The stage is set: Kansas City and Philadelphia will face off for the Lombardi Trophy. But while those two teams prepare to sacrifice life and limb for the NFL’s throne, 30 other franchises are at home preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft. Aiming to reach the same heights as the Chiefs and Eagles, how should each club spend their first-round selection?
2023 NFL Mock Draft
The NFL draft order for this 2023 mock is taken from the current NFL standings following the Conference Championships. Take the PFN Mock Draft Simulator for a spin and put your favorite franchise on the path to a Super Bowl!
1) Carolina Panthers (From CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Trade: Carolina receives pick 1, Chicago receives picks 9, 39, 60, 2024 first-round pick, and 2024 second-round pick
With Frank Reich now at the helm, the Panthers have to take their swing on the next face of the franchise. While Bryce Young is my unquestioned QB1, size means more to some teams, and Carolina seems to be one of them.
According to NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright, C.J. Stroud is “the apple of their eye,” and if they want to draft the 6’3″ signal-caller, the Panthers will need to procure a package the Bears can’t deny at No. 1 overall.
2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
After nailing the hire of San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to be their next head coach, the Texans can put all their efforts into nailing their QB1. Despite comically playing themselves out of the first overall pick, Houston still secures their guy: Bryce Young.
Outside of size, there is little to nitpick with the Alabama QB’s game. Of course, size matters, but Young has the arm talent, pocket presence, and mental processing to mitigate any deficiencies.
3) Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Cardinals fans, brace for a long 2023. At least the Phoenix Suns are a fringe-playoff contender. Between Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim leaving, Kyler Murray rehabbing a torn ACL, and J.J. Watt retiring, there just isn’t much to be excited about. Jalen Carter won’t fill those holes, but he is a defensive centerpiece to build around.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis just feels destined to be the Colts’ quarterback. GM Chris Ballard has banked on physical tools in drafts, and Levis fits the mold.
His tape is a bit chaotic, mostly due to his footwork and decision-making. Still, there is no denying the Kentucky passer’s arm strength. If the draft is a crapshoot, Levis is the dice you bet on.
5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Long gone are the days of Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril meeting in the backfield for Seattle. And it’s been that way for roughly half a decade. The drought ends with Will Anderson Jr. in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
Anderson is far and away the top edge rusher in the class. His game is predicated on speed, but if he can add some more power without zapping his athleticism, the Seahawks won’t need to address the position for years to come.
6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Before you click off the page, Lions fans, hear me out. Yes, Jared Goff looked good with Ben Johnson calling plays. But is that enough to be a legitimate contender? Even in the Rams’ high-powered offense, Goff maxed out at three points versus the Patriots in Super Bowl 53.
Let Goff be the bridge QB to Anthony Richardson, who may actually be more pro-ready than some analysts believe. The Chiefs took Patrick Mahomes to sit behind Alex Smith for a year when many believed it was a wasted pick — look how that turned out.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Assuming the Raiders move off Derek Carr, head coach Josh McDaniels will need a new QB. But with how things shook out last season, his clock is already ticking in Las Vegas, and he’s unlikely to tie to his last-ditch effort to a rookie. Nevertheless, whoever is under center will need protection, and Paris Johnson Jr. can provide just that from multiple positions.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Myles Murphy has the tools to be one of the best pass rushers in the class. Yet, like Travon Walker from the 2022 draft, Murphy has a long way to go in his technique and hand usage. He also isn’t as dominant a run defender as many believe. Still, he has shown flashes, and “upside” wins out in the draft.
9) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Jordan Addison, WR, USC
After trading back and acquiring significant capital, the Bears have a few avenues at their disposal. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, they give Justin Fields — and Darnell Mooney — some reinforcements. Jordan Addison is hands down the best separator in the class and will make Fields’ life that much easier as a passer.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bijan Robinson is going to go much higher than the late 20s everyone has been mocking him. It’s just a matter of where. On paper, it appears there are few RB-needy teams in the top 15. Robinson is a top-five talent trapped in a devalued position, but his combination of speed, twitch, and elusiveness won’t last too long on draft night.
11) Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Tennessee’s offense is built around Derrick Henry and the ground game. And with Taylor Lewan missing more games in 2022, his health has become a serious concern. Even if Lewan returns to 100% next year, Peter Skoronski can fill a void inside while serving as an effective swing tackle.
12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Pairing Bryce Young’s ability to create off-script with Quentin Johnston‘s blend of size and speed would spell trouble for NFL defenses. Johnston won’t separate as cleanly as a smaller receiver, but he can stretch the field vertically, high-point contested targets, and make a defender or two miss in space.
13) New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Whether it’s Zach Wilson, Mike White, or Aaron Rodgers at QB, Broderick Jones will form a wall from either tackle spot. Mekhi Becton is apparently working his way into shape, and if he can regain his form, the two would instantly provide one of the best OT duos in the league.
14) New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Devon Witherspoon checks every box Bill Belichick has for a cornerback. He’s experienced and proficient in press, versatile, and oozes confidence. With impressive instincts and ball skills to boot, Witherspoon could — and should — be the first CB off the board.
15) Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Should the Packers take a tight end in the first round? Probably not, but Michael Mayer could prove too much to pass up. He’s a reliable blocker and a plus receiver, making him more than just the QB’s best friend.
16) Washington Commanders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Devon Witherspoon is the top cover corner in the class. Meanwhile, Christian Gonzalez is the top size/speed build at the position. He put his elite traits to great use on the outside and took his game to new heights with Oregon.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
If Washington can figure out their QB position, there’s enough talent on the roster to make a playoff run. Adding Gonzalez to the defense could end up a steal at 16th overall.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Kelee Ringo is more athlete than corner right now, and who better to coach him up than Mike Tomlin? At a rocked-up 6’2″ and 210 pounds, he resembles a linebacker more than a defensive back but also has the speed to carry routes vertically. If Tomlin and Co. can equip him with the coverage techniques to succeed, Ringo will far outproduce his draft slot.
18) Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Defensive tackles that check in at 6’0″ and 280 pounds usually struggle to win, even at the collegiate level. But Calijah Kancey is more than his size profile, using his natural leverage and incinerating get-off to blow by interior lineman into the backfield.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Lukas Van Ness is one of the most powerful defenders in the 2023 NFL Draft, yet he doesn’t lack in the athleticism department. So why didn’t he start at Iowa? That’s a question for the Hawkeyes coaching staff because Van Ness hit the genetic lottery and has lived up to his “Hercules” nickname when on the field.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
We all knew Tariq Woolen was an athletic freak at CB, but no one knew he’d hit the ground running the way he did as a rookie. Slotting Joey Porter Jr. across from him would give opposing passing attacks fits on the outside.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Kellen Moore + Justin Herbert + Zay Flowers = fireworks. The Chargers’ offense has severely lacked a downfield element under Joe Lombardi’s direction. With Moore and Flowers in the fold, Herbert could enjoy his best season yet. But “Big Play Zay” isn’t just a vertical threat, as his horizontal agility makes him a weapon underneath.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Were it not for missed time due to a nagging hamstring injury, Jaxon Smith-Njigba would likely be viewed as a lock for the top 20 picks. Alas, here we are, explaining why the Ravens should select him at No. 22. JSN is a walking highlight reel from the slot, owning natural hands and route-running acumen to become a QB’s favorite target.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Letting go of former DC Ed Donatell isn’t going to fix everything wrong with Minnesota’s defense. Although he called a predictable and frankly vanilla defense based on Cover 6, Donatell didn’t have the corners needed to vary his coverages. Cam Smith comes stocked with the fluidity, physicality, and instincts for the Vikings’ next coordinator to run a diverse scheme.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Jacksonville’s cornerback room is a bit barren, but Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell are solid starters. Drafting Clark Phillips III as a stellar slot CB allows the Jags to put Williams on the outside, where he thrived with the Rams.
25) New York Giants: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Starting Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis at linebacker in the year 2023 is criminal neglect. Trenton Simpson owns a similar build to Dallas’ Micah Parsons, but instead of being an elite pass rusher, he’s an elite coverage defender at the second level.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Although the Cowboys could snag a running back or receiver here, building in the trenches with a potential top-10 pick is too enticing. Tyree Wilson can set the edge across from Micah Parsons and is only scraping his pass-rush ceiling with his suffocating wingspan.
27) Buffalo Bills: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Gabe Davis is a solid deep threat, and Stefon Diggs is one of the best all-around receivers in the league. Still, the Bills have sorely missed a prime Cole Beasley-esque slot receiver that routinely gets open. That’s exactly where Josh Downs steps in, pouring fuel on the fire that is Buffalo’s offense.
28) New Orleans Saints (From SF via Mia via DEN): BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
With newfound capital following the Sean Payton trade to Denver, the Saints have joined the first-round party. They’d be wise to let EDGE Marcus Davenport walk if he’s offered a $20+ million contract, BJ Ojulari wins with speed and active hands off the edge and has tormented SEC tackles all three years at LSU.
29) Cincinnati Bengals: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State
Well, Bengals, here we are again. Of course, you can’t overhaul an entire offensive line in one offseason, although Cincy gave it a valiant effort last year. In fact, were it not for injuries, the AFC Championship may have looked a lot different.
Regardless, Cody Mauch brings tackle/guard versatility and plays with one of the meanest mean streaks you’ll see from an offensive lineman.
30) Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Whether you are high or low on Bryan Bresee as a draft prospect, we can all respect his resolve through the unimaginable hardship he faced at Clemson. On the field, the 6’5″, 300-pound DT would make for an excellent running mate for Chris Jones, who, as we saw Sunday, is already his own one-man wrecking crew.
31) Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
The Eagles’ defense has been key to their success this season, and replenishing talent in the backfield is a must. Brian Branch was tailor-made for the slot but was just as effective at safety for the Crimson Tide. You want him near the ball as much as possible, and he serves as an insurance policy for C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
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