Alright! The NFL Combine is now complete, and we can start really kicking into gear for the NFL draft. NFL evaluators will take the data from the Combine and pair it with both the tape review they’ve already done and the review they’re setting out to do to create a full picture of where a player is and how they project to the NFL.
What if, instead of that, we just went by the numbers? What if we drafted solely by current ranking (previous tape study), and athletic testing alone, letting the numbers drive our decisions? That’s probably not a responsible way to run an NFL franchise, but it’s probably fun so we’re doing it anyway.
We’ll be using the PFN Mock Draft Simulator rankings as well as Relative Athletic Scores from RAS.football to drive this no-trade mock. Here we go!
2023 NFL Mock Draft
Note: For players who didn’t test, we’re going to assume they would have tested very well for their position, just to keep things fair
1) Chicago Bears: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
RAS: N/A (But was trending very high)
Will Anderson Jr. ran his 40-yard dash and then dipped after running a 4.6 flat, good for about the 96th percentile for a defensive end. Obviously, the Bears would like to trade out of this pick if they can, but assuming they either cannot or fall in love with a prospect, that prospect is likely to be Anderson.
One of the most productive pass rushers in the NCAA and one of the most athletic as well, this pick would be a significant step in the right direction for a Bears franchise that really needs a few of those.
2) Houston Texans: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Houston Texans had to have picked their ears up a bit when they saw Anthony Richardson set NFL records for a QB in both the vertical and broad jump. That excitement was likely not diminished when he would go on to run a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash.
MORE: Anthony Richardson Combine Results: Florida Star Makes Case for QB1
Richardson would beat Cam Newton’s best-ever Relative Athletic Score, which he took from Daunte Culpepper in 2011, becoming the new 10.00 for QBs and setting a standard that will be very difficult to beat. If the Texans are serious about winning the AFC South, giving themselves an edge in athleticism on offense is a good way to start.
3) Arizona Cardinals: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Walking into the Combine as one of the top cornerbacks already, Christian Gonzalez would go on to take top marks in speed and explosiveness, netting the second-highest RAS at the Combine for cornerbacks at 9.95.
The Cardinals fill their biggest need with a combination of size, length, speed, and explosiveness that is a very dangerous combination for any defense to deploy, and he’ll be difficult to plan for even against bigger competition in the NFL.
4) Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Colts need an injection of young talent at the quarterback position, and they’ll land one in C.J. Stroud. While neither Stroud nor Bryce Young tested at the Combine, Stroud’s significantly better size profile would set him apart athletically even if both tested exactly the same everywhere else.
As a passer, Stroud showed off the best combination of anticipation and touch at the Combine, living up to his own billing as a ball-placement specialist.
5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Despite coming in with oddly tiny hands (8.5”), Myles Murphy otherwise skipped all testing at the NFL Combine. I’d expect to get a better look at him during his pro day workout, and I’d also expect him to test quite well in that regard, so I’m still comfortable with him this high in a draft entirely built around athleticism.
Murphy has been a common pick for the Seahawks in mocks at this spot. Anyone who watches him explode off the line and take on some pretty talented tackles in different ways has a good idea why he’s so well thought of.
6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Lions are no strangers to cornerbacks in this sixth overall spot, and with Young sitting there, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go that route, either. But this is based on athleticism, and the next highest player at Detroit’s biggest defensive position of need is Joey Porter Jr.
Porter got better in each season at Penn State and went from a player who coasted on the very athleticism he showed off at the Combine to a more polished, refined cornerback who can win as much with skill as speed.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Derek Carr is a Saint, and the Raiders are sans signal-caller at the moment. That ends in this draft where they pick up Alabama’s Bryce Young. Young chose not to test or throw at the Combine, opting instead to defer his decision to do so during Alabama’s Pro Day closer to the end of March.
Young is not much of a runner, but he’s not expected to test poorly, either. I think he’ll test well enough to land himself inside of elite range for RAS, but that’s mostly on the back of what is expected to be top-tier agility testing rather than straight-line speed, which is only okay for him.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
One of the biggest winners of the Combine was Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, who put up the best numbers of any of the projected Day 1 tackles. His combination of size, explosiveness, and speed is going to be very valuable to a Falcons team that may be rolling with a second-year, third-round quarterback in 2023 who is known to struggle with pressure.
Getting your guy protection is a good idea whether you’ve got an ideal situation at QB or not, and a player with the kind of top-tier athleticism that Wright has can only help the team.
9) Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
RAS: N/A (But was trending very high)
Like Young and Stroud, Will Levis did not qualify for a RAS at the Combine. But unlike them, he tested enough to get a good idea of where his score was trending. And while it wouldn’t match Richardson, it would have likely been high in the 9s for the metric.
Levis showed off his arm strength both near the radar gun and on the field during passing drills, but the Panthers may go through some growing pains as he acclimates to NFL life as a passer.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
There’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding the legal situation with Jalen Carter, who was recently arrested for charges involving a lethal car crash some months ago. Without knowing for certain, I think it’s fair to expect a slide, but not a large one, which would see Carter land somewhere in this range.
Carter didn’t test at the Combine, likely to avoid the negative media attention until his pro day when it’s a little more controlled. But he’s expected to test very well when he does, and he’d make an already dangerous Eagles unit even more deadly as they attempt to replicate their Super Bowl gauntlet through the NFC.
11) Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Most mocks, correctly, assume the Tennessee Titans are going to be heavily scouting this offensive tackle class in an attempt to bolster their offensive line and keep their strengths a strength. Broderick Jones, who tested fifth among tackles and second among tackles rated in the top 50, would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal for the Titans.
MORE: Top 10 Offensive Tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft
Jones’ 34.75-inch arms should have mitigated any concerns about length that were caused by his height (only average for an OT), while his athleticism did the rest of the talking at the Combine.
12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
This was a close one with Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jalin Hyatt, both of whom tested extremely well at the Combine. Hyatt tested slightly better, while Smith-Njigba was rated a few spots higher. While this is a mock based on athleticism, I gave the nod in this instance to Smith-Njigba since he largely crushed expectations about his testing.
Hyatt, while he tested extremely well, slightly underwhelmed as some expected him to run even faster than he did. JSN’s agility testing was among the best not only at this year’s Combine but at any Combine for a receiver with both drills around the 99th percentile.
13) New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
RAS: N/A (But was trending very high)
Paris Johnson Jr. fits an immediate need for the New York Jets, as they’ll need someone to block for whomever they put out at QB in 2023. Johnson skipped most of the testing at the Combine, but he did enough for us to expect him to have ended with a pretty strong score.
It’s likely, however, that the two tackles taken earlier in this mock would have scored higher, hence his spot here. Johnson’s smoothness in space shows up on tape often for Ohio State and should fit as a blindside protector in the NFL for quite some time.
14) New England Patriots: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
RAS: N/A (But was trending very high)
Sometimes you just have to go with a bit of a nostalgic pick. While TCU’s Quentin Johnston isn’t Randy Moss, he has that same kind of height, weight, and speed combination that helped make Moss successful for New England’s offense some years ago.
Johnston didn’t finish enough drills to qualify for RAS, but he put up a 40.5” vertical jump and an 11’2” broad jump, which are 97th and 99th percentile, respectively. That kind of explosiveness could help revitalize an offense that has stagnated a bit lately.
15) Green Bay Packers: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
There are several ways this Green Bay pick could go, but we all know the Packers love themselves some athletes. While we crowned a new RAS king at TE in Zack Kuntz, he’s not expected to be picked until Day 3 (though he might creep into Day 2 after such a performance).
The next man up is Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, who came in projected to light up the Combine and did not disappoint in the least. We won’t know what Green Bay’s offense looks like until we know who’s going to line up under center. But whoever it is can use a big, physical, athletic target like Musgrave to open up the middle of the field.
16) Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Washington has a need in the secondary, and Kelee Ringo is just the kind of player that can fill it. Renowned for his speed, Ringo didn’t disappoint in that regard, putting up a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash at nearly 6’2” and 207 pounds. His explosion drills weren’t very notable, and he skipped agilities, which is why he’s lower here than he may have been otherwise.
Ringo will start out at corner to see if he can stick at his original position, but he might make the move to safety if that doesn’t work out. He has a good shot to play for a long time, whichever position he lands at.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
It’s a bit silly that a player who hits 93rd-percentile speed can claim to be disappointed in his testing, but that’s where we ended up with Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt had boasted a 4.29 run in the lead-up to the Combine but ended up “only” running a 4.40.
That’s plenty fast, and not a time anyone should worry about for a speed guy. Pittsburgh needs a deep threat for Kenny Pickett, and while 93% isn’t 100%, it’s enough to beat most players most of the time, which is all you need if your QB is any good.
18) Detroit Lions: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
With corner addressed and the quarterbacks gone, Detroit is left finding more ways to fill their porous defense. Trenton Simpson fits that need and was one of the best athletes at the Combine, picking up the second-best linebacker RAS and the best for a top-50 player.
That speed and explosiveness shows up on tape, too, and with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn returning, he would be a featured piece of a defense that showed immense improvement in the latter half of 2022.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Bucs could use some youth to their pass rush, and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka hasn’t really showed he can be that dude just yet. Tyree Wilson didn’t test at the Combine, but anyone who has watched him expected him to be the guy that lit it up.
He may still test at his pro day and give some numbers to match those expectations, but for now, we’re left assuming that’s the case. That’s good enough to see him land here with the Bucs.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
The biggest concern for Bryan Bresee at the Combine was showing that his knee is fully healed, and he has no concern of reinjury at all, nor the concern of his previous injuries hindering him in any way. In that regard, he pretty much crushed the Combine even before he tested near the top of his class.
Bresee is an explosive pass rusher, with a dangerous first step and the kind of speed to chase down both QBs and RBs with ease if he has to. Seattle had already addressed their defensive line in this draft, but it never hurts to double-dip to fix a serious weakness.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Peter Skoronski came into the Combine with concerns about his athletic ability, and while there are still some that are going to be down on him for how he tested, there’s no denying that he tested above expectations.
Skoronski put up elite numbers in both explosion drills as well as his 10-yard split. He tested only pedestrian in his cone drill and skipped the shuttle, but plenty of OTs make their living just being more explosive than the guy across from them. There’s no reason to expect Skoronski can’t find the same level of success.
Rashawn Slater has been a very good addition for Los Angeles, but a bookend of young, athletic tackles could put this offense on a whole different level.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Baltimore Ravens have several needs they could address with this spot, but it’s hard to find a more favorable scenario than Devon Witherspoon being available. Witherspoon is expected to test well, but he didn’t test at the Combine while recovering from an injury, which just left the door open for all the great performances of the players listed before.
Witherspoon’s physical play, combined with a very strong expected athletic profile, should remind fans of how Marlon Humphrey was viewed coming out in 2017.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Few players helped themselves at the Combine more than Maryland’s Deonte Banks. Already seeing himself on the rise, Banks went out and put up a 99th-percentile RAS, the best at the Combine.
MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator
The only reason he wasn’t higher on this specific mock is that he’s currently rated far lower than the players who did. Will that change after his Combine performance? The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to find their secondary for what seems like forever. Even though they’ve tried both ends of the athletic spectrum, it’s never a bad idea to bank on upside.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Jaguars need some help in their secondary, and the selection of Travon Walker in 2022 shows that they’re no strangers to banking on athletic upside.
Jacksonville finds themselves much lower in Round 1 in 2023, but there is still plenty of talent at a position of need in South Carolina’s Cam Smith. Smith ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash and put up fantastic numbers in both agility drills on his way to a 95th-percentile RAS.
25) New York Giants: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bijan Robinson was expected to test well, but not as a 98th-percentile athlete like he did. Robinson tested 85th percentile or better in all of the tests he’s completed so far outside of size, and that athleticism shows up every time he touches the football.
Not just when he touches it, either. Robinson was able to show in passing drills that he has the requisite agility and quickness to be a weapon in the passing game, potentially opening up both an outlet for Daniel Jones and potential play-calling opportunities for Brian Daboll.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
The Dallas Cowboys have tried, unsuccessfully, to get the interior of their defensive line locked down for a little while now. Pitting an athlete like Gervon Dexter into the mix might go a long way as a solution. Dexter tested better than Bresee despite being rated much lower.
Top-tier explosiveness and speed show up on tape, as Dexter is known for a strong get-off and finding his way into the backfield. Dallas could really use secondary help, but this super athletic CB class has already been burned through at this point, so the Cowboys dip into their needs on the DL.
27) Buffalo Bills: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Zach Charbonnet was a little slept on coming into the Combine. While his talents as a runner are well known, many folks believed he was going to have a rougher go at the Combine testing, believing he’d have a more “Rhamondre Stevenson-esque” performance.
Instead, Charbonnet went out and tested just behind Robinson, with top-tier explosion drills and better-than-expected speed.
For a guy known for power, having elite testing in both explosion drills and the 10-yard split tells teams like Buffalo that they can trust Charbonnet both to be a battering ram when they need one and to make the necessary cuts to pick up chunk yardage on his way to the end zone.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
The Bengals have a couple of needs on defense, and while we’ve run out of corners we haven’t hit that wall for edge rushers yet.
Next up is Isaiah Foskey, who put up an incredible 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and a 10’5” broad jump, each mark good for the 95th percentile among DEs. That level of explosiveness and speed jumps out when you compare him to players like Carlos Dunlap (4.71 and 9’8”) or Trey Hendrickson (4.65 and 10’2”).
29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
RAS: N/A (But was trending very high)
Since Aaron Donald became, well, Aaron Donald, teams have been trying to find the next guy just like him. While I don’t think we’ll find a player that matches Donald’s combination of athleticism and technical prowess, it’s kind of wild that the closest we’ve gotten is a different undersized DT from Pittsburgh.
Calijah Kancey only ran the 40, but he tested almost identically to Donald, who Kancey also matches almost exactly in height and weight. Additionally, his first step might be the deadliest in college football. The Saints would be getting the type of athlete that could be a franchise figurehead for decades.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Lukas Van Ness had a few questions about his agility coming into the Combine, and he firmly put them to bed. Van Ness didn’t have the most impressive explosion drills, but his agility drills both fall in elite territory, including a 7.02 cone time that had to impress scouts.
Van Ness is primarily known for a devastating bull rush, but the kind of agility he showed at the Combine should tell teams like the Eagles who are the league’s best at developing pass-rushing talent that he can do a lot more if given the time and coaching.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
Blake Freeland is largely viewed as a Day 2 player, but much like Kolton Miller in 2018, he may have vaulted himself into that first-round consideration after the most impressive Combine we saw from an offensive lineman this week.
At nearly 6’8”, with the kind of range to cover a lot of space, the Chiefs would be picking someone up that they could fill the void left by the departing Orlando Brown, only Freeland is significantly more athletic in every way. He may not be as refined as Brown was coming out of Oklahoma, but Andy Reid knows patience, and the Chiefs know how to develop athletic upside.