With almost a week away from the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, it means it’s officially time for our first mock draft. To not overcomplicate things, this mock draft will NOT include any projected trades. Last year’s mock draft we correctly picked seven of the first ten picks (one of the incorrect picks was Jermaine Johnson to the Jets at 10, they ended up selecting him later in the round).
- Carolina Panthers (from CHI): QB Bryce Young (Alabama)
The consensus circulating around the media throughout the week leading up to the draft is that the Panthers are ‘locked in’ on selecting former Heisman trophy winning QB Bryce Young. Despite still meeting with the other top QB prospects, the building sense is that Carolina will build their future around the former Alabama QB, who will have the luxury of being coached by Frank Reich & Josh McCown.
- Houston Texans: EDGE Will Anderson (Alabama)
It would not be a surprise if the Texans trade out of this spot. The real question is, what team would even be willing to give up that much assets to move up to No. 2? The most logical team willing to trade up would be the Colts, but it would be highly unlikely to see Houston make a deal with their division rival. The Texans obviously need a QB – but they don’t seem to be interested in Stroud and selecting Richardson/Levis at No. 2 would be a huge gamble. It would make the most sense to either trade up their other pick at No. 12, or wait until then to select a QB. If they’re unable to strike a deal, expect this pick to be Will Anderson, who is arguably the top player in the draft.
- Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
The exact situation can be said here with the Cardinals, the only difference is they aren’t in the market for a QB. Arizona has made it publicly known that they’re open for business and are exploring a trade. If they are unable to strike a deal, expect the pick here to be Tyree Wilson, unless Will Anderson somehow is available.
- Indianapolis Colts: QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
This would be a home run pick for the Colts – Stroud easily could end up being the top NFL QB from this class when it’s all set and done. Stroud has the potential to turnaround this franchise and finally be the answer to their long-awaited replacement for Andrew Luck, GM Chris Ballard should run to the podium if he’s available.
- Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): DT Jalen Carter (Georgia)
There has been a lot of speculation on whether Seattle will use one of their two first round picks on a QB of the future, to sit behind comeback POY Geno Smith. Geno had a terrific first season as their starter and was just awarded a new contract; it really wouldn’t make sense for them to take a QB in the Top 5. The Seahawks instead opt to take the best player on the board in Jalen Carter, despite the off-field questions surrounding him.
- Detroit Lions (from LAR): CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
The Lions have made some tremendous secondary additions this offseason so far, adding C.J. Gardner Johnson, Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley in free agency. Even though they addressed the secondary in the offseason, they just sent former 3rd overall pick Jeff Okudah to the Falcons and would greatly benefit from adding a No. 1 CB. Devon Witherspoon would be the answer to their problems and solidify their secondary.
- Las Vegas Raiders: QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)
While the Raiders did just sign Jimmy G to a massive deal, that should not stop them from considering taking the QB with the most upside in the draft. In a division where you’re competing every year with Mahomes & Herbert, the Raiders would be wise to take a shot here at Richardson. Garoppolo is no stranger to mentoring rookie QBs; he just did it the past two years with Lance & Purdy. This would allow Richardson to at least have a redshirt-year to develop, while they still can play to compete this year with Jimmy and offers them insurance incase Jimmy gets hurt again.
- Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Nolan Smith (Georgia)
This pick could be a bit of a surprise, as Smith has not been mocked too frequently in the Top 10. Smith demonstrated his elite athleticism with a dominant combine performance (4.39 40-YD & 41.5” vertical). Atlanta’s defense could really benefit from having a potential elite rusher like Smith off-the-edge.
- Chicago Bears (from CAR): CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
The Bears could go a few different routes here, as they still are looking to fill as many holes as possible, after a productive offseason so far. While adding an offensive tackle is very likely here, Chicago instead opts to go with the extremely athletic corner Christian Gonzalez, who’ll solidify their starting cornerback group alongside Jaylon Johnson & Kyler Gordon.
- Philadelphia Eagles (from NO): RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)
This is the pick that the entire NFL is terrified of.. If Bijan Robinson falls to the Eagles at 10, Howie Roseman should sprint to the podium and the rest of the league should be ashamed for letting it happen. Robinson is arguably the best RB prospect in the last decade and could immediately step in and take this Philadelphia offense to a different dimension.
- Tennessee Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
The Titans have plenty of holes to fill after letting go of a lot of key, notable veterans in what appears to be a rebuild. There’s a number of routes they can go here – with a new GM all cards are on the table. It would not be surprising to see them draft a QB here, despite selecting Malik Willis last year and Tannehill on roster. Their current receiver group is one of the least-talented in the league and despite drafting a WR last year in the 1st round (Treylon Burks), here they elect to take the first-WR off the board, in former Ohio St wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
- Houston Texans (from CLE): QB Will Levis (Kentucky)
With their second pick of the first round, Houston looks to find their new franchise QB with the selection of Will Levis. Levis is on the older side at 24, so it would be expected for him to compete for the starting job as a rookie. This would be a solid opportunity for Levis to compete with Mills & Keenum for the starting job.
- New York Jets: OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State)
The Jets had a dominant first round draft last year, and with still so many questions surrounding the Rodgers trade, GM Joe Douglas solidifies their o-line with former Ohio State OT Paris Johnson. Other offensive tackles such as Peter Skoronski, Darnell Wright, Broderick Jones & Anton Harrison could also definitely be in-play here.
- New England Patriots: OT Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
The Patriots could benefit from adding some offensive line help, particularly at right tackle. The former Northwestern star OT Peter Skoronski would be a really nice addition, he could step-in and immediately compete with Riley Reiff for the starting job.
- Green Bay Packers: TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
Much like the Jets, there’s been plenty of ongoing uncertainty surrounding the organization with the looming Rodgers trade. The ongoing joke has always been when will the Packers draft a WR in the first round, so it would be fitting that this would be the year they do it, with Rodgers on the way out. GM Brian Gutenkurst does select a pass catcher here, but instead takes the first TE off the board, Michael Mayer, who could step-in and be their replacement and an upgrade to Robert Tonyan.
- Washington Commanders: CB Deonte Banks (Maryland)
The Commanders really need a starting CB, and with this pick they select Deonte Banks, who demonstrated his elite athleticism at the NFL Combine (4.35 40-YD & 42” vertical)
- Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
Here’s a pick that would make A LOT of Steelers fans thrilled. Joey Porter Jr. is the son of their former defensive star, Joey Porter and would be a slam-dunk selection here if he’s still available. Porter Jr. has tremendous length – he fits the build of a traditional Pittsburgh corner and can greatly benefit learning under Patrick Peterson.
- Detroit Lions: DT Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh)
With the second pick of their first round, the Lions take former Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey, who would be a huge addition for their front. Lions GM Brad Holmes, formerly was a critical-member of the LA Rams front office, where they saw massive success from drafting an undersized, but highly-productive & athletic DT from the University of Pittsburgh (Aaron Donald).
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)
It would not be a surprise if Tampa Bay selects an offensive tackle here to replace cap-casualty Donovan Smith or even consider Hendon Hooker here to compete with Mayfield/Trask. Van Ness is a very intriguing prospect, despite never starting a game, he still was highly productive and has elite athleticism. Tampa Bay always values their edge-rushers, they’ve had great success with Shaq Barrett and with Van Ness falling a bit in the draft, they opt to select him here.
- Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson)
Seattle is another team that always values their edge-rushers, it seems like they draft at least one in the first 3 rounds every year. They bolster their front here, with the selection of the top edge-rusher on the board, Myles Murphy.
- Los Angeles Chargers: TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah)
While Gerald Everett was a nice addition to their offense last year, this offense can really use a dominant starting TE, similar to how the Chiefs utilize Kelce. Everett spent the majority of his career splitting reps with Tyler Higbee on the Rams, adding an elite TE could be a huge upgrade to their offense. Former Utah TE Dalton Kincaid is recovering from an injury, but he easily can end up being the best TE in this class.
- Baltimore Ravens: WR Quentin Johnson (TCU)
It’s no secret that the Ravens LOVE drafting wide receivers in the first round. Although they added OBJ to their group, they still desperately need to find more help for Lamar. Selecting Johnson here gives Lamar a much-needed red zone threat, who could form a nice starting group with Bateman & Beckham Jr.
- Minnesota Vikings: QB Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
There’s a bit of long-term uncertainty at the QB position, Kirk Cousins is 35-years old and his contract has a void after this season, which could make him an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Minnesota’s GM has vocalized in recent interviews that they are open to drafting a QB to develop behind Cousins. Hooker could be the perfect candidate for this situation, as he is mature in age and has the potential to quickly develop into a starter.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee)
The Jaguars lost their former 1st-round pick Jawaan Taylor in free agency to the Chiefs, so it would be very likely they find long-term protection for Lawrence with this selection.
- New York Giants: WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)
This would be a home-run selection for the Giants. Flowers has received a lot of hype throughout the pre-draft process, it would not be a surprise one bit if he’s selected within the Top 20 picks. With Flowers & Addison both still on the board, the Giants would perhaps have a difficult choice to make between the two, but either would be a massive addition.
- Dallas Cowboys: TE Darnell Washington (Georgia)
Dallas has a glaring hole at tight end, due to the departure of their starter, Dalton Schultz in free agency. Washington would be a very solid addition for this offense – he offers a ton of potential, due to his elite combo of size/athleticism and is a terrific blocker.
- Buffalo Bills: WR Jordan Addison (USC)
This pick would have GM Brandon Beane sprinting to the podium. Addison is a fantastic route-runner, was highly-productive in college at USC & Pitt and would make Buffalo’s passing offense even scarier.
- Cincinnati Bengals: OT Anton Harrison (Oklahoma)
The narrative every offseason seems to be will the Bengals solidify their offensive line. Orlando Brown Jr. was a massive addition in free agency, but inadvertently made former 1st-round pick Jonah Williams request a trade, since he doesn’t want to shift to the right-side. The Bengals select former Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison who can slide in at RT and allow them to deal Williams.
- New Orleans Saints (from SF): EDGE Will McDonald IV (Iowa State)
The Saints lost former 1st-round pick DE Marcus Davenport in free agency, so it would make a lot of sense for them to find his replacement with this pick. The Saints add the best edge-rusher on the board here in former Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV.
- Philadelphia Eagles: OT Broderick Jones (Georgia)
It might be a bit of a surprise to see such a talented player like Jones fall too late in the first. Jones is a bit of a “tweener” between OT/G and with some larger prospects available, it forces him down the board to the late first here. Howie Roseman loves his o-linemen, so he should be thrilled to still see him available.
- Kansas Chiefs: DT Bryan Breese (Clemson)
The Super Bowl champs had a strong draft last year, adding a lot of quality defensive players who contributed in the Super Bowl. Breese has dealt with a ton of misfortune throughout his college career, but it would not be surprising to see him end up becoming one of the best defensive players in this class if he can remain healthy.