You know the 2023 NFL Draft is getting closer when Todd McShay and Mel Kiper of ESPN do a joint mock draft. It’s also the time of the year where you can hedge your bets by giving two answers for each draft pick projection, what you would do and what you think the team will do. If you get one of the two right, you win!
Kiper and McShay give us a mock today that has a few of those caveats. First off, they are taking turns making picks and not projecting any trades. Plus, they are relying more on their prospect rankings than trying to guess what the team will do. But, they do take into consideration the needs of a team.
The tide has completely changed and everyone appears to be on board with Alabama’ Bryce Young landing with the Panthers from pick 1. Young canceled the rest of his pre-draft visits, which has led the majority of people to believe he’s been told he’ll be the No. 1 pick.
Kiper has Jalen Carter as his No. 1 prospect, but he knows the Panthers are taking a QB and Young is the choice. McShay follows with CJ Stroud to the Texans. He, like others, believe there is a real chance the Texans don’t pick a QB, but he would if he were GM and Stroud is the pick.
McShay then gives the Colts Anthony Richardson at No. 4. He believes he’ll need time, but that Shane Steichen is the right coach for the talented rookie. Will Levis falls to 11th overall as the successor to Ryan Tannehill with Kiper’s pick, while Hendon Hooker goes to the Seahawks at 37th overall in another Kiper pick.
First wide receiver taken
Todd McShay grabs the first wide receiver with pick 12, as the Texans draft a big need in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba is the favorite to be the first wide receiver picked, but there is plenty of debate on this subject. But, grabbing Stroud and Smith-Njigba with your two first-rounders does look good for a Texans offensive rebuild. But, will defensive minded head coach Demeco Ryans skip on at least one defensive player in the first round?
Where did Bijan Robinson go?
We’ve seen plenty of discourse around the question of where Robinson should go in this draft. The analytics point toward waiting on any running back, no matter how special, while the heart pushes you toward wanting a special running back like Robinson.
Todd McShay doesn’t believe Robinson will go to the Eagles with the 10th pick, but he has him as his No. 2 player overall and he fits the offense. This is one where McShay wants his cake and to eat it as well. How dare he!
The next running back doesn’t go until pick 48, when McShay takes Jahmyr Gibbs for the Detroit Lions.
Where did Jalen Carter go?
Carter goes to the Seattle Seahawks at pick No. 5 by Kiper. If you look at his tape, you can’t drop him out of the Top 10. Will Anderson was the first defensive player off the board at No. 3 to the Cardinals, while Carter was second. This has been a common theme in mock drafts this season.
Cedric Tillman to the Cardinals at pick No. 66 looks like good value for a team that could be in dire need for wide receiver help if they end up trading or releasing DeAndre Hopkins.
Zay Flowers to Pittsburgh at No. 17 overall by Kiper. I don’t dislike Flowers, but I do believe the Steelers need more help on the offensive line and at cornerback. They’ve proven they can draft wide receivers and this year’s group isn’t top heavy. A team should be able to find a good receiver in the second round this year.
This mock is a little too convoluted for my liking. If McShay doesn’t think the Eagles will take Bijan Robinson, then it seems silly to then take him because you have him high in your rankings. You can see this at other times as well. It’s always interesting to see where players go, but overall this mock feels a bit ill-conceived.