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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Version 3.0

By Justin Bales | 4/18/23 |

1.01 Carolina Panthers - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

There’s a legitimate chance of Richardson, Bryce Young, or C.J. Stroud being selected here, but I’m sticking with the Florida Gator for the time being. The Panthers traded a boatload for the first overall pick. They also traded early in the process, suggesting they know who they’re going to take. I do believe it’d be a bit odd to trade up here for Bryce Young or CJ Stroud since they’re generally seen as somewhat similar to prospects. Richardson is the one of the top three that is different, and he boasts the highest ceiling of the group. For that reason, I’m penciling him in as the first overall pick for the time being.

1.02 Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Everyone has question marks about Young’s 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 - Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama

The Cardinals need plenty of help on the defensive side of the ball. Anderson is arguably the best prospect in this draft, and edge rushers are generally coveted in the NFL. He’s likely the safest prospect in the entire draft, but he also comes with tremendous upside. He can immediately help the Cardinals’ defense, making him the obvious option with plenty of questions surrounding Jalen Carter.

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 and I don’t believe they’re going to shift to an edge rusher at this point. They recently traded Jeff Okudah, and this is their chance to try again with the top cornerback in a draft.

1.07 Las Vegas Raiders - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

This is one of the most interesting picks in the NFL Draft. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a large contract, but there’s a potential out after the 2023 season. There might be some bias in this pick since I’m not a huge believer in Garoppolo. I’m also not a huge believer in Levis, but he comes with tremendous arm strength, and we know quarterbacks are generally selected early. He’s the fourth option before a tier break, and the Raiders could grab the future of their franchise with this pick.

Bijan Robinson

1.08 Atlanta Falcons - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

This is an extremely aggressive pick, but it does make sense. Many see Robinson as the best running back to come out of college in quite some time. He has the potential to completely change an offense, and Atlanta should be looking for that. They traded for Jeff Okudah and signed Bud Dupree, which takes care of their two biggest defensive needs for the moment. Granted, they could draft either position here, but I’m going with the surprise RB pick.

1.09 Chicago Bears - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

This could be an ideal spot for the Bears. Carter would’ve been an option at them if they kept the first overall pick, so getting him here would be a major win. Some believe he’s the most talented player in the NFL Draft, but he has a plethora of off-field concerns. It isn’t likely that he falls all that far because of his elite talent, and the Bears are a team that could opt to take that shot on him. He can provide immediate help and could turn out to be the steal of the draft in five years.

1.10 Philadelphia Eagles - Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

The Eagles aren’t a team filled with holes, so they have a major luxury with this pick. Van Ness didn’t start at Iowa, which has comes into question during the pre-draft process, but it isn’t likely to cause him to slide. He comes with elite upside, and he can learn from some of the top pass rushers in the NFL in Philadelphia.

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 - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The Jets need help along the offensive line, and Wright is a player that can immediately start. He’s a massive offensive tackle that is likely to stick on the right side throughout his career. There have been mixed reports on his rising and falling value, but he’s a safe player that would immediately help the Jets get better. We still have plenty of Aaron Rodgers drama going on at the moment, but getting a potential win-now player would be ideal if they are able to land the HOF quarterback.

1.14 New England Patriots - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

The Patriots don’t have a great roster, but we know they love adding to their defense. They need help at cornerback, and Witherspoon is a high-upside option in this draft. It’s a loaded position, and there will be plenty of teams that have the Illinois corner as their top option on the board. He has the potential to become a shadow option in the NFL, and he’ll help get New England’s defense back to where it used to be.

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 - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

This feels like a spot where Washington could take the best available cornerback. They need help in the secondary, and this is a loaded class. In this mock draft, Porter is the top available option, but it’s also possible a team jumps Washington since it’s a valuable position of need. Similar to the two options above, Porter has the potential to turn into a shadow corner and could potentially be a CB1 for years to come.

1.17 Pittsburgh Steelers - Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

Edge isn’t the most pressing need for Pittsburgh, but it’ll be difficult for them to pass up on Smith’s talents here. With the top three cornerbacks off the board, the Steelers can take the edge rusher that likely should’ve been drafted earlier. Smith’s an elite athlete that has the potential to change the game defensively. He could quickly become a new staple in the Pittsburgh defense.

1.18 Detroit Lions - Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

The Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson last year, and it’s clear he’s going to be a great player in the NFL. They also drafted a cornerback earlier in this draft to help fix their secondary. The other way to fix their secondary is to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. Murphy was once seen as a top 10 pick, but he seems to be sliding a bit. He would benefit from playing with Hutchinson, and this could solidify Detroit’s defense for the next 10 years.

1.19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

This is somewhat of an odd spot for the Buccaneers. Brian Branch could potentially fit better in their defense, but Banks is shooting up draft boards after his outstanding combine. Ultimately, this is a bad roster, and it makes more sense to draft the better overall prospect. That’s Banks, and he has the ability to become a high-end cornerback in the NFL. There are plenty of holes here for the Bucs, including quarterback, but Banks makes the most sense at the moment.

1.20 Seattle Seahawks - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

The Seahawks got a high-upside edge rusher earlier in this draft, but they still need help along the interior of the defensive line. Kancey doesn’t boast the best size, but he’s a quick tackle with elite explosion. It’s impossible to compare anyone with Aaron Donald, but that’s the style of player he is. Seattle could give their opponents quite a bit of trouble if both of these players hit their ceilings.

1.21 Los Angeles Chargers - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Chargers are in a bit of a strange spot at this point in the draft. They have more pressing needs than offensive tackle, but I’m not sure there are any other options that warrant this pick. They could option for their choice of tight ends, but it makes more sense to select someone like Jones that they can develop. He is a work-in-progress, but he comes with tremendous upside. He could protect Justin Herbert’s blindside for years to come if they develop him properly.

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. I don’t feel the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. changes this pick.

1.23 Minnesota Vikings - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Adam Thielen signed with the Panthers earlier in the offseason, and the Vikings are going to have to come out of this draft with a new wide receiver. Some believe Flowers is the best of the bunch, as he comes with elite route running. He’d see plenty of single coverage with Justin Jefferson on the other side, and he could immediately help the Minnesota offense in 2023.

1.24 Jacksonville Jaguars - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Evan Engram, locking him into this season. He isn’t signed long-term though, and they could look to draft his replacement. Kincaid apparently got good news in terms of his medical report, and he’s a player that could seamlessly shift into the Engram role. He’d also be given a year before any major contributions are needed, allowing him to get his body completely right.

1.25 New York Giants - O’Cyrus Torrence, iOL, Florida

It’ll be difficult for the Giants to pass on a wide receiver here, but they could do that if Torrence falls a bit. He’s an extremely solid interior offensive linemen, and he would immediately help from day one. They gave Daniel Jones a big contract in the offseason, and it seems as if they may have a potential plan with signing multiple wide receivers and trading for Darren Waller. Instead of a receiver, they can help keep Jones upright with this pick.

1.26 Dallas Cowboys - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Mayer is seen as the best tight end prospect in a loaded class. He’s a player that can do it all, and he’s likely the most polished tight end in this draft. With Bijan Robinson off the board, the Cowboys could opt to help their offense in a different way. Mayer is a solid blocker, and he’ll immediately contribute in the passing game.

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 - Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

The Bengals could opt for a tight end here, but that may not be the case with Mayer and Kincaid off the board. Instead, they can grab a versatile player for a secondary that needs help. Branch ran a slow 40-yard dash, which could hurt his draft stock, but he’s consistently performed. He is outstanding in run support, and he will be able to help in the slot or at safety. His versatility is a piece that Cincinnati needs in their secondary.

1.29 New Orleans Saints - Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

Smith is an intriguing player that is going to be drafted based on his physical tools rather than his production. He comes with elite athleticism and size, but he was entirely too inconsistent in college. He certainly comes with risk, but he also comes with tremendous upside. The Saints need help along the defensive line, and he’s a player that could develop into an elite starter.

1.30 Philadelphia Eagles - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

If the Eagles go with an edge rusher early in the draft, they could potentially take a cornerback at this spot. Smith has good coverage instincts, and he can learn from some of the top corners in the NFL in Philadelphia. This isn’t a position of immediate need for the Eagles and their overall roster will allow them to go a few different ways, but cornerback is likely on their radar.

1.31 Kansas City Chiefs - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

The Chiefs could use a bit of help keeping Patrick Mahomes upright, and that’s what they should look for in this pick. Harrison isn’t the highest-upside prospect in the entire draft, but he’s a smart player that understands what his strengths and weaknesses are. He’s also a better pass-protecting than run-blocker, and Kansas City may be a team that is willing to accept those traits.

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