There are five new head coaches in the NFL, and four of them have big decisions to make in the top ten. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, we examine another potential outcome of the 2023 NFL Draft cycle — where one rebuilding franchise trades up to the No. 1 overall pick.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1) Houston Texans (via CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Trade: Texans receive 1st pick, Bears receive 2nd pick, 12th pick, 33rd pick, 73rd pick, and 2024 second-rounder.
MORE: PFN NFL Mock Draft Simulator
DeMeco Ryans trades up to block out the Colts and get his guy. In Bobby Slowik’s offense, where accurate, efficient distribution is key, C.J. Stroud has the best chance to put up major numbers.
2) Chicago Bears (via HOU): Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Just getting Will Anderson Jr. alone is a win. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Bears get five total picks in addition to the Alabama edge rusher. Anderson’s blue-chip destructive ability can reinvigorate the defense, while the added capital accelerates the rebuild.
3) Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
With J.J. Watt retiring and Zach Allen entering free agency, the interior defensive line will be an area of concern for the Cardinals. Jonathan Gannon needs a disruptive presence to build around up front, and there’s none better than Jalen Carter in this class.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Shane Steichen has great potential as a head coach. But his ability to mold an offense around his QB’s strengths is what makes him truly exciting. With a QB whose strengths are as dominating as Anthony Richardson‘s, Steichen could take control of the AFC South.
5) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
The Seahawks already have the talent to dissuade QBs from testing the boundaries with Tariq Woolen and Mike Jackson at cornerback. Brian Branch doesn’t have their size, but he’s arguably the best DB prospect in this class, with elite slot potential.
6) Detroit Lions (via LAR): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Opposite Jeffrey Okudah, Christian Gonzalez could give the Lions the facelift they need at the CB position. He’s a true first-round talent with great size and length at 6’2″, 200 pounds, as well as the burst, throttle control, awareness, and ball skills to be a star.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Derek Carr’s release was mere confirmation of what we already knew: that the Raiders would move on from the veteran in 2023. Bryce Young is an ideal candidate to follow in Carr’s footsteps, as he has the poise and talent to carry that pressure with ease.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
If, for some reason, the Falcons bypass QB in the 2023 NFL Draft — either due to an offseason acquisition or confidence in Desmond Ridder — Myles Murphy would be a phenomenal pick. He’s an elite power threat off the edge and a monster in pursuit.
9) Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The selling points and drawbacks of Will Levis‘ profile, at this point, are very well-documented. But if there’s any situation and coach that can get the best out of Levis and maximize his awe-inspiring tools, it’s Frank Reich and the Carolina Panthers.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
James Bradberry is slated to be a free agent this offseason. Devon Witherspoon helps the Eagles stay afloat in the secondary. In fact, he does even more than that — providing a copious amount of energy for offenses to combat, both as an athlete and a competitor.
11) Tennessee Titans: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
There is a scenario where Anton Harrison is the first offensive tackle off the board. You could argue he’s more refined than Broderick Jones and Paris Johnson Jr., and he’s a stellar athlete in his own right, with the strength and power to lock down the boundary.
12) Chicago Bears (via HOU): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Part of me made this pick just so the Bears would have a tackle duo of Braxton Jones and Broderick Jones. Even without the amusing symmetry, however, Jones would be a strong add, giving Chicago one of the more physically imposing tackle tandems in the league.
13) New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Depending on how the QB carousel shakes out, the Jets could keep their first-round pick. If they do, investing in a high-level offensive tackle talent like Paris Johnson Jr. is a prudent move. Johnson has blue-chip OT upside but can move around as well.
14) New England Patriots: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Bringing back Bill O’Brien should help the Patriots find their stride again on offense. But they could also use an infusion of talent at WR, especially with Jakobi Meyers hitting free agency. Quentin Johnston, alongside Tyquan Thornton, could be lethal for defenses.
15) Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
When you think of what the Packers like at EDGE, Lukas Van Ness becomes a favorite option here. At 6’5″, 275 pounds, Van Ness has the size the Packers crave, but he’s also a tremendous athlete with great burst, flexibility, and leverage acquisition.
16) Washington Commanders: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Commanders need to invest capital in their offensive line, but the value doesn’t line up well here. On the other side of the trenches, however, Chase Young’s future is uncertain. That could usher in a pick like Tyree Wilson, who’s similar to Montez Sweat in some ways.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
This is an unorthodox pick for the Steelers, but with three selections inside the first two rounds and class depth at positions of greater need, there’s some merit here. Drew Sanders has astronomical potential as an off-ball linebacker, and he can also function as an extra rusher.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
18) Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Medicals will be big for Bryan Bresee. However, if he passes that test, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a top-20 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. For the Lions, he provides a vital disruptive presence next to Alim McNeill, with his burst, agility, and violent hands.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Odds are, someone is going to draw the short straw in the 2023 QB carousel. Tampa Bay may end up being that team. If they’re forced to punt on QBs until the 2024 NFL Draft, Bijan Robinson‘s presence as a transformative runner can help keep the offense chugging.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
In the slot between D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be an invaluable asset for Geno Smith. A true chain-mover for one of the league’s most efficient passers, Smith-Njigba might be just what this offense needs to avoid regression.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
More than anything, the Chargers need more speed and dynamic ability at WR. Zay Flowers has more than enough of both traits. However, what separates him from other smaller receivers is his flexibility and body control, both on the ground and in the air.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Todd Monken brings an interesting brand of offensive football to the Ravens, but one thing is clear: They’re going to pass the ball more now. To prepare for that, let’s add Jordan Addison to the weapons group — a space creator and manipulator with high-level instincts.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
The run of WRs concludes with Josh Downs heading to the Minnesota Vikings. He’d be a phenomenal complementary threat to Justin Jefferson, with the explosiveness, alignment versatility, and separation ability to help put defensive backs in a blender.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Smith, DB, South Carolina
Round 1 may be a bit rich for Cam Smith, but the unique factor here is his ability to play the slot for the Jaguars. Smith is an explosive, twitchy athlete with great dual-sided run support and coverage playmaking value, and he’d set the tone with his chippy attitude.
25) New York Giants: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
The importance of sturdy interior blocking sometimes goes overlooked. But especially for providing QBs with maximum comfort when stepping up in the pocket, interior talent is essential. O’Cyrus Torrence helps upgrade the guard spot for the Giants, as a literal giant.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Jalin Hyatt‘s speed is game-breaking, as he showed in his Biletnikoff-winning 2022 campaign. That speed can help free up CeeDee Lamb for more one-on-one opportunities and create more space and big plays for the Cowboys’ offense.
27) Buffalo Bills: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Brandon Beane has been a key architect in bringing the Bills to where they are, but failures on the offensive line may be holding them back from going any farther. With his reliable style and positional versatility, Peter Skoronski can help calm troubled waters up front.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Bengals don’t necessarily need to target a CB in Round 1. But if Joey Porter Jr. is still there, as he is in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, it’d be hard to pass up that value. Porter is fluid, physical, laser-focused, and has length that offensive linemen would be jealous of.
29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Tyrique Stevenson, DB, Miami (FL)
Tyrique Stevenson has great length and technique and will be an exceptional tester. But an added bonus of his acquisition is that he can play in the slot. He was a STAR defender in his time at Georgia, and his versatility, with his physical tools, grants him added upside.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Class
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
Adetomiwa Adebawore checks all the boxes to be a potential first-round sleeper. He’s an elite athlete with an elite combination of natural leverage and proportional length. He dominated at the Senior Bowl, and he provides Philadelphia with valuable versatility.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Isaiah Foskey didn’t leave for the NFL on an upward trajectory as one would prefer. But the flashes of brilliance with his hand usage are still there on his 2021 tape. And ultimately, he has the explosiveness, length, power, and motor worth investing in.