2023 NFL Mock Draft: Buccaneers, Vikings select QBs while two running backs go in Round 1

Merry Christmas! I mean, Happy Draft Day! For those of us that love the NFL draft, this does feel a bit like Christmas morning. With the anticipation of waiting to find out where all of these prospects will land and which one will end up holding up our favorite team’s jersey, it’s hard not to feel like you are just waiting to open your presents.

To celebrate, I had to put together my final mock draft of the year. Unlike the mock I dropped on Monday, this is what I would do if I were the general manager for each team, not what I anticipate will happen tonight.

Reminder, the first round is only 31 picks this year because the Dolphins were penalized their first-round selection for tampering. With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my final mock for the 2023 draft!

1. Carolina Panthers via Chicago Bears – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
I know Young does not have the size of a prototypical quarterback, but he plays the position as a point guard. He describes it that way himself. You can see it in the way he approaches the position. He is a distributor with excellent leadership skills, great arm strength and impressive ball placement. He is exactly what the Panthers need to kickstart their rebuild.

2. Houston Texans – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
For all the waffling about what the Texans will or won’t do tonight, I think this should be a no-brainer. Stroud is an excellent passer with the athleticism to play the position in a modern NFL offense. He has excellent touch on his passes and more than enough zip to reach every part of the field. There is no doubt he will need to improve the mental side of his game, most notably reading defenses and post-snap progression, but I think he has the tools to be a franchise quarterback.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
There has been a lot of buzz about the Cardinals trading out of this spot. That would probably be the best move, but I wanted to avoid projecting trades in this mock. Plus, as I wrote in my final player rankings, Anderson is the player in this draft I feel most confident in reaching the Hall of Fame from this draft class. He is a great athlete with incredible collegiate production. He will need to introduce some more varied pass-rush moves to truly thrive in the NFL, but I really like his upside. He would be a great building block for Arizona’s defense.

4. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Let’s make this clear, Richardson is one of the least pro-ready quarterbacks in this class. He is inconsistent and inaccurate, two traits no NFL quarterback should have. That being said, he also has the highest ceiling of arguably any player in this class. He has elite arm strength, good anticipation and unbelievable mobility. His ability as a runner will make him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league. However, he needs a coaching staff that will be patient with him. I think a first-year coach like Shane Steichen gives Richardson the best chance to be successful long-term.

5. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
The Seahawks have been burned by players with character concerns before, but I think Carter is worth the gamble. He is a dominant force on the interior and exactly the type of impact player the Seahawks need in their defense. His play strength is impressive and he is very capable of collapsing the pocket. The production has not quite been there to this point in college.

6. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams – Devon Weatherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Lions have invested in their secondary this offseason, but there is still room to add. Especially, after trading away Jeff Okudah, taking Weatherspoon would give Detroit a true No. 1 corner to lead this group. He is an aggressive corner with decent size and length. I think Dan Campbell will really like what he brings to that table.

7. Las Vegas Raiders – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Corner could definitely be an option, but I think Wilson is the best defensive player on the board. He is long and dynamic off the edge. He will be an asset in the run game from Day 1 and has the skill set to develop into a really strong pass rusher. The Raiders would love to pair him with Maxx Crosby after the Chandler Jones experiment failed so miserably.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Atlanta has been searching for an edge rusher for years now. In this scenario, they wouldn’t have to look too far from their own backyard to find Smith. He absolutely flies off the edge, posting an absurd 4.39 40 time at the combine. He is coming off a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season, but should be ready to contribute right away in the NFL.

9. Chicago Bears via Carolina Panthers – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
If I am the Bears, I am doing everything I can to protect Justin Fields. That means taking the best offensive tackle on the board. Johnson is a former teammate of Fields as well. He is a smooth mover with good power and above average athleticism. I think he will be a Day 1 starter in Chicago.

10. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Yes, the Eagles brought back Darius Slay and James Bradberry for another run. However, they don’t really have the future at the position figured out. As we saw last year, Howie Roseman likes to plan ahead. Porter has incredibly long arms and a good awareness for the position. I think he could be a lockdown corner in a couple of years.

11. Tennessee Titans – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
I toyed with the idea of taking a quarterback here, but I think Tennessee needs to rebuild this roster in a big way. How much better would adding Hendon Hooker make them? I don’t think he would be in a position to impact much with a lackluster offensive line and few reliable playmakers on the offense. Adding Jones would give the Titans a long-term solution at left tackle with great length and athleticism.

12. Houston Texans via Cleveland – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
If you want to make your rookie quarterback comfortable, adding one of his college receivers seems like a good place to start. Smith-Njigba is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he is an incredible route runner with good quickness and versatility. He can line up outside or in the slot. With Houston trading away Brandin Cooks this offseason, adding more pass catcher should be high on the to-do list.

13. Green Bay Packers via New York Jets – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Packers are suddenly flush with draft capital. Good thing too, because they need to put weapons around Jordan Love. With Robert Tonyan gone, Mayer would be the top tight end on the roster from the moment he arrives in the facility. He is a proven receiver who should have no problem contributing to a running game that features two of the better backs in the league.

14. New England Patriots – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
As a Jets fan, I never want the Patriots to get better. This is especially hard here because I am a big fan of Banks. He is a sticky corner with great speed. His technique needs a bit of refining, but I believe he has all the tools to be a No. 1 corner. New England could use a boost in their secondary. Banks would pair nicely with Jack Jones and give this defense an exciting young cornerback tandem.

15. New York Jets via Green Bay Packers – Peter Skoronski, G, Northwestern
I would have preferred Paris Johnson Jr. or Broderick Jones be on the board in this spot. The Jets have a clear need at left tackle and I worry about Skoronski’s ability to handle long edge rushers given his short arms. That being said, I think he is going to be an All-Pro guard at the next level. New York’s offensive line was decimated by injuries last year. There are much worse things than adding a player capable of lining up at truly any position on the line. Skoronski was a high school center before moving to tackle at Northwestern.

16. Washington Commanders – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Kendall Fuller is in the final year of his contract and Benjamin St-Juste has still yet to truly prove himself as a starting corner. Gonzalez would be a Day 1 starter with good size, speed and positional awareness. His biggest knock is that he needs to get stronger. Too often, he was bullied by bigger receivers in college. If he can find a way to increase his play strength without compromising his movement skills too much, I think Gonzalez is going to be a hell of a player.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
With the top four corners off the board, offensive tackle makes so much sense for the Steelers. Wright has experience at both tackle positions, but seems best-suited to start on the right side. He is powerful and experienced. He will need some technical fine-tuning, specifically with hand placement and pad level, but he should wind up being a huge upgrade Pittsburgh.

18. Detroit Lions – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
In my opinion, the Lions should continue to invest in their defense. Adding Murphy opposite Aidan Hutchinson would give Detroit another athletic edge rusher capable of terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. Murphy is still a bit raw, but had good production at Clemson. His physical traits are fantastic and I fully expect him to be a three-down player in the future.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Tampa seems to lack a true succession plan to Tom Brady. Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask don’t inspire a ton of confidence. Bringing in Hooker would give them a potential long-term solution. He is coming off a torn ACL, but has told teams he will be ready for Week 1. Ironically, he is the same age as Trask, so the Bucs would not be getting younger at the position, but Hooker should be a much better pro than the former Florida quarterback. He has a great deep ball and is a better athlete than people give him credit for. He will need to show he can consistently hit the target every week to be a successful starter, but I like the idea of him competing with Mayfield for the starting job.

20. Seattle Seahawks – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Seattle has shown they have no problem doubling down when they have a position that needs addressing. In 2022, they invested two top 50 selections at offensive tackle. This year, it should be on the defensive line. Adding Carter solves some problems on the interior. Van Ness can play on the edge and give the Seahawks a nightmarish front to deal with. I think he has the size and strength to play the LEO position in this defense. Van Ness is still a little bit green, but his power and drive are clear when you put on his tape. I think Pete Carroll will love getting him in the building.

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
At long last, Robinson comes off the board. With Austin Ekeler rumored to be on the move, Robinson could be his successor and a potential upgrade. That is saying something when the player he would be replacing scored 38 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Robinson is an impressive runner with great elusiveness and power. He is a receiving threat out of the backfield as well. I don’t think Justin Herbert would mind having Robinson to shoulder some of the load on offense.

22. Baltimore Ravens – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Baltimore needs to find more playmakers. Flowers is about as reliable as they come. He produced solid numbers at BC despite mediocre quarterback play. His size will be a concern for some teams and could pose some problems, but I trust in his ability to separate and find space against zone defenses. If the Ravens are going to sell Lamar Jackson on returning to the team, finding him a new safety blanket would probably help the pitch.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Should the Vikings be in the market for a quarterback? It seems like this new front office is laying the groundwork to find Kirk Cousins’ successor. The more I think about it too, the more I like the idea of Levis going to a situation where he would not have to start right away. He has a rocket for an arm, but lacks a lot of the refining that an NFL passer needs to be successful. He will also need to learn how to better protect his body because he is one of the most reckless runners I have ever seen at the quarterback position. I could see him having long-term success though playing in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
One of my favorite players in this draft, Brents is a long corner with great fluidity. He dominated the combine and has some solid tape to back it up. I think he has the tools to develop into a high-level starter within his first few years in the league. For the Jaguars, finding another big body to start opposite Tyson Campbell would only make the talented front seven of this defense more lethal.

25. New York Giants – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
With many of the top corners off the board, I think the Giants have to pivot to receiver here. Addison is a polished route runner with elite college production. It helped that he played with Kenny Pickett and Caleb Williams, but there is a reason he was their go-to target. That is exactly what Daniel Jones needs. A player he can look to when it is third down and New York needs to convert. With his ability to line up inside or outside, I like Addison’s fit in Brian Daboll’s offense.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
With Dalton Schultz leaving in free agency, the Cowboys have a pretty big hole at tight end. Kincaid is not a true like-for-like replacement, but he would be another receiving option in a Dallas offense that seemed to lack them at times in 2022. Kincaid is best-suited to be a slot or hybrid-type player, who is not asked to block much. I’m not quite sure that fits Mike McCarthy’s vision for the position, but Kincaid would definitely help Dak Prescott get back on track this season.

27. Buffalo Bills – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Buffalo has some good playmakers already in this offense. However, they don’t have a player with the size and speed of Johnston. He is a big play threat any time he touches the football and he has a great catch radius. With Stefon Diggs getting older and Gabe Davis in a contract year, adding Johnston gives the Bills a short-term boost with long-term value.

28. Cincinnati Bengals – Steve Avila, G, TCU
Back-to-back TCU players off the board is not something you see very often, especially in the first round. I am in the camp that believes Joe Burrow still needs more protection. Jonah Williams demanded a trade and seems to have no interest in playing guard. Avila could slot in at left guard from Day 1 and immediately improve this offensive line. He is a great pass blocker and would be playing in one of the best passing offenses in the league.

29. New Orleans Saints via San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos – Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Marcus Davenport is gone. Cam Jordan turns 34 in July. The Saints need some help along the front seven. McDonald turned a lot of heads at the combine, but I feel like the buzz around him has cooled down a bit. He had great production at Iowa State, with 34 career sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss. He is also a great athlete. I think he would be a great fit as a defensive end for New Orleans.

30. Philadelphia Eagles – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Two running backs in the first round??? I know the Eagles typically don’t invest first-round picks at the position, but there is a ton of value in being able to exercise that fifth-year option. Plus, this is their second selection of the round. Gibbs is a home run hitter with great receiving skills. He would be a nightmare to deal with a zone-read scheme. If there is any hesitation from the defense about who to carry, Jalen Hurts or Gibbs, the latter can turn the corner and you will never catch him.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Chiefs trade out of this spot if the board falls this way. With a run on receivers, corners and edge rushers, Kansas City can look to the future. Chris Jones is in the final year of his contract and Derrick Nnadi has yet to make much of an impact. The future at defensive tackle is murky at best. Adding Bresee would give the Chiefs an athletic prospect to develop.

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2023 NFL Draft: Top 50 Big Board and Positional Rankings

We are in the home stretch. The 2023 NFL draft is just one day away. I am putting the finishing touches on my work for this draft cycle and starting to peak ahead to 2024 as well.

With so much being finalized, I am putting together my final rankings for this class. My overall impression is that this group is on par with last year’s draft, which puts it firmly behind the 2021 draft class. There will be some diamonds in the rough as always, but it is not as dominant a group as I think many had hoped for entering this cycle.

If you are looking for my final player rankings, you can scroll to the bottom. I have also added the links to all of the scouting reports I have published on the site this year. Enjoy!

1. Bryce Young, Alabama
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
3. Anthony Richardson, Florida
4. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
5. Will Levis, Kentucky

We have picked these quarterbacks to death at this stage. Young comes out in front for me as the most polished of any of the quarterbacks in this class. His stature holds him back from being an elite prospect, but he brings everything else you want to the table. Stroud is a close second for me. His poise, accuracy and touch make him a prototypical fit for the NFL. Richardson is all about potential. He has a rocket arm and incredible athleticism. If he can put it all together, he will be a star. It is a huge risk though, because he could just as easily be out of the league in four years. Hooker is a much better player at present than Richardson, but he is 25 and coming off a torn ACL. Levis is a bit of a tricky evaluation, but for all the splash plays, he is not a starting-caliber quarterback right now. This is a decent quarterback class, with a few intriguing late-round prospects as well.

Running Back
1. Bijan Robinson, Texas
2. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
3. Tyjae Spears, Tulane
4. Zach Charbonnett, UCLA
5. Devon Achane, Texas A&M

Arguably the deepest position group in this draft, there are a ton of running backs who play meaningful roles over the next few seasons. Robinson is a borderline generational prospect, perhaps earning that presidential tag instead. His contact balance, change of direction and power make him the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. Gibbs is a speedy player with soft hands and impressive agility. He is a major liability as a pass blocker though. Spears can do it all and demonstrated that time and time again during this draft cycle. Charbonnett is a finished product who can contribute from Day 1. I don’t know if he will ever be one of the top backs in the league, but I think he has a few Pro Bowls in him. Achane is surprisingly powerful for a back his size. He posted the fastest time at the combine as well. There are a ton of other running backs that likely would have found their way into the Top 100 of my rankings if I went that far. It is a good year to need some help in the backfield.

Wide Receiver
1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
2. Zay Flowers, Boston College
3. Jordan Addison, USC
4. Quentin Johnston, TCU
5. Josh Downs, UNC

Smith-Njigba seemed like he might be on the path to being a top-five pick when the season began. Instead, injuries cost him pretty much the entire season. He is still my favorite receiver this year. Flowers is undersized, but plays bigger. He will be a reliable playmaker at the next level. Addison is a crafty player with tons of college production. If he is allowed to play in the slot, he will flourish. Johnston is an exciting blend of size and speed. Downs is a smooth operator and has great hands. He has been overlooked in this class in my opinion. This receiver class is deep, just like it seems to be almost every year. It does not have the same type of top-end talent as years past, but there is plenty of quality to be found in the middle rounds of this draft.

Tight End
1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
2. Dalton Kincaid, Utah
3. Darnell Washington, Georgia
4. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
5. Sam LaPorta, Iowa

After a few years of fairly disappointing tight end classes, the 2023 group should deliver some high-quality starters. Mayer is the top option for me. There is nothing flashy about his game, but he is rock solid and well-rounded. Kincaid is about as polished as they come from a receiving aspect. He leaves a bit to be desired as a blocker. Washington is a converted offensive tackle playing tight end. He is an incredible athlete, but it might take a year or two before he is able to impact the game at a high level. Musgrave is a bit unrefined still and coming off a knee injury that ended his 2022 season, but there is a lot to like about his body of work. LaPorta is the latest Iowa tight end to catch the attention of NFL scouts. The fact that he eclipsed 600 yards receiving in the Hawkeyes anemic passing offense is a testament to his skill. All five of them should be drafted before the end of the second round and there are a few who could join them as well.

Offensive Tackle
1. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
2. Broderick Jones, Georgia
3. Darnell Wright, Tennessee
4. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
5. Dawand Jones, Ohio State

This tackle class has some shortcomings. There is not a ton of depth and certainly no elite prospects to match that of Penei Sewell. Still there should be some decent options for teams looking to fill the position. Johnson stands out to me from the rest. He has experience at both right guard and left tackle. He has the size, length and athleticism to contend at the next level. Jones is likely the most polished pass blocker of the group. He did not allow a sack in the 2022 campaign. He has room to add to his frame, but he more than held his own at Georgia over the past two seasons. Wright has drawn a lot of praise during the pre-draft process. He is the top right tackle on the board. He is very powerful, but still has some room to improve his technique. Harrison is an experienced option who should be more than capable of stepping and competing from Day 1. Jones is a massive man, measuring 6’8″, 374 pounds with 36-inch arms. He will need to prove that he has the stamina and movement skills to survive at tackle in the NFL.

Interior Offensive Line
1. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
2. Steve Avila, TCU
3. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
4. O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
5. Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin

Many believe Skoronski can be a tackle at the next level. However, he has 32-inch arms, which is in the 4th percentile for NFL tackles. I worry about his ability to contend with long, bendy edge rushers in the NFL. He also has a background on the interior, being recruited to Northwestern as a center. Avila flew under the radar for many in this draft process, but has been getting some late buzz. Schmitz is my top center in this class. He is rock solid and recently began drawing comparisons to Chiefs All-Pro center Creed Humphrey. Torrence proved he could hold his own in the SEC after spending three years at Louisiana. He should be a plug-and-play option. Tippmann is a good athlete who brings above-average power to the table. He is a center by trade, but I could see him being an option at guard as well.

Edge Rusher
1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
2. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
3. Nolan Smith, Georgia
4. Myles Murphy, Clemson
5. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

If you need a pass rusher, this is your year to cash in. Anderson headlines a stacked class. He has incredible college production and seems like a natural-born leader. If there is a player in this class I am willing to bet will end up with a gold jacket one day, it is him. Wilson is a long, athletic disruptor off the edge. He is rock solid against the run and has some good production as a pass rusher. Smith’s college career came to an abrupt end with a torn pectoral muscle, but he is a twitchy player off the edge with the right tools to be a long-term difference maker. Murphy is still a bit raw, but his athleticism is really impressive. He has an incredibly high ceiling, but will need some good coaching to get there. Van Ness is a unique case coming from Iowa, where Kirk Ferentz insists on starting seniors. He has some good tape, but I do have some questions about his ability to be an every down player, simply because we haven’t seen it from him yet. If we are going by athleticism and power though, there is no doubt he will find a way to be impactful. All five of those players are ranked in my top 18 prospects. This is a really dynamic group with depth behind it. I have eight edge rushers in my top 50.

Interior Defensive Line
1. Jalen Carter, Georgia
2. Bryan Bresee, Clemson
3. Mazi Smith, Michigan
4. Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
5. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin

There is a big gap between Carter and the rest of this group, which says more about him than anything else. He is the most physically talented player in this class. However, an arrest for reckless driving and a lack of on-field production raise enough question marks to keep him out of the generational prospect conversation for me. I still love his ability and think he will translate well to the next level. Bresee never quite lived up to the hype at Clemson. A COVID-shortened season and a torn ACL in 2021 largely hampered his ability to deliver on being the top recruit in the 2020 class. Still, he had a strong combine and I believe his best football is ahead of him. Smith is a dynamic athlete, who topped Bruce Feldman’s 2022 “Freaks” list. Former No. 1 designees include Evan Neal, Kwity Paye and Tristan Wirfs, if that means anything. Kancey has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald, but I don’t think he has the same play strength as his fellow Pitt Panther. He is undersized and has short arms, which makes him a liability in the run game, but he certainly makes a big impact as a pass rusher. Benton is essentially the opposite of that, playing with great power and length, but lacking the same high-end athletic traits. This is a pretty solid group with some quality depth behind it.

Off-Ball Linebacker
1. Drew Sanders, Arkansas
2. Jack Campbell, Iowa
3. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
4. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama
5. Owen Pappoe, Auburn

Much like running backs, NFL teams don’t quite value off-ball linebackers the way they used to. There are still good players at the position, you just don’t see them drafted as highly. I don’t expect any linebackers to be selected in the first-round this year, but I think we should see several come off the board on Day 2. That starts with Sanders. The Alabama transfer flies around the field and made a big impact in the middle of that Arkansas defense in 2022. Campbell is one of my favorite players in this draft. He has excellent instincts and great athleticism to make the play. The lackluster 40 time at the combine does not worry me. Simpson is another athletic prospect, but he needs a bit more refining before he is ready to start in the NFL. To’oTo’o has loads of experience after starting for both Tennessee and Alabama over the past four years. However, he lacks the elite athleticism to push himself higher up draft boards. Pappoe simply wowed me at the combine and I would be willing to gamble on his athletic upside.

1. Devon Weatherspoon, Illinois
2. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
3. Deonte Banks, Maryland
4. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
5. Julius Brents, Kansas State

Corner is always one of my favorite position groups to evaluate this year and this group did not disappoint. Each of my top five corners brings something a little different to the table. Weatherspoon plays downhill and his aggressive play style is rewarded more often than not. Porter has uncommon length for the position, allowing him to make up for any technique missteps. If he can refine his technique and footwork a bit, I think he will be one of the best corners in the league. Banks has impressive speed on the outside. Even when he is beat off the line, he is never really out of a play. Gonzalez has great length and routinely has himself in the right position. However, he will need to get stronger if he is going to survive in the NFL. Brents is one of “my guys” in this class. I love his blend of size and agility. He posted the best three-cone and 20-yard shuttle time of any corner at the combine. In fact, the only player to beat his times at any position was Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

1. Sydney Brown, Illinois
2. Brian Branch, Alabama
3. Jartavius Martin, Illinois
4. Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
5. Christopher Smith, Georgia

It would be easy to look at this safety group and say it was disappointing. Only Brown cracks my top 50. However, there is a lot of depth to the position this year. Branch, Martin and both Browns should be Day 2 picks. Smith will likely end up going on Day 3, but he is a personal favorite. Brown and Martin left quite the impression at Illinois. Brown tore up the combine and should have the speed to contend at the next level. Martin has experience at outside corner, safety and nickel corner. His versatility and athleticism should serve him well in the NFL. Branch is another versatile player, with experience in the slot and at safety. He had a really strong career at Alabama, but his athleticism could end up letting him down in the pros. Brown is coming off a productive career at Penn State and has the right instincts to continue that success. Smith is a playmaker and another guy I think deserves more love in this class. He isn’t a great athlete, which could hold him back, but he was a key piece on the back end of that Georgia defense that won back-to-back titles.

Final Big Board
1. Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
2. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
3. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
4. Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
5. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
6. Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
7. Devon Weatherspoon, CB, Illinois
8. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
9. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
10. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
11. Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
12. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
13. Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
14. Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
15. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
16. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
17. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
18. Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
19. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
20. Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
21. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
22. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
23. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
24. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
25. Jordan Addison, WR, USC
26. Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
27. Steve Avila, G, TCU
28. Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
29. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
30. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
31. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
32. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
33. Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan
34. Felix Anduike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
35. John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota
36. Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
37. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
38. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
39. Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
40. O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
41. B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
42. Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
43. Josh Downs, WR, UNC
44. Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
45. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
46. Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
47. Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State
48. D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan
49. Keelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
50. Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss

2023 Predictive NFL Mock Draft: Raiders, Seahawks trade up, Texans pass on QBs

It is officially draft week! There are rumors flying everywhere and no one knows what to believe. It is a wild, chaotic and exciting time of year.

Each year, I put together a predictive mock draft, outlining what I believe will happen on draft day. This is very different from what I would do if I were picking for these teams. Some of this is based on what I have read from league insiders and team reporters and some of it is my own prediction based on where it seems like players are ranked and how teams typically value certain positions.

I also decided to project a couple of trades.

Las Vegas trades 1.7, 4.144 and a 2024 1st to Arizona for 1.3

Seahawks trades 1.20, 3.83 to Washington for 1.16, 6.193

Reminder, the first round is only 31 picks this year because the Dolphins were penalized their first-round selection for tampering. With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my latest mock!

1. Carolina Panthers via Chicago Bears – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
This one feels like a foregone conclusion. Young is listed at -1000 or shorter odds at pretty much every sportsbook in the country. He also canceled his final few private workouts and visits. I think Frank Reich and Scott Fitterer will feel good about turning in the card.

2. Houston Texans – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Well if Bryce Young feels like an obvious choice, then the Texans’ pick is the exact opposite. At this point, we have seen four different players favored to go at the No. 2 spot. In the end, I think Houston recognizes this is a multi-year rebuild. Will Anderson is the best player available and will give new head coach DeMeco Ryans a major building block on defense.

3. Las Vegas Raiders via Arizona Cardinals – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
If Houston does go with anything other than quarterback, the phone lines will light up for the Cardinals. I think trading down with the Raiders is a great situation that allows Arizona to stay in the top 10 while picking up meaningful draft capital to rebuild. For Las Vegas, Stroud gives the team a long-term answer at quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo is an injury-prone stopgap, but he would allow Stroud to start when he is ready.

4. Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The rumor mill continues to point to the Colts loving Levis. With Young and Stroud off the board, I think Shane Steichen and Chris Ballard are in love with Levis’ arm strength and mobility. This is not the move I would make, but I am buying the buzz around this fit.

5. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Despite the off-the-field concerns with Carter stemming from his arrest in March, I still expect him to be selected high in the 2023 draft. Seattle has a massive need at defensive tackle. If there is a team that I’m not worried about handling a player with some red flags, it would be the Seahawks with Pete Carroll at the helm.

6. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams – Devon Weatherspoon, CB, Illinois
Another popular pick in most mock drafts, the Lions are in the midst of a massive overhaul of their secondary. Detroit signed a pair of veterans and traded away 2020 first-round pick Jeff Okudah. I think Weatherspoon would complete the make over. He is disciplined, dynamic and reliable, all things Dan Campbell will love right away.

7. Arizona Cardinals via Las Vegas Raiders – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
This is a nice scenario for the Cardinals. Moving down and adding additional draft capital while still landing one of the top edge rushers in the class feels like a big win. Wilson could end up going much higher than this, but it would not shock me to see him “slide” to the back half of the top 10. He has a lot of fans in NFL front offices.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Falcons should not look too far for this one. Smith missed the end of the 2022 season with a torn pectoral muscle, but dominated the combine. Atlanta desperately needs pass rushing help. He is a toolsy player with a ton of upside and I think Terry Fontenot will take the local product in hopes of developing him into a star.

9. Chicago Bears via Carolina Panthers – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Chicago could go a number of directions, but I think the offensive line is going to be the priority. Skoronski has position flexibility and is well-regarded in NFL circles. I don’t think Ryan Poles will be deterred by his shorter-than-average arms.

10. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Eagles are tough to pin down. I would not rule out Howie Roseman building in the trenches, but I think he understands that he is going to need to plan for the future at cornerback. Gonzalez is a talented cover man who needs to get a bit stronger, but much like Philly did with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean a year ago, it could take Gonzalez a year before needing him to start.

11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Could a team trade up for Richardson? Absolutely, but I think there are plenty of question marks around the former Florida star. He is the most dynamic quarterback prospect since Lamar Jackson, but he is inexperienced and unpolished. Given the outlook for Ryan Tannehill past this season, I think the Titans will view this as a great opportunity to get their quarterback of the future. He could sit for a year, before taking over in 2024.

12. Houston Texans via Cleveland – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The Texans could take Hendon Hooker here, but I think the front office realizes it needs someone capable of catching the ball. After trading away Brandin Cooks, there is very little proven pass-catching talent on the Texans roster. Smith-Njigba is coming off an injury-riddled season, but was arguably the best receiver on the 2021 Ohio State offense that featured Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. He would give the Texans a No. 1 target for whoever they eventually tab as their franchise quarterback.

13. New York Jets – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Assuming the Jets eventually end up with Aaron Rodgers, New York needs to protect him. As of now, left tackle is a huge question mark. It feels like a safe bet that the Jets will take the best offensive tackle on the board. In this case, it would be Johnson, who spent the year starting at left tackle after playing right guard in 2021.

14. New England Patriots – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Bill Belichick is never an easy general manager to pin down. The Patriots could go corner, wide receiver or offensive tackle. I think Jones will be the pick given how the board has fallen so far. Trent Brown is in the final year of his contract, so Jones could be the 2024 starter at left tackle and potentially compete for the starting right tackle spot in 2023.

15. Green Bay Packers – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
At long last, the Packers could draft a pass-catcher. Kincaid has shot up draft boards over the past few months. He is a polished prospect who can contribute from Day 1. With Robert Tonyan gone and Mercedes Lewis out of a contract, this would fill a huge need for Green Bay.

16. Seattle Seahawks via Washington Commanders – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Seattle has a ton of draft capital from the Russell Wilson trade. I think they could cash in a couple of chips to move up for a player they really like. Rumor is that the Commanders are taking calls for the 16th pick. Feels like a good match. In this case, the Seahawks can leapfrog the Lions and Buccaneers to grab Van Ness. He is a bit unrefined, never starting for Iowa because Kirk Ferentz always starts seniors, but he is an athletic, ascending talent.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
ESPN Steelers Reporter Brooke Pryor recently said Porter reminds her of Najee Harris in 2021. Everyone knew Pittsburgh wanted Harris and he fell right into their laps. Porter could be in the same position. He is a long-arm corner who would fill a big need for the Steelers after losing Cameron Sutton.

18. Detroit Lions – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
I fully expect the Lions to double dip on defense in the first round. Murphy is an athletic edge rusher who could rotate into Detroit’s pass rushing sets. Adding him to a group that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston would be a dream scenario for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Donovan Smith retired and now Tristan Wirfs is sliding over to left tackle, which means the Buccaneers have a clear need at right tackle. The buzz is that Wright has a ton of fans around the league and should go in the top 25. He could compete with Matt Feiler, who signed with Tampa in free agency, for the starting right tackle job from Day 1.

20. Washington Commanders via Seattle Seahawks – Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
The Commanders have repeatedly said they feel comfortable with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett. I’m not so sure I believe that. Especially if Hooker is on the board at this point. Trading down and landing Hooker would be a huge win for Washington. He won’t be ready to start right away as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL, but he could be the long-term answer at the position.

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Someone has to stop the slide for Robinson. With Austin Ekeler likely on the move, Los Angeles will need a new starting option in the backfield. Robinson would take a ton of pressure off Justin Herbert while giving him another pass-catching option. He would also be much cheaper than paying Ekeler long term.

22. Baltimore Ravens – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The Ravens are more than comfortable spending premium draft picks at cornerback. Banks has drawn comparisons to long-time Ravens corner Marlon Humphrey. In this scenario, Banks would start opposite Humphrey, giving Baltimore an exciting, young tandem on the outside.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Yes, the Vikings could draft another corner. Despite investing a ton of draft picks at the position in recent years, Minnesota is still unsettled at cornerback. Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler both departed during the offseason. Forbes is a bit undersized, he weighed in at 166 pounds at the combine, but he is a playmaker. He had six defensive touchdowns and 14 interceptions in college career.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
With the top five corners off the board, Jacksonville will have to pivot. Evan Engram is back again, but he is on the franchise tag. There is also not much behind him that inspires confidence. Michael Mayer is a well-rounded prospect with good production. He and Engram would be an exciting tandem this season while providing Jacksonville with a long-term option if Engram is gone in 2024.

25. New York Giants – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Offensive playmakers have been the focus this offseason for the Giants. Adding Darren Waller was a good start. Drafting Flowers would go a long way as well. He is a bit undersized at 5’9″, 182 pounds, but he has good hands and a ton of collegiate production. I fully expect New York to go receiver in this spot, especially with so many cornerbacks already off the board.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Steve Avila, G, TCU
This is a move I have been hearing more and more in recent days. Avila is a battle-tested guard who has gone up against good competition. He more than held his own against Georgia in the national championship game. Connor McGovern signed with Buffalo this offseason. Adding Avila would allow Tyler Smith to play right tackle or even left tackle if Tyron Smith deals with any more injuries.

27. Buffalo Bills – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Bills are going to load up for another deep playoff run. Gabe Davis will be in a contract year in 2023 as well. Bringing in Addison would give Buffalo an elite slot receiver with the ability to play on the outside as well. Josh Allen would be out of excuses with that trio to throw to.

28. Cincinnati Bengals – Brian Branch, S, Alabama
This is a good meeting of need and value for Cincinnati. Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates both departed in free agency this offseason. Daxton Hill can hold down one spot, but another safety is needed. Branch did not have a great combine, but he has some quality tape and offers nice versatility.

29. New Orleans Saints via San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos – Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
The Saints tend to have a slightly different draft board than most others. They also value pass rushers in a big way. I could see Mickey Loomis falling in love with Hall, who had 15.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Auburn. With Marcus Davenport leaving in free agency, this is where I see the Saints going.

30. Philadelphia Eagles – Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The Eagles love to build in the trenches. Even after selecting Jordan Davis last year, Kancey could be a good fit. Fletcher Cox signed a one-year deal to return to the team and Javon Hargrave left for San Francisco. Kancey is a bit undersized, but he brings a ton of pass-rush ability to the table. Philly has valued interior pass rush in the past. I could see them prioritizing that once again.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Chiefs showed last year that they were more than capable of replacing Tyreek Hill’s production. However, JuJu Smith-Schuster played a large role in that and he is now in New England. Once again Kansas City needs more options for Patrick Mahomes. Landing Johnston would be a huge help. He is a big-body target with good open-field speed. He would add another element to this Chiefs offense.

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Broderick Jones 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Name: Broderick Jones
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Georgia
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 311 lbs
Games watched: vs. South Carolina (2022), vs. Georgia Tech (2022), vs. Oregon (2022), vs. Tennessee (2021)

Broderick Jones heads to the NFL as one of the most accomplished offensive linemen in this class, with two national championships to his name. You didn’t hear about Jones too much, which is usually good for an offensive lineman. He started 19 games at left tackle for Georgia, the final four of 2021 and all 15 of 2022. He did not allow a sack in his redshirt sophomore campaign. The Bulldogs also finished second in the voting for the Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in the country.

At this point, Jones seems like a lock for the first-round and could even wind up coming off the board in the top 15 of the 2023 NFL draft. He will be the latest in-state prospect to move from Georgia to the pros. With 1st-team All-SEC honors this past season, the former five-star recruit seems to be hitting his stride at the right time. It is easy to think of progression as linear for young athletes, while in reality player development is wildly unpredictable. That being said, there is a lot to like about Jones’ long-term potential.


Jones is a fluid mover. He has an excellent first step off the line and looks very comfortable in his pass block slide kick. A lot of that boils down to his polished footwork. He has very heavy hands to control opposing linemen. He handles pass rush stunts well and does a nice job getting out into space on screen plays. One of the small things that really stood out to me was his ability to locate defenders while he was out in space. So often, linemen will simply run downfield and hit anyone in their path. Jones will actively seek out trailing defenders. For a player that has fewer than 20 career college starts, he is a pretty savvy blocker. He handles overly aggressive edge rushers well, especially against the run. Jones also does a nice job setting the edge on outside zone plays. He is a natural athlete with room to add to his frame. His upper body strength is apparent when you watch him play, often dominating quality competition.


For as powerful as Jones already is, he needs to spend more time in the weight room. There is room to add weight to his frame, particularly in his lower body. He will need that added mass to anchor against the best the NFL has to offer. While he does a nice job as a pass blocker, he is susceptible to inside rush moves. Much of that can come down to his hand usage and coaching. It is something that you see with a lot of college tackles. He has room to improve pad level in the run game, sometimes playing a bit too upright. He will need to clean up his hand usage a bit as well.


Jones checks every box when it comes to the intangibles you want in an offensive tackle prospect. He has great length (34.75-inch arms) and a great frame to build around. He is a little bit light at 311 pounds for a 6’5″ left tackle, but I think he will be able to add to that. He has really strong technique as a pass blocker and the makings of a good run blocker. He went up against some great competition in the SEC. I believe he will be capable of competing for a starting job from Day 1 and that he has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro with the right coaching. He played in a pro style offense at Georgia under Todd Monken. It would be the best fit for him, but he can definitely be scheme versatile. The only place I could see him struggling up front would be in a power run scheme.

Ideal scheme fit: West Coast or Outside Zone-heavy offense

Grade: 87.5

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Hendon Hooker 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Name: Hendon Hooker
Position: Quarterback
School: Tennessee
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 217 lbs
Games watched: vs. Pittsburgh (2022), vs. Florida (2022), vs. Alabama (2022), vs. LSU (2022)

For a while, it felt like the conversation around the quarterback position in the 2023 draft was only going to feature four names. Hendon Hooker changed all of that at the Senior Bowl and the combine, wowing teams with his demeanor, work on the board and football IQ. Hooker is one of the toughest players in this draft class to evaluate. On one hand, he is coming off a Heisman-worthy campaign playing the SEC and has tons of starting experience under his belt. On the other hand, Hooker is already 25 years old and coming off a torn ACL suffered in November. Opinions on him are wide-ranging, with some folks banging the table for him to be the third quarterback off the board and others maintaining that he should be drafted in the third round.

Hooker, like so many others in this class, is well-traveled by this stage in his career. He spent his first four collegiate seasons at Virginia Tech, starting the final two. He transferred to Tennessee in 2021 and turned in a pair of impressive seasons for the Vols. He wasn’t even the starter when he arrived in Knoxville, taking over the starting job in Week 3 from Joe Milton and never looking back. He will get knocked for playing in Josh Heupel’s spread system, which is very quarterback-friendly and does not require signal callers to make the same post-snap reads that are expected at the NFL level. To his credit, he still had to carve up opposing defenses and he made a habit of it. Hooker amassed 6,080 yards passing, 58 touchdowns and just five interceptions while completing 68.8 percent of his passes at Tennessee. That type of productivity gets you noticed quickly.


Hooker is a very consistent passer. His throwing motion is clean and his release is the same just about every time he releases the ball. He has the ability to push the ball down the field and has above average zip on his passes. He climbs the pocket well when given time. Hooker’s deep ball is one of the best in the class and he threw a ton of them this past season at Tennessee. He has great size, including massive hands, for the position. He also rarely turned the ball over in his college career. While he draws more attention for his throwing ability, Hooker is a much better runner than I anticipated. He accounted for over 2,000 rushing yards in his career, displaying good straight line speed and the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. His mobility allows him to extend plays and makes him an asset in zone read and RPO sets.


Despite the high completion percentage, accuracy is not Hooker’s strong suit. His ball placement is spotty and he is guilty of missing open looks. He certainly hits more than he misses, but the misses are noticeable on his film. Those issues make me think he is not a great fit for a West Coast style offense. Additionally, his throwing motion is a bit longer. I would love to see him tighten that up at the next level. Hooker was rarely asked to go through his progressions or throw into tight windows at Tennessee, both things he will need to do a lot of at the next level. He has a tendency to take off running when his first read is not there or he feels pressure rather than rolling out of the pocket to extend the play. I believe that can be fixed in time. His internal clock has room for improvement. Hooker is also guilty of having his footwork fail him. He will need to clean up his lower body mechanics. At his age, he has to be considered close to a finished product development wise. No telling how he will rebound from his major knee injury, which will likely cost him at least a part of his rookie season.


Hooker definitely has the arm talent to compete in the NFL, but the question remains if he can perform consistently enough to be an NFL starter. His physical traits and mental makeup make him an intriguing prospect. If he was a bit younger, I think he would have a stronger case for being the top quarterback taken in this draft class. He might take a little bit of time to adapt to the speed of the NFL and playing in a pro-style system, but the intangibles are there for him to become a solid NFL starter in the right situation.

Ideal scheme fit: Zone-read/RPO heavy scheme or spread offense

Grade: 84.5

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