2023 NFL Mock Draft

We’ve dipped our toes in the mock draft landscape but with free agency mostly over, here’s our first foray into draft season with a 2023 NFL Mock Draft. 

NFL Draft

Note that there are only 31 picks in the first round this year as the Dolphins forfeited their pick this year for tampering. 

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1 – Carolina Panthers (CHI): Alabama QB Bryce Young

We might not get a real sense of which way the Panthers are leaning until a couple of weeks before the draft when all the top 30 visits are done. The betting market favors Stroud, who is a terrific prospect. It comes down to how the Panthers weigh Young’s size and long-term durability concerns. He checks every other box, especially in terms of production and leadership. I think Young just has the elusive it teams are seeking at quarterback and that could win out for the Panthers in the end. 

2 – Houston Texans: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

The early read is that the Texans will be happy with whoever Carolina doesn’t take between Stroud or Young. Both should be fits in the new offensive system which will be another branch on the Shanahan tree. 

3 – Arizona Cardinals: Alabama DE Will Anderson

There will be a lot of buzz about the Cardinals potentially trading down with another team that wants to come up for a quarterback and get ahead of the Colts. I’m not sure I buy that there will be a market. The two remaining prospects are widely viewed as developmental projects who would be risks to take this high, let alone trade up for. Arizona’s asking price would be steep, and I don’t see a team desperate enough to pay it right now. The Colts and Raiders can sit and let the board come to them. Arizona is probably just fine taking Anderson, the closest thing this class has to a blue-chip player. 

4 – Indianapolis Colts: Kentucky QB Will Levis

Colts GM Chris Ballard does things his way, and I doubt he wants to be leveraged into trading up one spot for the No. 3 quarterback on his board if there’s not a big difference between No. 4. The question is which guy he likes. For now, I lean Levis. The physical tools are intriguing, and even though the production was bad in 2022, some scouts won’t hold that as much against him due to his supporting cast. Levis has the toughness and makeup I can see appealing to Ballard, and it helps that new HC Shane Steichen has a reputation for being a good quarterback developer. 

5 – Seattle Seahawks (DEN): Georgia DT Jalen Carter

It’s going to be tricky to figure out where to slot Carter, as he’s gone from the potential No. 1 pick to a giant question mark following a draft process that’s shed light on some of the vague “character concern” whispers that were floating around. Given the quarterback needs in the top five, this feels like the earliest Carter could go. The Seahawks are rebuilding their defensive front and are more open than some teams when it comes to taking risks, although that’s burned them in the past and could make them gun-shy here. 

6 – Detroit Lions (LAR): Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson

Quarterback? It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the Lions go with Richardson here even if they’re happy with veteran QB Jared Goff. It all depends on how much upside they see with Richardson’s game. For now, I think the focus will be on continuing to build up the team to take a step forward in what’s becoming a wide-open NFC North. Wilson has some huge fans in the scouting community due to his length and athleticism, and could give the Lions a powerful duo of edge rushers with Aidan Hutchinson.

7 – Las Vegas Raiders: Florida QB Anthony Richardson

There’s been some quiet buzz that the Raiders are intrigued by Richardson’s talent. In the AFC West, having a quarterback with the physical upside to hang with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert has to be a consideration for Las Vegas. If he slips this far, they could take the plunge knowing Richardson has plenty of time to develop behind veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo

8 – Atlanta Falcons: Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

This feels like a sweet spot for the Falcons to add to a premium position like edge rusher, cornerback or offensive line now that they’d made it clear they expect to go forward with Desmond Ridder at quarterback. The defense still needs a lot of attention and I think Gonzalez’s outstanding athletic traits will make him appealing for Atlanta. 

9 – Chicago Bears (CAR): Clemson DE Myles Murphy

The Bears didn’t address their edge-rushing group in free agency, which makes me think it’s a position they’d ideally like to solve in the draft since it’s so important. Murphy has the size, length and athleticism that NFL teams are looking for, he just needs some refinement. 

10 – Philadelphia Eagles (NO): Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

The Eagles re-signed both veteran CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry but given their age, cornerback should still be considered a need for Philadelphia, especially because they’ve shown a tendency to be forward-looking with their drafts. Witherspoon is one of the consensus leaders in a deep class and plays like he’s been shot out of a cannon. 

11 – Tennessee Titans: Ohio State OT Paris Johnson

The Texans signed OT Andre Dillard to play left tackle but if Johnson is available here, it could cause them to change their plans. Johnson looks like a potential high-end starting tackle who could go higher than this, while Dillard can play on the right side. 

12 – Houston Texans (CLE): Georgia DE Nolan Smith

A receiver to pair with Stroud was a consideration here, perhaps even a former teammate at Ohio State, but I think the Texans will put a higher weight on upgrading their defensive line than their wideouts given the emphasis of their schemes on each side of the ball. Smith wasn’t statistically productive at Georgia but we’ve seen in the past couple years that’s partially due to what they ask from a roster loaded with top players. Smith tested absurdly well at the Combine and could thrive in a scheme where he just has to pin his ears back and attack. 

13 – New York Jets: Georgia OT Broderick Jones

I would not expect Jets GM Joe Douglas to pass on a tackle if one is available at this slot given how much of a problem spot the position has been the past couple of seasons, even if there are a few viable options on the roster already. 

14 – New England Patriots: Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski

The team has needs at receiver and cornerback, but it’s a deep class for corners and New England historically hasn’t prioritized receiver in the first round. Skoronski is a super clean prospect who some teams will view as a guard, but the Patriots have shown in the past those thresholds don’t matter as much for them. They need a long-term left tackle and Skoronski could be a match. 

15 – Green Bay Packers: Alabama S Brian Branch

Safety is a huge need for the Packers as they have major question marks at both starting spots. It’s not a great class for the position. Branch is the clear top player and then there’s a significant dropoff. So while this is a little early, Green Bay might not have a choice if they want to come away with an upgrade. 

16 – Washington Commanders: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Porter’s father was a bulldog of a pass rusher, and Porter plays cornerback the same way. He’s long, physical and athletic. Washington could use another starting outside cornerback to give them the flexibility to push veteran Kendall Fuller into the slot and give them a rock-solid trio along with Benjamin St-Juste

17 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Clemson DT Bryan Bresee

Bresee is highly athletic and could play just about anywhere on Pittsburgh’s defensive line, which was uncharacteristically soft against the run in 2022. While 34-year-old DL Cameron Heyward is still going strong, he can’t play forever, and Bresee would be a potential long-term replacement, as well as solidifying the unit hopefully in 2023.  

18 – Detroit Lions: Georgia TE Darnell Washington

The Lions have a rocky history with first-round tight ends but they’ve done an excellent job in free agency of setting their roster up to not have many obvious needs. One possible exception is tight end, where Brock Wright currently tops the depth chart. Washington is a unique player. He’s enormous at 6-7 and 260 pounds and blocks like a tackle. But he’s absurdly athletic and nimble for that size, running a 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds. He needs a lot of refinement as a pass-catcher but as a pure physical mismatch, he’d be a huge potential difference-maker for Detroit’s offense. 

19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

As the Buccaneers hit the reset button, they could look to rebuild from the line of scrimmage back out as they stay patient at quarterback. At edge rusher, Shaquil Barrett is coming off a torn Achilles and turns 31 in November. Former first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has eight sacks in two seasons. Van Ness didn’t start at Iowa but he has high-level NFL athletic traits that some team will bet on in the first round. 

20 – Seattle Seahawks: USC WR Jordan Addison

There were times last year where the lack of a third receiving threat hurt Seattle, and they need to start thinking ahead long-term to replace veteran WR Tyler Lockett. Addison is a similar player who is undersized but wins with speed and route-running both from the slot and even outside. 

21 – Los Angeles Chargers: Texas RB Bijan Robinson

It looks like the Chargers need to start thinking about life without RB Austin Ekeler, maybe sooner rather than later depending on how things go between the two sides this offseason. Finding a landing spot for Robinson is tricky. The talent isn’t in question but teams are wary of the positional value of the running back position. 

22 – Baltimore Ravens: Boston College WR Zay Flowers

Flowers is undersized but he’s a dynamite mover and a big-play threat all over the field. None of the receivers in this class are perfect prospects but the Ravens have boxed themselves into a position where they have to address the position. There’s been some buzz connecting them to Flowers. 

23 – Minnesota Vikings: South Carolina CB Cam Smith

Retooling the secondary remains high on the Vikings’ to-do list, and Smith is a guy a lot of NFL teams are high on. He tested extraordinarily well at the Combine and he has the length a lot of teams are looking for. 

24 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Maryland CB Deonte Banks

We could see a run on cornerbacks at this point in the round, as it’s a deep group with a lot of options and a lot of teams in search of help. Banks ran a 4.35 40 and shredded the rest of his athletic tests at the Combine. Jacksonville likes Tyson Campbell and brings back veteran Darious Williams, but they need another long-term option on the other side of Campbell.

25 – New York Giants: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

It’ll be interesting to see where all the different receivers end up, as more than any other class the landing spots will depend on individual team evaluations and fit. For instance, Smith-Njigba might be viewed as primarily a slot receiver by some teams, which could limit interest for offenses that don’t feature the slot as much. That shouldn’t be an issue for the Giants, though, who need to build up an arsenal around new $40 million QB Daniel Jones

26 – Dallas Cowboys: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

Once seen as the unquestioned top tight end in this class, Mayer’s gotten a lot of competition for that spot, and team fit will ultimately play a big role in how it all shakes out. As Dallas moves back to a balanced approach on offense, Mayer’s well-rounded game should be appealing to them. 

27 – Buffalo Bills: Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt

The Bills have acknowledged QB Josh Allen needs more support around him on offense to avoid him having to carry too much of the load and eventually breaking down. Outside of WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo doesn’t have a lot of players who scare opposing defenses. Hyatt might change that. He’s an outstanding deep-threat receiver who defenses would have to respect given Allen’s ability to put the ball anywhere on the field he wants. He’d help open up a ton of space underneath in the short and intermediate passing game as well as the rushing attack. 

28 – Cincinnati Bengals: Utah TE Dalton Kincaid

Signing Irv Smith Jr. means the Bengals don’t have to draft a tight end. But they could still be interested in a long-term solution at the position. Kincaid is a polished receiver who should develop into a major mismatch threat at the NFL level. 

29 – New Orleans Saints (SF, via MIA & DEN): Michigan DT Mazi Smith

The Saints lost a lot of beef on the interior of their defensive line this offseason and one of their top priorities will likely be replacing it. Smith has a unique blend of size and quickness that could push him into the back end of the first round. 

30 – Philadelphia Eagles: Northwestern DL Adetomiwa Adebawore

Adebawore had one of the freakiest Combine performances we’ve ever seen, checking in at 6-2 and 280 pounds and running a 4.49 40-yard dash while adding a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-5 broad jump. He played defensive tackle at Northwestern but is athletic enough to be an edge rusher in the NFL. He’s got the type of traits that will make a team like the Eagles draft him and figure out where to play him later. 

31 – Kansas City Chiefs: Tennessee OT Darnell Wright

One of the biggest risers this draft season has been Wright, who wasn’t viewed as a viable NFL prospect before this past season. After a year where he dominated outstanding SEC competition, that’s changed, and Wright should go somewhere in the first round. The Chiefs have a pretty glaring need at right tackle as things stand now. 

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  1. Chiefs will not draft an OT in first round. Will be either EDGE or WR depending on a WR signing prior to the draft. Lucas Niang is perfectly capable starting at RT.

  2. Seahawks are not drafting Jalen Carter #5 or period for that matter. They have stated numerous times recently that they are focused on character more than ever. They’ll snatch Anthony Richardson if he’s there at #5. Perfect QB to sit and learn for a year or 2.

    • Literally came here to post this exact thing. Plenty of evidence in Carroll and Scheider quotes that low character players are off their board, and they know a top 5 pick is a rarity that they need to use to best advantage, i.e., a quarterback.

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