What an offseason it’s been. Trades and free agency made huge changes to this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, which adds plenty of excitement. With just pro days remaining, the NFL draft feels like it’s right around the corner. With most of the madness settled, let’s take a look at how the first round might unfold.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1) Carolina Panthers (From CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
We’ve been wondering who would take a stab at getting the first overall pick, and the Panthers finally did it. While there’s still no guarantee that Carolina keeps this pick, the guy they’ll take seems pretty obvious.
Frank Reich’s mentioned that Bryce Young’s size is a concern, and that leaves only one polished passer with the right frame for him. C.J. Stroud remains in the QB1 conversation with his passing abilities, and the Panthers’ offense improves thanks to their willingness to trade up.
2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Bryce Young, to many, remains the most polished passer in the class, but the size concerns were magnified at the Combine. It shouldn’t worry the team taking him too much because his ability to create essentially negates the size concerns.
Young is a wizard with the football in his hands. Tremendous poise and an uncanny ability to find his receivers downfield make him one of the most talented players in the class.
3) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Arizona’s in a great spot. With the top picks most likely being quarterbacks, it creates some pressure on QB-needy teams to move up. So the Cardinals can acquire some draft capital, or they can take a player that many think is the best player in the class.
Will Anderson Jr. wreaks havoc when he’s on the field. With J.J. Watt off to retirement, Arizona needs someone to dominate the edge and open things up for the guys around him.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Indianapolis runs the risk of missing on their guy if they stay put, but this 2023 NFL Mock Draft allows them to do that. Anthony Richardson put on an explosive show at the NFL Combine, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
The 6’4″, 244-pound former Gator confirmed everything we thought he’d be, and now it comes down to which team believes in his potential. Indianapolis is looking for their future star, and Richardson has the talent to be that guy for them.
5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Despite recent events, there isn’t much doubt that Jalen Carter will still go in the top 10. His skill set makes him this high of a pick, and he’s a player that can be a star in the NFL. Someone’s going to take a chance on Carter, and the talent he brings to that team would improve that defense instantly.
6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Christian Gonzalez continues reminding everyone why he deserves to be the first corner taken in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. A 4.38 40-yard dash, 41.5-inch vertical jump, and an 11’1″ broad jump wowed even the biggest of supporters.
Gonzalez still has some polishing to do with his game, but the raw talent cannot be denied. After a big season with Oregon, he’s doing everything right to make sure that he continues that trajectory at the next level.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
With the amount of corners boasting great size, smaller corners need to find ways to stand out. Devon Witherspoon hasn’t put any numbers up in terms of testing, but his film doesn’t lie. He’s a ferocious player that will give Washington the right guy for their secondary. At 5’11”, Witherspoon doesn’t have the height that some of these other corners do, but his game speaks for itself outside of any measurements.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Someone extremely talented is going to fall in the 2023 NFL Draft this year. There are just too many good players near the top. So someone like Myles Murphy falling wouldn’t be a surprise, but it also makes him a potential steal in Round 1.
Atlanta should stick with Desmond Ridder at quarterback for now, leaving their board open to address other positional needs. Murphy is a dominant player with great size that can start right away for the Falcons’ defense.
9) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
One of the least talked about options with the Bears was their willingness to let both Anderson and Carter go to other teams. Chicago made a great trade with Carolina, and they can still get an elite player that makes a big impact on their team.
Paris Johnson Jr. might not be Anderson or Carter, but he’s still a top-10 talent that will make life for Justin Fields much easier. This was a long-run type move, and the Bears so far are playing their cards right.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Philadelphia found that their defense needs some help in the offseason, and DL is one of their top priorities in the draft. Tyree Wilson brings great size and athleticism to the Eagles’ defense, and he could make a big impact right away. Wilson still needs to develop, but he’s heading to a team with plenty of veterans to guide him along the way.
11) Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Even if Johnson isn’t available, the Titans can still add a great tackle prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. Broderick Jones can give Tennessee another Taylor Lewan with the way he plays the game. He’s a menace as a blocker, and his attitude on the field will almost make it feel like Lewan never left.
12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
For teams missing out on a potential star like Wilson, Lukas Van Ness gives them the exact same thing. He just doesn’t have the hype yet. He’s a disruptive player with great traits and freakish talent, which gives the Texans some flexibility to line him up in multiple positions on the field.
13) New York Jets: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Pair Mekhi Becton with Dawand Jones, and there’s practically no room for pass rushers to win around the edge with that size. Jones is massive at 6’8″, 374 pounds, and he’s had a solid offseason to move him up into first-round contention. Unless New York trades for a quarterback, tackle appears to be a popular position for this pick.
14) New England Patriots: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Sometimes Bill Belichick doesn’t make you think twice about who he’s picking. He’s a great talent evaluator, and sometimes he goes with a guy that everyone knows. Joey Porter Jr. is a physical corner who loves disrupting routes, and it’s that style of play that could get him in Belichick’s good graces early.
15) Green Bay Packers: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Assuming the Packers hang on to Aaron Rodgers, this pick will be interesting to monitor. Green Bay could add a receiver to keep their star quarterback happy, but they could also add to their defense.
Nolan Smith reminded everyone why he’s so valuable on defense with an impressive NFL Combine performance, and he helped his draft stock as much as anyone because of it.
16) Washington Commanders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
With Taylor Heinicke officially gone, it’s time for the Commanders to take the quarterback position more seriously. If they want one of the top three prospects, they’ll have to trade up. If not, they might stick around and see if Will Levis falls to them.
Levis has the talent to be a good quarterback at the next level, but he needs to put it all together. Concerns about accuracy remain despite his throwing at the NFL Combine, but the upside will be enough for someone in the top 10 to bite.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
To me, Darnell Wright‘s getting lost in the shuffle. Will Anderson even tipped his cap to the former Volunteer tackle. Wright’s been a stud for Tennessee for a while now, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll go in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. One of the more underrated tackle prospects, people are beginning to come around on Wright’s game now.
18) Detroit Lions: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
One of the best things Drew Sanders did for his career was transfer. Stuck behind Will Anderson and Dallas Turner, Sanders knew that he wouldn’t get enough playing time. After one year at Arkansas, he proved himself right. An athletic playmaker who could be a versatile weapon, Sanders gives Detroit an exciting player on defense.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The hype surrounding Deonte Banks became justified after the NFL Combine, and there’s great chance he hears his name in Round 1 of the draft. A blazing 4.35 40-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical jump reminded everyone just how explosive Banks can be. While he’s still raw as a prospect, the foundation he brings to Tampa makes him extremely intriguing.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
I can’t imagine guarding DK Metcalf is fun for any defensive back, even if they have help. Now imagine they have to do it alone. If Seattle decides to add Quentin Johnston, it would be a long day for opposing secondaries.
Johnston isn’t as tall as we once thought, but he still showed why he’s a problem deep downfield. He has good quickness too, so taking him down isn’t as easy as it might seem.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
In no way does Zay Flowers stand out with his frame, but his explosiveness on the field makes up for that. Justin Herbert could use a threat like him, and hopefully, Flowers can stay healthy enough to provide a weapon consistently for the Chargers’ star quarterback.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
One thing I do know is that Lamar Jackson is set to have his best year yet. There’s plenty of motivation for him after everything that transpired in the last few weeks. Baltimore fans are hoping that it’s for them, and that makes this pick even more exciting.
Size and injury concerns remain with Jordan Addison, but his ability to separate on the field when healthy makes him a tough player to cover. Jackson needs another weapon on offense, and Addison could give him that special player to make the Ravens’ season even more special.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
While Jefferson is commanding attention on the outside, Downs is a master technician in the slot. He’ll stretch the defense enough to open the field up for the Minnesota superstar, and Kevin O’Connell knows what to do with a talent like the former Tar Heel.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Even though Emmanuel Forbes weighed in at 166 pounds, the film still gives him a chance to get drafted in the first round. Forbes is a ball hawk with a knack for getting the ball back to his offense. He just needs to add some weight to his frame to help him endure a tough NFL schedule.
25) New York Giants: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
If New York wants to justify paying Daniel Jones, they need to also elevate the talent around him. While everyone’s gushing over Jalin Hyatt, it’s actually his teammate that should be in Round 1 of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
Cedric Tillman‘s injury this past year allowed Hyatt to shine, but people quickly forget that Tillman was also torching the likes of Alabama and Georgia. Tillman’s a more polished receiver than the speedy Hyatt, and the Giants could use that kind of talent in their offense.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Bryan Bresee enters this 2023 NFL Mock Draft as a potential steal, which is saying something for those who know his game. Injuries and personal circumstances affected his film this year, but Bresee’s game speaks for itself when he’s on the field.
Bresee’s an underrated athlete who also boasts great power in his frame. His body was ready for the NFL as soon as he stepped on campus at Clemson, and now he’s getting a chance to prove his worth. If he can stay healthy, Dallas fans will be overjoyed.
27) Buffalo Bills: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Alabama doesn’t have too many seasons where they feel disappointed, but this year was definitely one of them. Especially on defense.
Even with several potential first-round picks, the Crimson Tide struggled on that side of the ball. If not for guys like Brian Branch, it could have been worse. Branch is a reliable tackler with good athleticism, and the Bills’ defense needs someone that will be in the right place at the right time.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Darnell Washington made a statement at the NFL Combine, and now there’s good reason to believe he’ll be a first-round pick. Cincinnati sits at a spot where they can add another weapon for Joe Burrow, and Washington will most likely be available when they pick.
The former Georgia TE showcased his explosiveness and stood out in a blocking drill with a sled. He’s a unique talent with a frame that not many possess, and Washington’s performance ensured that teams won’t sleep on him past Day 2 at the worst.
29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
The Aaron Donald comparisons need to stop, but it’s easy to see why they’ve started. Calijah Kancey is an undersized defensive tackle with incredible explosiveness, but he’s not Donald.
Still, Kancey’s first step rivals the best tackles we’ve seen in the NFL. He’s an explosive player that’s going to help the Saints’ defense and ensure that teams account for him on every play.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
If Philadelphia wants to continue the running back by committee approach, then go for it. It worked well enough to get them to the Super Bowl, so it’s hard to argue against it. However, a guy like Bijan Robinson can do everything they need from their backs.
Robinson is a top-10 talent that might slip out of Round 1, and that alone seems criminal. Pairing Robinson with Jalen Hurts is reason enough for fans to tune into Eagles games.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Kansas City rounds out this 2023 NFL Mock Draft and could use help at wide receiver. Coincidentally, Jaxon Smith-Njigba needs the right team to give him a chance.
A hamstring injury limited Smith-Njigba most of the year, but he believes that he’s back to 100%. While he didn’t compete in the NFL Combine, JSN’s film shows a talented player that could become Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target quickly.
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