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2023 post-free agency NFL Mock Draft

We break down our predictions for the first round of the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft

Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass during the second quarter of the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

With the 2023 NFL Draft taking place in just three weeks, we offer an updated first-round mock draft below. There will be trades, no doubt, but I haven’t included any in this mock. I expect plenty of teams to want to trade down in the second half of the draft, but much of that will be based on draft boards and how the draft goes up to that point. For now, we’ll keep it easy and stay away from trades.

1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago) — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

The consensus for who would be the No. 1 pick switched from Bryce Young to CJ Stroud after the Panthers traded up, but many still believe Young’s ability trumps Stroud’s enough to push the Panthers to take the Alabama product. I agree and believe that Young’s height won’t drop him to No. 2 or even later.

2. Houston Texans — CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Texans will be ready for whoever isn’t picked in the top two and for this Mock, that’s Stroud. Could they throw us a wild card right off the bat and trade down or take someone like Anthony Richardson? It’s not impossible, but I think they play it safe with Stroud here.

3. Arizona Cardinals — Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

The Cardinals are in a prime spot for a trade, and the safest would be with the No. 4 Colts, as they would get whoever they want and a little extra draft capital. That move will probably depend on a team falling in love with Anthony Richardson enough to go all out to secure the 3rd pick.

As it is, I think the most likely pick here is Will Anderson. The Cardinals need a playmaker getting to the quarterback consistently and Anderson is a safe bet to do so.

4. Indianapolis Colts — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Will the Colts take Richardson here when they weren’t willing to make a trade up to 100% secure his services? A lot depends on what they were hearing and how much they liked their backup plan, but Richardson is who I’d pick here to jumpstart Steve Steichen’s tenure as head coach. His success with Jalen Hurts could give him confidence in molding Richardson’s many outstanding traits.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) — Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

The Seahawks will be hard-pressed not to take Carter here. There are some red flags with off-field trouble, but as long as they feel comfortable with the player, they’ll take him without hesitation.

6. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams) Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

The Lions were extremely close to getting into the playoffs last season and whoever they take with the sixth pick is hopefully going to be a big part of getting over that playoff hump. I think there is a non-zero chance they make a splash here with Bijan Robinson. They let Jamaal Williams go and have little faith in D’Andre Swift. Robinson would be instant offense for a team that likes to run the ball. But, I also believe head coach Dan Campbell wants to improve the defense with this pick and grab a player who could be around for 10 years playing at a high level versus a running back who will be extremely lucky to have that kind of longevity. They added help in the secondary during free agency and Wilson would make a strong duo with last year’s Lions No. 1 pick Aidan Hutchinson.

7. Las Vegas Raiders Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Raiders don’t appear to be in on any quarterback not named Stroud or Young this early in the draft. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo to start and I expect he’ll do that for a year or two while the Raiders hope to find an avenue to a franchise QB in the next couple years. And in the AFC West, you need to stop great quarterbacks while keeping your quarterback upright. I expect the Raiders to go cornerback or offensive lineman here and Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon are ahead of the DB pack.Choosing between the two is tough.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

The Falcons have plenty of holes to fill across the board, but Witherspoon would have a huge impact on their pass defense that gave up the third-most passing yards and sixth-most yards allowed per pass attempt last year.

9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina) — Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

The Bears have their quarterback in Justin Fields, so they traded down for picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore. Adding help for Fields up front makes plenty of sense here and Johnson is a safe pick as the first OT off the board.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans) — Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I’ve gotten to where I don’t understand why a team would take any running back this early in the draft, but I’m coming around to the Eagles doing just that with Robinson. Would Robinson have pushed them over the edge in last year’s Super Bowl? Probably not, but maybe, and he fits what this team wants to do very well. Will he be worth signing a big extension in three years, it’s hard to say, but the Eagles remain primed for another playoff run and Robinson plus Jalen Hurts will be a nightmare matchup problem, especially when A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are running free in the secondary.

11. Tennessee Titans — Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The Titans are going to move on from Ryan Tannehill, likely next off season, and they will need someone ready to take over. They have Malik Willis, but he didn’t show well when given a chance to start while Tannehill was injured. He also wasn’t drafted until the third round last season. Levis has the arm strength that Tannehill lacked and should be able to open up the offense, while still leaning on Derrick Henry while he improves.

12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland) — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Texans will likely either help protect the quarterback they just drafted, give him a starting wide receiver or add a playmaker to the defensive line with this pick. There should be good options for each here. I mostly would like to wait on wide receiver until the second round, but the Texans are in desperate need for a pass catcher after sending Brandin Cooks off to Dallas. I could see them falling in love with his route running.

13. New York Jets — Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

There’s a real chance the Packers grab this pick in an Aaron Rodgers deal, but if not, Skoronski is a solid addition to the offensive line and one the Jets will need no matter who is throwing the football.

14. New England Patriots — Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Patriots and others will probably look to trade back around this point to gain some more draft capital. I expect it won’t be super easy to trade back, as others will be looking to do the same. Many will end up deciding the pick they have is just as good or better than the deal they can make. For the Patriots, they need a wide receiver and badly after letting Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor go. Wide receivers are bunched up in ability in the first round and it will come down to the team’s preference between some good choices. I’ll take Johnston here, as he has the highest upside to be a big time No. 1 receiver in the league and the Patriots need that to come to fruition.

15. Green Bay Packers — Lukas Van Ness, DL, Iowa

The Packers are still very young at wide receiver and Jordan Love could use help, but if they are going to win with Love, they’ll likely need to improve their defense. The defense showed signs last year, but overall put up poor numbers. Van Ness can move around and give help from all angles on the line.

116. Washington Commanders — Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

The Commanders need help in the secondary and offensive and defensive lines. I would like to mock Joey Porter Jr. to the Steelers, but I think the Commanders will grab him first if they don’t trade out of the spot. He’s not quite up there with Gonzalez and Witherspoon, but he’s close enough and has room to get better.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers — Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Jones easily could go earlier than this, but he’s fallen in my mock to the Steelers, who should be happy to get him. They need help up front and Jones was consistently dominant at Georgia against strong competition.

18. Detroit Lions — Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

I have the Lions taking a stud defensive lineman with their fifth pick, which leaves them open to go a few routes here. Cornerback is a need with Jeff Okudah not living up to his draft position, but if Bijan Robinson were to happen to fall, they’d be hard pressed to skip on him. Corners are thinning out here, but Banks has the physicality to play in the NFL and will have teams looking at drafting him before this pick.

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 — Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

The Chargers need an infusion of youth at the pass-catcher positions and Kincaid could quickly become a strong target for Justin Herbert. Michael Mayer would make sense here as well, especially with his superior blocking, but I think they go with the receiving upside of Kincaid.

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 — Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

The Jaguars need help in the secondary and will likely hope for some of these earlier picks to fall. But, if they don’t, Ringo would be a good consolation prize.

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 — O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

Protecting Josh Allen will always be high on the priority list and the Bills need help on the interior line. Torrence has the awareness to match well with the run-happy Allen as well.

28. Cincinnati Bengals — Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Joe Burrow can succeed with pressure, but the team would sure rather him not get pressured and Harrison would be a useful addition.

29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco through Miami and Denver) — Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

Washington brings offensive lineman size to the tight end position. He needs work, but has upside to be a dominant blocker and strong outlet receiver. Derek Carr will need help in both areas.

30. Philadelphia Eagles — Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Eagles grabbed their running back of the future early in a splash pick, but will get back to their mantra of stacking the defensive line with Bresee.

31. Kansas City Chiefs — Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Chiefs got rid of speedster Mecole Hardman and will need a deep threat like Hyatt to spread out defenses.

32. (Round 2) Pittsburgh Steelers (from Chicago) — Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

I expect the Steelers to grab pass defense and offensive line help with their first two picks and Smith fits the bill.