The 2023 NFL Draft is finally here. This is my official predictive mock draft where I try to evaluate team needs, positional value, and trends to predict what teams will do with their first couple of picks.
Mock Draft: Round 1
1.Panthers: QB-Bryce Young, Alabama
There is lots of last second hype about Will Levis being the number one pick. I just outright don’t see it. If they don’t take Bryce Young it will more likely be CJ Stroud, but Young is way to talented to pass on with the first overall pick. He processes so well for a college prospect and he has great accuracy and athleticism. His obvious concern is size, but we have seen the lack of size be less and less important over recent years.
2.Texans: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
The Texans are rumored to be considering skipping on QB at two and going a different direction or moving back. I believe that means they are extremely enticed by a specific player. I can’t think of who else that would be than Will Anderson Jr. This guy is an absolute stud. He is explosive, quick, bendy, and strong for his size. He can probably move around on defense as well, so it would be good for the Texans to get a chess piece like Anderson Jr. on DeMeco Ryans defense.
3.Cardinals: OT-Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
The Cardinals have to protect their franchise QB; Kyler Murray. He will probably miss significant time this year, but having that franchise left tackle when he gets back would be huge. Paris Johnson Jr. has seen his stock climbing as we approach draft night. It seems all but certain he’ll be the first OT off the board.
4.Colts: QB-C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
The Colts are so obviously going to draft a QB, so it just begs the question, “who?” They would love to see C.J. Stroud fall to them, although it may not be likely if someone trades above them to take one after Carolina at one. In this scenario he falls right to them, and I think he is a great fit for what is already in place in Indianapolis.
5.Seahawks: DT-Jalen Carter, Georgia
The draft process has been wild to say the least for Jalen Carter. He saw allegations against him arise right before the NFL combine, and that caused a lot of wary around him as a top prospect. Then, he had an up and down (mostly down) pro day. The stock now seems almost redeemed entirely as nobody is really predicting a thunderous drop on draft night anymore. The Seahawks are one team he’d be a perfect fit for, and he falls right in their laps here.
6.Lions: CB-Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
The Lions officially moved on from former top-five pick Jeffrey Okudah this off-season, which emphasizes this need even more so. Devon Witherspoon is an elite coverage corner with good enough athletic ability to hang in the NFL. He should be a lock to go top ten, and I love his fit in Detroit.
7.Raiders: QB-Anthony Richardson, Florida
The Raiders brought in Jimmy G, but I think that in no way takes them out of the QB market on opening night. AR is a raw prospect, but he has the highest ceiling of all of the QB’s in this class. I’m not as high as some are on the prospect, but I prefer the upside of an Anthony Richardson over Will Levis for the Raiders.
8.Falcons: EDGE-Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
The Falcons have some playable veterans on the edge now, but they still need a star. Tyree Wilson has all the tools to be an elite edge rusher in the pros and some even think he’ll be a better pro than Will Anderson Jr. This would be a great choice for the Falcons if he were to be available this long.
9.Bears: OT-Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Check out my full Bears draft preview here. I discuss why the Bears absolutely have to go OT in the first round. They may miss out on Paris Johnson Jr., but some teams will have Skoronski higher anyways. They’ll be very happy to land one of the two at nine, and have their franchise left tackle in place.
10.Eagles: RB-Bijan Robinson, Texas
There’s not a lot of teams that can justify an RB in the top ten, but if there is a team that can, then it’s the Eagles. They already have a loaded roster with not a lot of needs. Adding a transcendent talent at the running back position could be the piece they need to put them over the top.
11.Titans: OT-Broderick Jones, Georgia
The Titans have to add help to the offensive line. If they plan on Malik Willis being their future, then they need to protect him and this would be one step in the right direction.
12.Texans: QB-Will Levis, Kentucky
The Will Levis slide ends right here with the Texans. They passed on QB at 12 and possibly landed the best player in the draft. Then, they land a potential franchise QB who might be the most NFL-ready guy in the class. He can start right away and they landed the face of their defense 10 picks prior. Great job by the Texans.
13.Packers: WR-Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
The Packers moved up to this pick with the big Aaron Rodgers deal. Now, they need to give Jordan Love weapons. Christian Watson really came on as a rookie, but he will not be enough on his own. JSN is going to be a top-tier slot receiver in this league. This would be a huge addition for the Packers offense.
14.Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
The Patriots have a few different ways to go with this pick, but I believe Christian Gonzalez falls way to far in this scenario for them to pass him up. He is a really good player and should be in consideration to be the number one corner over Witherspoon. He’s still around at 14, so the Patriots jump all over it.
15.Jets: S-Brian Branch, Alabama
The Jets just made a big move to land Aaron Rodgers, and were able to stay in the first round of the draft still. You might be thinking they’ll look to add pieces around Rodgers now. But, with the top three OT’s off the board, I just don’t know if they’ll be eager to reach on an offensive lineman when they can take a player like Brian Branch. Branch can move around and play slot corner, free safety, in the box. He’s a flexible player with a great skill set, so they’ll find somewhere for him to contribute right away.
16.Commanders: EDGE-Nolan Smith, Georgia
I am much higher on Nolan Smith than 16, but with the depth of the edge class in 2023, there’s a strong possibility teams will wait on that position to grab a thinner position first. However, the Commanders just declined Chase Young’s fifth-year option, and it is possible they move on from him a year from now if he can’t turn things around from a health and production standpoint. That being said, they would now have Nolan Smith in the wings waiting to take his spot.
17.Steelers: OT-Darnell Wright, Tennessee
The Steelers almost have to take an OT in round one. No matter who is available when they get on the clock, they have to protect their second-year QB Kenny Pickett. They have a strong interior, but are very weak at tackle. Darnell Wright can come in and start right away and shore up some of their issues on the offensive line to protect their asset at QB.
18.Lions: DT-Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
A lot of people want to see Jalen Carter end up on the Lions. He wasn’t available at five for them in this scenario, but that does not mean they don’t need defensive tackle help. Adding Calijah Kancey to a D-Line with Aidan Hutchinson would be lethal. Kancey has the potential to be special, but he is undersized which is a serious concern. Not everyone is Aaron Donald, but he doesn’t have to be Aaron Donald to be a special player.
19.Buccaneers: CB-Deonte Banks, Maryland
The Bucs lost Sean Murphy-Bunting this off-season, but they still have Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis at corner. It wouldn’t be a desperate need for them, but they still have talent all over this roster, and Deonte Banks is one of the best players on the board. This pick makes a lot of sense.
20.Seahawks: EDGE-Myles Murphy, Clemson
After getting Jalen Carter at five, the defensive line looks much better, but they can even still use more help; specifically on the edge. Adding Myles Murphy would be another steal for Seattle. He is someone I think should be a top 15 pick, but because of the depth at edge, he slides to them here.
Miami Dolphins forfeited pick
21.Chargers: WR-Jordan Addison, USC
The Chargers still have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams as well as Joshua Palmer. But, Allen is up there in age, and you can never have to many weapons. I think adding Jordan Addison would take the Chargers offense to yet another level.
22.Ravens: EDGE-Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
The Ravens tend to always find a way to steal edge rushers throughout the draft. Van Ness seems like their kind of player and he would probably turn into a double-digit sack guy rather quickly for them. He’s a little bit raw, but the Ravens know what they’re doing, so he’d figure it out quickly.
23.Vikings: CB-Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
The Vikings have a few different ways to go, but I still think corner is a need for them. Once upon a time, Joey Porter Jr. was in conversation with the likes of Devon Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez. His stock may have fallen a little bit, but he is still one of the top corners in the draft, and the Vikings would love to see him available at 23.
24.Jaguars: G-O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
It is hard for interior offensive linemen to make it into the first round sometimes, but Torrence is a damn good prospect and a steal at this point in the draft. It is a perfect fit for the Jaguars as well who desperately need help on the interior.
25.Giants: WR-Quentin Johnston, TCU
Quentin Johnston was once in the conversation for the number one receiver in the class. There is some differing opinions of his overall transition to the NFL level, but I believe in this dude to ball in the pros. He is a big-bodied receiver that has good enough speed, and should make Daniel Jones very very happy.
26.Cowboys: TE-Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
The Cowboys have are sitting a nice spot. One of the deepest positions in this draft is tight end, especially at the top of the group. The position is already one that typically falls in the draft, so in this mock, they’ll have their choice of tight ends. Michael Mayer is exactly the kind of tight end they tend to look for and utilize. He’s a great blocker, reliable route runner and pass-catcher, and will be an every down player immediately.
27.Bills: DT-Bryan Bresee, Clemson
The Bills could look to go secondary in round one, but they have a rare opportunity with Bryan Bresee still on the board. I’m not exactly sure why, but it sounds like he won’t go very high on Thursday night. He is a borderline top ten player in my opinion, but he slides all the way to the Bills in this one. They will happily run his name to the podium.
28.Bengals: TE-Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Dalton Kincaid is right there with Mayer for TE1. The Bengals have a need here after Hayden Hurst left in free agency, and they don’t have a ton of needs elsewhere. This would be a no-brainer for the Bengals.
29.Saints: CB-Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
The Saints defense is already the strength of this team, but they can use some help at corner. Emmanuel Forbes is a great coverage corner out of the SEC and loves going after the ball. This would be a great get late in round one.
30.Eagles: LB-Jack Campbell, Iowa
The Eagles lost T.J. Edwards to the Bears in the off-season. Now they haven’t always valued the LB position highly, and that could be why they didn’t pay to bring back Edwards. But, I think they are in win-now, so it is time to fill in some of their few holes and make a run to another Super Bowl.
31.Chiefs: WR-Zay Flowers, Boston College
The Chiefs saw JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman walk in free agency, so they can definitely add receiver help. They like Skyy Moore from last year’s draft, but even still they could use the weapons. Zay Flowers is their kind of player, so they will definitely be all over him if they get the chance.
Mock Draft: Round 2
32.Steelers: CB-Cam Smith, South Carolina
33.Texans: OT-Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
34.Cardinals: EDGE-Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
35.Colts: OT-Dawand Jones, Ohio State
36.Rams: TE-Darnell Washington, Georgia
37.Seahawks: C-John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
38.Raiders: DT-Mazi Smith, Michigan
39.Panthers: WR-Josh Downs, North Carolina
40.Saints: EDGE-Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
41.Titans: WR-Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
42.Packers: CB-Kelee Ringo, Georgia
43.Jets: OT-Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
44.Falcons: LB-Drew Sanders, Arkansas
45.Packers: TE-Sam LaPorta, Iowa
46.Patriots: EDGE-Keion White, Georgia Tech
47.Commanders: CB-Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (FL)
48.Lions: QB-Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
49.Steelers: LB-Trenton Simpson, Clemson
50.Buccaneers: RB-Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
51.Dolphins: G-Steve Avila, TCU
52.Seahawks: WR-Nathaniel Dell, Houston
53.Bears: CB-D.J. Turner, Michigan
54.Chargers: CB-Julius Brents, Kansas State
55.Lions: TE-Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
56.Jaguars: EDGE-B.J. Ojulari, LSU
57.Giants: CB-Clark Phillips III, Utah
58.Cowboys: DT-Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
59.Bills: C-Luke Wypler, Ohio State
60.Bengals: EDGE-Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
61.Bears: EDGE-Ade Adebawore, Northwestern
62.Eagles: WR-Rashee Rice, SMU
63.Chiefs: DT-Siaki Ika, Baylor
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