2023 NFL Mock Draft: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud Only First-Round QBs

With the College Football Playoff and NFL postseason just weeks away, 2023 NFL mock drafts are picking up -- so here is another one-rounder!

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud Only First-Round QBs

The transfer portal has ravaged the 2023 NFL Draft prospect pool. Yet, there is no shortage of talent in this first-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft. While only two QBs come off the board, EDGE, OT, and DB fill Day 1.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

The NFL draft order for this 2023 mock is taken from the current NFL standings as of Dec. 12. Check the PFN Mock Draft Simulator after every NFL game to see the most up-to-date draft order and be the GM of your favorite franchise!

1) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

The concerns surrounding Bryce Young‘s size (6’0″, 194 pounds) are valid, but he’s more than quelled the doubters the last two seasons. What excites me most about his projection to the NFL is his ability to extend plays and create outside of the pocket. That’s the difference between him and the rest of the 2023 QB class.

2) Seattle Seahawks: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

The Seahawks have been in search of a star pass rusher for years. Well, it finally ends with the selection of Will Anderson Jr. Anderson has possibly the best first step in the class, exploding into and past opposing OTs. He also owns the strength, bend, and flexibility to win around the edge or work back underneath.

3) Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

If I were a Bears decision-maker, I’d be on the phone trying to trade down. But if Chicago can’t make a move, Jalen Carter is more than a consolation prize. The Georgia DT pushes the pocket where QBs hate it most — up the middle. But he’s also a threat as a run defender, owning the lateral spryness to move from gap to gap with ease.

4) Detroit Lions: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

C.J. Stroud heading to Detroit is a common pairing in 2023 NFL mock drafts. But outside of the Lions’ need for a long-term QB, Stroud’s comp may end up being Jared Goff for me. Both players can be extremely effective in structure, but once out of it, their play deteriorates.

MORE: Top 10 QBs in the 2023 NFL Draft

So, why do I have the Lions selecting the younger version of their current QB? Stroud is a stellar anticipatory thrower with the confidence to test man/tight coverage. Plus, his arm strength and mobility round out his profile.

5) Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

The more wins the Eagles rack up, the more shocking it is to see them drafting in the top five — thanks, New Orleans. Taking advantage of their early selection, Philly adds to an already strong defensive line by snatching Clemson’s Myles Murphy.

Murphy can move up and down the line and is already a stout run defender. Let him refine his game in the Eagles’ loaded locker room and the 6’5″, 275-pound pass rusher could reach his ceiling sooner rather than later.

6) Arizona Cardinals: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

There may not be a Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley in the 2023 NFL Draft, but there also wasn’t a Kelee Ringo last cycle. The Georgia defender is a rocked-up 6’2″ and 210 pounds, resembling a linebacker more than a cornerback. Pair his size with his overall speed and fluidity, and you have the makings of a top-flight prospect.

7) Indianapolis Colts: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Is Peter Skoronski a guard or a tackle? Does he have the arm length to hold up on the outside? Those are the two most pressing questions with Skoronski’s scouting report, and I don’t care.

The Northwestern OT stepped into Rashawn Slater’s shoes as a freshman and never looked back, providing elite pass-blocking play every year since. Skoronski is fundamentally sound, light on his feet, and as reliable as they come.

8) Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

If Skoronski isn’t OT1 in the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s Paris Johnson Jr. The Ohio State lineman will get at least one more chance to show off his skill set against top competition when the Buckeyes face Georgia in the College Football Playoff. But Johnson’s film already speaks for itself — he’s an elite blend of size, power, and mobility.

9) Carolina Panthers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

There may not be a receiver taken in the top 10 this year, but if there is, it will most likely be Quentin Johnston. The size/speed freak shouldn’t be allowed to move the way he does at 6’4″ and 215 pounds. Not only does he have the long speed to threaten defenses vertically, but he possesses the suddenness at the top of routes to create separation.

10) Atlanta Falcons: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

There might not be a single player that has improved his draft stock more than Jared Verse this season. The former Albany EDGE grew tired of crushing FCS opponents and took his talents to Florida State, beginning his reign of terror on the ACC. There may not be a more downright explosive edge rusher in the class, as Verse’s speed off the line eviscerates opposing OTs.

11) Jacksonville Jaguars: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Jaguars may have spent their money a year too early in free agency, but this is a talented roster. Jacksonville would be wise to add an interior penetrator to the EDGE duo of Josh Allen and Travon Walker. Bryan Bresee isn’t your archetypal defensive tackle, standing 6’5″ and 300 pounds with an even larger pass-rush presence.

12) Houston Texans: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

We don’t see many 6’6″, 275-pound prospects with 7-foot-plus wingspans walking around, especially those with Tyree Wilson ability. He is already an easily translatable run defender, thanks to his size and frame. Yet, Wilson has flashed potential as a pass rusher and could be molded into an all-around difference-maker with proper coaching.

13) Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Broderick Jones looks like an NFL offensive tackle at 6’4″ and 310 pounds. He carries his weight well during pass sets and when climbing to the second level in the run game. And with near-elite length and play strength, there isn’t much not to like about Jones’ physical package.

14) Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

The Packers uncovered a gem in Christian Watson, and Romeo Doubs could still develop into a solid No. 3. But the receiving corps is still a piece or a two away from challenging the top units in the league — Jordan Addison can change that. He is a plug-and-play WR with the speed and suddenness to separate at will, traits Aaron Rodgers can maximize.

15) Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Much has been made of the Lions’ porous pass defense this season, and rightfully so. But Jeffrey Okudah is still the same player that Detroit selected in the top five in 2020 — he just needs some help.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Prospects

So, why not take the top cover corner in the 2023 NFL Draft, Detroit? There are better athletes than Devon Witherspoon (see: Ringo, Christian Gonzalez), but no player has shut down the opposition as consistently as the Fighting Illini product this season. Between his film study, short-area quickness, and instincts, WRs often find little room to breathe. Oh, and he is the hardest-hitting CB in some time.

16) New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

At this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising if Jaxon Smith-Njigba fell out of Day 1 simply because we haven’t seen much of him this season. Yet, it was just last year that he was the most productive receiver in a group that contained 2022 first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

And both players sang JSN’s praises as they entered the NFL, with Wilson stating, “Jaxon is as good as I’ve ever seen, probably the best I’ve ever seen.”

17) Seattle Seahawks: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

“Hey Siri, show me a Seattle Cover 3 corner.” “Okay, here you go.” *Insert picture of Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez*

Oftentimes, prospect/team fits matter more than sheer talent. And they don’t make puzzles that fit better than Gonzalez landing with the Seahawks. His size/speed combination translates flawlessly to Seattle’s scheme — just look at Tariq Woolen’s success in Year 1.

18) New York Jets: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

HC Robert Saleh gets his new version of Fred Warner as Clemson’s do-it-all linebacker Trenton Simpson lands in East Rutherford. Simpson can generate pressure off the edge, knife through gaps in the box, or cover receivers from the slot.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

With Tom Brady finally losing the battle against Father Time, the Buccaneers could take a shot at a QB in the middle of Round 1. However, I’m not a fan of Will Levis or Anthony Richardson, and BJ Ojulari is staring right at me. The younger brother of Giants EDGE Azeez Ojulari, BJ wins with speed, leaving tackles lunging at air as he sprints to the QB.

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

Putting my love for Skoronski aside, there is a legitimate debate for the top OT spots behind Paris Johnson, and Anton Harrison is squarely in that conversation. For the Chargers to secure his services just a couple of years removed from selecting their franchise left tackle (Rashawn Slater) is kismet.

Harrison owns some of the best movement skills of any big man on either side of the ball. He’s a natural and smooth operator at tackle, and his best is still ahead of him.

21) Tennessee Titans: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Austin Hooper has been serviceable as a pass catcher for the Titans, but he is less so as a run blocker. Chigoziem Okonkwo has progressed into a legitimate weapon, but at 6’3″ and 230ish, he will always be limited. Now, usually, I’m of the belief that tight ends aren’t worth first-round picks.

But every so often, a prospect like Michael Mayer comes along and shakes the tree. With how Tennessee wants to win (run the ball with Derrick Henry and move the ball through the air with play-action), Mayer makes a perfect fit at the bottom half of Round 1.

22) Washington Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

As long as Taylor Heinicke is under center, the Commanders aren’t going much further than a first-round playoff exit. But without a clear top QB to select, Washington drafts the next best thing: a corner of Joey Porter Jr.‘s caliber.

With elite length and fluid hips to flip and carry routes upfield, Porter has the tools to be a nuisance against opposing WRs.

23) New York Giants: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Is Daniel Jones the face of the franchise? The Giants aren’t even sure, as they declined to pick up his fifth-year option. Whether they re-sign him or not, NY has a glaring problem in the heart of their defense. And who better to fix it than the defender with the most heart in the 2023 NFL Draft?

One minute of Noah Sewell‘s highlight tape is all it takes to see the passion and vigor he plays with. But he’s more than just emotion and temperament, blowing up blocks and ball carriers all the same near the line of scrimmage.

24) Denver Broncos: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Despite the fight they put up vs. the Chiefs in Week 14, the Broncos’ offensive issues stem further than offensive tackle. However, that’s the long war; we will settle with winning this battle.

Darnell Wright can solidify the right tackle spot as a rookie, a position he has started in three of his four collegiate seasons (LT in 2021).

25) Baltimore Ravens: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

If the Ravens go anywhere but receiver with their first pick, it would be roster construction malpractice. Before he got hurt, Lamar Jackson was throwing to Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay, and … DeSean Jackson. Typically, I’m not one to draft exclusively for need, but when it’s this bad, your hands are tied.

It’s not the best year to be a WR-needy team, either. Still, Rashee Rice is worthy of first-round consideration, owning the X-receiver frame (6’2″, 203), production (96-1,355-10), and athleticism.

26) Cincinnati Bengals: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

The Bengals are another team with seemingly few needs. However, the cornerback corps could use an infusion of youth and talent. Cam Smith was a hot name this summer but has seen his hype dwindle throughout the season. But it’s not because he was struggling.

In fact, Smith just wasn’t tested much this season (38 targets), locking down his side of the field (18 receptions allowed) and even sifting into the slot when needed.

27) Dallas Cowboys: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Cowboys could go multiple ways with their first-rounder, but why not spend it on a player built in a lab to take the top of defenses? Jalin Hyatt is the reigning Biletnikoff winner (nation’s best receiver) for a reason, connecting with Hendon Hooker for 15 TDs and 18.9 yards per catch.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

CeeDee Lamb needs some reinforcements, and at the very least, Hyatt can stretch the field and alleviate pressure. But the best-case scenario? He and Dak Prescott form a bond downfield, unlocking an entirely new dimension to the offense.

28) Kansas City Chiefs: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

While I’d love to give the Chiefs a receiver here, their need at EDGE is far greater. George Karlaftis has disappointed a bit as a rookie, and Frank Clark is growing long in the tooth. Felix Anudike-Uzomah could be the remedy, as he sports the bend and balance to beat NFL tackles around the arc.

29) Minnesota Vikings: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

The Vikings just suffered an embarrassing loss to the Lions — credit to Detroit — giving up 330 passing yards and three TDs. The future doesn’t seem much brighter for Minnesota’s cornerback room, as Andrew Booth Jr., Cameron Dantzler, and Akayleb Evans are the only players under contract in 2023.

Enter Emmanuel Forbes. Although snubbed from the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, the Mississippi State CB was our Corner of the Year. With six INTs and three pick-sixes, how could he not be? Forbes has a knack for the ball in the air, but he’s also long, explosive, and sticky in coverage.

30) Buffalo Bills: Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M

On paper, the Bills have few true “holes” on the roster. That’s a testament to the talent GM Brandon Beane has acquired and to HC Sean McDermott for getting the most out of his players. So, Buffalo can look more long-term with their picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, starting with defensive weapon Antonio Johnson.

Jordan Poyer is a free agent at the end of the season, and Micah Hyde will be following 2023. But Johnson is more than just a body to fill a position. He can line up at deep safety, in the box, or in the slot. Let him learn from two (or one) of the best safeties in the league and watch him transcend any alignment.

31) Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

With their top-five pick, the Eagles addressed the defensive side of the ball. But with the final pick in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, they turn their attention toward Jalen Hurts and Co. Miles Sanders is a quality back, but imagine Bijan Robinson in this offense?

A backfield of Hurts and Robinson with Goedert at TE and A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith at WR? Yea, good luck stopping that. Simply put, the dynamism of that backfield duo alone would be too much for defenses to handle.

James is a college football and NFL Draft analyst at Pro Football Network. But that’s not all. He also serves as PFN’s content marketing specialist. You can read all of James’ work here and follow him on Twitter: @JamesFragoza.

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