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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Version 4.0



By Justin Bales | 4/26/23 |
Bryce Young

1.01 Carolina Panthers - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

In my final mock draft, I’m making the switch. I’ve had Anthony Richardson here for my first three, but it’s looking more and more likely that Young is the pick. He’s a significantly safer player, and it seems that’s what the Panthers are looking for. There are rumors that Will Levis would be the pick, but I’m not buying it. Young finally gives Carolina some consistency at quarterback.

1.02 Houston Texans - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Although I don’t believe that Levis is going to go first overall, it wouldn’t shock me to see him be the second quarterback selected. CJ Stroud is apparently falling, and the Texans haven’t ever been linked to Anthony Richardson. Levis has a big arm, but he’s a player that comes with quite a bit of risk as well. The Texans could opt to trade out of this pick or select Will Anderson, but it’d make the most sense for them to try to find the face of their franchise here.

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. Heís likely the safest prospect in the entire draft, but he also comes with tremendous upside. He can immediately help the Cardinalsí 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 theyíll 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 heís flashed all of the makings of a solid NFL quarterback. We know quarterbacks are over-drafted, so he doesnít 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 isnít 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 thatís one of the most coveted skills in the NFL.

1.06 Detroit Lions - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

I’ve got cornerbacks going with the next two picks, but I’m not entirely sure which one gets selected first. Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez have seemingly separated themselves from the rest of a stacked class. Both can become top options in the league, and they will both have the ability to turn into shadow options.

1.07 Las Vegas Raiders - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Raiders need help in their secondary, and Gonzalez will make an elite option here. As I mentioned above, he has a strong ceiling, and Las Vegas is likely to take whichever option of the two is left.

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 wouldíve been an option at them if they kept the first overall pick, so getting him here would be a major win. Some believe heís the most talented player in the NFL Draft, but he has a plethora of off-field concerns. It isnít 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 - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

It’d be relatively shocking if Richardson actually falls this far, and Tennessee will likely need to trade up if they want to grab one of the top four signal callers. Richardson fell in this draft, though, and Tennessee is in need of the future of their franchise. The Florida quarterback isn’t NFL-ready at the moment, and he could sit the entire season behind Ryan Tannehill.

1.12 Houston Texans - Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

The Texans took the future face of their franchise with their first pick, but now they need to keep him upright. Johnson is a player that can immediately come in a start. He has the potential to be a dominant left tackle for the next decade, which is great to pair with Levis.

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

The Packers moved up two spots ahead of the Patriots in the Aaron Rodgers deal, which makes sense since they’re looking into similar players.The Packers could still use help in their receiver room. Smith-Njigba has dropped a bit because of injuries throughout his season, but Green Bay shouldnít 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.

1.14 New England Patriots - Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

Smith is an ultra-athletic edge rusher that has the potential to become a difference-maker in the NFL. The Patriots are a team that wants to lead with their defense, and Smith can help this team take their defense to the next level. It should also be noted that New England may look to package this pick with Mac Jones to trade up if one of the top four quarterbacks slide.

1.15 New York Jets - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Jets made a blockbuster trade with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers. They moved back two slots in the first round, suggesting they aren’t overly concerned with what the Packers or New England are going to do. They could use help along the offensive line, and Skoronski is arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft. He could immediately help keep Rodgers upright as New York tries to make a deep playoff run.

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 - Broderick Jones, OT, Georiga

The Steelers need help at offensive tackle or in the secondary. Jones is a work-in-progress, but he comes with tremendous upside. He’ll need a bit of time to develop, but he can protect Kenny Pickett for years to come. Even though he does need to develop, Jones could potentially start for the Steelers early in his career as well.

1.18 Detroit Lions - Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

The Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson last year, and itís clear heís 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 Detroitís 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. Thatís 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 - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Mayer is arguably the best tight end in this loaded class. He has outstanding receiving skills, specifically over the middle. He’s also a great blocker, making him a complete player at the position. The Chargers have a few needs, and tight end is one of the more pressing ones. He’ll make a great option along with a strong receiver group for Los Angeles.

1.22 Baltimore Ravens - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

The Ravens could opt to go with a receiver here, but it may make more sense for them to go with a cornerback. They added Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency, and there are rumors that they may be trying to add DeAndre Hopkins as well. If they can’t add Hopkins, a receiver like Quentin Johnston would make sense. They need help at cornerback, though, and Banks is a player moving up draft boards. He isn’t as safe as some of the other options, but he comes with tremendous upside, which could be what Baltimore is looking for.

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. Heíd 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 - Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

The Jaguars could use help at a slot corner and safety hybrid role. That’s the exact type of role that Branch should thrive in. He ran a slow 40-yard dash, which hurt his draft stock a bit. He’s consistently found success at Alabama and he’s outstanding against the run. He could immediately help this Jacksonville defense.

1.25 New York Giants - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

New York’s made a few strange moves throughout the offseason. They’ve signed multiple receivers that perform at their best in the slot, and they already have Wan’Dale Robinson. I’m not going to pretend to know what plan they have, but it would make sense for them to get a big-bodied outside receiver. Johnston comes with as much raw upside as any receiver in this class, and he can help on the outside for the Giants.

1.26 Dallas Cowboys - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

It feels like the Cowboys are going to be locked into a tight end at this position if one is available. Some believe Kincaid is the best tight end in this class after he received good news on his medical report. He’s an elite receiving option, and he could help take Dallas’ offense to the next level.

1.27 Buffalo Bills - Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Thereís a very real chance that Addison is the best receiver in this draft. Itís all about who you prefer as a team. The Bills gave Gabriel Davis a chance last season, and he struggled with injuries. It isnít out of the question that they could add Addison as their second option behind Stefon Diggs. Iím a bit worried that Addison isnít 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, itís easy to be excited about someone with his talent in this Buffalo offense.

1.28 Cincinnati Bengals - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

I’m not entirely sure that Washington is drafted in the first round, but it would make sense for him to be selected here. Cincinnati needs help at the position, and Washington is a player that can start immediately. He’s a dominant blocker, and he comes with high-upside receiving potential as well. Washington could find elite success in an offense like the Bengals.

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 isnít 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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