The 2023 NFL Draft is here! Well, it’s really, really close! And that means it is time for my final mock draft. I know how you have all been clambering for it. This is how I think the draft will go, not who I think should go where.
The build up to this draft has had plenty of ebbs and flows based on rumors. The latest is that the Panthers aren’t sold on CJ Stroud and would either like to trade out of the second pick or go with a defensive lineman. And trying to figure out who will take a risk on Will Levis and Anthony Richardson is nearly impossible.
1. Carolina Panthers — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
All signs point to Young getting called up on stage for the first pick of the draft. We don’t need to overthink this one too much.
2. Indianapolis Colts (trade with Texans) — CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
If the Colts want Stroud, they have to worry that the Cardinals will trade with a team to jump them so this is the safest play. And it sure appears that the Texans aren’t interested in Stroud. Would they trade within the AFC South? Maybe not, but if the deal is right, they’ll have to consider it.
3. Arizona Cardinals — Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama
If the Texans trade back to the 4th pick, a team would need to trade up to grab who they prefer between Richardson and Levis, but I don’t think that happens. They might find it hard to get good value for their pick. They will hope that the Texans don’t trade out, so they can get a better deal.
Anderson is a great locker room guy while also being a great player. The Cardinals need both. They wouldn’t be sad if they had to pick him.
4. Houston Texans — Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
The Texans are in pure rebuild mode and Ryans will want to get his defense established while being picky about the quarterback they take. There is risk of not getting a quarterback, but they seem like they are okay with that if it happens.
5. Seattle Seahawks — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Seahawks seem genuinely interested in one of the top quarterbacks and they would be a good fit for the raw Richardson. Can they talk themselves into a a quarterback who will sit and learn for a year or two? Probably. Geno Smith’s contract leaves plenty of room to add another quarterback, which is by design, and Richardson’s upside is just too high not to take the risk.
6. Detroit Lions — Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Jeff Okudah didn’t work out for the Lions, but Witherspoon should. He’s a player head coach Dan Campbell will fall in love with for his toughness and tenacity, let alone his skill. The Lions might not skip on Jalen Carter, but I could see them worried about his commitment.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (Trade with Raiders) — Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The Eagles are a great team for Carter to land. The veterans and winning culture should get him on track and keep him focused. We know the Eagles love building their team in the trenches first and getting Carter on a rookie deal is right up their alley.
8. Atlanta Falcons — Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Falcons seem like they are in on EDGE rushers, but they need to make their offensive line as stout as possible to get a good read on on what Desmond Ridder is capable of. If Johnson falls I think they grab him.
9. Chicago Bears — Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Bears need to protect Justin Fields better and should look to go with an offensive lineman here. The team has options here, but they appear to like Wright.
10. Las Vegas Raiders (Trade with Eagles) — Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Raiders could go with a handful of prospects here, but to get the most out of Jimmy Garoppolo they’re going to need to give him a lot of time to throw. Skoronski is a good value and I think they’ll choose him over a defensive player.
11. Tennessee Titans — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Figuring out where Smith-Njigba goes remains difficult. He’s the consensus first wide receiver in this draft, but it is a weak draft overall for wide receivers. This seems a little high for him, but the Titans need a wide receiver to pair with Treylon Burks.
12. Houston Texans — Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Titans could grab Levis with the 11th pick, but I think they wait and search for better options if they don’t trade up for a QB. That will leave Levis for the Texans if they want him. It feels like a pick they would make it it fell to them, but I’m not sure how enthusiastic they’ll be.
13. Green Bay Packers — Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Packers have a few positions they could target here, but I like them going with the tight end from Utah to give Jordan Love a big target over the middle.
14. New England Patriots — Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez fits a need for the Patriots if he falls to them. They would love to have a big cornerback to fill that hole that Stephon Gillmore left in the secondary.
15. New York Jets — Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Aaron Rodgers will turn 40 this winter. He needs all the help he can get in his old age.
16. Washington Commanders — Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The Commanders are in transition with the transfer in ownership and probably aren’t looking to make a big splash at quarterback just yet. I expect they play it safe and build up the o-line here.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers — Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
There has been a lot of talk about the Steelers trading up to grab the offensive lineman of their choice. They need to protect Kenny Pickett and help the running game create yards before contact. If they don’t trade up, there still should be some useful linemen available.
18. Detroit Lions — Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Lions rely on the running game around the end zone, as we saw last year with Jamaal Williams. Now with Williams gone, they need to find a replacement. Robinson isn’t going to make them a Super Bowl contender, but in the NFC, they are very close to being a shoe-in for the playoffs. Robinson’s ability as a receiver and open-field runner might be the piece that gets them over the top.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The Buccaneers need a QB, so there is a chance they try to make a move if one presents itself, but if not, Branch is a solid addition at a weak spot in the lineup. Head coach Todd Bowles could use Branch well in the slot and Branch’s tackling ability is top tier.
20. Seattle Seahawks — Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
The Seahawks have a few needs they could fill here and I could even see them going with a tight end, as there are a few that could have gone already. But, Murphy is someone who could be extremely high on their board. Pete Carroll brought back Bobby Wagner and is likely looking to get the Legion of Boom part II together as they really want a strong running game and defense.
21. Los Angeles Chargers — Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Grabbing TE Michael Mayer here makes sense, but I want Justin Herbert to get another possible WR1 and one that isn’t usually dealing with a hamstring injury.
22. Baltimore Ravens — Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
The Ravens could go wide receiver here, as they need one badly, but I also think they won’t mind waiting until the second round to grab someone. A lot depends on how they think the Lamar Jackson situation will play out of course, but in a vacuum, I expect them to always look toward defense and getting to the quarterback.
23. Minnesota Vikings — Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Vikings need a quarterback for their post-Kirk Cousins life, but they would likely need to make some trades to get there. Hendon Hooker should be available, but he’s a bit too risky for my liking. With Adam Thielen gone and nobody really ready to step up in a big way, they will be on the lookout for a wide receiver. For me, it’s between Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison here. Addison is a smooth route runner and should be a good Thielen replacement.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars — Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Jaguars need some help in the secondary and Porter has the upside to be a long time answer at a premium position.
25. New York Giants — Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Giants did add Darren Waller and Parris Campbell to the mix this off season, but they still need help at wide receiver as they hope to surround Daniel Jones with some playmakers. Flowers is a dynamic receiver and could round out a much improved offensive starting lineup.
26. Dallas Cowboys — Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Meyer could end up being the first tight end selected, as he is probably the most well rounded tight end in a good group of tight ends. The Cowboys just let Dalton Schultz leave and need his replacement. His ability to block will go a long way for a Cowboys team that regularly needs some help on the OL now.
27. Buffalo Bills — Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
The Bills keep looking for that difference maker at running back and Gibbs might be that guy. He would fit the offense perfectly and give Josh Allen yet another target, but one that can break off a huge gain on a dump down pass.
28. Cincinnati Bengals — Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
The Bengals need some help getting pressure on the quarterback and Kancey can do that from the interior, setting up the rest of the D-line for success,
29. New Orleans Saints — Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
There’s a good chance Van Ness goes earlier than this, but I could see him falling, but not out of the first round. The Saints will want to keep their defense top notch to stay in games and keep things close in a division they can win without much trouble even though they aren’t a top team in the league.
30. Philadelphia Eagles — Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Banks might not fall this far, but if he does, I’d expect the Eagles to grab him. Their secondary was exposed in the Super Bowl and must get better to beat AFC pass first teams.
31. Kansas City Chiefs — Will McDonald IV, OLB, Iowa State
The Chiefs need to be able to get to the quarterback on the outside and McDonald can do that. I expect they go with a pass rusher with this pick if the top four wide receivers are off the board.