1) Carolina Panthers – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Panthers traded up, expending a ton of draft capital to secure their quarterback of the
future. You don’t do that if you don’t know what you are trading up for, and recent rumors out of Charlotte have the Panthers grabbing the talented Crimson Tide signal caller, Bryce Young.
Young has plenty to like about his game—and plenty to dislike. But newly minted Carolina
Head Coach Frank Reich (a former NFL quarterback himself) knows what he wants… and what
will work in his system. There is still a chance the Panthers choose CJ Stroud here (Reich
traditionally sought larger quarterbacks to lead his offenses in the past) but Young has been cast as the #1 pick overall since last season. He goes off the board here, shocking no one.
2) Houston Texans – CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud is the most “NFL game ready” quarterback in this class, bringing enough size, arm
and big game experience to warrant selection as the 2nd overall prospect off the board. Houston needs a franchise quarterback after moving on from DeShaun Watson last season, and because of his trade to Cleveland, the Texans have plenty of draft picks to move up and/or back in this year’s draft.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Houston stun the world and pass on offense at this pick,
perhaps stealing Will Anderson Jr from the covetous Cardinals. They can rely on their stockpile
of picks to manipulate war room boards, moving back up in the first and grabbing a quarterback somewhere in the top ten.
3) Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson, Jr. – Edge – Alabama
The first possible trade spot for Tennessee or Indianapolis to move up and grab their quarterback of the future. But since we’re doing our mocks without trades this year, Will
Anderson will help bolster an ailing Cardinal defense from the moment the Commissioner reads
his name. Too obvious of a choice for the Redbirds and if they do trade out, Anderson may not
be available much later in the draft.
4) Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Richardson – QB – Florida
The darling of the NFL combine, Richardson is a raw product with plenty of upside if he can
improve his accuracy and pocket presence. But if the Colts don’t steal away with a blockbuster
trade for Lamar Jackson here, look for them to fill the obvious void at signal caller. Richardson
could be that guy. With the addition of quarterback Gardner Minshew, Richardson won’t have to
start and may benefit from a year of tutelage behind the crafty veteran.
5) Seattle Seahawks – Jalen Carter – DT – Georgia
Seattle stays put and fills a huge void (literally and figuratively) along their defensive line
with the best lineman in the draft. Carter is dominant and if he can get back to form after a
raucous offseason, Seattle may have the best pick in the 2023 draft.
6) Detroit Lions – Devon Witherspoon – CB – Illinois
After trading Jeff Okudah to Atlanta weeks before the draft, the Lions bounce back by taking
their favorite corner prospect off the board here at six. This could also be Christian Gonzalez of
Oregon, but Dan Campbell gets his guy, choosing Witherspoon’s hard-hitting, rugged style over
the finesse and athleticism of Gonzalez.
7) Las Vegas Raiders – Tyree Wilson – Edge – Texas Tech
Let’s face it… the Raiders can go multiple places here, but with Wilson still on the board,
Josh McDaniel pulls the trigger and adds a premium pass rusher, hoping to find a cornerback or
offensive lineman later in the draft, as both positions provide depth enough to make this move.
Wilson’s presence at Edge or traditional “4-3” End should go a long way in righting the
defensive ship in Sin City.
8) Atlanta Falcons – Lukas Van Ness – Edge – Iowa
The Falcons sacrificed a 2023 fifth rounder, sending their pick to the Lions to secure the
services of former top-five cornerback pick Jeff Okudah. Okudah gets a fresh start in the ATL,
and the Falcons address one glaring need at the corner spot. They address the other—a quality
pass rusher—by adding “Hercules” Van Ness from Iowa with the eighth overall pick. The rebuild
9) Chicago Bears – Paris Johnson – OT – Ohio State
The Bears forfeited their rights to the first overall pick in this year’s draft in return for a boat
load of draft capital, courtesy of the Carolina Panthers. Here they sit at nine, still willing perhaps
to trade back again and gather additional assets, but with the best offensive lineman still on the
board, the Bears stay put and add pedigree left tackle Paris Johnson from Ohio State. Sure, there is some local sentiment and perhaps some hometown cheerleading happening, hoping the Bears choose Peter Skoronski, but Johnson is much better schematic fit for the Monsters of the Midway.
10) Philadelphia Eagles – Nolan Smith – Edge/OLB – Georgia
With Van Ness off the board to the Falcons just a few picks ahead of them, the Eagles may
trade out of this position. GM Howie Roseman has traded six times in the last two years and
don’t expect him to be any less active this year.
But instead, they stay at ten and add the Dawgs Nolan Smith, a lightning-quick edge rusher
that can play outside linebacker, dropping into coverage when called upon to do so. Smith tested faster than most receivers in this crop of 2023 prospects (clocking in at 4.37 in the 40-yard dash) and the Eagles just can’t resist adding him here…
11) Tennessee Titans – Broderick Jones – OT – Georgia
While tempted to move up at a great cost, the Titans decide to stick it out one more year with
quarterback Ryan Tannehill and address the need at left tackle left with the departure of longtime starter, Taylor Lewan. Jones provides immediate starter help on the left wing of the line, filling an obvious need for the Titans and their vaunted running game.
12) Houston Texans – Jaxon Smith Njigba – WR – Ohio State
The Texans moved on from Brandin Cooks (now a Dallas Cowboy) and use pick twelve to
retrench the position with one of the top wide receivers in the draft—Buckeye wideout Jaxon
Smith Njigba. May be a bit high for any of the receivers in this year’s crop of route runners, but
Houston has a glaring need at wideout and adds a weapon for their new quarterback to grow
13) New York Jets – Peter Skoronski – OT/OG – Northwestern
The Jets continue to invest in their line and grab possibly the best offensive line prospect in
this class. The Jets may look to trade down here and still find a capable lineman later, but they
choose to stay put and get their man at thirteen. Skoroski can play tackle or kick inside to guard
where he would be dominating, and the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS would be foolish to pass on
this multi-tool talent.
14) New England Patriots – Christian Gonzalez – CB – Oregon
The mercurial and unpredictable Patriots are not a lock to stay here. Rumors have it that Mac
Jones and Bill Belichick are on the “outs” and New England may be looking for a restart at
quarterback. If so, Will Levis makes sense here.
But the offensive line and corner positions were problems for them last season. They could
address that in a big way with the addition of O’Cyrus Torrence, Guard from Florida (the best
guard in the class), but the Pats brain trust sees Ducks Cornerback Christian Gonzalez as the
reincarnation of Stephon Gilmore. They get their man to anchor the defensive backfield for the
next ten years with smooth and heady Gonzalez, plugging and playing him from the start of
15) Green Bay Packers – Myles Murphy – Edge – Clemson
The Packers need a ton of help on defense, but I would not be surprised to see them go tight
end here. But with a premiere edge rusher slipping to them at fifteen, Go-Pack-Go bolsters their
defense with the Clemson Tiger prospect, Myles Murphy. I can also see Green Bay moving
down, finding a willing trade partner in the Steelers or Tampa Bay. Adding Murphy to the fold
however is a home run, grabbing a top ten talent in the mid-teens.
16) Washington Commanders – Joey Porter Jr. – CB – Penn State
The Commanders need a corner. The Commanders want a corner. And look who fell to them
at spot sixteen on the board… JPJ. Steeler fans lament it, but the Commanders will invest heavily
in the Pittsburgh native in the hopes he can lead a defensive backfield that has aged out or
struggled mightily in recent years. Sorry Steeler fans…
17) Pittsburgh Steelers – Darnell Wright – OT – Tennessee
Oh mama, I’m in fear for my team from the long arm of the draft. The top three tackles and
the top three corners are off the board here‚—forcing the Steelers grab the final tackle with a
first-round grade in Tennessee’s Darnell Wright. In truth, by finishing the season strong, the
Steelers missed the playoffs and will now miss out on any blue chippers that could have slipped
to them at seventeen. But alas, “could” didn’t happen.
Wright is talented, had a great final season for the Vols and will be a longtime starter in this
league. However, he’s experienced more at right tackle than left, and making that switch as a
rookie in the NFL could be tough. I see the Steelers either trading up to land one of the pedigree
tackles or corners with the Bears, Packers or Jets—or—trading down here with the Bucs or Bills
to gather valuable draft assets later in rounds two or three in a draft deep in positions of need for them. Staying at seventeen though does bring them strong and much needed line talent, but one that may not be as NFL ready as Johnson, Skoronski or Jones would have been.
18) Detroit Lions – Bijan Robinson – RB -Texas
The Lions lost the services of Jamal Williams in the offseason and their talented but oft-
injured DeAndre Swift played well when he was available. But Robinson just seems like the
right fit for the Lions at eighteen. They finally get their replacement for Barry Sanders (albeit
with drastically different running styles) and secure a workhorse, “three down” back that will
give Dan Campbell another offensive weapon as they continue to ascend.
I know some think the Lions look for a tight end such as Mayer at this spot, but their
offensive scheme doesn’t feature tight ends (as demonstrated with the trade of TJ Hockenson
mid-season last year with little to no negative impact). And this crop of TE’s is so deep, they can
backfill the spot later in the draft.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Will Levis – QB – Kentucky
Tampa will likely move up to get him, but in this mock, they stay home at nineteen and the
strong armed Levis falls into their laps. Levis has the tools to be a starter in the league but will
need some time to elevate his game. The Bucs desperately need a replacement for Tom Brady
and Baker Mayfield will provide time for the Levis to learn from the bench.
20) Seattle Seahawks – Jordan Addison – WR- USC
The former Biletnikoff award winner goes to the Pacific northwest to play alongside Tyler
Lockett and DK Metcalf. The Seahawks could also add to their ailing defense here, but Pete
Carroll decides to gift Geno Smith with another offensive weapon in selecting Addison.
21) Los Angeles Chargers – Calijah Kancey – DT – Pitt
Kancey’s strong combine workout alongside his Aaron Donald “look alike” build, vaults him
into the late first round and into the hands of the Chargers. The Bolts need to bolster the interior of their defensive line and Kancey is a nice fit for their scheme. There is a chance the Chargers look to offense and grab a receiver or a replacement for Austin Ekeler (who has requested a trade) but Kancey’s too much to pass up at twenty-one.
22) Baltimore Ravens – Quentin Johnston – WR – TCU
The Ravens, looking to please estranged quarterback Lamar Jackson, have already overspent
for the aging and injury-prone Odell Beckham Jr—and Johnston is perhaps the best of this
receiver class. Sure, he doesn’t have the Ohio State or Southern Cal pedigree coming out of
TCU, but all he did during the 2022 season was dominate, leading the Horned Frogs to an
NCAA title game appearance. He’s fast enough, big enough and has the best hands in the draft.
The Ravens get a steal here at twenty-two.
23) Minnesota Vikings – Deonte Banks – CB – Maryland
I know it’s the sexy mock “pick” to think the Vikings will choose Hendon Hooker here to
eventually replace Kirk Cousins, but Hooker doesn’t help them this year or even next. He’d be a
bench player on a team that needs to win now. So, the Northmen turn to defense and address a
real need at corner with the loss of Patrick Peterson to the Steelers in free agency. Banks brings
size and speed and would be an immediate starter.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars – Anton Harrison – OT – Oklahoma
The Jags continue to help rising star Trevor Lawrence by adding to their offensive line.
Jacksonville lost talent along the front five in free agency, and Harrison can step in to help. It’s
not a sexy pick, but a necessary one. And one that will make their star quarterback grin from ear to ear. Welcome to Florida, Mr. Harrison.
25) New York Giants – Brian Branch – S – Alabama
The Giants could easily go—and perhaps should go wide receiver here as the need is great,
but with JSN, Addison and Johnston off the board, the G-men decide to wait until later rounds to
address the offense and instead plug a hole at safety with Branch. Branch is a tackling machine,
capable of helping in run support while also playing in three safety or three corner schemes. He
played the Star position at Alabama and excelled, and we all know Nick Saban puts starting
DB’s into the league with regularity.
26) Dallas Cowboys – Dalton Kincaid – TE – Utah
The Cowboys could continue to build their defense here, but instead fill an obvious void left
by the departure of Dalton Shultz. One Dalton out, one Dalton in—and Dallas gives Dak Prescott
a formidable replacement at the tight end spot. Kincaid is the most skilled TE in the draft, and
Jerry Jones jumps on him.
27) Buffalo Bills – Will McDonald – Edge – Iowa State
The Bills want another receiver, and they may be tempted to go running back, but in the end,
the weakness of the Bills last season was their lack of pass rush. McDonald may be a bit of a
stretch here, but he does plug the edge rusher position for a team desperately in need of one.
The Bills may try to trade up to grab a receiver or go a bit unconventional and grab Alabama’s talented runner Jahmyr Gibbs, but reason prevails, and the edge rusher position is addressed.
28) Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Mayer – TE – Notre Dame
The Bengals need to address the holes left in their defensive backfield with the departure of S Jessie Bates and CB Eli Apple. But with the higher-rated targets coming off the board before
Cincy is on the clock, the Bengals decide to address these needs later in the draft.
Enter—Michael Mayer. Mayer adds yet another arrow to Joe Burrow’s quiver and looks to be the
NFL’s next Mark Bavaro. Look out AFC North defenses.
29) New Orleans Saints – Adetomiwa Adebawore – DE/DT – Northwestern
The Saints defensive line was pillaged in the offseason, losing three free agents to other
teams, and leaving a big breach to fill. “Once more unto the breach,” screams Dennis Allen and
the Saints target the athletic and hybrid Adebawore with the twenty-ninth pick. New Orleans was dead last in 2022 in pass rush win rate and one of the worst in run stop win rate. Adebawore can help improve both those stats in 2023 playing both edge and the three-technique for the Saints.
30) Philadelphia Eagles – Jahmyr Gibbs – RB – Alabama
Taking Nolan Smith earlier in the draft, the Birds addressed the need at edge/outside
linebacker. With their 2nd pick in round one, they address the other glaring need—running back. The Eagles let Miles Sanders fly south to the Panthers and brought in Rashaad Penny, but
Penny’s injury history will be a concern for the E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES. Gibbs is a versatile,
Reggie Bush-like player that gives them options in the slot as well as a “lightning” to Penny’s
31) Kansas City Chiefs – Felix Anudike-Uzomah – DE, Kansas State
Anudike-Uzomah bolsters the Chiefs pass rush by adding some size with very good speed,
coming off the defensive edge. The Chiefs do need to focus on defense and this Kansas State
product fits the bill well, pairing with last year’s first rounder, George Karlaftis.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kelee Ringo – CB – Georgia
The Steelers get a steal with Ringo sitting at the top of round two. Ringo was highly regarded
for much of the 2022 college football season, thought of as the best corner in the draft class and a sure-fire first rounder. Ringo is a legitimate 6’3”, with 4.38 speed and great hands. The knock on him, leveled by some scouts, is that he loses momentum coming in and out of breaks. But technique can be taught and experienced gained. Ringo should have gone higher but here he remains, gift wrapped for Pittsburgh at the top of round two.
33) Houston Texans – Jalin Hyatt – WR – Tennessee
34) Arizona Cardinals – Devon Achane – RB – Texas A&M
35) Indianapolis Colts – Emmanuel Forbes – CB – Mississippi State
36) Los Angeles Rams – Cam Smith – CB – South Carolina
37) Seattle Seahawks – Keion White – Edge/OLB – Georgia Tech
38) Las Vegas Raiders – Keanu Benton – DT - Wisconsin
39) Carolina Panthers – O’Cyrus Torrence– OG - Florida
40) New Orleans Saints – Brian Bresee – NG/DT - Clemson
41) Tennessee Titans – Drew Sanders – ILB - Arkansas
42) Cleveland Browns – Olu Oluwatimi – C - Michigan
43) New York Jets – Antonio Johnson – S – Texas A&M
44) Atlanta Falcons – Siaka Ika – NG/DT - Baylor
45) Green Bay Packers – Darnell Washington – TE - Georgia
46) New England Patriots – Jaylon Jones – CB – Texas A&M
47) Washington Commanders – Cody Mauch – OG/C – North Dakota State
48) Detroit Lions – Jack Campbell – ILB - Iowa
49) Pittsburgh Steelers – Mazi Smith – NG/DT – Michigan
After drafting one “big ugly” in the first round, the Steelers grab another—and one that can
help with their ailing interior defensive line play immediately. Smith can play nose or defensive tackle and addresses a position of need for the Steelers. He’s played against a high level of talent in the Big Ten and should be able to contribute as a starter or quality sub from day one of camp.
50) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dawand Jones – OT - OSU
51) Miami Dolphins – Blake Freeland – OT - BYU
52) Seattle Seahawks – Steve Avila – OG/C - TCU
53) Chicago Bears – Izzy Abanikanda – RB – Pitt
54) Los Angeles Chargers – Luke Musgrave – TE – Oregon State
55) Detroit Lions – Luke Schoonmaker – TE – Michigan
56) Jacksonville Jaguars – Julius Brents – CB – Kansas State
57) New York Giants – Josh Downs – WR - UNC
58) Dallas Cowboys – Trenton Simpson – LB - Clemson
59) Buffalo Bills – Darius Rush – CB – South Carolina
60) Cincinnati Bengals – Matthew Bergeron – OT - Syracuse
61) Chicago Bears – Isaiah Foskey – DE/Edge – Notre Dame
62) Philadelphia Eagles – Jordan Battle – S - Alabama
63) Kansas City Chiefs – Zay Flowers – WR – Boston College