Mellor’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Trades Dominate Round 1 as C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson Go Back to Back To Start

Trades dominate this 2023 NFL Mock Draft after free agency gave a clearer picture of each team's biggest need.

The NFL draft is nearly here, and in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, trades dominate the first round. A common theme appears as each team is willing to move up to secure the top player on their board.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

This mock draft was done as if I was the general manager of each team, and this included shopping draft picks and ultimately executing each trade below.

1) Carolina Panthers (From CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The best quarterback available and the best prospect who is ready to plug in as the starter as early as the first year, C.J. Stroud is the obvious choice for the Carolina Panthers. Stroud has a prototypical presence in the pocket and more than enough arm talent to spin it to each level of the field. He elevates talent around him and is ready to take the Panthers back to the playoffs with a few more pieces around him.

2) Houston Texans: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

There is a lot to like about Anthony Richardson. Whether it’s his size and athleticism or the pure power behind his passes, Richardson has much to offer as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Though his accuracy may be still evolving, Richardson can rely upon his legs and aforementioned athleticism to carry him in his first season.

Richardson is a project, there’s no denying that. But banking on his athletic traits while the roster construction continues will ultimately lead to ticket sales and some highlight-reel moments in 2023 and beyond.

3) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

Will Anderson Jr. has battled it out with Jalen Carter to be seen as the best player overall in this draft class. While Carter’s draft stock has plummeted recently because of off-field concerns, Anderson won the day at the 2023 NFL Combine and is poised to be the top defensive player taken.

The Arizona Cardinals make the easy move to grab Anderson here as they radically change their defensive front with a chess piece that can win from a variety of alignments.

4) Indianapolis Colts: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Bryce Young falls a bit here as the Indianapolis Colts secure their future with the Alabama signal-caller. Young is a creative master and overcomes any size concerns with his ability to layer shots downfield and throw his receivers open.

MORE: Top 10 QBs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Young was given a great set of pass catchers in college but certainly weaved his way around some below-average offensive line play, showcasing his ability to create off-platform as well as throw from within the structure of an offense all the same.

5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Banking on athletic traits and a skill set that appears to be unmatched, Tyree Wilson is the pick here as the Texas Tech defender brings with him an incredibly high ceiling. Wilson’s massive frame allows him to play anywhere along the defensive front, and he can win from nearly any alignment.

6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The best pure cover cornerback in this class heads to the Detroit Lions as Dan Campbell and Co. are happy to sit still here. Christian Gonzalez emerged on the scene at Oregon but has put together some impressive reps during high school and even his Colorado college days. He’s a terrific addition to an ascending defense.

7) Chicago Bears (From LV): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Trade: Chicago sends pick Nos. 9 and 64 in 2023 as well as a third-round pick in 2024, in exchange for pick No. 7 from Las Vegas.

The Chicago Bears have enough draft capital to move around and secure their preferred players at big areas of need. They move up two spots here to grab the top tackle on the board, jumping the OT-needy Atlanta Falcons in the process.

Paris Johnson Jr. played one year at left tackle in Columbus and looked every bit the part. Johnson is big and athletic, and at his best when on the move paving the way for skill players in space — something Justin Fields should quickly be able to take advantage of.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Atlanta got sniped by the Bears but still grab Broderick Jones with the eighth pick. After Chicago jumped the Falcons, Atlanta got on the phone to attempt to sell this pick, but no one could come up to their asking price.

As such, Jones is the pick. He’s a bit of a reach but fills a huge need for the Falcons. He’s a stalwart pass protector and terrific on the ground as well.

9) Las Vegas Raiders (From CHI via CAR): Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The Las Vegas Raiders were happy to entertain offers at No. 7 after signing Jimmy Garoppolo during free agency. Garoppolo’s presence buys the Raiders time to get a prospect ready to take over, and that prospect who needs a bit of work with high upside is Will Levis.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Levis is the selection and also gives the Raiders two additional third-round picks in the process. He has all the intangible aspects a quarterback needs, and developing under Josh McDaniels is an ideal landing spot.

10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

During his time at Clemson and against college competition, Myles Murphy looked like a professional pass rusher. He’s a prototypical hand-in-the-dirt pass rusher who gives the Philadelphia Eagles a massive presence off the edge from Day 1.

11) Los Angeles Chargers (From TEN): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Trade: Los Angeles sends pick Nos. 21 and 85 in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as a 2024 second-round pick to Tennessee in exchange for pick No. 11 and a 2024 fourth-round pick.

With a bevy of teams in need of a wide receiver ahead of them, the Los Angeles Chargers jump up to grab their guy. An elite separator and the best route runner in this class, Jaxon Smith-Njigba gives Justin Herbert a No. 1 WR in the making with his ability to win all over the field.

12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Chargers jumped the Texans to secure JSN, leaving the next-best option in Quentin Johnston for Houston. Johnston is a savvy route runner on the routes he runs well and has secure hands at the catch point. He’ll turn and run better than most in this class.

13) New York Jets: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

The Jets shopped this pick with their top needs off the board in the top 10. With no clear-cut tackle available worth this draft capital, the Jets couldn’t find a buyer in time on draft night. The consolation prize: Jalen Carter from Georgia, whose free fall stops here.

Carter, who has the talent to be the best player in this class, has had off-field issues arise at the worst time for him this offseason. If those clear up and he can stay on the straight and narrow, he’ll be an All-Pro player early in his career.

14) New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

A tough, physical cornerback heads to New England as the Patriots select Devon Witherspoon. The Illinois CB has a terrific ability both in his backpedal and at the catch point, as he possesses ample speed and athleticism to stick with receivers and burst to the ball.

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

A slippery route runner all over the field, Jordan Addison is part of a larger plan to build around Jordan Love and surround him with talent. In an attempt to figure out what they have in Love, Addison’s presence gives Love a weapon that can get open at the drop of a hat and has sure hands all over the field.

16) Detroit Lions (From WAS): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Trade: The Lions send pick Nos. 18 and 81 in 2023 as well as a 2024 sixth-round pick in exchange for pick No. 16 in 2023 and a 2024 seventh-round pick from Washington. 

Washington shopped their pick here all over as their top two desired players at cornerback were gone. With Trenton Simpson sliding a bit, the Lions were happy to meet the Commanders’ price to move up two spots and grab their three-down LB of the future.

MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator

Simpson’s best attribute is coverage, but he’s truly a three-down, three-level linebacker who is unrivaled in this class. With Gonzalez and Simpson in the first round, this Lions draft could be one of the best in recent memory.

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

There’s a lot to like about Joey Porter Jr., most notably his namesake father, an all-time Pittsburgh Steelers great, but also his on-field prowess. Porter Jr. is a dominant athlete with plenty of size to blanket receivers of all sizes and types.

18) Washington Commanders (From DET): Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

Washington shopped, Detroit bought, and the Commanders ultimately got who they would’ve selected at No. 16 if no one came up to their price. It was a savvy move to land Cam Smith from South Carolina for the Commanders as the former Gamecock fills a big need on an otherwise terrific and complete defense.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Blowing up the Combine, Nolan Smith ran through drills and leaped out of the gym. That was all evident in his tape at Georgia, but with how stacked the Bulldogs’ front was over the past few years, we weren’t sure if that was a flash in the pan or just who he was.

After torching records, we know Smith is as athletic as they come and truly an ascending edge rusher for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to rely on for years to come.

20) Seattle Seahawks: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

With speed to burn and the ability to stop on a dime, Jalin Hyatt understands how to use his elite speed and athleticism along his routes. Geno Smith and the Seahawks add yet another talented player with traits that rival some of the best in the league currently. Hyatt and DK Metcalf on the outside will give pause to any secondary who is tasked with covering them.

21) Tennessee Titans (From LAC): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

The top tackles were off the board at No. 11, allowing Tennessee to bite on the Chargers’ trade offer to move back to No. 21. Despite a fringe-level Day 1 grade on their board, Anton Harrison is the top available OT and a no-brainer here.

Harrison is long, lean, athletic, and strong; he fills a big need and gives the Titans a big-time player to rely on as they figure out long-term plans at quarterback.

22) Baltimore Ravens: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

There were concerns around Kelee Ringo‘s game after he wasn’t really tested all too often at Georgia, but he eased concerns with his interviews and testing at the Combine. He’s still got room to improve and grow, but with his intangibles and track speed, Ringo will never be truly beaten by any receiver in the league.

23) Minnesota Vikings: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

A cornerback is the top need, but securing the draft’s top safety who can double as a slot cornerback at the same time is an easy choice. Brian Branch has instincts on top of instincts and presents a movable, moldable safety prospect who can play all three middle-of-the-field positions.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

A receiver trapped in a tight end’s body, Dalton Kincaid wins everywhere on the field as a pass catcher. Trevor Lawrence has a potential No. 1 receiver in Kincaid, as he possesses elite body control, strong hands, and a bevy of impressive routes from both inside and outside alignments.

25) New York Giants: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

Size is the only concern with Clark Phillips III, but his athletic ability should keep him in Round 1 and ultimately make him a great professional. The New York Giants need more than just one DB in this draft class, and grabbing Phillips here as one of the more versatile coverage defenders is a wise choice.

26) Dallas Cowboys: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

The future of the Dallas Cowboys’ backfield is now, as Tony Pollard and Bijan Robinson ultimately give them perhaps the best backfield in the NFL as early as 2023. Robinson has a three-down pedigree, but not utilizing him in a three-down role is pivotal for his long-term health as a first-round pick.

He’s a terrific pass catcher and is unstoppable on the ground. Robinson is a home-run pick for Dallas.

27) Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

The Buffalo Bills need a few more bodies on the inside, and O’Cyrus Torrence is nearly the size of two men. Torrence is a mauler in both facets and excels when he’s able to set in pass protection. Someone Josh Allen can bank on keeping him clean from interior pressure is key to coming away within this class.

28) Cincinnati Bengals: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

The upside to Lukas Van Ness isn’t in his potential elite pass-rushing ability, it’s in his versatility. Van Ness is NFL-ready as he hails from the Iowa program, but he’s even more versatile than most at this stage of his career, learning to use his pass-rush moves and having a plan of attack from any alignment.

29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The slip for Bryan Bresee has nothing to do with his talent, rather it’s more of positional importance in this year’s class. The New Orleans Saints need a defensive tackle, and they almost moved up to secure Bresee after Carter’s slip ended.

Instead, the Saints stay put and still grab the best pure pass rusher on the inside in this class. Bresee is incredibly strong and comes with a work ethic that is unrivaled.

30) Philadelphia Eagles: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Deonte Banks blew the roof off the Combine, almost literally, as he jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium. Banks is a potential big-time player if he can harness that athleticism and put together consistent work on the outside. In the meantime, Banks can cover the slot and vie for time as the third cornerback while honing in his game with his elite athletic traits.

31) Kansas City Chiefs: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

The Kansas City Chiefs need a right tackle, and the best RT prospect in this class is Dawand Jones. If the Chiefs had to pick even 10 spots higher, Jones will still be the selection as he fills a need, is an ascending player, and gives Patrick Mahomes a new best friend opposite Jawaan Taylor.

nfl mock draft

2023 NFL Mock Draft – Round 2

32) Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI)
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

33) Houston Texans
Tuli Tuipulotu, EDGE, USC

34) Arizona Cardinals
Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

35) Indianapolis Colts
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

36) Los Angeles Rams
Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

37) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN)
DJ Turner, CB, Michigan

38) Las Vegas Raiders
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

39) Carolina Panthers
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

40) New Orleans Saints
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

41) Washington Commanders (from TEN)
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

Trade: The Commanders send pick Nos. 47 and 97 in 2023 to Tennessee in exchange for pick No. 41. 

42) Cleveland Browns
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

43) New York Jets
John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

44) Atlanta Falcons
BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

45) Green Bay Packers
Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

46) New England Patriots
Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama

47) Tennessee Titans (from WAS)
Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee

48) Detroit Lions
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

49) Pittsburgh Steelers
Warren McClendon, OT, Georgia

50) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

51) Miami Dolphins
Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

52) Seattle Seahawks
Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

53) Chicago Bears (from BAL)
Keion White, DL, Georgia Tech

54) Los Angeles Chargers
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland

55) Detroit Lions (from MIN)
JL Skinner, S, Boise State

56) Jacksonville Jaguars
Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

57) New York Giants
Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M

58) Dallas Cowboys
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

59) Buffalo Bills
Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M

60) Cincinnati Bengals
Jarrett Patterson, G, Notre Dame

61) Chicago Bears (from CAR via SF)
Steve Avila, OL, TCU

62) Philadelphia Eagles
Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (FL)

63) Kansas City Chiefs
Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

nfl mock draft

2023 NFL Mock Draft – Round 3

64) Las Vegas Raiders (from CHI)
Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State

65) Atlanta Falcons (from HOU)
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

Trade: The Falcons send pick Nos. 75 and 113 in 2023 to Houston in exchange for pick No. 65. 

66) Arizona Cardinals
Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA

67) Denver Broncos (from IND)
Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

68) Denver Broncos
Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

69) Los Angeles Rams
Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford

70) Las Vegas Raiders
Sydney Brown, S, Illinois

71) New Orleans Saints
Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

72) Tennessee Titans
Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern

73) Houston Texans (from CLE)
Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

74) New York Jets
Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

75) Houston Texans (from ATL)
Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

76) New England Patriots (from CAR)
Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska

77) Los Angeles Rams (from MIA via NE)
Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

78) Green Bay Packers
Tyler Steen, OL, Alabama

79) Indianapolis Colts (from WAS)
A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest

80) Pittsburgh Steelers
Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan

81) Washington Commanders (from DET)
Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn

82) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jaren Hall, QB, BYU

83) Seattle Seahawks
Emil Ekiyor Jr., G, Alabama

84) Miami Dolphins
Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

85) Tennessee Titans (from LAC)
Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati

86) Baltimore Ravens
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia

87) Minnesota Vikings
Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M

88) Jacksonville Jaguars
Christopher Smith, S, Georgia

89) New York Giants
Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

90) Dallas Cowboys
Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

91) Buffalo Bills
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

92) Cincinnati Bengals
Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

93) Carolina Panthers (from SF)
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

94) Philadelphia Eagles
Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

95) Kansas City Chiefs
Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

96) Arizona Cardinals (compensatory selection)
Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

97) Tennessee Titans (compensatory selection from WAS)
Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

98) Cleveland Browns (compensatory selection)
Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State

99) San Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU

100) Las Vegas Raiders (compensatory selection)
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina

101) San Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)
Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State

102) San Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)
Jordan McFadden, OT, Clemson

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