It’s only been a week since my first NFL mock draft was put out, but things change quickly in the days leading up to draft night. We get new information and juicy 2023 NFL Draft rumors every day about who GMs are looking to snag with their first-round picks. The biggest NFL Draft headline this past week was Bryce Young canceling his scheduled visits with remaining teams as he looks poised to go No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are reportedly open to trading the second pick instead of drafting C.J. Stroud. Plus, the Indianapolis Colts could be out on a quarterback at the fourth pick or end up drafting their next franchise QB. Oh, and did you hear Odell Beckham signed with the Baltimore Ravens and Jeff Okudah got traded to the Atlanta Falcons? It’s enough to give you whiplash! With all these changes, you know we couldn’t leave you hanging with an outdated version of my mock draft. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the 2023 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 as you prepare for dynasty fantasy football drafts and update those fantasy football rankings for the 2023 season. (Check out the original version here.)
2023 NFL Mock Draft 1st Round
Pick 1 – Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, Alabama, QB
The odds have drastically shifted after Bryce Young’s visit to the Panthers last week, and he’s now listed at -1000 to be selected first overall in the NFL Draft. Young reportedly wowed the scouts in Carolina, and the feeling seems mutual. He canceled his other scheduled visits on Monday afternoon. It will be something of a new situation for Panthers head coach Frank Reich, as he’s never started a quarterback under 6-foot-2 – but they clearly believe that Young is their guy.
Pick 2 – Houston Texans: Will Anderson, Alabama, Edge
With Bryce Young off the board, things get tricky here for the Texans. ESPN reported that Houston is apparently not sold on C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, or Will Levis if Young isn’t available. So, with their top pick gone, the Texans shift gears and opt to shore up their defense with Will Anderson. DeMeco Ryans ran one of the NFL’s best defenses during his time in San Francisco, and getting Anderson would be the first step in building a dynasty in Houston. They could certainly trade this pick to another quarterback-needy team, but if they don’t, Anderson is a great addition.
Pick 3 – Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech, Edge
If Houston throws a wrench in the draft, Arizona’s plans may change. Lucky for them, another explosive edge rusher is still on the board, and they choose to go with Tyree Wilson here. The Cardinals have major issues on their defensive line with the retirement of J.J. Watt, and Wilson is ready to be a Day 1 starter. “The Condor” earned All-Big 12 honors each of his three seasons with the Red Raiders, despite a foot injury ending his 2022 season early. He’ll be an immediate part of new head coach Jonathan Gannon’s defensive scheme in Arizona.
Pick 4 – Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State, QB
C.J. Stroud being available here is the last thing anyone expected, but things have changed drastically this week. Adam Schefter reported that the Colts may have their pick of three of the top four quarterbacks, and if Stroud is available, that’s who they take here. Stroud is arguably the most polished quarterback on the board and up until late last week, he was the odds-on favorite to go first overall. While Colts’ general manager Jim Irsay is being coy about the whole situation, you can bet they’ll jump at the chance to draft Stroud.
Pick 5 – Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, Georgia, DL
Hey, we’ve finally got a pick that stayed the same! With all the shuffling that went on in the rest of the top five, the Seahawks stand firm and select Jalen Carter. Carter has elite talent and had it not been for his legal issues, it’s likely he could have been the No. 1 pick overall. Seattle desperately needs to improve its run defense and Carter is the guy to help them do that. The Georgia Bulldogs allowed the fewest rushing yards per game last season with Carter leading the way. There’s no way the Seahawks let him get past this fifth-overall pick.
Pick 6 – Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois, CB
After trading Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons early last week, Devon Witherspoon is almost a lock to Detroit at pick six. Witherspoon was one of the best shutdown corners in the FBS last season, finishing with a 34.9% allowed completion percentage while giving up no touchdowns and adding three interceptions. The Lions’ weakness last season was their secondary, so look for Witherspoon to help them right the ship in Brian Duker’s first full year as defensive backs coach.
Pick 7 – Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Richardson, Florida, QB
Yes, the Raiders landed Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency, so they don’t have an immediate need at quarterback. Still, the elephant in the room remains. Garoppolo has had injury issues each of the past three seasons and behind an objectively worse offensive line, his durability is a big concern. Richardson is a stellar athlete and although he needs development, he would be some insurance on a Las Vegas team that is currently only rostering Brian Hoyer and Chase Garbers as their backups to Jimmy G.
Pick 8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, Texas, RB
Do the Falcons have an outright NEED for a running back? Not really. They have second-year player Tyler Allgeier and aging pass-catcher Cordarrelle Patterson still on the team. Even so, Atlanta has never been one to pass on shiny new toys. The Dirty Birds are now the odds-on favorites to select Bijan Robinson at +250, followed by the Cowboys and Texans at +600, while the Eagles, Lions, and Chargers have fallen to +1000. We know that Arthur Smith loves to establish the run, utilizing the most rushing plays per game in the league last year. With uncertainty at quarterback, Robinson would be the logical choice to offer some offensive stability on the Falcons’ roster.
Pick 9 – Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern, OL
The Bears have some pretty glaring holes throughout their roster, but none so deep as the left side of their offensive line. Currently, Chicago has only one left tackle and one left guard on its roster. Enter Peter Skoronski, who has the versatility the Bears need to plug either of these holes. He's been a standout throughout his time at Northwestern, excelling in pass protection. Skoronski especially broke out last year, earning a 93 pass-blocking grade per PFF, the highest grade in the country. The Bears get their O-line help with this selection, and adding a hometown kid to their roster is just the cherry on top.
Pick 10 – Philadelphia Eagles: Lukas Van Ness, Iowa, Edge
There aren’t any glaring weaknesses on the Eagles’ roster, but edge could be a softer spot that they choose to improve with Lukas Van Ness. There may be some uncertainty surrounding his lack of starting time (aka none), but when he was on the field, he was an absolute disruptor. The Eagles also were exploitable against the run last year and could use help on the defensive line. Van Ness’ versatility and ability to play at different spots on the line is something the Eagles may find intriguing.
Pick 11 – Tennessee Titans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State, WR
Although Will Levis is an intriguing option here, the Titans opt to go with Jaxon Smith-Njigba at pick 11. Tennessee’s wide receiver room is horrifically thin, and while they may not have him for much longer, Ryan Tannehill is still a serviceable quarterback. As long he’s under contract, the Titans have to get him some weapons. That’s where JSN fits in here. He’ll be a nightmare opposite of Treylon Burks and will help Tennessee compete in the AFC South that’s all but been given to the Jaguars.
Pick 12 – Houston Texans: Will Levis, Kentucky, QB
Waiting on their quarterback paid off for the Texans after they still land Will Levis at 12th overall. While he may not be the quarterback they initially had their eyes on at the No. 2 pick, Levis should still fit the bill as a starter in the NFL. It will undoubtedly help that he will have way more offensive weapons at his disposal than he did at Kentucky, but he still has some development until he’s a true franchise quarterback.
Pick 13 – New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State, OT
The name may be changing from the first mock I put out, but the Jets are still looking at the best available offensive tackle on the board. In this go-around, it happens to be Paris Johnson Jr. out of Ohio State. Johnson is big and physical, but he doesn’t have the same weight issues that Mekhi Becton has struggled with – giving him some more durability. In his final year at Ohio State, Johnson was one of the best tackles in the FBS, and he should continue improving with the Mean Green.
Pick 14 – New England Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon, CB
Bill Belichick’s bread and butter is a strong defense, and he makes an upgrade to the Patriots’ secondary by selecting Christian Gonzalez at No. 14. Gonzalez is an excellent tackler, and while he can improve his allowed completion percentage, his build and speed make him a great fit in both man and zone schemes. The Patriots weren’t horrible in coverage last year, but they do need a replacement for an aging Jonathan Jones. At pick 14, Gonzalez is a steal.
Pick 15 – Green Bay Packers: Quentin Johnston, TCU, WR
The Packers aren’t known for taking pass-catchers in the first round. With the likely departure of Aaron Rodgers, though, they’re going to have to surround Jordan Love with weapons. That’s where Quentin Johnston comes in. Johnston has the big build that Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst loves. In his final season at TCU, he also averaged almost 18 yards per catch on his way to racking up over 1,000 yards.
Pick 16 – Washington Commanders: Broderick Jones, Georgia, OT
If the Commanders are really running with Sam Howell this season, they’re going to have to protect him. Last season, Washington ranked near the bottom in both run blocking and pass protection. Broderick Jones would really solve a glaring problem along the O-line. While at Georgia, Jones was effective in both aspects of offensive play, and his thick lower body provides a big anchor that won’t easily be moved by defensive players at the NFL level.
Pick 17 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter, Penn State, CB
The Steelers weren’t the worst in coverage last season, but they certainly weren’t the best, finishing 20th in coverage grade. Their secondary is also on the older side with Patrick Peterson (32), Arthur Maulet (29), and Akhello Witherspoon (28). With that in mind, Joey Porter Jr. is the logical answer to their future. While at Penn State, Porter led all cornerbacks in the FBS in forced incompletion rate, and his height and wingspan allow him to excel in all types of coverage. There’s also the legacy aspect of his father playing for the Pittsburgh franchise, which is always a fun storyline.
Pick 18 – Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh, DL
Head coach Dan Campbell preaches about “biting kneecaps,” and the next step in being able to do that is Calijah Kancey. If you read my first mock draft or have paid even an iota of attention to the pre-draft promise, the comparisons to Aaron Donald are off the charts. They have nearly identical measurables, ran near-identical times at the combine, and both played for Pittsburgh. The Lions ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed per game last year. Although Aiden Hutchinson caused havoc on the outside, having Kancey on the interior would force opposing offenses to play honestly.
Pick 19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brian Branch, Alabama, DB
The Buccaneers have several question marks on both sides of the ball, but they are severely lacking depth in the secondary. They could take a pure cornerback here, but the versatility of defensive back Brian Branch provides a better fit. Branch is an excellent tackler, only missing four tackles on 174 career attempts. Plus, his high football IQ and adaptability would allow him to play all over the field. He’s not the sexiest pick here when you consider the Bucs have Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask at quarterback. Still, he’s a solid value selection.
Pick 20 – Seattle Seahawks: Bryan Bresee, Clemson, DL
The Seahawks are doubling down on their defensive line in the draft this year, selecting Bryan Bresee with their second pick in the first round. He’s big, has outstanding flexibility for a player with his height, and is explosive enough to burst off the line before opponents lock him up. Bresee is also versatile enough to play anywhere along the defensive line. His skillset paired with Jalen Carter will be an absolute nightmare to stop.
Pick 21 – Los Angeles Chargers: Nolan Smith, Georgia, Edge
I still love Nolan Smith to the Chargers at this draft position. They could take one of the receivers still on the board, but their depth at wideout is sufficient enough. Instead, I think the Chargers opt to take an edge defender to pair with Joey Bosa. Smith is fast, athletic, and has proven that he can play at a high level against the toughest competition.
Pick 22 – Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, Maryland, CB
After signing Odell Beckham, I’m pivoting off the Ravens taking a wide receiver in the first round. Instead, the Ravens look to get someone to guard receivers in Deonte Banks out of Maryland. Banks ran a blistering 4.35 40-yard dash at the Combine, and his size and ability to see the ball make him a wide receiver’s nightmare. His completion percentage allowed ranked fourth in the Big 10. Baltimore suffered so many injuries in their secondary last year that they need to shore up their depth, and Banks is that piece.
Pick 23 – Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Addison, USC, WR
After losing Adam Thielen in free agency, the Vikings really need to add some depth to their wide receiver corps. Jordan Addison is a great fit to fill the void opposite of Justin Jefferson here. Addison had a stellar 2021 season at Pittsburgh before transferring to USC, where he still produced despite being surrounded by more talent – finishing the year with 875 yards and eight touchdowns. The Vikings are hosting all the available receivers, but Addison seems like the most likely fit for them at 23.
Pick 24 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Anton Harrison, Oklahoma, OT
Everything went right for the Jaguars in Doug Pederson’s first season with the team. Now that Calvin Ridley has been reinstated, that team looks as complete as it can be with one exception…offensive tackle. Currently, the Jags’ depth chart only has one player listed at left tackle, and they’re going to have to keep Trevor Lawrence upright to utilize all their offensive weapons. Enter Anton Harrison. He thrives as a pass protector, ranking in the top ten in the entire Power Five last season. Although he’s not incredibly efficient as a run blocker, Harrison is exactly who Jacksonville needs to slot in behind (and eventually ahead of) Cam Robinson.
Pick 25 – New York Giants: Myles Murphy, Clemson, Edge
The Giants' defense stepped up in a big way last year, but they’re still a few pieces away from being truly elite. Myles Murphy still being available here is a steal. If the edge class wasn’t so deep, he would have been gone long before the 25th pick. Murphy has the perfect combination of size, speed, and power that you look for in a pass rusher. Although he has some development before he’s truly elite, the physical tools are a very good start to get him there.
Pick 26 – Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Kincaid, Utah, TE
After losing Dalton Schultz in free agency, Dallas needs more weapons to surround Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. Dalton Kincaid, despite being a walk-on at Utah and only playing one year of high school football, exploded onto the college football scene last year. He finished the 2022 season leading all FBS tight ends in receiving yards and receiving yards per game. Oh, did I mention he did that in only nine games? This kid is truly special, and he will bring much-needed explosiveness to the Cowboys' offense.
Pick 27 – Buffalo Bills: Drew Sanders, Arkansas, LB
While the Bills still technically have Von Miller on their roster, he’s still recovering from an ACL injury suffered last year. They also lost Tremaine Edmunds in free agency this off-season. Drew Sanders’ ability to play both middle and outside linebacker spots brings a unique skill set to the table that would immediately fill in the gaps on Buffalo's roster. Although he started his college career at Alabama, Sanders didn’t truly break onto the scene until he transferred to Arkansas, where he finished last season as a Dick Butkus Award finalist with 63 tackles and 11 sacks. Sanders could be a key piece in this Bills defense.
Pick 28 – Cincinnati Bengals: O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida, OG
One of the big concerns after the Bengals’ 2021 season was the strength of the offensive line. Although they improved the line with free-agent signings last year, Joe Burrow still found himself on the ground way too much for comfort. As the Cincinnati depth chart currently stands, there is only one right guard on the roster in Alex Cappa, who was unable to suit up for any of the Bengals’ playoff games. O’Cyrus Torrence would give them a little depth at the position and he could end up being more than that, depending on the health of Cappa. Cincinnati could choose to take a tight end or defensive piece here, but the key to its success is keeping Burrow upright with a strong O-line.
Pick 29 – New Orleans Saints: Zay Flowers, Boston College, WR
Despite the emergence of first-year player Chris Olave, the Saints' wide receiver room struggled last season with injuries to Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry early in the year. New Orleans spent a hefty amount on bringing Derek Carr to the Big Easy, and now the next step is to bring in some weapons. Zay Flowers has been pegged as a slot receiver, but he was so much more than that at Boston College due to his ability to separate. He finished 2022 with over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns as BC's primary target. His speed is something that can’t be overlooked. It’s time for the Saints to overhaul their receiving room, and Flowers is just the first piece.
Pick 30 – Philadelphia Eagles: Mazi Smith, Michigan, DL
The Eagles' defense was a formidable unit in 2022, but they did show some cracks in the armor when it came to their run-stopping ability. Drafting Mazi Smith could make this defense unstoppable. In 2022, Smith ranked sixth in run stops. Pairing him with Jordan Davis would be a nightmare for years to come.
Pick 31 – Kansas City Chiefs: Will McDonald, Iowa State, Edge
The Chiefs added an important piece to their defensive line with the offseason addition of Charles Omenihu to complement George Karlaftis. However, they also lost Frank Clark and may lose Carlos Dunlap as well. The addition of Will McDonald would add some much-needed future depth to the Chiefs' defense. He’s a little undersized for an edge rusher, but his explosiveness and versatility make him an intriguing addition to the defending Super Bowl champs.
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