Now that the pro days are complete and the 2023 NFL Draft will soon be here, it’s time for another mock draft. Franchises around the league will begin assembling at team headquarters for final draft meetings next week. More information on which direction they are leaning in Round 1 is bound to leak out. Until then, here’s a mock draft based on what I’m hearing and a bit of speculation.
Update: This mock was updated on April 12 to reflect changes around the NFL since its publication. The original picks are listed under the new write up.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1) Carolina Panthers (From CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The love for C.J. Stroud, the quarterback, and Stroud, the person, continues to grow in the Carolina front office. I’ve heard that head coach Frank Reich prefers Anthony Richardson, but in the end, Stroud is the player they can all agree on. Stroud is a refined pocket passer with excellent accuracy at all levels.
2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Bryce Young is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft, and he has the football intellect of a 10-year veteran. Still, the lack of size is an issue and the Texans better be able to protect him.
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Young has the “gamer” trait that allows him to make plays when the team needs it most. He’ll help energize the Texans’ franchise under new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
3) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
In the end, I doubt this pick remains with the Cardinals. Nevertheless, Arizona needs an edge rusher, a defensive tackle, or a cornerback. They could get a quality player at any of those positions with pick No. 5 or 11. On the off chance the Cardinals don’t move the pick, Will Anderson Jr. is a perfect replacement for JJ Watt and an incredible prospect himself.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
I’ve been consistent in believing Anthony Richardson is a boom-or-bust prospect, and he will be overdrafted. But Colts head coach Shane Steichen had a big hand in developing Jalen Hurts, and Richardson has better physical tools.
5) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Tyree Wilson is a long, explosive athlete the Seahawks could have much success with. He also fits their need for an edge rusher for a defense desperately needing help creating sacks.
6) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Christian Gonzalez was my pick for the Lions in my initial pre-Combine 2023 NFL Mock Draft and remains so after the Okudah trade. The Oregon junior is polished, athletic, and ready to step into the line-up on day one. Unlike Jeffrey Okudah, Gonzalez won’t disappoint.
Original Pick: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
I’m not sold that the Raiders will take Will Levis at this spot. An offensive lineman would also be a consideration here but the Raiders need a lot of help on defense. Devon Witherspoon fits a need, and he’s the type of cornerback the Raiders franchise has had success with through the years; tough, brash, and polished.
Original Pick: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
8) Atlanta Falcons: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Myles Murphy must be a consideration at this spot, and Falcons fans are probably flipping out about now, but hear me out. Calais Campbell signed a one-year deal with the Falcons. The team has a potential out on Grady Jackson’s contract after this season. However, Jalen Carter is a terrific fit for their scheme, improves the Falcons’ pass rush, and is also the top-rated player on my board.
Original Pick: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
9) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Bears decided Justin Fields is their future and secured a big-time receiver, DJ Moore, in trading the first pick to Carolina. They now have to protect Fields’ blind side, and Paris Johnson Jr. is a big-time left tackle prospect.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
The Eagles don’t need an offensive lineman at the moment, but Howie Roseman often selects players with the future in mind. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson are near the end of their great careers.
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When they retire, holes will open at guard — as Cam Jurgens slides to the center spot — and right tackle. Peter Skoronski sits at the top of my guard board, and I don’t dismiss the notion he plays RT at the next level.
11) Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
I fully believe the Titans will attempt to move up for a quarterback. If they can’t make the move, then Broderick Jones makes sense despite the signing of Andre Dillard in free agency, whose contract has an opt-out after Year 2.
12) Houston Texans (From CLE), Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Houston needs another edge rusher, and when healthy, Myles Murphy is one of the best in this draft. He’s a terrific fit for their system and comes with tremendous upside.
13) New York Jets: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
I would love to put an offensive lineman in this spot, but all the top blockers are off the board. I could see Joe Douglas moving up for one of the left tackles or down a few slots before addressing the center spot by selecting John Michael Schmitz.
If they stay, Bryan Bresee makes the most sense, since the team lost two defensive tackles in the offseason. The Jets need a player to take the pressure off developing star, Quinnen Williams, and Bresee has star potential in his own right.
14) New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Though Joey Porter Jr. gets serious consideration at this spot, Jaxon Smith-Njigba is good value and fills a need. The bigger question is whether the Patriots finally develop a receiver they select early in the draft.
15) Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Packers’ depth chart at receiver is pitiful. The day he’s drafted, USC’s Jordan Addison would become the Packers’ best route runner and offers one of the most reliable sets of hands on the unit.
16) Washington Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
It’s too early for a tight end, and all the left tackles are off the board. This pick makes too much sense. A long, physical corner with outstanding ball skills is a need for the franchise — enter Joey Porter Jr.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
I prefer to give Pittsburgh a lineman, but all the top prospects are gone, and it’s too early for Mazi Smith or O’Cyrus Torrence. Meanwhile, the Steelers need a corner, and Deonte Banks is the best one left on the board.
Mike Tomlin has had a good off-the-field relationship with Banks for some time. I wouldn’t rule out a trade down by Pittsburgh, who would then consider Schmitz or Joe Tippmann.
18) Detroit Lions: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
A top cornerback wouldn’t be surprising at this spot if one happens to fall. However, an athletic, down-the-field pass-catching tight end is needed, and Dan Campbell will fall in love with Dalton Kincaid.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis is not as highly thought of in the scouting community as he is on Draft Twitter. As one general manager told me at Ohio State’s Pro Day, Levis is all arm. He has tremendous upside but needs a lot of work to become a complete passer.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Seattle organization knows how to develop big, athletic receivers. Quentin Johnston certainly fits that bill. Like with Pittsburgh, a trade-down for a center such as Schmitz or Tippmann is also possible.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Veteran TE Gerald Everett has one year left on his deal and leaves much to be desired as a blocker. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer gives Justin Herbert another target and will be an asset as a blocker.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
All the top cornerbacks are gone, and I can’t bear mocking a receiver to the Ravens in the first round for yet another draft. Thankfully I won’t have to after the signing of OBJ. Baltimore needs an edge rusher, and Nolan Smith will help in that area, though he’s so much more than a one-dimensional defender. If I’m correct about this selection, it will be reminiscent of the Ravens’ choice of Ed Reed in 2002.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The Vikings desperately need a cornerback, yet any player at the position is a reach at this point. Lukas Van Ness fills a need for an edge rusher and has the upside to develop into a three-down defender.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee
I’m going off my board a bit with this selection.
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Initially, I had DJ Turner fill the need for slot corner, but the hole on the offensive line is pressing, and Jacksonville must protect their franchise quarterback. I have Torrence rated slightly higher on my board, but the Florida product is a guard who’ll struggle to move outside to tackle. Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is a tackle who can also play guard.
25) New York Giants: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
While outside corner is a priority, adding a center is still a must for the Giants. Those close to the organization I’ve spoken with tell me the feeling, at this point anyway, is the team would take John Michael Schmitz over Zay Flowers.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Cowboys had a terrific offseason and are in the position to take BPA at this spot. Torrence would fill a need on the interior offensive line, but adding another weapon for Dak Prescott is more advantageous. Zay Flowers is much like Seattle’s star receiver Tyler Lockett, and there’s no doubt the Cowboys could use that.
27) Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Any offensive lineman would be a reach at this point. Texas star rusher Bijan Robinson immediately upgrades the entire offense and makes life easier for Josh Allen.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
It’s a pleasant situation for the Bengals where need meets BPA at pick 28. Luke Musgrave is a legitimate downfield threat at tight end and can work the middle of the field, which will further open things up for Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins on the outside.
29) New Orleans Saints (From SF via MIA via DEN): Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
Defensive tackle is a consideration, but Keion White fills a need as a pass-rushing end who can also line up on the inside on passing downs.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
The Eagles compare Adetomiwa Adebawore to the aging Brandon Graham as a quick, explosive, and athletic edge rusher. Adebawore also has the advantage of being able to line up as an interior pass rusher as well.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
Flowers would be coveted at this spot. I’d also consider Jalin Hyatt, as I’m sure Patrick Mahomes could straighten him out. But Kansas City still needs an edge rusher despite signing Charles Omenihu, in what amounts to a one-year contract during free agency.
I’m going with BJ Ojulari over Will McDonald IV, as the LSU junior is a bit stouter and carries a little more weight. Though still undersized, he fits what the Chiefs want in an edge rusher.
The Dolphins forfeited their 2023 first-round pick for violation of league policies.