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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

By Justin Bales | 3/9/23 |

Will Anderson

1.01 Chicago Bears - Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama

We’re all relatively certain that the Bears are going to trade out of this pick, and Bryce Young will be the first player off of the board. I’m not projecting trades, though, which leaves Anderson as the top overall pick. We know that edge rushers play a premium position in the NFL because of their ability to completely change the game. Anderson is an extremely safe prospect with elite upside, and he’ll immediately upgrade the Chicago pass rush.

1.02 Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Everyone has question marks about Youngs’ size, but it isn’t likely to matter for this pick. He was an elite option throughout his career at Alabama, and he has all of the skills to find success in the NFL. The Texans feature another new coaching staff, although they’re locked in for a few years this time. They’re going to want to get “their guy” at the most important position on the field, and Young is the top quarterback option in this class.

1.03 Arizona Cardinals - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

There are rumblings that the Cardinals could move on from Kyler Murray and use this pick to draw their new signal caller. That feels highly unlikely, especially with a roster that has so many holes. Instead, they can take the best player available. Carter may be the best player in the entire draft, and he has the ability to change the game on the defensive line. He is dealing with some off-field issues, which is the biggest cause for concern at this point.

1.04 Indianapolis Colts - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Colts have had a revolving door at quarterback for quite some time, but they’ll have the chance to draft their future here. They may reach on Will Levis, but I believe talent wins out in this situation. Stroud found tremendous success at Ohio State, and he’s flashed all of the makings of a solid NFL quarterback. We know quarterbacks are over-drafted, so he doesn’t necessarily have to be the best prospect available to be taken at 1.04.

1.05 Seattle Seahawks - Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

The Seahawks locked up Geno Smith in the offseason, and they have quite a bit of their offense figured out at this point. Instead, they can shift their focus to their defense, which they will need to fix if they want another shot at the playoffs. Wilson isn’t as safe of a prospect as someone like Anderson, but he comes with nearly as much upside. He has game-changing ability off of the edge, and that’s one of the most coveted skills in the NFL.

1.06 Detroit Lions - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

This is somewhat of an odd pick. The Lions could go in several different directions, but I genuinely believe they feel comfortable with Jared Goff as their quarterback at the moment. Instead, I believe they’re going to draft a cornerback or edge rusher here. There are several corners that could be the first off the board with Myles Murphy being the only edge option to consider here. Gonzalez has the potential to turn into a shadow CB1 in the NFL, and that’s an elite option to pair across from Jeff Okudah.

1.07 Las Vegas Raiders - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

I’m buying into the hype. Richardson has incredible athleticism and unbelievable upside because of his arm strength. The Raiders are in play for Aaron Rodgers, but if that doesn’t pan out, they have a massive hole at quarterback. Richardson isn’t a player that is likely to be ready for the NFL immediately, but he has the potential to be the best quarterback in this draft if he hits his ceiling making him difficult to pass on with this pick.

1.08 Atlanta Falcons - Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

The Falcons have plenty of holes that they could look to fill with this pick. They could find someone to put opposite Drake London by taking the top wide receiver on the board. They could also add to their secondary here. They have been atrocious at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, though, and it’s difficult to win NFL games if that’s the case. Murphy is a high-level edge rusher that will immediately boost this defensive line. This is a situation where a team's biggest need could also be the best player available.

1.09 Carolina Panthers - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The Panthers have tried virtually everything to find their quarterback of the future, but nothing has worked. They consistently use a group of mediocre options expecting one to break through, and it unsurprisingly hasn’t worked. They can use this pick to take the final quarterback in this tier before there’s a major drop-off. Levis comes with plenty of question marks after a down season, but he does have undeniable arm strength. He has the potential to become a high-end quarterback in the NFL, although he also comes with quite a bit of risk. That’s something Carolina’s dealt with plenty in the past and they won’t shy away from it again.

1.10 Philadelphia Eagles - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

The Eagles are going to need help in their secondary. They struggled quite a bit defensively in the Super Bowl, and they’re likely to lose James Bradberry in the offseason. They’ll need to replace him opposite Darius Slay, and Porter is a high-end talent at the position. He has the ability to become a shadow option, although he won’t have to do that early in his career. He could turn into one of the NFL’s premier options on the outside learning from Slay early in his NFL journey. Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon are two more options that are likely to be considered here depending on who is left.

1.11 Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

The Titans are in the process of blowing up their roster, although it doesn’t look like they’re ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill. Johnson is a player that is ready to start from day one, and the Titans are going to need that. He can be their long-term option at left tackle for whoever is under center. Overall, there are plenty of holes throughout this roster, but tackle may be the biggest need.

1.12 Houston Texans - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as a defensive-minded head coach. Oddly enough, they grabbed their quarterback of the future with their first pick. They can continue bolstering their offense with one of the best linemen in the draft. Skoronski may not have the arm length to play tackle in the NFL, but there have been crazier developments in history. Houston is a great option for Skoronski since they need help at tackle along with the interior offensive line. If he doesn’t work at tackle, he can shift inside without issue.

1.13 New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Jets could potentially include this draft pick in a trade for Aaron Rodgers. Until then, they’re going to be making this pick in this mock draft. They desperately need help along the offensive line, specifically tackle. Jones is a massive option that could potentially play left or right tackle early in his career. His ceiling is a dominant left-handed tackle, but he’s going to need plenty of work to get there. He’s a high-upside option in this draft.

1.14 New England Patriots - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

I considered Darnell Wright here for New England, but I opted against that. They could potentially use an offensive tackle, but they do need help on the interior defensive line. Kancey doesn’t have great size for the position, but he’s extremely quick with elite explosion. It isn’t appropriate to compare anyone to Aaron Donald, but he could be in that type of mold. He’s undersized but can win in the passing game and disrupt the run game with his speed.

1.15 Green Bay Packers - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Packers could still use help in their receiver room. They still need to make a decision on Aaron Rodgers, but they’ll need help on the outside regardless of who their quarterback is. Smith-Njigba has dropped a bit because of injuries throughout his season, but Green Bay shouldn’t overthink this one. The wide receiver outplayed Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at Ohio State, and both of those players found success in the NFL as a rookie. Smith-Njigba comes with more than enough upside to warrant this pick.

1.16 Washington Commanders - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

If Witherspoon had a slightly more filled-out frame, he would likely be the first projected cornerback off the board. There’s a very real possibility that he could make his way to the top of the draft board for his position as he boasts elite talent. He could potentially fill it out, though, and the Commanders need help in their secondary.

1.17 Pittsburgh Steelers - Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

The Steelers have several more holes to fill than edge, but it may be difficult to pass on Van Ness at this pick. He didn’t start any games for Iowa, but that isn’t because of a lack of talent. He has the potential to move inside at times and that versatility is something the Steelers need. Van Ness is going to be drastically better in the NFL than he was in college, and this is a situation where Pittsburgh could opt to take the best player available.

1.18 Detroit Lions - Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

The Lions don’t have a massive need at edge compared to other positions. That said, they could potentially use another pass rusher. Aidan Hutchinson looks like the future of their defense, and he’s going to make life easier for everyone else around him. Smith blew up the NFL Combine with his speed, and he’ll add elite pass rush upside opposite of Hutchinson. This could be a duo that could potentially change games on the defensive side for Detroit.

1.19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

The Buccaneers are a rebuilding team, and they have several holes that they need to fill. One of the biggest holes is at cornerback, and Branch is as interesting of an option as anyone left at this point in the draft. He’s an NFL-ready player that will immediately start. He’s a solid coverage corner, but can also find success as a pass rusher or run stopper. He’s a versatile option, and that type of player can help Tampa Bay immediately.

1.20 Seattle Seahawks - O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida

The Seahawks re-signed Geno Smith in the offseason, and they drafted a defensive playmaker earlier in this draft. They need help in the interior of their offensive line, and Torrence comes with tremendous upside for the position. He’s a massive player that will immediately help create holes in the run game. Torrence isn’t a sexy pick, but he’ll help keep Smith upright in the pocket while giving Kenneth Walker massive holes to run through.

1.21 Los Angeles Chargers - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Wright is an extremely specific draft pick here. I have him listed as OT in the header, but he’s actually a right tackle. He likely isn’t going to shift to left tackle at any point in his career, but he’s shown the ability to hold his own against some of the top players in this draft. The Chargers need help at right tackle, and Wright can potentially start from day one.

1.22 Baltimore Ravens - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Ravens franchise feels like it’s on fire at the moment. It looks like Lamar Jackson isn’t going anywhere, and the Ravens essentially talked down on their wide receivers. They did say that they weren’t going to stop trying to find a WR1, and Johnston is the type of player that comes with that upside. He has everything you look for in a top receiver, and he can take some of the pressure off Mark Andrews and the other pass catchers.

1.23 Minnesota Vikings - Keion White, Edge, Georgia Tech

White is a potential difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a massive edge rusher with plenty of speed and power. He has a good motor, and he’s flashed the ability to be above-average in coverage. Granted, edge isn’t the biggest need for the Vikings, but it’s a position that is valued in the NFL.

1.24 Jacksonville Jaguars - Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

Mauch is one of the more interesting offensive linemen in this draft. He’s flashed at the FCS level, and he would be one of the first linemen taken if he displayed that against the SEC. There are questions about him not having the length for the NFL. Luckily, the Jaguars need help at tackle and the interior of their offensive line. Mauch is a player that is going to have to adapt because it’s such a massive step up in competition. He could be a steal at this pick if he pans out.

1.25 New York Giants - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Giants gave Daniel Jones a major contract, and he needs weapons. They could opt for a wide receiver here, but Mayer makes a bit more sense. He can help Jones in the passing game as a safe option that can create for himself. He can also help in the run game for both Jones and Saquon Barkley. Mayer is an extremely solid tight end prospect, and we’ve seen the way players like Travis Kelce and George Kittle can change the game.

1.26 Dallas Cowboys - Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

The Cowboys love drafting linebackers, and they take another one here. They could use the help, and Sanders or Trenton Simpson are players that can be considered. Sanders will add versatility to this defense, as he can play in the middle or come off the edge. He needs to get a bit better in space, but he’ll add more versatility to a defense that comes with plenty of upside because of Micah Parsons.

1.27 Buffalo Bills - Jordan Addison, WR, USC

There’s a very real chance that Addison is the best receiver in this draft. It’s all about who you prefer as a team. The Bills gave Gabriel Davis a chance last season, and he struggled with injuries. It isn’t out of the question that they could add Addison as their second option behind Stefon Diggs. I’m a bit worried that Addison isn’t exactly the type of player that will take the top off of a defense, and he may need a bit more volume to find consistent success. Regardless, it’s easy to be excited about someone with his talent in this Buffalo offense.

1.28 Cincinnati Bengals - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Kincaid is flying up the draft boards because of his receiving potential. He flashed as a route runner with tremendous hands during his time at Utah. He isn’t the best blocker, but he can make a few blocks in the right position. The Bengals could use help at tight end, and he’d add another high-end receiving option for Joe Burrow.

1.29 New Orleans Saints - Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Saints still have a need at wide receiver, although there are rumors that they’re trying to work out a deal with Michael Thomas. Regardless, they’re relying heavily on Chris Olave, who’s proven he can play in the NFL. Hyatt boasts elite speed, and he’s a sure-handed player. If he added a bit of weight to his frame, he could be the first receiver taken off of the board. He’d make an outstanding pair with Olave for new quarterback Derek Carr.

1.30 Philadelphia Eagles - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

There isn’t that much to say about Robinson. He’s one of the very few running backs that have the chance to completely change the game. He could immediately step in as a top-five running back in the NFL from day one. The Eagles have an extremely exciting offense, but they’re lacking a bit at running back. This could be more of a hopeful pick in terms of excitement, but the Eagles do need a running back, and Robinson is an elite option.

1.31 Kansas City Chiefs - Tuli Tuipulotu, Edge, USC

The Chiefs could use a bit of help on the edge with Frank Clark hitting free agency, and Tuipulotu makes an interesting option here. He’s a player that comes with both power and speed. He flashed at USC, and he comes with plenty of upside for a team like Kansas City. He can help in both the pass and run game, and he’s playing a prime position in the league.

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