Welcome to Mock Draft Monday!
With less than three weeks until the Carolina Panthers are officially on the clock, it is time to drill deeper into the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. Now that free agency is mostly in the rear-view mirror, how have things changed?
In this mock, we take a look at how we believe the first round will play out in just under three weeks. In addition, we have added some picks for teams that currently are not expected to make a selection in the first round.
We’ll have some more mock drafts for you until things get cooking for real, but for now, here is a look at how we think things will unfold.
Here are the picks, and the analysis is below:
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Post-free agency
|1||Carolina Panthers||C.J. Stroud||QB||Ohio State||Junior|
|2||Houston Texans||Bryce Young||QB||Alabama||Junior|
|3||Indianapolis Colts||Anthony Richardson||QB||Florida||Sophomore (RS)|
|4||Arizona Cardinals||Will Anderson||EDGE||Alabama||Junior|
|5||Seattle Seahawks (via Denver)||Jalen Carter||DT||Georgia||Junior|
|6||Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams||Tyree Wilson||EDGE||Texas Tech||Senior|
|7||Las Vegas Raiders||Will Levis||QB||Kentucky||Senior|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Christian Gonzalez||CB||Oregon||Junior|
|9||Chicago Bears||Broderick Jones||OT||Georgia||Sophomore (RS)|
|10||Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans)||Nolan Smith||EDGE||Georgia||Senior|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Paris Johnson Jr.||OT||Ohio State||Junior|
|12||Houston Texans (via Cleveland)||Lukas Van Ness||EDGE||Iowa||Sophomore (RS)|
|13||New York Jets||Peter Skoronski||OT||Northwestern||Junior|
|14||New England Patriots||Devon Witherspoon||CB||Illinois||Senior|
|15||Green Bay Packers||Dalton Kincaid||TE||Utah||Junior|
|16||Washington Commanders||Joey Porter Jr.||CB||Penn State||Junior|
|17||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cam Smith||CB||South Carolina||Junior (RS)|
|18||Detroit Lions||Bryan Bresee||DL||Clemson||Sophomore (RS)|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Myles Murphy||EDGE||Clemson||Junior|
|20||Seattle (via Denver)||Jaxon Smith-Njigba||WR||Ohio State||Junior|
|22||Los Angeles Chargers||Michael Mayer||TE||Notre Dame||Junior|
|23||Baltimore Ravens||Quentin Johnston||WR||TCU||Junior|
|24||Minnesota Vikings||Deonte Banks||CB||Maryland||Junior (RS)|
|25||Jacksonville Jaguars||Dawand Jones||OT||Ohio State||Senior|
|26||New York Giants||Zay Flowers||WR||Boston College||Senior|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||Bijan Robinson||RB||Texas||Junior|
|28||Buffalo Bills||O'Cyrus Torrence||IOL||Florida||Junior|
|29||Cincinnati Bengals||Anton Harrison||OT||Oklahoma||Junior|
|30||New Orleans Saints (via Denver)||Darnell Washington||TE||Georgia||Junior|
|31||Philadelphia Eagles||Calijah Kancey||DL||Pittsburgh||Junior (RS)|
|32||Kansas City Chiefs||Darnell Wright||OT||Tennessee||Senior|
|37||Los Angeles Rams||Emmanuel Forbes||CB||Miss. State||Junior|
|52||Miami Dolphins||Mazi Smith||DT||Michigan||Senior|
|68||Denver Broncos||Tuli Tuipulotu||DE||USC||Junior|
|74||Cleveland Browns||Keeanu Benton||DT||Wisconsin||Senior|
|99||San Francisco||Xavier Hutchinson||WR||Iowa State||Senior|
1. Carolina Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
With their trade to the first-overall spot the Carolina Panthers have given themselves the opportunity to draft their favorite quarterback of the class. There is a case to be made for any of the four options — cases we made recently in our first installment of Football Court — but in the end they go with Stroud, perhaps the safest of the options.
2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Ten years ago the idea of Bryce Young coming off the board in the first round, let alone at the top of the draft, might have seemed absurd. But Young’s ability to create outside the pocket, handle multiple points of pressure inside the pocket, and find the ideal throwing lane in the face of pressure fits with the way the game is trending. While recent mock drafts have entertained the idea of Houston going in a different direction with this selection, should Stroud go first, Young makes a great deal of sense in this spot.
3. Indianapolis Colts (via trade with Arizona Cardinals): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Terms of trade:
Colts receive: 2023 first-round pick (#3 overall)
Cardinals receive: 2023 first-round pick (#4 overall), 2023 third-round pick (#79 overall), 2023 fourth-round pick (# 106 overall), and a 2024 third-round pick
Now we’re cooking.
Recently we outlined how, in our view, the 2023 NFL Draft starts with Arizona in the third spot. Assuming QBs go one-two — as they do here — the Cardinals could be in position to trade out of the third selection in a deal with a QB-needy team.
For the Colts, who need to figure out the long-term plan at quarterback, coming up just one spot might be a wise move, to guarantee that you can draft the next best option at the position. Anthony Richardson might have his flaws, but the potential is enticing, and new head coach Shane Steichen does have a record of quarterback development, given his work with Jalen Hurts.
4. Arizona Cardinals (via trade with Indianapolis Colts: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Terms of trade:
Colts receive: 2023 first-round pick (#3 overall)
Cardinals receive: 2023 first-round pick (#4 overall), 2023 third-round pick (#79 overall), 2023 fourth-round pick (# 106 overall), and a 2024 third-round pick
There are some scenarios where the Cardinals trade down again, as teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and the Tennessee Titans could be in the mix for a quarterback. Instead, they stay pat and take the top defensive player on many boards. Will Anderson Jr. was very productive the past few seasons at Alabama — and I still maintain he should have received more Heisman consideration two seasons ago — and will immediately bolster Arizona’s pass rush.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
On the field, Jalen Carter might be the most complete prospect in this class. He is a game-changer up front, who consistently blows up double-team blocks and constantly resets the line of scrimmage. Watch his game against TCU, and every time he was on the field it felt like the Horned Frogs were starting in their own backfield.
Now, there are questions about drafting Carter this high, from the off-the-field concerns that have cropped up during the past few weeks, to how his Pro Day was underwhelming, and questions regarding the positional value of an interior defensive tackle in the top five. But something tells me that Pete Carroll and John Schneider would love this scenario.
Could Seattle draft a quarterback here? Perhaps, but with the top three options at the position off the board, it is likely they pivot to the defensive side of the ball.
6. Detroit Lions: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Early in draft season, cornerback was a popular pick for the Detroit Lions with the sixth-overall selection. However, the team addressed that need well via free agency, adding Emmanuel Mosley, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Cam Sutton over the past few weeks.
With secondary not as glaring a need, the Lions can look elsewhere. Pairing Tyree Wilson with Aidan Hutchinson gives Detroit two QB hunters along their defensive front, and Wilson’s ability to play inside, as well as on the edge, gives their defense some flexibility to boot.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
From where I sit, the prospect that might have been impacted the most when Carolina made the move to the top of the board was Will Levis. Levis needs some work, particularly with his lower-body mechanics, footwork, and decision-making, but if he landed in Carolina with the ninth overall pick, the wealth of coaching experience the Panthers have around the quarterback could have made Carolina the ideal place for him.
If, as we expect, the Panthers draft someone else at the top of the board, where is the next-best landing spot for him?
With the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo the Raiders and Josh McDaniels have given themselves a window to develop a QB, and that could lead them to draft Levis and give him time. Of course, whether the Raiders — and McDaniels in particular — can develop a QB remains to be seen. But an NFL team is going to look at Levis’s 2021 season and talk themselves into the notion they can get him to where he needs to be, with the talent they have in the room.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
While quarterbacks always move the needle — and doubly so during draft season — out of every position in the draft cornerback might be the most fascinating. Not only is their talent at the top, but it is very deep. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said recently that as many as 35 to 40 cornerbacks could, in his mind, play in the NFL.
And the fight for CB1 might be as interesting as the fight for QB1. There are a few different options, but consensus seems to be that Christian Gonzalez is that player. His athleticism, change-of-direction skills, and awareness make him an extremely solid prospect.
9. Chicago Bears: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Having traded out of the first-overall selection in the draft, general manager Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears are starting to shape their 2023 roster around quarterback Justin Fields.
That means making sure they have their best five linemen in front of the third-year passer.
Broderick Jones is an athletic tackle prospect with perhaps room to develop, and take his game to even greater heights. He is definitely an offensive lineman who considers finishing his blocks to be non-negotiable, and while he might not be as experienced as other linemen in the class, he comes with a lot of potential.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The rise of both Tyree Wilson and Lukas van Ness, among other EDGE prospects, seemed to push Nolan Smith down draft boards during the fall and into the winter.
But since his performance at the Combine in Indianapolis, Smith seems to be gaining some momentum as we approach the draft. To the point that he is not only taking Top-30 visits with teams, but teams well inside the first round such as the New England Patriots.
And the Philadelphia Eagles.
Smith might be a bit of a tweener, but one of the comparisons you see for him is Haason Reddick. It might make sense for Howie Roseman to have two such players on the edge next season.
11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Assuming that the Tennessee Titans do not pull off a move for a QB in this draft, adding up front seems like next-best option. While they did add Andre Dillard in free agency, drafting Paris Johnson Jr. out of Ohio State gives them another option both on the edge, and on the interior.
Johnson started at right guard for the Buckeyes during 2021, before sliding outside to start at left tackle for Ohio State a year ago. His athleticism pairs well with the zone run concepts that the Titans often use in the run game, but it is his ability to play at multiple spots that makes him a very intriguing option for Tennessee.
12. Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Wide receiver is a trendy pick for the Houston Texans in this spot, but looking at both the draft board, and their moves in the offseason, leads us to consider a different position. The team added Noah Brown and Robert Woods in free agency, and they will hopefully get second-year player John Metchie III — their second-round pick from a season ago — back after he missed his rookie season following a leukemia diagnosis.
Furthermore, when considering wide receiver in this year’s class, the selections at No. 33 overall, as well as No. 65 overall, could be ideal for that position.
That leads them to address the pass rush with Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness. Van Ness wins with strength and power off the edge, and while he would benefit from rounding out his tool kit as a pass rusher, he could be a great fit for new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
13. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
During my trip to the Combine in Indianapolis, I was lucky enough to grab some time with Brandon Thorn, a tremendous evaluator of trench play and someone whose opinion I respect.
In his mind, Peter Skoronski is the best offensive lineman in the draft.
Now, the issue is where he plays at the next level. Does he stay at tackle? Kick inside to guard? Thorn views him as Joe Thuney, meaning he likely carves out his NFL career on the interior. But given his experience on the edge, he could also establish himself at tackle.
The point? He gives the Jets options. They’ll need to find their best combination up front, and his positional flexibility gives New York a few ways to get that best unit together.
Which is critically important if that group will be protecting a veteran quarterback formerly from Green Bay.
Tim Boyle. What, do you think we meant someone else?
14: New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Like with Houston, wide receiver is a trendy pick for the New England Patriots in this spot. As is offensive line. But knowing what we know about Bill Belichick, and how he wants to play in the secondary, a cornerback like Devon Witherspoon seems to make a lot of sense.
Witherspoon is a tough, feisty, man-coverage cornerback that you can probably leave on an island while you structure the rest of the defense any way you like. That is perhaps ideal fit for Belichick.
15: Green Bay Packers: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Tight end is a trendy position for the Green Bay Packers, with Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer the consensus selection according to NFLMockDraftDatabase.
But we keep coming back to the idea of Dalton Kincaid, and his fit in Matt LaFleur’s offense. He can be the move-type tight end that sees 100 targets in this kind of system, while operating mostly out of the slot or from a wing alignment. Not only can he create after the catch, but what he can do as a receiver — and route-runner — in the middle of the field would open up opportunities for the Packers’ wideouts, including Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.
16. WashingtonCommanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Washington Commanders could go in a few different directions in this spot. Adding to the offensive line is one option. Safety Brian Branch is another. But instead, they add at cornerback with Joey Porter Jr., one spot ahead of the team where his father played for so many years.
Porter showed growth this past season, cementing himself in the first round. He is a patient corner when in press alignment, and is more than comfortable when asked to be physical at the line of scrimmage. He also can be used against bigger receivers and tight ends, giving the Commanders some flexibility in the secondary, and the ability to play some matchups of their own.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Cam Smith (not the golfer) is a smart corner who excels in off-coverage. He’s got good instincts and fits mainly in a zone scheme like Pittsburgh’s. Although they just signed Patrick Peterson, the Steelers need to get younger on the outside, especially after losing Cam Sutton.
In Smith, the Steelers get a smart corner who has the eyes and ball skills to be good in an off-coverage scheme.
18. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Dan Campbell is a man of the people. He knows that football is won along the lines of scrimmage, and with the Lions defensive line already getting a boost with the addition of Tyree Wilson, they add on with Bryan Bresee. Bresee had a rough 2022 due to injury and the death of his younger sister, but he’s able to put it all together, he’s a true game wrecker. Bresee has size and explosiveness, and while he’s still developing a more consistent pass rush plan and pad level, he can be an interior pressure guy, leading to more sacks on the edges.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy has gone a bit underrated in this year’s EDGE class, but the Clemson product is still a very good player. Reliable and tough against the run with room to grow as a pass rusher, Murphy is scheme versatile and could benefit from being selected by Tampa Bay. With Shaq Barrett recovering from an Achilles injury and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka still not being able to put it all together, Murphy can step in and give Barrett more time to recover, while being a better player in the short term than Tryon-Shoyinka.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The best slot receiver in this draft class, Smith-Njigba is an extremely savvy route runner who knows how to set up opponents. He’s definitely quicker than fast, but can create separation in the intermediate areas of the field. Combine that with the field stretching ability of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve got something cooking.
21. Miami Dolphins: Forfeited
The Miami Dolphins forfeited their 2023 first-round selection in the wake of an investigation into the organization regarding tampering.
22. Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Kellen Moore comes to the Chargers from Dallas, where they did most of their damage out of 11 and 12 personnel. In Mayer, they get a player who will help them become even better in the short to intermediate areas of the field, while also getting a capable blocker. While he’s not the best athlete at the position, Mayer has a great feel for coverages and space and is a reliable blocker. The Chargers were unable to finish games last year, and with Mayer they give QB Justin Herbert another target late in games.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
One way to entice Lamar Jackson back to Baltimore? Show the quarterback they are serious about adding weapons for him in the passing game. Signing Odell Beckham Jr. is a start, but adding another WR in the first round might show Jackson just how serious they are about giving him some targets in the passing game. Johnston isn’t going to go as high as people think, but this seems like the perfect spot for him to land. The Ravens didn’t have a receiver on the roster that went over 50 receptions, and Johnston can add an explosiveness that the Ravens don’t have for a guy his size. Johnston is an easy mover who can do so much work in the YAC department, which will help free up other targets in the Ravens passing game. We don’t know who will be QB for the Ravens, but with Johnston, they’ll get a quality starter with upside.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
To say the cupboard is bare at the corner position in Minnesota might be an understatement. Cam Dantzler and Patrick Peterson are both off the team, and while the Vikings signed Byron Murphy, he’s more of an inside corner. In Brian Flores’ defense, aggressive, feisty corners are a need, and that’s what Deonte Banks brings. Banks is fast and explosive, and in press-man situations he displays a physicality and pressure that throws off the routes of receivers. He’ll get too aggressive and lose technique, but that’s something that can be coached.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
After losing Jawaan Taylor to the Chiefs, the Jaguars will need to address their offensive line. Walker Little is an option at right, however he has exclusively played left tackle in his career. Plus, Pederson helped to build the offensive line that’s in Philadelphia right now, and a player like Dawand Jones might be too good to pass up. Jones is a massive man who can overwhelm you with power and strength, but also is surprisingly light on his feet. Pederson and GM Trent Baalke love the measurables, and Jones fits all of them.
26. New York Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Let’s be clear: the Giants have a LOT of slot receivers. After re-signing Darius Slayton, and then adding Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder, there might be a logjam at the spot. However, Flowers is explosive after the catch and can add more verticality in the Giants offense. New York went out and added Darren Waller in the offseason, and now they have a guy who can take the top off and let Waller operate more in between and in the intermediate areas of the field.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Ok Cowboys fans, hear me out. The Cowboys addressed most of their defensive needs in free agency. They traded for Stephon Gilmore, giving them a legitimate CB2 or CB1b, and the pass rush will continue to improve. At this point, they can take the best player available, and Bijan Robinson is one of the best players available in the NFL Draft. His vision and balance are top-tier, and his receiving chops make him a complete modern back. We can debate on and on about the value of drafting a RB in the first round, but Robinson is a special talent, and working with Tony Pollard in Dallas gives the Cowboys a younger, more versatile RB duo.
28. Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
The Bills need a shift in identity. They once again lost in the playoffs while lacking the ability to run the ball consistently when things got difficult through the air. The interior offensive line has been a major issue, and Torrence is a tone-setter who can immediately fix the problems the Bills offensive line has. He’s powerful and can move people within a phone booth, but he’s also extremely smart and passes off defensive line games and stunts very well. He’s got a strong lower body and finishes every block, and can succeed in an inside zone/gap-based offense.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The Bengals offensive line has been a constant issue since QB Joe Burrow was drafted (see: the memes of the 2021 NFL Draft), and in the offseason Cincinnati signed Orlando Brown Jr. to solidify the left side of the offensive line. Now, they add a young talent to play on the right, with the potential to kick back to left in case the Brown experiment doesn’t work.
Harrison won’t be 21 until the beginning of the NFL season, but he’s already a plus athlete who has good play strength and strong hands. He can latch onto defenders and drive through the finish of plays. He has some ways to go technique-wise and flexibility-wise, but with how young he is, the room for growth is large.
30. New Orleans Saints (via Denver): Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
At about 6’6 and 270 pounds, Washington is built less like a tight end and more like a Hummer, and he moves like a Hummer as well. Washington is a sixth offensive lineman in the run game, and also combines the short to intermediate versatility as a pass catcher that offenses covet. In New Orleans, he’ll step in as TE1 while giving the Saints formational and personnel versatility.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
The Eagles double up on defense by taking the disruptive interior pass rusher from Pitt. There are very legitimate size and frame concerns, but when you slide him next to Jordan Davis you can create a dynamic interior duo for the future of the Eagles defense.
Kancey has phenomenal first-step burst and quickness, and a repertoire of pass-rush moves that complement his speed. He’s more of a one-gap player right now, but with the versatility of the Philadelphia defensive front, he should work out fine.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
After letting starting tackles Andrew Wylie and Orlando Brown Jr. walk, the Chiefs signed tackle Jawaan Taylor and paid him $80 million to be the starting left tackle of the future. Now, the Chiefs add their right tackle in Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, a rock-solid starter with potential Pro Bowl upside. Wright is a physical mauler in the run game, who has shown strong hands and power in pass protection. His feet can sometimes be a little inconsistent and he gets over-eager at times, but with OL coach Andy Heck and the Chiefs brain trust surrounding him, he can step right in and be a starter.
37. Los Angeles Rams: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
After trading CB Jalen Ramsey, it is easy to peg a cornerback to the Rams but the team looks to be in a rebuild process so any talented player will do. It will be interesting if their “F them picks” Super Bowl win turns into “we need some picks” and they trade down from this spot. If not, the 6’1” Forbes gives them a quality cornerback that can plan man or zone at a premium position.
52. Miami Dolphins: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
With Kancey, our selection for the Dolphins in our last mock draft, off the board, Miami sticks with the same position with Smith. The Wolverine defender shows talent on tape and in workouts but his production has lacked throughout his career with only a half a sack and six tackles for loss in 30 games.
68. Denver Broncos: Tuli Tuipulotu, DE, USC
With Dre’Mont Jones (free agency) and Bradley Chubb (trade) off the roster, Denver needs to reinforce the defensive line. Tuipulotu is a versatile player who can play inside and out. Last year, the Trojan pass rusher racked up 13.5 sacks in 14 games. He also had 22 tackles for loss last season alone.
74. Cleveland Browns: Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
The Browns have addressed a lot of needs this offseason but could continue to add help to the defensive line or receiver positions with their first selection. Benton can provide strength on the inside of the line with enough burst to press the pocket to give Myles Garrett even more chances to make plays coming off the edge.
99. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State
While the Niners currently have to wait the longest, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the team move up using some of their midround selections (three in the third, three in the fifth). If not, Hutchinson is a perimeter threat that can help right away and buttress against the potential departure of Brandon Aiyuk in free agency next year. The Cyclone star already has experience with a myriad of WR screens that San Francisco runs so well.
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About the 2023 NFL Draft
The Carolina Panthers hold the first pick in the draft after trading with the Chicago Bears . They are followed by the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals.
Round 1 of the NFL Draft typically possesses a first-round pick for each team.Why are there only 31 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft? ›
There are 31 picks in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft because the Miami Dolphins were stripped of their top selection for violations of league policies relating to the integrity of the game.