The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away (April 27-29 in Kansas City) and figures to be a show-stopper with the No. 1 pick still up in the air and plenty of polarizing players rising up and down the boards, depending on which Mock Drafts you look at.
Below is my latest update after the first NFL team I played for (Carolina) traded for the No. 1 pick that had belonged to the second team I played for (Chicago). I've got the Panthers and coach Frank Reich keeping it simple ...
1. Carolina Panthers - via trade with Bears:
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is an elite processor with the traits and instincts to be an elite player, size (5-foot-10) be damned. Young has all the tools and experience at the highest level to be elite accuracy, anticipation, and decision making. Young is an elusive runner that can extend plays with his quickness and his ability to use his feet when needed. The Panthers have added some nice veteran talent — Andy Dalton, Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, and Hayden Hurst — to make Young’s transition a little smoother. Young will be a Day 1 starter on a team in desperate need of a leader that hasn’t had one since Cam Newton.
2. Houston Texans:
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud gives the Texans the ability to start over at the most important position in the league and build with a high-ceiling passer who will be in a tough position as the Texans are severely talent-deficient across the roster. Stroud might be a tougher person to grade until a few years down the road as the Texans on paper look like a candidate to pick No. 1 in 2024. Stroud is an effortless and accurate passer who is polished and can make all the throws and is a better athlete than given credit. His film vs. Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals is spectacular (he finally used his legs!) and a glimpse into his future as an elite playmaker.
3. Arizona Cardinals:
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
The Cardinals need help on the line of scrimmage and edge is where the value is this high. Anderson is perhaps the safest player in the draft due to his production the last three seasons at Alabama. Anderson has the ability to be disruptive in both phases and a high ceiling when he develops his hands in his pass rush repertoire, which is speed and power currently. Anderson is a leader and plays with a relentless motor, two traits that help reduce the bust rate. The Cardinals will no doubt be a prime spot for a quarterback needy team to trade with and will have to address their offensive line early as well.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Richardson has the highest bust rate but also the highest ceiling in this year's draft. Head coach Shane Steichen has had success with many different styles of quarterbacks in his career but Jalen Hurts' development in Philadelphia makes me believe they go with Richardson. Richardson will likely be a project-and-package player for a year as he continues his development. That leaves Gardner Minshew to lead the offense and another long year in Indy that has tons of holes to fill, unless they trade for Lamar Jackson which is a stretch. If it were up to me, I’d trade for Jackson as Richardson has proven to be an elite athlete but was far from an elite college quarterback in his limited action.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Tyree Wilson, EGE, Texas Tech
Seattle looks like it's in a prime position to shore up the defensive line. Wilson was somewhat under the radar playing in Lubbock but is a physical freak with length, twitch, and versatility to play anywhere along the defensive line and get to the quarterback. His versatility will be a great fit for the 12th man and Wilson should make an instant impact on day one. He's an excellent two-way player who should make a quick adjustment to the next level.
6. Detroit Lions:
Jalen Carter, IDL, Georgia
Carter has had a less than stellar offseason but will still go high because the NFL is more of a projection and not a production evaluation for high-ceiling players. Playing along Georgia’s multiple based defensive front will help but the Lions are sticklers for players that are tough and love football and Carter will need to check those boxes before they are comfortable. Carter’s motor runs a little inconsistent at times but when it’s hot, he’s a one-man wrecking crew. Detroit needs a three-technique and Carter has the ability to be a great one once he moves into a less versatile defense than he played in at Georgia. Carter has low tread on the tires due to Georgia’s rotations and injuries, so his ceiling is high.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Raiders solved their quarterback issues with Jimmy G and will look to upgrade their secondary with Gonzalez. A transfer from Colorado who starred in one season at Oregon, Gonzalez has the size, length, and speed to come in and contribute immediately. Gonzalez has great hips and instincts and can play man coverage and can eventually blanket the opposing team's best receiver. Gonzalez should be CB1 in a deep and talented class.
8. Atlanta Falcons:
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Falcons are likely praying that Carter or Anderson slips to them here but Smith turned a lot of heads with a freakshow workout at the combine showing elite speed, twitch, and explosion. The Falcons are in desperate need to upgrade the defensive line and pass rush. Smith is a tweener at only 240 pounds but did a nice job holding the point at Georgia. Smith was having his most productive season at Georgia before he tore his pec. Great leader and high-effort player who once ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in his class.
9. Chicago Bears:
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Johnson is my favorite offensive tackle prospect in a solid offensive line group. Johnson finally got a season at his natural position protecting the blind-side and shined. Johnson is an excellent athlete who's versatile enough to play inside or, better yet, his best spot at left tackle. It's nice to see the Bears with a competent GM for once. I think they fleeced the Panthers for a bounty of picks.
10. Philadelphia Eagles:
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Eagles have had some talent depart in free-agency and need to address their defense in the draft. Witherspoon's 2022 film jumps off the tape as a ballhawk and physical presence that looks like a future star. Witherspoon loves football and is ultra competitive. His mentality combined with his natural ability is what separates his game. He possesses great speed and length and I would not be surprised if he goes sooner. Big-time playmaker.
11. Tennessee Titans:
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba still has to be regarded as one of the top two receivers despite missing basically the entire 2022 season. His health concerns were proven to be a non-factor at the combine and his pro day with his polished route running, excellent hands, and good speed. He’s going to be a great NFL slot and is WR1 in this draft.
12. Houston Texans:
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Texans could upgrade at almost any position so why not get perhaps the most versatile offensive lineman? Skoronski is is technically sound and can play right away at offensive guard if that's where he's needed. Skoronski is a good athlete with excellent technique that is not afraid to mix it up. Skoronski could eventually kick out to right tackle if needed and will be an excellent pick here.
13. New York Jets:
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets would be thrilled to get one of the top offensive lineman here as they will likely revamp their offensive line after some misses and lots of injuries. Jones has excellent feet and a huge upside starting only 20 games at offensive tackle in two seasons at Georgia. Young, athletic, and great film vs. the best competition in the country? Sign me up. The Jets are a team on the rise and killed last year's draft with an influx of talent. Somewhere in the darkness, Aaron Rodgers approves.
14. New England Patriots:
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson is an elite prospect and an outlier at a position that's undervalued at this point, in my opinion. Robinson is one of the most talented do-it all backs we've seen in the draft this century and would be an absolute steal here. His ceiling is through the roof and Robinson could be just what the Patriots need to get back to the playoffs.
15. Green Bay Packers:
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
This one would turn some heads. Will Levis has lots of traits to work with with a howitzer arm and fearless runner. The Packers look likely to be cellar dwellers in the NFC Central after botching future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers' services, so why not start over under center? Levis will be a bit of a project but is intriguing and has some time to sit behind Jordan Love, who I don't think will be a long-term success in Green Bay.
16. Washington Commanders:
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
The Washington quarterback room needs some more talent and competition and I would not be surprised to see them move way up to try and snag Richardson or Levis earlier. Hooker had a fantastic season and would be a great pick here as a future prospect as he’s coming off an ACL and can rehab and recover while the team gives Sam Howell a shot. I'm a believer in Hooker.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers:
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Porter gives the Steelers size and length outside to match excellent cover skills for a team that has had a hard time keeping their secondary together. This would be a sentimental pick as his dad played and coached for the Steelers. Porter has great top end speed and does a nice job playing the ball in the air despite the lack of interceptions.
18. Detroit Lions:
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer is a throwback player with excellent hands who's not scared to mix it up in the trenches. Mayer didn't test great during the combine but will be an excellent pro and has a great body of work at Notre Dame.He'd be a great fit and fits the toughness mold the Lions covet.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Van Ness is a physical power rusher who plays with his hair on fire on every snap. Has great film vs. some of the top offensive tackles in the draft. Tampa needs some youth on its defensive line and he gives the Hawkeyes the positional versatility to play on the edge or kick inside on obvious passing situations.
20. Seattle Seahawks:
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Pete Carroll loves the juice and Sanders brings it. Carroll could have a lot of fun with the swiss-army knife that is Drew Sanders. He's a jumbo athlete and offers great value after a mega-productive season with Arkansas playing him in the proper position. Sanders is an incredible piece that has the versatility to roam sideline to sideline and rush the passer off the edge if needed.
21. Los Angeles Chargers:
Mazi Smith, IDL, Michigan
The Chargers had countless injuries that really hurt their season last year in the trenches. I could see them go offensive line here as well but my hunch is that they look to improve the other side of the trenches. Smith is a physical presence the Bolts need inside vs. both the run and pass and he's very athletic for a 335-plus pound dude.
22. Baltimore Ravens:
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Who knows what happens with Lamar Jackson, but Baltimore has to continue to try and improve its wide receiver room, regardless of quarterback, especially with Todd Monken spearheading a new offensive regime. Addison is a highly skilled player that will be coveted by everyone as a home run hitter and a polished player. He would likely be Baltimore's best receiver the day he gets there.
23. Minnesota Vikings:
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Smith has put together a nice resume as a versatile defender who can shadow the opposing team's best wide receiver and is not afraid to tackle against the run. He's an excellent corner that can be a difference-maker for a team who really needs it.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Jacksonville is on the rise and will be a contender next season with the influx of youth and talent they have acquired since the botched Urban Meyer season. Banks is a long and athletic corner with blazing speed and twitch to match. You need somebody like that to break through in the AFC against the Bengals, Chiefs and Bills.
25. New York Giants:
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Johnston has the size, skill, and catch radius to be a much-needed weapon for Daniel Jones. Johnston is a long strider and has big play potential, something the Giants desperately need for a team trending up quickly with an elite coach.
26. Dallas Cowboys:
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Branch is a supremely versatile defender who can wear a lot of hats on the back end and is also a heat-seeking missile as a blitzer. Dallas can continue to revamp and improve its young and talented secondary with an excellent chess piece.
27. Buffalo Bills:
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Harrison is really young and has huge upside at offensive tackle with his excellent feet and hands and the ability to anchor vs power. Harrison is physical, something the Bills need up front, in the run game and is a finisher. Really talented prospect that would not be surprised to see rise.
28. Cincinnati Bengals:
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Cincinnati’s offensive line has been a big red flag for the last couple seasons despite the fact that they went above and beyond last offseason to protect the franchise but still had some issues. Wright is a large human and powerful mauler that put together a huge 2022 season and some impressive tape. Imagine how dangerous this offense becomes with a physical mauler that can play inside or out with the weapons around him.
29. New Orleans Saints:
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
This is the pick New Orleans acquired from Denver — through Miami and, originally, San Francisco — in the Sean Payton trade. Murphy’s production was not there at Clemson but he possesses excellent tools to ramp up his game at the next level. Worth a flier at 29.
30. Philadelphia Eagles:
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Gibbs fits a huge need and is a steal here as a dynamic back with the ability to hit home runs in both phases of the game. Gibbs paired with Jalen Hurts, Rashaad Penny, and Kenneth Gainwell would be a lethal combination in the run/RPO game and he can pull double duty as a receiver if needed.
*31. Kansas City Chiefs:
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Not that he’s showing any true signs of slowing down, but eventually the Chiefs need to prepare for life after Travis Kelce. In the meantime they get to pair Kelce up with one of the biggest mismatches at 6-foot-7-plus and one of the largest catch radiuses on the planet. Washington is not scared to get dirty blocking and will only get better. Mahomes approves.
Blake Brockermeyer is a College Football Analyst for 247Sports. He was an All-American OT at the University of Texas and was a first-round NFL Draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He was a defensive quality control analyst for SMU from 2018-2020. He has sons on the Alabama (James) and TCU (Tommy) football teams.
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