2023 NFL Mock Draft: Colts Trade Up for Bryce Young, Panthers Land Anthony Richardson

    In a blockbuster 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Indianapolis Colts trade up to select Alabama QB Bryce Young. How dramatically does that change Round 1?

    The season is far from over, but NFL draft season never stops. Last time we looked at a no-trade scenario, but this time we’ll open it up using the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and our Big Board Rankings to imagine if trades were allowed and quarterbacks are a hot ticket.

    Latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft Selects Four Quarterbacks

    Though we don’t go into the details here, all trades were assumed comparable on the Rich Hill Trade Value Chart, give or take 10%.

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

    The Texans are all but guaranteed to take a quarterback with their No. 1 overall pick, and while that seems to be Bryce Young at the moment, I don’t think we should discount the possibility his size is a bigger issue for some teams than others. If that’s the case with Houston, he might be off their board or moved down enough to make a different QB an option.

    C.J. Stroud has been compared to former No. 1 pick Jared Goff, but I spoke before about how those comparisons are only really true when you look at both players as NFL prospects, rather than looking at Goff’s pro career.

    Stroud possesses much better traits as a prospect and fewer wrinkles in his game, making him a better option to try to hitch your horses to, and the Texans desperately need to start hitting with their rebuild.

    2) Indianapolis Colts (Trade, From Chicago): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

    Chicago fans are probably still having nightmares from the Mitchell Trubisky trade when they outbid themselves to move up a single spot and take the current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. With as many teams that could use a new signal-caller in this draft, however, the Bears are likely going to benefit from a bidding war with more than one party.

    The Indianapolis Colts, frustrated at how their recent end-of-career veteran options have panned out, are a likely big-ticket bidder.

    There aren’t a lot of bad things to note about Bryce Young aside from his size. He has the arm talent and accuracy to justify taking him highly in the draft and is fairly adept at reading defenses as well. His size is a much bigger concern, as he’s likely to be the lightest QB drafted in Round 1 in several decades, but the Colts’ analytics-driven scouting is going to give them the best numerical ammo to weigh against that sort of drawback.

    3) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

    The Seahawks were picking later in our last mock, so they missed out on the top edge rusher and took the still-quite-talented Myles Murphy. This time, the Broncos’ pick they acquired in the Russell Wilson trade has put them in prime position to take one of the best college defenders of all time in Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr.

    Anderson lives in the backfield, comparing favorably to Von Miller, Myles Garrett, and pretty much any top pass rusher you can think of in recent memory. His production is matched by his athletic talents, to the point that it’s virtually impossible to raise his stock any further than it already is.

    4) Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

    The Arizona Cardinals end up with the same player we took in our last mock, but do so in a different way. Whereas in a no-trade scenario, I felt it was possible that Jalen Carter falls due to the needs of the teams above him. In this case, it’s unlikely a team would trade up (presumably for a QB), but also unlikely the Cardinals would pass on one of the most disruptive players in this class.

    Pound for pound one of the strongest players in the class, Carter makes a living by terrorizing poor, unsuspecting interior offensive linemen. Players who had spent their entire college career bullying interior pass rushers are faced instead with a Beast of Legend, which has to be demoralizing and only makes him stronger.

    5) Carolina Panthers (Trade From Lions Through Rams): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

    The Panthers end up with the same signal-caller we gave them in the last go-around, but had to work a little harder to get him. With the Falcons waiting in the wings and the Lions in need of a QB themselves, it would take some creative negotiating to find a way into the top five.

    That’s the kind of gamble you take for the quarterback with the best traits in the class, even if you know you have to spend a little more time to tap into that potential. It wasn’t that long ago that Carolina fans got to see Anthony Richardson’s closest pro comp up close, and while memories of Cam Newton are decidedly mixed, no one could ever argue the extreme upside that comes with a player of that level of talent.

    6) Chicago Bears (Trade From Colts): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

    After swinging a trade down, the Bears acquired some extra assets to help build up around Justin Fields, as well as try to bolster a defense with some serious holes. Step one of any organization that has a quarterback is to defend said quarterback, and the Bears have a couple of solid options to do so in this draft.

    Paris Johnson Jr. played guard for several seasons before transitioning outside, but all that means for his pro prospects is that you can start him wherever you need to. This gives Chicago the opportunity to plug Johnson in wherever they need him in Year 1, allowing them to bring him along at whichever pace they feel is best for his development.

    A promising athlete with excellent tape in both facets of the game, hitting on Johnson would be a very good sign for Fields’ long-term prospects in Chicago.

    7) Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

    Atlanta’s top pass rusher has only 6.0 sacks on the season, with the next three combining for just 8.5 sacks. That has to improve if the Falcons are to do so.

    While the team could probably afford to take their QB of the future here (odds are heavily stacked against Desmond Ridder), after Marcus Mariota’s play in 2022, I don’t think they can afford to wait while a new QB develops.

    Myles Murphy has shown development over the course of his entire college career, which is likely to make any defensive line coach or defensive coordinator excited to bring him in. While his production doesn’t match players like Anderson, it’s not lacking in any way that would be concerning, either. The NFL Combine is likely to raise Murphy’s stock even more as his size and relative athletic talents should wow scouts in attendance.

    8) Detroit Lions (Trade From Panthers): Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

    No team is hotter right now than the Detroit Lions. Led by a unique and unorthodox coaching staff, the team started off 1-6 and is somehow sitting at .500 with only a few weeks left in the season. The team has hit on nearly every draft pick they’ve made over the last two seasons, a very promising sign for the future of one of the NFL’s most tortured franchises.

    One area Detroit still needs to improve is in their secondary, which still hasn’t found a way to play with any sort of consistency week to week. Landing a talent like Kelee Ringo to play behind a pass rush that has improved with time, and is likely to continue on that trajectory as the Lions have both the No. 1 and No. 2 rookies in terms of sacks, should give the team a strong defensive corps of young talent that they can continue to build around.

    9) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

    Sitting alone atop the NFC might be lonely for the Eagles, but picking inside the top 10 should give them some extra comfort no matter how the rest of the season plays out. It’s a team with few glaring holes, which makes taking a player who can fill many holes a big-time team-building move with long-term success in mind.

    Trenton Simpson has NFL size for a linebacker and instincts that will allow his future team to move him around as the scheme and offensive looks dictate. Whether lined up off ball, in closer to the line as a pass rusher or blitzer, or dropping into coverage, Simpson shows a comfort you don’t usually see at the college level where players are more content to find a thing or two they’re good at and stick to it.

    10) Green Bay Packers: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

    Despite the draft capital they spent in 2022, the Green Bay Packers came into the season with a big perceived need in their receiving corps. They could probably still use a safety blanket type of player to pair with their rookie playmakers, but this is also a team that is starting to really show its age.

    The Packers took Rashan Gary with a high pick in 2019 — a big, athletic player with tons of potential that just needed a plan and a dedicated coaching staff. Tyree Wilson comes in with a bit more of a defined role but has a similar size and athletic profile that should interest a Green Bay squad that likes to pick up athletes and find a role for them rather than picking more limited players with more technical savvy and immediate impact.

    11) Las Vegas Raiders: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

    There are several ways the Raiders could go with this pick, many of which find a way to improve their defense. But I think they’d be best served finding a way to both protect their QB and build upon their strength as a run-blocking team.

    Josh Jacobs facing an offseason with no contract certainly raises some interesting questions about whether Bijan Robinson could be an option. However, ultimately, I think the team opts for some protection instead.

    With both athletic ability and technical prowess at tackle, Peter Skoronski is among the best blockers in the 2023 class. He should be able to step into a pro offense from Day 1 and provide adequate protection with a softer learning curve than most, though I’m not convinced his upside is as high as someone like Kolton Miller was coming out.

    12) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

    Trevor Lawrence started off a bit dodgy, but he’s improved dramatically since the start of his NFL career. When you have that kind of trajectory starting to show through, you want to do everything in your power as a franchise to build upon that.

    Bringing in a speedster like Jordan Addison should accomplish that goal, and finding ways to deploy Addison and Calvin Ridley in 2023 should be a lot of fun to watch. The team still has a lot of things to figure out, but putting a couple of bookend receivers out wide for their starting QB would do wonders for fielding an offense that can float you while you figure the rest of it out.

    13) Detroit Lions (Trade From Texans Through Browns): Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

    Brad Holmes has shown no fear as an active trade partner since becoming Detroit’s general manager. In this scenario, he traded down despite needing a QB and with more than one elite prospect on the board. Holmes shows his willingness to build his roster quickly again with a trade-up to land a quarterback with tremendous upside.

    Will Levis has solid size, a powerful arm, and very promising athletic traits for a QB of his size. At this time, he’s what I refer to as a “Wow” player, in that many of his plays will have you blinking in surprise and saying, “Wow”!

    Levis makes some wild throws with a defender in his face a few dozen yards downfield, but also will leave you lamenting “wow,” as he throws into coverage he really shouldn’t challenge despite limited pressure. Levis has several things he needs to work on, but all of the stuff you can’t teach, he has readily available every time he’s on a football field.

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

    It’s been a long time since the Steelers’ defense has been such a glaring weak spot, but they fall at an interesting point in the draft this year with many options available to improve. It’s also possible — as other teams have done so far in this scenario — the team could opt to surround their young QB with talent rather than working on defense.

    One of the most improved players we’ve seen in 2022 has been Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. He’s gotten his hands on the football more times in 2022 than he did in the previous three years combined. While Porter’s not a big turnover machine, he has the athletic talent and instincts to put himself in position more often than he’s in the wrong spot, and that’s a valuable trait for an NFL defender.

    15) Seattle Seahawks: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

    While we like to keep things open in terms of player contracts to give ourselves the most options we can, I think Seattle falls into a weird situation where you kind of have to determine where they’re going to be with regards to their contracts to make any kind of informed decision about what they’d do in free agency or the draft.

    Should Geno Smith return, the team is likely going to look at some ways to make his life a little easier going into 2023. Here we see the team land a player that, for all intents and purposes, should be going a lot higher in the draft in Quentin Johnston.

    The TCU prospect has hauled in 53 passes for 903 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. While that might not on its own raise any eyebrows, it’s the size and athletic gifts he’s paired with that production that is really going to sell him on NFL teams. There aren’t many 6’4” receivers who can move the way Johnston does out there.

    16) New England Patriots: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

    Whenever we do new mock drafts, we try to find different scenarios. Yet, in the case of the New England Patriots, there aren’t many situations I can imagine where Noah Sewell is still on the board and somehow isn’t their pick.

    Sewell fits the Patriots’ benchmarks for size and athleticism, which we pair with the fact that he’s quite the instinctual linebacker for Oregon. Putting him in the center of Bill Belichick’s defense could add a Jerod Mayo type of player to marshall that defense into what Pats fans can only hope is another era of success and prosperity.

    17) New York Jets: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

    When the Lions’ blocking tight end broke free on a play they had run with an offensive tackle the previous week, there was a whole lot of green grass and very few Gang Green players between him and the end zone. While that was largely on coaching, the difference between a win and a loss in that game may have very well been a playmaking safety with some range to make a difference.

    Clocked as one of the fastest defensive backs in college football, which landed him on the Feldman Freaks list, Brian Branch is the type of rangy player you can add to a defensive backfield that already has one of the best corners in the league (not just rookies, but overall).

    Why not make it even easier on your defense, that when a team tries to avoid your strengths they have a harder time finding anywhere to go?

    18) Houston Texans (Trade From Lions): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

    After acquiring some extra assets in the draft, the Texans have an opportunity to pick up one of the most prized receivers in the draft to try to add playmakers on offense.

    While he might lack some of the extreme athletic traits that NFL teams prize so highly, it’s hard to argue how productive Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been for Ohio State. He might not blow the doors off of every corner he faces, but this is still a player that can be relied on to find soft spots in opponents’ zone defenses and use his slippery elusiveness to buck defenders in man.

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

    Though they’re currently leading the NFC South, it’s hard to look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and not imagine that they’re missing a real difference-maker on the team. They have multiple good receivers, but none have been as dangerous as we’ve seen previously.

    Tampa Bay has several players with multiple sacks, but none that have really stood out as a problem week after week for opposing offensive coordinators. Isaiah Foskey has put up 11 sacks in each of the last two seasons. He comes pre-packaged with a strong athletic profile and a reputation for taking over games. Putting him next to Vita Vea, one of the league’s best interior rushers, would be a truly terrifying sight for opponents.

    20) Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

    In a week that the Titans lose Ryan Tannehill for the season and are forced to poach a QB from Detroit’s practice squad, I think it’s pretty safe to point out that protecting the quarterback should be a priority for Tennessee in 2023. Barring a move in free agency, the team is more likely to find a way to improve that area in the draft.

    Playing left tackle for the best team in the country, there’s enough positive tape of Broderick Jones to put him high on anyone’s list for 2023 draft prospects. Before coming out as a top college tackle, Jones was one of the most coveted high school prospects in the country. His athletic upside is viewed as top-notch, enough that he was rated extremely highly even before he started for the Bulldogs. The Combine might push him up draft boards even further.

    21) Washington Commanders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

    It’s strange looking at the Washington Commanders’ season in 2022. While it has undoubtedly been a reasonably successful year for a franchise that didn’t have high expectations, it’s both difficult to pinpoint their biggest weaknesses as well as their biggest strengths. What’s nice about this is that it gives several options on what you can fix with a draft pick.

    Christian Gonzalez has been one of the more productive cornerbacks in college football this season, and he boasts some serious athletic upside to go along with that production. Gonzalez has very promising size, and putting him behind a defensive line with as much promise as Washington’s is pretty enticing.

    22) Los Angeles Chargers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

    Justin Herbert could certainly use some more help both on the offensive line and with his weapons, but I tend to view any struggles he’s had more as indicators of an offensive coordinator that struggles to unleash the potential of his players. This puts me more on the defensive side of the ball for needs in this one, so I’ve switched gears from receiver, which we drafted last time, to cornerback.

    While he’s a little on the light side, Cam Smith is a very aggressive man corner with the athletic traits to challenge NFL-caliber receivers. Smith’s aggressiveness can work against him at times, which can be an even bigger issue given his size. But some quality NFL coaching should reign in those tendencies and direct them toward his opponents to take advantage of his talents without putting him at a serious disadvantage.

    23) New York Giants: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

    The New York Giants were the cannonball of the 2022 season. They exploded onto the scene, surprised everyone, caused a bunch of havoc, then kind of lost momentum and seem to just be rolling along at this point, waiting to come to a stop.

    That analogy may seem dour, but there have been far more bright spots to the G-Men’s season than there were problems, which bodes well for the future.

    It has been a while since the Giants have had bookend tackles, but it really seems like they’ll be starting 2023 with their offensive line as more of a strength. It would make sense, then, to build on that strength and bring in a player like O’Cyrus Torrence to shore up the line and make it even more formidable.

    The NFL has started to trend more towards the punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of offenses, and who should be more dangerous at doing that than a team with Saquon Barkley?

    24) Baltimore Ravens: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

    We often joke that the Baltimore Ravens manage to cheat the draft every year, and in a year they walked away with Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum, both of whom have had strong rookie campaigns, that joke won’t die down soon. It’s fitting that we’d have them taking a player who has the talent to go a lot higher, something the Ravens seem to do without even trying every season.

    Injuries have limited Bryan Bresee‘s potential somewhat, but if he has a clean bill of health at the Combine, then he’s coming in with top-10 talent. Getting a player like that at 24th overall is more than just value, it’s a tactical decision to pair such a player with Travis Jones and David Ojabo, who Baltimore drafted in 2022. If the group stays healthy and gels, this could be among the league’s most dangerous, young units.

    25) Denver Broncos (From SF via MIA): Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

    Denver has certainly not been on the winning side of their offseason trades, but that shouldn’t prevent them from trying to build up on both sides of the ball with what resources they have remaining. The team is a bit in a “pick your poison” state in terms of team needs, so they could truly go in any direction here…even considering a quarterback.

    While there have been several bigger corners in this class, Clark Phillips III has been one of the most productive. He’s sitting currently at nine interceptions, 21 pass deflections, and a whopping four picks run back for touchdowns over his career.

    Two of those pick-sixes came in 2022 alone. With that kind of ball skills, you can forgive yourself for overlooking Phillips’ size, as he’s likely coming in under 200 pounds and under 5’10”.

    26) Cincinnati Bengals: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

    The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the best teams in the NFL. They were in 2021, and they have continued to be in 2022. Teams like that have luxuries that lesser teams don’t really have when it comes to draft planning.

    They’re rarely looking to fill major holes and have the benefit of a stronger overall roster. So they can overlook positions of need if the value doesn’t line up with their picks, and they can sometimes take identity-defining picks even if they’d be viewed as a luxury.

    That’s where we see the Bengals with their pick here. Bijan Robinson is going to raise eyebrows from fans at first, given Joe Mixon’s remaining contract, who is set to make nearly $13 million in 2023.

    You’re not just getting a starting running back in Robinson, though, nor are you just getting a guy who can produce in an NFL offense. You’re building an identity as a team that can threaten you deep with Ja’Marr Chase, so you can’t keep your safeties too close to the line, and beat you in many ways in the run game with Robinson, making it dangerous to play with your safeties too deep. It’s very tough to defend even before you consider Joe Burrow’s presence.

    27) Dallas Cowboys: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

    With an overall strong roster, there’s not a whole lot of positions you can point to as huge needs for Dallas. But one thing is for sure, and that is that Michael Gallup has not produced as he was expected to. The team clearly had a plan for how they wanted this offense to look, but they’ve fallen somewhat short.

    In the last mock, we had them building through the trenches. Yet, this time we are going to give a dynamic passing element to complement Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb.

    Josh Downs has very good speed and route-running ability. While his hands can be inconsistent at times, Downs is a monster to defend when he’s in his element. With a player like Dak throwing to him, I’d be willing to bet he’s more on than off most weeks.

    28) Kansas City Chiefs: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

    The Kansas City Chiefs remain the “shopping for your rich relative” of the NFL draft. They’ve pretty much got everything they need, and finding something to help might not have the apparent impact you really want from an early-round pick. To that end, this really boiled down to whether we help the secondary or the pass rush.

    Frank Clark currently has 5.0 sacks on the season, which leads all Chiefs edge rushers. That position has to find someone who can be more productive when playing alongside Chris Jones, and we know Andy Reid will roll the dice from time to time.

    Jared Verse only has one season of big-school production, but it was a very solid year in that regard. He’s expected to test as a superb athlete, and while the former Albany star could face some growing pains in the jump to the NFL, Verse’s upside is incredible.

    29) Chicago Bears (Trade From Vikings): BJ Ojulari, EDGE, Florida

    After trading down and securing a new piece for the offensive line, the Bears turn some of those resources back around to trade back into the first and build on the other side of the trenches. Chicago could have easily double-dipped here and found another weapon for Fields, but the defense needs help as well, and finding a pass rusher this late in the first round who can cause some havoc is a win.

    BJ Ojulari had solid production over his LSU career, but it’s his athletic potential that is the most intriguing. GM Ryan Poles has shown a desire to get more athletic on both sides of the ball, so picking up a player like Ojulari does a great job of showcasing what that can look like. Ojulari is explosive, fast, and tough to defend over the course of the game if you don’t stay on your toes.

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

    While the best teams can sometimes be difficult to plan for with these mocks, some teams are fun to throw out hypotheticals for just because the team as a whole is built so well. The Buffalo Bills are one such team. For as good as they are, you can really imagine how much better they’d be with just one or two more pieces.

    As one of the most complete teams in the NFL, it’s fitting Buffalo should look into the back half of their secondary. Antonio Johnson has very good size and projectible athletic traits, but he also possesses the technical ability to make him a Day 1 NFL starter. Put him in the back of a defense and let him play clean up while he learns the ropes, a year or two down the line, Johnson could be one of the league’s best young safeties.

    31) Philadelphia Eagles: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

    We had the Eagles pick up two players on the back half of their defense in our last mock, and we have them double-dipping again in this one. This time, they’re picking a second player for the front half of their defense, opting to shore up the middle of their defensive line with a powerful, disruptive player in Florida’s Gervon Dexter.

    Dexter is very tall and lean for a DT, but he doesn’t lose leverage despite his size, nor does he lose power despite his build. On the contrary, he uses those traits to explode out of his stance and force an imposing amount of power on opposing linemen. Dexter’s quickness and twitchy movements are a pain to defend for opposing blockers, and it would be absolutely criminal to put him alongside Jordan Davis on Philadelphia’s line.

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