2023 NFL Mock Draft: Carolina Makes a Big Move for C.J. Stroud

The 2023 NFL mock draft season is heating up as the college football regular season comes to a close. And Carolina makes a big move for a QB.

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As the college football regular season comes to a close, the 2023 NFL Mock Draft season truly begins. We have most of the film and data on the potential 2023 NFL draft class, and NFL team needs are starting to take shape. The real question, at this point, is how many first-round quarterbacks will there be?

Latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft Selects Four Quarterbacks

The NFL draft order for this 2023 mock is taken from the current NFL standings as of November 28. Not a fan of your team’s choices? Fire up the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and be the GM!

1) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

It’s a fresh start after a dismal 2022 season for the Houston Texans. The master creator himself enters the lineup as Bryce Young gives the Texans hope and hype as a franchise.

Young is the best creator from the quarterback position that we’ve seen in college football in some time. He’s never out of a play and has an uncanny ability to maneuver the pocket to find throwing lanes. Yet, he’s not a one-dimensional athlete as a thrower of the football.

He’s a pocket passer with dialed-in accuracy to every level of the field if he has time to throw. And if not, he can find his own throwing lane and deliver accurate shots anywhere with his arm strength, accuracy, and incredible off-platform ability.

2) Carolina Panthers (from CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Trade: Carolina sends pick Nos. 6 and 88 in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as 2024 first- and third-round selections and an additional 2025 first-round pick for the No. 2 overall pick from Chicago.

It seems like a lot to give up, but given that two teams ahead of them currently look to be in the market for a quarterback, the Carolina Panthers have to jump on the horn with Chicago to select their QB of choice. And their quarterback of choice is C.J. Stroud from Ohio State.

Stroud has an incredible ability to find his receivers open at any level with elite accuracy on downfield passes. He makes the Panthers a vertical offense just with his arm talent alone. Stroud may not be the creator that Young is, but he is certainly the best prototypical pocket passer we’ve seen in some time.

3) Detroit Lions: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

The best player in the 2023 NFL Draft happens to fall to the Detroit Lions — Will Anderson Jr. is too good to pass up here. Grabbing an edge defender isn’t necessarily the top priority. Nonetheless, with two first-round picks, you can grab the best player available here when it’s Anderson.

He’s a dominant pass rusher with an array of elite pass-rushing moves. Anderson wins with speed and the proverbial bend, while possessing more than enough strength and versatility to justify being the first overall pick in this draft, let alone the third.

4) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Carolina jumped Seattle for their top quarterback on the board, so the Seahawks hit the next biggest need. Kelee Ringo didn’t have the ball production you’d come to expect from the top cornerback on the draft board. But that’s because other teams avoided him in coverage!

When targeted, however, Ringo made opposing quarterbacks pay. He can cover against any type of receiver with his massive frame and documented track speed. Ringo is a surefire starter from Day 1 and one of the best cover corners we’ve had come through the draft in a decade.

5) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

In contention with Anderson as the best player in this class, Jalen Carter plays second fiddle to no man. He’ll two-gap with ease and dominate any offensive lineman in his path.

Carter has elite instincts and changes the opposing offense’s game plan from the interior of the defensive line. His strength and speed combination is as rare as they get in football.

6) Chicago Bears (from CAR): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

With a big body, light footwork, and even better hands, the top receiver off the board is Quentin Johnston from TCU. The massive pass catcher moves like a much smaller man but has the catch radius of a massive tight end.

Somehow, at 6’4″, Johnston has enough agility and lateral quickness to defeat any defensive back in his path. Justin Fields has a brand new No. 1 target, and the Bears grabbed additional picks in the process.

7) Philadelphia Eagles (from NO): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

With their first of two first-round selections, the Philadelphia Eagles grab Christian Gonzalez from Oregon to bolster their secondary. The Colorado transfer made a name for himself in 2022, giving multiple examples of perfect coverage this past season.

Gonzalez has a burst, fluidity, and great instincts that allow him to stay with any receiver in his coverage as well as snap to the catch point faster than any cornerback in this class.

8) Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Taking a stab at a moldable chess piece, the Arizona Cardinals select Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech. The big man on the edge stands at a massive 6’7″ and 275 pounds. Yet, Wilson moves around like a missile on the outside in the mold of Micah Parsons.

Given that Arizona needs help at nearly every position on defense, Wilson’s best positional fit doesn’t really matter, as he’ll help out massively from Day 1.

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

The Green Bay Packers move quickly to select Jordan Addison from USC, giving Aaron Rodgers an underneath threat and downfield dominator. Addison has great quicks and explosive speed. He’ll separate at the line of scrimmage or the catch point all the same.

10) Las Vegas Raiders: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

A third cornerback in the top 10 selections — Cam Smith heads to the Las Vegas Raiders. Smith is a long cornerback with an ideal size and speed combination.

At 6’0″ and 185 pounds, Smith has surprising length both in his arms and with a burst to the football. He plays equally as well with his back to the ball or with his backpedal; he loses no speed through his transitions.

11) Houston Texans (from CLE): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Myles Murphy already plays like a professional at Clemson. The big man — at 6’5″, 276 pounds — plays a versatile game with an elite ability to sniff out each play. It doesn’t matter the play, Murphy can change the point of attack on a run play or force errant throws from the quarterback.

He helps give the Texans a new identity on defense and will go a long way toward disrupting the balance of power in the AFC South.

12) Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

A sticky cover cornerback with great range, Joey Porter Jr. heads to the Jacksonville Jaguars here. Porter flashed brilliance in 2022, showcasing his special talents at the catch point and all along routes where he cut off all types of receivers.

He has great size and speed as well, perhaps even better instincts.

13) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

There is a lot to love about Anthony Richardson as a professional quarterback. But there is a lot to grow and develop. The Detroit Lions can afford to take the chance with their second of two first-round picks on the 6’4″, 238-pound speedster with a rocket for an arm.

Richardson has shown struggles with ball placement on second- and third-read throws. He’s also been slow to find his progressive-read throws. However, there is no denying that he has elite arm talent and may be the fastest player on the field, no matter what level he’s in.

Richardson has severe boom-or-bust potential, but if he does boom, he’s a perennial All-Pro-type player.

14) Indianapolis Colts: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Securing the blind side for the future, the Indianapolis Colts grab Olu Fashanu with their first pick. Fashanu exploded on the stage this season as a high-level athlete. He has great strength and power and excels in pass protection.

MORE: Top 10 Offensive Tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft

Fashanu ushers in a new era in Colts football.

15) Atlanta Falcons: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Though he’s hardly played a full game in 2022, the tape on Jaxon Smith-Njigba from the 2021 season is more than enough to draft him here. The Atlanta Falcons need help at receiver, and JSN is the choice here after the top two receivers are off the board.

Smith-Njigba, when healthy, has provided some of the twitchiest moves along his routes and at the catch point we’ve seen in some time. He had the chance to be a top-five overall pick had he not been hampered by a hamstring injury this year.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The book on Will Levis reads like this — he’s a top-notch quarterback if tools were all we considered. Levis has great arm strength and can make accurate throws everywhere across the field.

But he hardly elevated his game in 2022. In fact, there were times that he looked lost and needs to have some coaching on his game management skills. Still, the sky could be the limit if he improves those coachable attributes.

17) Los Angeles Chargers: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Moving to left tackle was a great move for Ohio State and Paris Johnson Jr. this past season. The former guard has positional versatility and showed the ability to handle all sorts of pass rushers.

He’s best when he’s on the move and on the ground, but he has certainly put enough on tape to say he can be a clear-cut No. 1 left tackle.

18) New England Patriots: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Coverage is king in today’s NFL, and Trenton Simpson is the best coverage linebacker in a while. Simpson drops back like a safety and covers like a cornerback but just so happens to stand at 6’3″, 225 pounds.

Simpson brings the lumber with his hits and also plays with great discipline. Coverage is his best attribute, but that’s no indictment of his other skills.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

One of the fastest players from this draft class, Clark Phillips III is never out of a play. He also has terrific skills in man or zone coverage; he understands route concepts and is fully in tune with his athleticism.

Phillips has a knack for finding the football and doesn’t hesitate to make the correct jump on a pass thrown in his direction.

20) Washington Commanders: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Noah Sewell is a three-down stud linebacker with tremendous strength. Yet, Sewell plays a fast brand of linebacking and can cover anything that moves. He’ll patrol the underneath passing lanes, change the point of attack for a running back, or blitz the quarterback with technical skill.

21) Baltimore Ravens: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

Shifty after the catch, Kayshon Boutte is one of the harder players to tackle in this entire class. Boutte struggled with mental motivation it appeared to start the year, but as the season went along for LSU, he got back in the thick of it.

He has great routes and a unique catch-point ability. He’ll flash late hands and come down with contested catches, but he isn’t limited to making those 50/50 highlight-reel receptions.

22) New York Jets: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

The first-round talent that Eli Ricks flashed against Mississippi State this season is etched in the brains of those who studied him. And it certainly is etched in the Jets organization’s eyes here.

The Jets grab Ricks to pair with Ahmad Gardner and create one of the league’s best 1-2 cornerback duos. It isn’t their biggest need, but with the way cornerbacks have gone so far, you have to jump on your top player on your board at the position.

23) Cincinnati Bengals: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Though he dealt with some injuries during his career at Clemson, Bryan Bresee changes the game from the interior of the defensive line like few others have. Bresee is a massive man with ridiculous strength.

He can ragdoll smaller linemen or use his great lower-body strength to outmuscle bigger linemen (if any of those even exist). What separates him from the rest is his high motor and terrific pass-rushing skill set. The Bengals hit a home run here.

24) New York Giants: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

The value of Peter Skoronski goes far beyond his billed position at offensive tackle. He’s the top contender to kick inside and see immediate results. And he may be the only “interior lineman” worthy of a first-round pick this year.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

He has great strength and athleticism to move laterally. His size is his biggest detriment to playing tackle, but he far exceeded expectations at Northwestern during his career. That ability to play outside or inside is too enticing for the New York Giants to pass up here.

25) Denver Broncos (from MIA): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The Denver Broncos need a right tackle. The top right tackle on the big board is Darnell Wright. As such, the pick here is Wright.

They tried him out at left tackle this past offseason, but Wright’s best fit is on the right side (where he simply dominates). He’s a great lateral mover and has unmatched strength. He pairs with Garett Bolles to provide a terrific tackle duo.

26) Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

With an unmatched tenacity, Isaiah Foskey is the pick for Tennessee’s defense. He’ll beat tackles with a blend of size and speed, but his motor is most intriguing. Against run plays, his back-side pursuit is elite.

He’ll also chase down underneath passing concepts and influence the game in more ways than one with his length to clog up passing lanes.

27) Dallas Cowboys: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Rashee Rice makes highlight-reel catches look easy. He also makes defenders look silly at times. Rice leaves defensive backs in the dust with speed, elusiveness, and incredible quickness.

Rice also has a terrific set of hands and provides the Dallas Cowboys with a viable pass-catching option opposite CeeDee Lamb. They keep the hometown kid in Dallas and sell a heap of jerseys in the process.

28) Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

There’s an argument for Bijan Robinson to go much higher in this draft. However, the shelf life of a running back in the first round has shown diminishing returns. And the bar on those projected returns for a running back has already been set low.

Still, Robinson far exceeds the expected value for a running back if he can stay healthy. The Bills grab Robinson in the first round despite having James Cook show promise in his rookie year. However, with Robinson and Cook in place, both are dynamic pass catchers out of the backfield (and both far exceed the positional value).

29) Minnesota Vikings: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Talk about a gift in Minnesota’s lap with Michael Mayer falling here. The Minnesota Vikings certainly need to take a stab at a cornerback, but with the copious amount of first-round defensive backs, the top player on their board is Mayer here.

The big tight end has an incredible catch radius and possesses three-down abilities at the position. He can run block, pass protect, and is essentially a receiver in a tight end’s body.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

Needing to inject youth into their defensive front, BJ Ojulari is the selection for the Kansas City Chiefs. KC grabs Ojulari, and he immediately steps in as the starter, giving the Chiefs a dynamic pass rusher in obvious passing downs.

Ojulari also has excellent pursuit skills in run defense and has shown he can disrupt passing lanes on stunts where he uses his quickness to beat guards.

31) Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

There are players with great instincts. And then there’s Brian Branch, who possesses elite instincts and ball skills. The safety heads to Philadelphia after dominating at Alabama.

Branch exploded onto the scene this season and plays a great brand of three-down football. He’ll come downhill in the run game with precision and lay the wood on crossing routes over the middle. Branch also has elite knowledge of the opposing offenses and cuts off routes with his instincts and film study.


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