The 2023 NFL Draft won’t kickoff until April 27th, but that’s not going to stop a flood of mock drafts from now until then. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has his first mock out now and though it is flawed, like all mock drafts, it gives us some insight, especially if you don’t follow college football as closely as you do the NFL.
There is plenty to argue about in this first mock. A running back to the Eagles with the No. 5 pick? Sure, it’s Bijan Robinson, but I hope the NFL has learned that running backs just can’t fetch that high of draft capital anymore. But today, we’re going to look at where he has the top quarterbacks going this season.
Pick #1 — Houston Texans — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young to Houston appears to be the consensus for the first quarterback off the board and right now the Texans have a good handle on that pick with a 1-11-1 record. And there really is no reason to believe they’ll win another game. Young won the Heisman last season and backed it up with an efficient 2022. It would likely take a strong shift in the prevailing thinking for him not to go first in 2023.
Pick #4 — Detroit Lions — C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Lions first rounder this season comes via the Rams and might be hotly debated. We’ve seen Jared Goff help the Lions to a surprising 2022 so far and reports that the Lions want to keep going with the veteran as their starter have surfaced. But, when you look at Goff’s underlying numbers, he’s just not going to compete with the top quarterbacks in the league. Maybe the team and coaching will continue to push Goff into being a winning QB, but Stroud would likely be too enticing. The Ohio State product isn’t as “pro style” ready as Young and keeping Goff around could still be in the plans, but Stroud’s skills should be enough to continue their initial plan of using Goff as a bridge toward an upgrade at the position instead of holding down the position.
Pick #6 — Atlanta Falcons — Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Atlanta Falcons will have their rookie QB Desmond Ridder start the last four games of the season, but there’s a good chance they’ll want to add a higher pick this season than third-rounder Ridder. Could Ridder show he’s the future in just four games? Probably not, but he can give it a go to be sure.
Levis put up pedestrian numbers at Kentucky last season, but scouts are all in on his arm and size and ability to extend plays. He will likely be a high-upside project in a way, which could mesh with Ridder, if he shows promise as they move forward.
Pick #11 — Carolina Panthers — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Panthers have not been able to find a quarterback through free agency or the draft, but they will give it another try this season with what should be an early-ish round pick. They are at #11 right now, and have been winning some games lately. They should probably stop that.
As far as upside goes, Richardson is going to be compared to Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton quite a bit. Some will have him as the best prospect in the draft, while others won’t have him in the first round. McShay gives a caveat to this pick, saying that the 11th is too high for him personally, as Richardson is too raw as a passer. It’s a cop out, but we’ll probably see that kind of reasoning held up and argued with all off season.