We continue our series of 2023 NFL mock drafts.
We are inching closer to the 2023 NFL Draft. The draft is now just 17 days from its start. In preparation for the event, we have our weekly 2023 NFL Mock Draft. This week it is staff writer Carlos Nazario’s turn to give his insight.
Of course, the first round is where most of the attention goes. Teams are looking to add impactful players to help them start or continue winning.
Teams will have big decisions to make. There are some very good prospects who can become Pro Bowlers or even All-Pro players. Some of them have some history that makes it a little scary to pick them.
Look at the other mock drafts that were already published. Compare them and see how you feel about them. Here is our latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers (via Chicago): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (5-foot-10, 204 pounds)
A lot of draft analysts have Bryce Young as the most talented quarterback in this class. The scary thing about him is his size. At just 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, there will be concern about his health. Add the fact that he will be running a lot as well and that is a valid concern.
However, there are also reports that the Panthers really fell in love with Young. Doing that is not a recipe for success, though.
Young has the highest ceiling of any other quarterback, but also the most concern. He has all the tools you want and the desire to get better. In the end, that will win out for him.
2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-foot-3, 214 pounds)
Former Texans head coach Lovie Smith made the cardinal sin of winning the final game of the season and costing the team the number one overall pick.
That win cut some of their options as we saw with what happened with the Chicago Bears. They stepped out of grabbing the top spot and now they get what some consider the consolation prize.
In this case, however, they may have the perfect pick without them messing it up. C.J. Stroud is as good of a quarterback as Young but without the health concern. He has an NFL-ready body and can make any throw you want. He might not be the runner Young is but he could surprise people with his legs. Remember, Justin Fields wasn’t considered a running quarterback in college. Look at the historic season he had running the ball, however.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (6-foot-3, 253 pounds)
NFL success and Will Anderson have been on a collision course ever since he left high school. He was on the SEC All-freshman team. As a sophomore, he was on the All-SEC and All-American teams. Additionally, he won the Bronco Nagurski Award as the best defender in the nation. He repeated those honors as a junior.
Arizona is in a state of flux. The Cardinals want to make the defense younger and more athletic. That first step happens with Anderson.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (6-foot-4, 244 pounds)
No one has done as much to improve himself as Anthony Richardson did in the NFL Combine. He had an incredible moment there, wowing all the scouts.
While everyone raves about Young’s athletic ability, Richardson’s athleticism is off the chart. He did not have the stats that the other quarterbacks had in their careers, but he also did not have the supporting cast they did.
Richardson does need some refining as a passer. However, the Colts have Nick Foles, who is a terrific backup. He could start the season as QB1 until Richardson takes over.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech (6-foot-6, 271 pounds)
A lot of people think the Seahawks go with a defensive tackle here. They are in need of an edge rusher, though.
Tyree Wilson is a beast off the edge. Despite missing three games in 2022, he still recorded the most pressures in the Big 12 with 50. He also had the highest pressure rate.
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6-foot-3, 314 pounds)
This is where Jalen Carter‘s slide ends. He has much too much talent to go down further. He has the generational talent that teams covet.
Yes, he made a mistake. It was a big mistake, but he handled it and took care of things. Some question his character because of the crash and the struggle on his Pro Day. However, those two went hand-in-hand. Now that he settled one side, he could resume being the dominant force he had been.
Now close your eyes and imagine the Lions’ defense with both Aidan Hutchinson and Carter.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon, CB (6-foot-0, 181 pounds)
Devon Witherspoon has the body to make receivers’ lives difficult. He is also athletic enough to keep up with just about any receiver. Also, he possesses great field vision. That vision allows him to study the quarterback and then jump the pass.
Witherspoon was born to be a Raider. He has a lot of attitude and has a high competitiveness nature. Additionally, he has a high motor. He is a willing tackler as well. He will beat receivers and will tell them about it.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (6-foot-5, 268 pounds)
The Falcons struggled with sacks last season. They had the second-fewest sacks in the league. Myles Murphy will help turn things around.
Murphy has the size, quickness, and athleticism to be a dominant force for an Atlanta team that desperately needs help on defense.
9. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): Paris Johnson, OT (6-foot-6, 313 pounds)
The Bears are in desperate need of solidifying the offensive line. GM Ryan Poles added guard Nate Davis but there is still a big need at right tackle.
Paris Johnson fills that hole. He has the size and is extremely athletic. Something that Poles, a former offensive lineman himself, wanted linemen who were light on their feet and athletic. Johnson checks the boxes Poles looks for.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Nolan Smith, EDGE, 6-foot-2, 238 pounds)
The Eagles do a good job here of having a player ready to replace a veteran. They have Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham. They add Nolan Smith to be a backup at first. He will eventually become a starter, though.
Smith has incredible athleticism and toughness. These are traits the Eagles look for. They have Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith who give off a winning energy. Smith gives the same energy and will eventually be a fan favorite.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-foot-1, 196 pounds)
The one thing a young quarterback needs is good targets. Just ask Fields and Joe Burrow. Jaxon Smith-Njigba does just that.
Smith-Njigba is the best route runner in this class. He doesn’t possess elite speed but that route running helps him. At the higher level, he will be a very good possession receiver. He will do a good job of making big catches to move the chains. That is what this offense requires.
12. Houston Texans (via Cleveland): Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (6-foot-5, 272 pounds)
The Texans use their second first-round pick on edge rusher Lukas Van Ness.
Van Ness gives Houston some options and flexibility. While he is primarily an edge rusher, he can also kick it inside. That helps the defense tremendously.
13. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern (6-foot-4, 313 pounds)
The Jets are about to make a move to acquire future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If they end up doing that, their first order of business is to protect him so he can get the ball to his receivers.
Peter Skoronski is one of the top linemen in the nation. While he played his career as a tackle, his lack of arm length many scouts project him as a guard.
The Jets need a tough, athletic player on the line and Skoronski is that player.
14. New England Patriots: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (5-foot-9, 182 pounds)
The Patriots lost Jakobi Meyes this offseason. They need to replace him with someone who can help rebuild Mac Jones‘ confidence.
Zay Flowers is a receiver who can do that. While he is on the smaller size, he is a tough player who can do it all for New England. He will be a good slot receiver who can run jet sweeps. Additionally, he can line up in the backfield and run the ball.
15. Green Bay Packers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (6-foot-3, 208 pounds)
The Packers finally end their streak without drafting a running back, tight end, or wide receiver at 20. Jordan Love will take over for Rodgers. He needs to have a stable of receivers to help him look good.
Quentin Johnston is a tall receiver who can attract attention. He has layers of athletic ability. Combining him with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs gives Green Bay one of the toughest, youngest, and most athletic trio in the NFL.
16. Washington Commanders: Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia (6-foot-5, 311 pounds)
Broderick Jones has everything you want in an offensive lineman. He has the size, strength, and length to be a very good starter in the league. He is a former basketball player so his athletic ability is through the roof.
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Jones has the ability to make any type of block, either zone or power. He also has the body control and quick footwork to take on any pass rusher.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida (6-foot-5, 330 pounds)
The Steelers have two pretty good offensive weapons in quarterback Kenny Pickett, wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, and running back Najee Harris. However, they struggled. Pickett was unable to have the proper protection to get the ball to the receivers and Harris was not able to find open holes to run through.
O’Cyrus Torrence was a dominant force at the Senior Bowl. He had a great week of practice and has the skills to be dominant in the NFL as well. He will be a Week 1 starter.
18. Detroit Lions: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (6-foot-3, 195 pounds)
The Lions again solidify their defense even more by picking up cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Porter has the NFL in his blood. He is the son of former Pro Bowl player Joey Porter, who enjoyed a successful career.
Porter has the same physicality that his father had. He has the body and strength to take on all receivers and can bully them.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-foot-4, 229 pounds)
With Tom Brady‘s retirement, Tampa Bay needs a replacement. With their salary cap situation, they weren’t able to find a good veteran to do so.
Will Levis is a boom or bust prospect. Some feel he has the traits to be one of the top quarterbacks picked. However, he didn’t have very much luck at Kentucky.
The Bucs have no other choice but to take a big swing at taking Levis. He could be another Josh Allen or he could be another Mitchell Trubisky.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (6-foot-1, 197 pounds)
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has had success molding big cornerbacks. He gets another one in Christian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has great size and speed. He can keep up with any receiver. He will make Carroll a happy man.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (6-foot-0, 197 pounds)
The Chargers had a pretty good offense with quarterback Justin Herbert leading the way. However, they need help on defense. They cannot continue to have 31-30 games,
Deonte Banks had an incredible Combine. He ran a 4.35-40, a 42-inch vertical, and an 11-foot-4 broad jump. He will help shut down some receivers and keep the score down so the Chargers could win more key games.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC (5-foot-11, 173 pounds)
There is a good chance the Ravens start the season with a new quarterback. They are having a contract dispute with Lamar Jackson. Even if they end up bringing him back (long shot), they need another weapon.
Jordan Addison will be a good slot receiver, but he could also play on the outside. He has the speed and agility to attack the defense at all three levels. Additionally, he is a dynamic route runner.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh (6-foot-1, 281 pounds)
The Vikings’ defensive front had trouble against the pass and they were mediocre against the run.
Selecting Calijah Kancey solidifies the defensive line. With pressure from the middle, the outside pass rushers will be able to operate with more space. Also, he will help improve the run defense. They’re able to score points. Now it’s time to prevent the opposition from scoring.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (6-foot-4, 246 pounds)
The Jaguars have Evan Engram as their tight end. That could change after the season, though. He is due to a new contract and Jacksonville, already with salary cap problems, may not be willing or able to pay him.
The Jaguars could find his replacement in Dalton Kincaid. He is a younger version of Engram. He is a well-polished route runner and athletic enough to move around by lining up in the slot.
Having Kincaid together with Christian Kirk, Calvin Ridley, and Zay Jones gives quarterback Trevor Lawrence a plethora of weapons to target.
25. New York Giants: Steve Avila, OL, TCU (6-foot-4, 332 pounds)
Now that the Giants made a commitment to Daniel Jones, it is time to protect him. They also need to help Saquon Barkley get his yards.
Steve Avila helps on both counts. In 2022, he did not allow a sack. Additionally, he can play any position on the offensive line.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-foot-5, 249 pounds)
The Cowboys lost a good tight end in Dalton Schultz. They find him in Michael Mayer.
Mayer is a well-rounded tight end who can both be an effective pass catcher and blocker. He is a tough player who can make the catch through contact and won’t give in to traffic.
27. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (5-foot-11, 215 pounds)
While the Bills have Allen’s legs to depend on, they have to help him. He cannot continue to run as much as he does if he wants to have success in the postseason.
The Bills have used a number of running backs to try to do that but failed.
Bijan Robinson ends that quest. He is an every-down runner who will help preserve Allen’s legs and health. He is a master at running away from the defense. In 2022, he led the nation with 113 avoided tackles.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Brian Branch, S, Alabama (6-foot-0, 190 pounds)
The Bengals’ defense suffered a blow when they lost Jessie Bates III. Brian Branch is the top safety in the draft and would be a great replacement.
Branch adds some toughness to the Cincinnati defense. He has great anticipation skills and that helps him be a great blitzer. He doesn’t get caught out of position much and uses great technique when tackling.
29. New Orleans Saints (via SF): Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (5-foot-9, 171 pounds)
Josh Downs is a dynamic athlete who uses great footwork and an instinctive feel to avoid tacklers. While he is an undersized receiver, he plays much bigger. He is a tough player and does a great job of catching the ball through contact.
Downs is a fun player to watch. He plays with extreme confidence. He is a ball energy and has the skills to be a playmaker.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee (6-foot-5, 333 pounds)
The Eagles have a very good right tackle in Lane Johnson. However, it appears as if Johnson is on the decline. Despite playing in 15 games, he battled injuries all season.
The Eagles will want to prepare themselves for Johnson’s exit. This is likely his final season. He technically still has eight seasons left on his contract but those are voidable years.
To prepare for his replacement, Philadelphia uses their second first-round pick on Darnell Wright.
Wright is a younger version of Johnson. He could be another stalwart at tackle for years to come. An interesting tidbit here, he did a marvelous job of handling Will Anderson when Tennessee upset Alabama last season.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Dawand Jones, OL, Ohio State (6-foot-8, 374 pounds)
A couple of seasons ago the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl. However, their offensive line was in tatters. They spent the next offseason overhauling the unit. A couple of seasons later, they won their second Super Bowl.
Now Kansas City has to fix their offensive line again. After winning the Super Bowl, they lost their outside linemen, tackles Orlando Brown Jr and Andrew Wylie.
The team solved their left tackle situation by signing Jawaan Taylor. Now they resolve their right tackle situation by selecting Dawand Jones.
Jones is a behemoth who swallows up pass rushers. Additionally, he has an amazing 89.5-inch wingspan. He uses that length to keep defenders at bay.
Despite his size, he moves extremely well. Pass rushers think they can run around him and are very surprised when they see him move. Then, when he extends his long arms, they find themselves in a long game trying to get past him.
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