available here at pick No. 24.

25) Philadelphia Eagles: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

The nation’s active leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns, Emmanuel Forbes is a talented guy with the ball in his hands. Throw him back at kick return and let him thrive or simply keep him at cornerback and let him thrive off opposing quarterbacks all the same. He’s got great length and a terrific combination of instincts and ball skills to round out his game.

26) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

The Lions’ hard-nosed defense gets a leader in the secondary and a ball hawk to boot in Jordan Battle. A terrific cover safety, Battle has had the number of a few quarterbacks over the years, largely thanks to his football intelligence and burst to the ball. Battle also comes downhill like a linebacker and closes space in the flats very well.

27) Los Angeles Chargers: Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Clemson

Someone to get to know as we progress through the 2022 college football season is Ruke Orhorhoro. Another talented Clemson defensive lineman, Orhorhoro has size, strength, and speed like the rest of the Tigers’ defenders. Orhorhoro has fewer snaps and less wear and tear on his body, however, as he’s starting to round into form as a complete three-down interior defender.

28) Green Bay Packers: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

Terrific feet, great speed, excellent burst, and better ball skills sum up Clark Phillips III‘s game pretty well. He’s not the biggest CB, but his speed and ball skills as well as his athleticism more than make up for anything lost due to his stature.

Phillips is a speedy, sticky-cover cornerback with no fear and a short memory. He’s tenacious and brings with him leadership qualities to the Green Bay Packers secondary.

29) Kansas City Chiefs: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Needing an influx of youth and talent on the outside of their line, the Kansas City Chiefs bring in Broderick Jones from Georgia. The tackle class isn’t loaded at the top, but the second-tier OTs are certainly serviceable, and the Chiefs jump the gun a bit to grab their favorite. A great run-blocker with a proven track record against SEC foes, Jones is just as good in pass protection and can play either side of the line for Kansas City.

30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: JL Skinner, S, Boise State

With his size and athletic profile, JL Skinner can play several positions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Having Antoine Winfield Jr. play more freely behind him, putting Skinner at strong safety — or even as a strongside LB — would pay dividends for a Bucs defense that does have trouble sometimes covering the shallow portion of the field. Skinner has the instincts, size, speed, and ferocity to make any play at any level of the field.

31) Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

There are a few areas of need for the Buffalo Bills — who are projected to win the Super Bowl here — but they aren’t at high-priority positions. That being said, O’Cyrus Torrence becomes the first guard off the board, as he’s proven to be just as dominant at Florida as he was at Louisiana. Torrence is a dominant blocker moving forward and helps Buffalo further its tenacious identity growth.

2023 2-round NFL Mock Draft | Round 2

32) Atlanta Falcons: Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama

Help on the back end is needed, and the Falcons grab Malachi Moore to lock down receivers on the outside. Moore is a stingy cornerback who has shown great growth over the past few seasons. He’s got good size and can play zone or man schemes all the same.

33) Houston Texans: Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama

There’s a lot to like about Henry To’oTo’o‘s game. He goes sideline to sideline well and offers up plenty of versatility with his three-down play. He’s at his best in coverage and in today’s NFL, that helps the Texans more than any other LB would at this spot.

34) New York Jets: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

The athletic profile and frame on Tyree Wilson will give opposing offensive coordinators fits. Wilson is a massive man with speed and strength and can rush the passer from a variety of alignments. Putting it all together and finding his biggest strengths can be afforded by this talented edge-rushing team as Wilson can play off-ball as well.

35) Seattle Seahawks: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

Kicking him inside, the Seahawks address their offensive line now that they’ve grabbed help on defense in the first round. Peter Skoronski isn’t suited to play tackle in the NFL, but he certainly has the skill set and profile to move inside. Skoronski’s got great hands and a solid anchor for his size, as strength certainly isn’t a weakness if he were to kick inside.

36) Detroit Lions: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

A trifecta of former SEC players heads to Detroit as they grab Nolan Smith to round out their haul in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Smith has untapped potential and could blossom into a three-down pass rusher with ease. He’s hard-nosed, athletic, and has a high character that will make him a fan favorite in no time.

37) Carolina Panthers: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

The top center on the board, Carolina grabs Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz to anchor their offensive line for years to come. Schmitz is one of the top interior prospects, regardless of position. He has great strength, can anchor well, and arguably, has the best balance of the center prospects in this class.

38) Jacksonville Jaguars: Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (FL)

Proving he’s gotten better every year of his career to date, Zion Nelson has started his 2022 season off with more dominance. As the season gets tougher, Nelson can rely on his ability to dominate on the ground and keep his QB protected with his movement skills all the same. Jacksonville could have gone tackle at the top of the board in 2022, and no one would have batted an eye since they clearly need help on the offensive line.

39) Chicago Bears: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

Moving around with tenacity and ferocity, DeMarvion Overshown is still a reliable threat to take ball carriers down in the backfield or get pressure on the quarterback on any down. Overshown is as fast as he is strong and makes plays in every facet.

40) New York Giants: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Dominating the season opener for Penn State, Joey Porter Jr. was all over the field against Purdue. He’s shown to be a terrific cover corner with great ball skills and an immediate recovery. Porter will land as a top cornerback on some boards because of his ability to lock on to opposing No. 1 WRs in man coverage with ease.

41) New England Patriots: Justin Flowe, LB, Oregon

By all accounts, 2022 has already been a success for Justin Flowe as he’s maintained his health through two games. Continuing that trend and Flowe could be gone well ahead of this selection, but New England grabs him here, nevertheless. Flowe is strong and menacing but uses his instincts to read, react, and adapt to the offense very well.

42) Washington Commanders: Emil Ekiyor Jr., G, Alabama

The Washington franchise has a thing for Alabama players in the trenches, and that continues here with Emil Ekiyor Jr. available. More than serviceable in pass protection, Ekiyor is at his best when he’s stepping forward and blocking for the running game. He mauls defenders with his strength and movement skills.

43) Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

It’ll be a need for the Steelers until it isn’t as OT is certainly a weak spot on their roster. Not anymore as they grab Darnell Wright here.

Wright, a high-profile recruit, has recently grasped the college game and showcased what makes him such a special offensive lineman. With pass-protection skills and a high motor to get after it on the ground, Wright will fit right in with the Steelers.

44) Arizona Cardinals: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

Dominating from the slot, Josh Downs is a terrific fit for the Cardinals’ offensive scheme. He’ll create mismatches against a variety of slot defenders because any time he’s lined up against a linebacker or safety, he’ll have the speed advantage by far.

45) Tennessee Titans: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

“Big-Play Zay” Flowers heads to Tennessee to alleviate some of the pressures on their current receiving corps. Flowers can line up at any position and should not just be pigeonholed to the slot due to his size. He can win at the catch point but is dominant along his routes with his separation ability.

46) Dallas Cowboys: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

A natural fit at right tackle. Dawand Jones is as big athletically as he is with his in-game action. Jones, at 6’8″ and 360 pounds, has nimble feet for a man his size. Strength will never be his issue, and he’s shown the ability to move — both back in pass protection and forward on the ground — very well.

47) Las Vegas Raiders: Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

Another center off the board in Round 2, Sedrick Van Pran heads to the Raiders to block for their newly-drafted RB. Van Pran is a mauler but a technically-savvy lineman with plenty of size, speed, and strength to quickly adjust to the NFL.

48) Cleveland Browns: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

Making the trip up I-71, Zach Harrison heads from Ohio State to Cleveland as a viable replacement for Jadeveon Clowney on the edge for the Browns. Harrison has a bevy of pass-rush moves and can use them to get past tackles like he uses his strength to push them back.

49) New Orleans Saints: Antonio Johnson, CB, Texas A&M

New Orleans will certainly need some secondary help in the coming years, so grabbing Antonio Johnson is a quick fix as well as a long-term solution. Johnson comes with length and strength at 6’3″ with enough coverage prowess from a variety of schemes to take starter reps as early as Year 1.

50) Miami Dolphins: Habakkuk Baldonado, EDGE, Pittsburgh

A former mixed martial artist, Habakkuk Baldonado knows a thing or two about hand-fighting and winning 1-on-1 battles in the trenches. He’s a big man off the edge with even bigger strength and skill. Baldonado can win any battle with any tackle due to his combination of hands, speed, and strength.

51) Indianapolis Colts: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU

The Colts will need to get younger at quarterback. While that isn’t the case exactly with Jaren Hall being 25 in his rookie season, the trade-off for Hall’s age is the fact that he seems pro-ready right now, even more so than Zach Wilson did coming out of BYU at No. 2 overall.

Hall is a leader and elevates talent around him while also possessing a ton of other necessary skills to be a starting NFL quarterback sooner than later. Who better to learn from for one season than Matt Ryan?

52) Cincinnati Bengals: Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford

With incredible ball skills, Kyu Blu Kelly heads to Cincinnati to help bolster their coverage prowess. Blu Kelly is a talented athlete who has played his fair share of man coverage snaps at Stanford and played them very well. He’s a ball hawk with great speed and should fit nicely into the Bengals’ defensive scheme.

53) San Francisco 49ers: Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri

Speed and burst is the name of the game for Kris Abrams-Draine. As much as athleticism and sticky coverage skills are, Abrams-Draine has return skills in his arsenal as well. But his ability to stick with receivers from the slot or outside is what makes him the pick here.

54) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

At this point, Anthony Richardson has shown enough to be thought of as a high draft pick. But he’s also shown more than enough to warrant harsh concerns for his ability to lead an NFL team.

Richardson’s been late to throws, but he’s also put some passes in tight windows that few QBs can. The rare athlete that he is makes him tempting higher for Seattle, but the tail end of Round 2 seems just about right to take the chance on him becoming the starting signal-caller of the future for the program.

55) Minnesota Vikings: Nehemiah Pritchett, CB, Auburn

Length and ball skills are what Nehemiah Pritchett brings to the table. Minnesota needs a bit of both in their secondary, and Pritchett is an easy pick here considering all the cornerbacks that have come off the board so far. Pritchett has no fear and his physicality along the receiver’s route makes him hard to complete passes on.

56) Baltimore Ravens: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

Two-gapping, run-stuffing Siaki Ika heads to the Ravens here and will easily become one of the fan’s favorites. Ika, whose shadow-boxing pre-game routine will turn heads, is a hard man to miss on the field. And he’s a harder man to block.

57) Philadelphia Eagles: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee

A big-play threat down the field, Cedric Tillman has been remarkably consistent as a downfield pass catcher in Josh Heupel’s offense at Tennessee. However, Tillman, who has a similar build to DeVonta Smith, is nothing like Smith in the sense that he can win at every area of the field and no matter the coverage.

58) Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Rising up draft boards quickly, the Rams may be hard-pressed to find Jared Verse at this point if all continues as it has thus far in 2022 for Verse. He’s a bully at the contact point with linemen, winning his reps with ease against both bigger tackles and smaller ones all the same. In the mold of Jermaine Johnson, Verse’s rise could be considered meteoric if he continues his high level of play.

59) Los Angeles Chargers: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest

Another big-play threat receiver, A.T. Perry can win downfield against any cornerback in the NFL. He’s an incredibly talented red-zone receiver as well, winning at the catch point with his massive frame and bigger catch radius.

60) Green Bay Packers: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

Mauling defenders in the snow with bloodied elbows seems to fit the mold of Layden Robinson at this point. He’s a gritty pass protector with a mean attitude in the ground game. All told, Robinson would slide into either guard spot for the Packers and win his 1-on-1 battles with any DT with ease.

61) Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (FL)

A former Georgia Bulldog, Tyrique Stevenson has made his name known at the CB position with Miami. After a season of middling play at their SPEAR position — essentially a box safety with slot coverage principals — Stevenson has thrived on the outside. Still, that versatility in the NFL could pay dividends as Stevenson can lock down any receiver he covers.

62) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse

Sean “Track Speed” Tucker is a name to know for all NFL fans. He’s a valuable rusher between the tackles but perhaps a better pass-catching back. No one can catch him in the open field, yet he’s a dominant rusher between the tackles as he can make defenders miss in the proverbial phone booth and accelerate through his breaks.

63) Buffalo Bills: Kenny Logan Jr., S, Kansas

Leading the Kansas Jayhawks in tackles last year, Kenny Logan Jr. clearly has high instincts and an ability to play downhill. He’s also a ball hawk and would slide into one of the vacated spots once Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde’s times are done in Buffalo.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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