2023 NFL Mock Draft: AFC South Team Sells the Farm for Will Levis

As the all-star game circuit nears, let's roll out another 2023 NFL Mock Draft -- where one AFC South team makes an aggressive move for their franchise QB.

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We’re through the regular season, and almost to the all-star circuit, where prospects will distinguish themselves at the Senior Bowl and Shrine Bowl. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, we take another look at the NFL draft board as it stands and provide a couple of riser candidates in the weeks to come.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1) Indianapolis Colts (From CHI): Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Trade: Indianapolis receivers Pick 1, Chicago receives Picks 4, 35, 103, 2024 first-round pick, and 2024 second-round pick

Every team will have their “favorite” at quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, and it just feels like Will Levis will be the Colts’ guy — or at least near the top of their list. He’s the prototype QB that Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard covet.

Whether they can correct his flaws is a different story, but Levis does have the high-level talent worth banking on. With the Texans sitting at second overall, however, the Colts will have to pay a hefty price.

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

The good news for the Texans, if they can’t trade up to No. 1 overall, is that they’re in position to have options with the second pick. Quarterbacks selected second overall in recent years don’t have a great track record, but C.J. Stroud could change that. He’s one of the more advanced in-structure passers in recent years and has the talent to mold.

3) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

It’s never ideal to have lots of needs, and not a lot of picks. That’s where the Cardinals are at right now — but they’ll at least have a chance to score a blue-chip talent at third overall. With two quarterbacks going 1-2, edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. falls into Arizona’s lap. He’s an elite two-phase threat on the edge, with the explosiveness and destructive power to be great.

4) Chicago Bears (From IND): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Chicago can feasibly get back an early second-rounder and a host of other picks from the Colts, who’ll be in a bidding war for No. 1 overall. In the process, the Bears only fall three spots, and they still get to add Jalen Carter, arguably the best prospect in the draft. I’d say that’s a win. Carter’s brand of ruthless disruption is a dire need on Chicago’s interior.

5) Carolina Panthers (From DEN via SEA): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Trade: Carolina receivers Pick 5, Seattle receives Picks 9, 39, 92, 2024 first-round pick (CLE), and 2024 third-round pick

MORE: Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft

It’s hard to describe the it-factor at QB. But if you ever need an example to point to for someone, just show them Bryce Young. Young may be undersized, and he might not have the strongest arm. But his ability to create, stay composed, and put the team on his back in the biggest moments is what makes him worth the trade-up for the Panthers.

6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

This is more of an exploratory pick for the Lions, who don’t need to go WR again in Round 1. But it’s fun to think about what Quentin Johnston could bring to this offense. With Amon-Ra St. Brown stressing defenses underneath, and Jameson Williams spreading them thin with his speed, Johnston’s explosiveness, RAC ability, and playmaking presence could simply be too much.

7) Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Raiders benched Derek Carr for Jarrett Stidham late in the year, and Carr himself posted a farewell message on social media. Las Vegas is moving on. The only question is who Carr’s replacement will be.

At seventh overall, the Raiders are in position to grab Anthony Richardson — the passer with the highest ceiling in the 2023 NFL Draft.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Every year, the Senior Bowl is an elevating force for more than a few prospects. Tyree Wilson is already viewed as a near-consensus top-20 talent. But with his burst, flexibility, and overwhelming power capacity at 6’6″, 275 pounds, Wilson has the tools to knock blockers on their back in 1-on-1s and win over scouts live. In Atlanta’s defense, he can play stand-up EDGE or move inside to 4i.

9) Seattle Seahawks (From CAR): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

A prospective trade-down could net the Seahawks an additional first-round pick in 2024 and even more Day 2 capital. At ninth overall, Seattle still might be able to land a top-10 prospect like Myles Murphy. Murphy gives Seattle a sturdy edge presence, who can also catalyze the pass-rushing group with his athleticism, power, and violent hands.

10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Eagles CB duo is a very good one, but it’s a short-term tandem. James Bradberry might not be back after this year, and Darius Slay is getting older. In Round 1 of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, it would be prudent to add a high-end CB prospect. Christian Gonzalez is my personal CB1 — a hyper-explosive 6’2″ cover man with great eyes and ball skills.

11) Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

This is about to become one of the more popular selections in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle. The Titans need a tackle to succeed Taylor Lewan. At 11th overall, they’re at the confluence of value and need for the top tackle prospects. Paris Johnson Jr. isn’t a finished product just yet, but his elite explosiveness-length combination gives him an unmatched ceiling.

12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

It’s hard to know which prospects fit the Texans well, with the franchise once again in a state of turmoil. We might simply see Houston attempt to add two central pieces in Round 1 — one on offense and another on defense. It may seem high at 12th overall for Lukas Van Ness, but his ceiling is even higher. Van Ness is a power factory at 6’5″, 275 pounds, with exciting alignment versatility.

13) New York Jets: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year. On the other side, though, a very different style of CB, D.J. Reed, was phenomenal as well in 2022. The Jets have their boundary CB duo. In the slot, with his own natural coverage ability and physicality, Brian Branch can make New York’s secondary an unstoppable force.

14) New England Patriots: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Patriots dip into the talent pool at Georgia again in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Just a few years ago, they selected Bulldogs tackle Isaiah Wynn in Round 1. That pick has since soured, but Broderick Jones can make things right. He can play left tackle and help Trent Brown rotate back to the right side, and his physical tools give him immense upside.

15) Green Bay Packers: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

As long as the Packers have uncertainty at QB, and as long as David Bakhtiari is a potential cap casualty, offensive tackle will be near the top of their needs list at 15th overall. Anton Harrison could be a terrific add at this point. Of the tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft, he offers one of the better mixes of raw talent and relative refinement at 6’5″, 315 pounds.

16) Washington Commanders: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Commanders need to address their offensive line, but they also need to ensure that their starting quarterback in 2023 has the weapons he needs.

MORE: Top 10 Tight Ends in the 2023 NFL Draft

Logan Thomas is getting older and more injury prone. And as a TE prospect, Michael Mayer has decade-long safety blanket potential. He’s a quarterback’s best friend with his ability to convert.

17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

It’s easy to make this pick purely for legacy reasons. Joey Porter Jr.‘s dad was a star player for the Steelers in his prime. But Porter is truly worth the pick, and he also fills an important need. At 6’2″, he’s a long cornerback with uncanny fluidity for his size, and he has the length to disrupt and delay receivers on their release.

18) Detroit Lions: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

The Lions have enough to not force the issue on the boundary at cornerback. But none of their current options outside of Jeff Okudah should preclude them from taking a size-speed phenom like Kelee Ringo if he’s there at 18th overall. Ringo and Okudah would form one of the most physical CB duos on the circuit, and Ringo’s tools can overwhelm.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

Even now, the Buccaneers can still use more depth in their edge-rushing rotation. Isaiah Foskey profiles as a good fit in their defense. He’ll be in his most natural role, playing as a stand-up EDGE. Foskey doesn’t offer elite bend, but he’s a long, explosive disruptor with a hot motor and flashes of excellent hand usage around the apex.

20) Seattle Seahawks: Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M

The Seahawks have a long-term piece on the boundary in Tariq Woolen. On the other side, exclusive rights free agent Michael Jackson might be there to stay as well. In the slot, Antonio Johnson would complete the puzzle. He adds more absurd length to an already imposing secondary, and his explosive athleticism is hard to account for.

21) Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Jordan Addison isn’t quite the slam-dunk prospect that you’d think with his production profile. He’s very light and is largely lacking physicality. But separation and instincts go a long way for wideouts, and Addison has both traits.

He’s an elite short-area athlete with explosiveness, hip sink, and agility. Addison can also elevate and contort at the catch point better than most.

22) Baltimore Ravens: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Reviving Baltimore’s offense will take more than a simple addition at wide receiver. That said, the prospect the Ravens get in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft is very much worth the hype.

Rashee Rice is one of the best true three-level threats in the 2023 NFL Draft. He can separate, make plays at the catch point, and get RAC yards.

23) Minnesota Vikings: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

Disappointing finish aside, the Vikings showed promise in Year 1 under Kevin O’Connell. But if they’re going to ride out the rest of the way with Kirk Cousins at QB, the interior offensive line has to be impenetrable.

That means no settling at offensive guard. In Cody Mauch, they can get a mauler in the run game, with the strength to dominate in pass pro.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Jacksonville is about to be dangerous, but there are still a few positions to cross off. At cornerback, Tyson Campbell is a budding star, and Darious Williams played extremely well on the outside in 2022. However, they could still use a versatile slot defender.

Devon Witherspoon profiles well there with his high-level twitch, physicality, and ball skills. He’s a candidate to take over the Senior Bowl.

25) New York Giants: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

He’s not always flashy, but credit to Daniel Jones — he’s gotten the job done this year and likely earned more time in New York. The Giants made do with the weapons they had this year, but Danny Dimes could benefit from a true chain-mover at wide receiver. And prospects with the sheer reliability of Jaxon Smith-Njigba don’t come around too often.

26) Dallas Cowboys: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Cowboys aren’t afraid to surprise people in Round 1. They also like productive players from Power Five schools.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

It doesn’t get much more productive or high-profile than Jalin Hyatt, who caught 67 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns in a 2022 campaign than won him the Biletnikoff Award. Hyatt’s speed could be a freeing force for Dak Prescott in Dallas.

27) Cincinnati Bengals: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M

We’re in the playoffs, and Eli Apple is toast again. I stand by the sentiment that Apple isn’t as bad as the narrative paints him to be. But that doesn’t mean the Bengals can’t upgrade.

With his smooth athleticism, disciplined technique, and physicality at 6’2″, 205 pounds, Jaylon Jones can shore up the boundary where Apple has failed to do so.

28) Denver Broncos (From SF via MIA): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Whether they like it or not, Denver is stuck with Russell Wilson for the time being. And while Wilson tends to roll out past his right tackle anyway when extending plays, it might be good to have a sturdy force on the right side.

Darnell Wright is a natural right tackle prospect worth a Round 1 pick with his power, strong hands, and short-area mobility.

29) Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I remember I set a limit for myself on Bijan Robinson-Bills matches. I’ll use one of my remaining slots here.

It’s hard to pass up Robinson when he’s on the board for Buffalo. He’s truly a rare RB prospect, for a team that could stand to take some pressure off of Josh Allen’s shoulders. Robinson can help Buffalo put games away once they have the lead.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

This match feels a bit unfair. With Mecole Hardman entering free agency, however, the Chiefs need a new speed guy. Josh Downs can be that and more.

He’s undersized — that’s part of the job description. But Downs brings elite explosiveness and big-play potential downfield. He also has the throttle control, fluid hips, and football IQ to put defenders on a string.

31) Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri

Sticking with the theme of potential Senior Bowl risers, Isaiah McGuire is another prospect who could announce himself to the world in Mobile.

McGuire has the tools at 6’4″, 271 pounds, with near-35″ arms. With his elite power and motor, he can blast tackles back. With that power, he also brings surprising burst, bend, and hand nuance. He’ll get to show it in 1-on-1s.

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