With less than a week until the 2023 NFL Draft, mock drafts continue to be dialed in as we try to determine how teams will utilize their picks. A class loaded with talent, decisions made by organizations will shape the balance of power for years to come. With one final trip and no further time to waste, let’s dive into this first-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1) Carolina Panthers (From CHI): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
When the Carolina Panthers made the decision to move to the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, they had their guy in mind already. While all signs pointed to C.J. Stroud being the most likely target, Bryce Young is the overwhelming favorite.
He’s an outlier in size, but the Panthers reportedly already plan to help address the weight concerns through their strength and conditioning program. As a field general, Young’s intelligence post-snap is just as good as his incredible ball placement. He deserves the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
2) Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
In my previous mock draft, I had Stroud going ahead of Young with the Alabama signal-caller landing with the Houston Texans, who need to upgrade from Davis Mills.
That happens, but not at No. 2 overall. DeMeco Ryans is a defensive-minded coach, and Will Anderson Jr. is the best player in this draft for most scouts. Although Tyree Wilson has made a run for this title, Anderson’s ability to find the QB could set him on the path to being a double-digit sack producer out of the gates.
3) Las Vegas Raiders (From ARI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
TRADE: Las Vegas sends picks No. 7, No. 38, and a 2024 second to Arizona for pick No. 3
We have our first trade in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. If C.J. Stroud falls past the Texans, the Arizona Cardinals have the most coveted pick in the draft. The phones are ringing off the hook, and on the other line is Mark Davis.
MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades
Jimmy Garoppolo is a lateral move at QB from Derek Carr. Even that assumes his success was not a product of the 49ers’ environment. Although Stroud’s draft stock has taken an apparent hit based on recent reporting, this is a QB-driven league, and the 6’3″, 214-pound QB has all of the traits to be a playmaker in the NFL. In a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, trading up for Stroud is the best way to close the gap.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Jim Irsay will bust out his guitar and do a celebratory riff in the Colts’ draft room if the actual board falls the same as this mock draft. Without needing to move, the Colts get their guy in Anthony Richardson.
Owning the highest ceiling of any QB in the class, Richardson is extremely raw but possesses undeniable elite traits. Head coach Shane Steichen helped turn Jalen Hurts from a proven winner in college to a Super Bowl-appearing quarterback MVP candidate that just signed a massive extension.
While Richardson has nowhere near the same level of experience and polish as Hurts, he could be a Cam Newton-level superstar for the Colts and finally give them some stability at the position for the first time since Andrew Luck walked off the field in the closing hours of the 2019 preseason.
5) Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Seattle is a wild card in the NFL Draft. Trying to pin down what an organization will do after it has used first-round picks on L.J. Collier and Rashaad Penny in recent years will make you think twice about what the team might opt to do.
But after acing last year’s draft, Seattle does it again with one of the best players in this draft and edge rusher Tyree Wilson. The 6’6” and 271-pound senior is a wrecking force in the backfield. With Tariq Woolen locking down wide receivers and Wilson disrupting the internal clock, Seattle should be among the league leaders in turnovers.
6) Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
I love the Detroit Lions heading into 2023 to take the next step and compete in the NFC North and the conference as a whole. They positioned themselves in free agency to have multiple options at No. 6 overall, but cornerback remains the No. 1 position to target.
It’s arguably the deepest position of the class, and the physicality of Devon Witherspoon feels like the type of corner Dan Campbell wants on his team. With Cam Sutton on a three-year deal and one-year contracts for C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley, Witherspoon is the long-term option for Detroit as their premier, lockdown cornerback in what has become an exciting era of Lions football.
7) Arizona Cardinals (From LV): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
After trading back from No. 3 while adding extra picks, Arizona lands a blue-chip corner in Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has outstanding instincts and awareness in zone coverage and can read the QB’s eyes while instinctually flowing to the target. Thanks to his length, he can win most 50/50 balls and deflect at the high point. Gonzalez checks the boxes of a prototypical CB one with perennial Pro Bowl upside.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
There are so many ways this draft pick can go. Jalen Carter makes a ton of sense, as would addressing the offensive line with every tackle remaining on the board. While there are better uses of draft capital, Bijan Robinson is the exception to the rule.
He’s unquestionably the top player at his position and is a top-five talent in the entire class. He remains the betting favorite for the Falcons, and while quarterback remains a question, Arthur Smith’s young trio of Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts is set up perfectly for a high-upside QB to join.
That could be a Hendon Hooker in this year’s class or, depending on how the season goes, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Quinn Ewers, J.J. McCarthy, or Shedeur Sanders in the 2024 class.
9) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
If he could, Ryan Poles would run to the podium and announce the pick himself if defensive tackle Jalen Carter is available at ninth overall. A month ago, Carter was a top-three pick, but the tragic incident brought to light during the NFL Combine caused Carter to slide.
On the field, he is one of the most disruptive players in the draft over the last several seasons. Carter is a difference-making run defender and a pocket-collapsing pass rusher that will be the focal point of the Bears’ defense for years to come. If already selected, watch for the Bears to help protect Justin Fields with their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
10) Houston Texans (From PHI): Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
TRADE: Houston sends picks No. 12, No. 73, and No. 104 to Philadelphia for Pick No. 10
All right, here we go. Pick No. 10 is where this first-round mock draft gets spicy. After landing arguably the top player in this draft, Houston is not satisfied. Knowing that Tennessee needs a quarterback, they get on the phone with the Philadelphia Eagles, who have two first-round picks in this class, and trade up for Kentucky QB Will Levis.
NFL insider Adam Caplan recently marked Hendon Hooker in this spot and gave compelling reasoning for the pick. I think it’s absolutely in play, and I certainly considered it here.
MORE: Do Will Levis Comps to Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, and Josh Allen Make Sense?
But the upside of Levis is tantalizing for someone like offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. While Slowick hasn’t called plays in the NFL, Levis in a Shanahan-style system could be the best chance to maximize his elite arm strength while minimizing some of the traits like his in-pocket awareness.
If improvement in his technique also helps his accuracy get to an NFL-caliber level, the risk would unquestionably be worth it for the Texans.
11) Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
While Tennessee lands the first offensive tackle in the class, walking away with Ryan Tannehill as the starter will be viewed as a failure by many. With that said, Paris Johnson Jr. addresses a significant team need for the Titans.
The addition of Andre Dillard will allow the Titans to get Johnson up to speed and not force him on the blind side too soon. Additionally, his previous time at guard offers positional versatility to a unit that allowed the fourth-highest sack rate in 2022 (9.7%).
12) Philadelphia Eagles (From CLE via HOU): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
After gaining more draft capital, Philadelphia ups their pressure rate with Clemson’s Myles Murphy. Murphy is a tall, twitchy edge rusher with elite leverage generation.
He recorded 17.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss and 38 games for the Tigers. Philadelphia’s dominant defense just got better. Cornerback will likely be considered at the spot as well.
13) New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
To many, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski is the top-ranked OT in the 2023 draft. I can easily see why. He has NFL-caliber power and generates leverage that stimies defensive linemen in their tracks.
Mekhi Becton has been a disaster for the Jets, and Skoronski allows them to close this chapter while already having the more competent starter ready to go. Now we have to wait to see if Skoronski is protecting Zach Wilson or Aaron Rodgers.
14) New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is unquestionably the top receiver in the 2023 draft class and is the first one at his position selected in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
New England swung and missed rather poorly on their last first-round receiver in the N’Keal Harry, but Smith-Njigba will step in and fill the primary WR role for Mac Jones and fill the void left by Jakobi Meyers.
Along with second-round pick Tyquan Thornton and the recent additions of WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and TE Mike Gesicki, New England will enter 2023 with a more well-rounded group of pass catchers. Whether that keeps them out of the AFC East basement remains to be seen.
15) Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
While we have yet to see a resolution to the Aaron Rodgers saga, Green Bay bolsters their defense with Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness at No. 15 overall.
Van Ness is a highly versatile defensive lineman with elite athletic traits who should pair well with another player of a similar description in Rashan Gary once he is healthy, as Gary is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury that he suffered in Week 9 against Detroit. Clearly, nothing went right for Green Bay against the Lions last year.
16) Washington Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Washington Commanders’ top need to address, outside of finding new ownership, is cornerback. I recently broke down the Commanders’ team needs, and I’m sticking with the same player I highlighted in Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr.
He’s exceptionally adaptable in coverage. Plus, his instincts and athleticism allow Porter Jr. to rarely be in the wrong position. From Day 1, Porter Jr. will step in as a Commanders’ CB1 — something needed given the offensive firepower in the NFC East.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
With Porter Jr. going one pick ahead, Pittsburgh chooses to protect Kenny Pickett with OT Darnell Wright from Tennessee. He is one of my favorite OL, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him have one of the best careers in the group.
Wright is a mountain of a man at 6’5″ and 333 pounds, and he plays every snap as if the defender against him insulted his mom and stole his best friend’s lunch money. He brings a mean streak, which will endear him in a blue-collar town like Pittsburgh. With OT addressed, I would expect Pittsburgh to target a corner at pick No. 32.
18) Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
With Witherspoon already on the team, Dan Campbell further secures the trenches with the 6’6”, 298-pound defensive tackle from Clemson: Bryan Bresee.
Aidan Hutchinson was a home-run pick and finished his rookie season second in DPOY voting with 9.5 sacks, 52 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. While Bresse might not stack the box score the same way, he is an immediate upgrade to the pass-rush package and brings elite versatility to complement Hutchinson and Alim McNeill.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Tampa Bay is in rebuild mode, whether they want to admit it or not. With several options on the table, OT Broderick Jones from Georgia makes a ton of sense.
With Donovan Smith gone, Tristan Wirfs could be moving to left tackle, leaving a hole on the right side. Jones isn’t a finished product, but his physical and athletic gifts project him as a long-term starter.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Seattle Seahawks somehow got better after trading away Russell Wilson, as Geno Smith and Co. became one of the NFL’s most surprising teams. At the center is one of the best duos in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. While exceptional, the wide receiver depth chart is very top-heavy, making the selection of USC wide receiver Jordan Addison a prime fit.
One of the more complete receivers in this class, Addison is a technical route runner with big-play potential down the field and has been compared to Lockett, who is not getting any younger and is entering his age-31 season. Addison can serve as the WR3 while learning from Lockett and then be ready to take his place when the time comes. Drafting Addison at pick No. 20 in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft is not only one for the present but for the future.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
I’d love to see Los Angeles add another receiver, which is possible, even in this scenario, with Z ayFlowers, Quentin Johnston, and Jalin Hyatt on the board. But if Nolan Smith is still there at No. 21, I can’t see them passing up the opportunity knowing they can draft a WR later. You can’t find another Nolan Smith, though.
Smith has an elite bend and the ability to get off the line and can feature on the team’s pass rush from the opening day. While a bit undersized at 6’2″ and 238 pounds, Smith is one of the ultimate chess pieces on the defensive side of the ball in this draft class.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Although Odell Beckham Jr. helps, wide receiver remains a significant need for the Baltimore Ravens. Who will be throwing them the ball in 2023 remains a question as well. If not receiver, cornerback becomes the biggest area of need, and Deonte Banks is a slam-dunk selection as if he was made to play here.
The former Maryland corner is everything the Ravens look for on the perimeter in his physicality and man coverage skills. Already boasting a fear-inducing defense, Baltimore walks away even scarier as they look to challenge the Bengals for the AFC North crown
23) Minnesota Vikings: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
I would watch Minnesota as one of the teams who could trade up for a quarterback. However, if the board falls in their favor and they remain patient, Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker can easily drop into their laps.
Hooker is the biggest variable of the first round and the draft as a whole. His age is a concern, and the offense he played, which helped propel him into a Heisman Trophy candidate, is also one of the most significant red flags for many, given that it is rather unrepresentative of an NFL scheme.
Hooker has informed teams his ACL recovery is ahead of schedule, but he remains someone who is likely better off redshirting his first year. This is the prime spot to do it, as Minnesota is not incentivized to start him over Kirk Cousins.
Kevin O’Connell can work with Hooker and have him ready to become the QB1 when his name is called. He will be one of the most fascinating players to watch part of the 2023 draft class, especially if he gets first-round draft capital.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the NFL’s darlings last season. In the first year under Doug Peterson, Jacksonville went from being a circus show to sitting on top of the AFC South with a 9-8 record. Plus, they picked up a win over the Chargers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
Yet, the defense needs improvement after finishing 30th in DVOA last year against the pass. Alabama safety Brian Branch is one of the safest picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and his versatility and instincts will allow them to help in both the passing game and against the run. The Jags know how to put up points — now they can begin to stop other teams from doing so.
25) New York Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
While a DB is undoubtedly in play here, Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers is a home-run selection at No. 25 in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
After investing in Daniel Jones, New York adds their No. 1 receiver and a player with more versatility than JSN. Flowers has a complete route tree and can do it from both the slot and perimeter.
He has an otherworldly ability to stay in a DBs blindspot, and his highlight tape looks like what we used to see from Antonio Brown. I’m not trying to say that as the comp, but aside from JSN, Flowers is the only wide receiver I feel is not scheme-dependent. In a division featuring some of the best receivers in the league, New York finally has their answer.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Although Dalton Kincaid has picked up steam and is viewed as the TE1 in this class by many, this feels like prospect fatigue to me. Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer has been the top-ranked player in this class since he stepped foot on campus.
MORE: Buyer Beware on Drafting Tight Ends Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid in Round 1
With Dalton Schultz now in Houston, Mayer can step in from Day 1 as a starter. He’s the most well-rounded tight end in this class, and while not the most athletically dominant, his blocking prowess will be an optimal fit for the more run-focused approach under Mike McCarthy in 2023 with Kellen Moore no longer on the staff.
27) Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
O’Cyrus Torrence might be the best interior offensive lineman in this class. The 6’5″, 330-pound guard was a dominant force for Florida and will be a Day 1 starter at guard in the NFL.
PFN NFL Draft Analyst Ian Cummings described Torrence as someone who “can recover control after initial losses and redirect momentum. His core strength allows him to absorb power and keep rushers inside his frame, and with his grip strength, he can effectively latch and neutralize the opposition.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Defensive tackle is also in play, and if, for some reason, Zay Flowers or Bijan Robinson are here, Buffalo could easily choose to go in either of those directions — something fans and fantasy football managers would celebrate.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Bengals are so close to reaching the mountaintop and commit to surrounding Joe Burrow with as much talent as possible. With two alphas on the perimeter, Dalton Kincaid at tight end is a slam-dunk pick.
With that said, Kincaid is much more of an off-ball tight end than someone you want inline blocking like Mayer or Darnell Washington. It’s why I selected Mayer for Dallas and not Kincaid. But here, the Utah TE’s receiving upside and red-zone skill set will show up in Year 1. He could essentially replace Tyler Boyd as the No. 3 target for Cincinnati.
29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern
The defensive line is a critical need for the New Orleans Saints entering 2023. After losing David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, and Marcus Davenport, Adetomiwa Adebawore can instantly step in at defensive end to pair with Cam Jordan, who is also in the final year of his contract.
Adebawore is a silly athlete, testing with a 97th-percentile 40-yard dash (4.49) and a 125″ broad jump, culminating in a 9.7 RAS at 6’1″ and 282 pounds. There are several players at this position that would make sense, but I’m giving the edge to the supreme athletic upside.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Kansas State CB Julius Brents is my pick for the player who could be this year’s Tariq Woolen. The 6’2″, 198-pound cornerback has all the size and athleticism to be a dominant shutdown corner.
He posted a 9.99 RAS and has some of the best instincts on tape in this cornerback class. Philadelphia’s two key positions of need were EDGE and corner, and they walked out of the first round having addressed both, plus adding extra draft capital. Howie Roseman, you did it again, you dirty dog.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Wrapping up this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Chiefs get more protection for Patrick Mahomes in Ohio State OT Dawand Jones.
Jones has overwhelming size at 6’8″ and 374 pounds. While he is not the most mobile, his length and ability to manage his weight will allow him to throw around would-be pass rushers. So long as Mahomes is healthy, the Chiefs are Super Bowl favorites. Adding Jones only helps further solidify the Chiefs’ stance as the team to beat heading into 2023.
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