We have a new team picking first overall! The Bears and Panthers finalized a trade on Friday that sent the No. 1 pick to Carolina. Now the Panthers are on the clock. The move has massive implications for the rest of the league as well.
There were a few other trades that I decided to make for this mock, including some big-name quarterbacks changing teams. The following trades were made in this mock:
Las Vegas trades 1.7 to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers, 4.117
Jets trade 1.13, 2024 1st to Baltimore for Lamar Jackson
Baltimore trades 1.13, 1.22 and 2024 2nd to Arizona for 1.3
Giants trade 1.26, 3.89, 5.160 to Tampa Bay for 1.19, 6.194
So Aaron Rodgers is a Raider, Lamar Jackson is a Jet and Ravens now have a top 3 selection. Is all of this likely? No, not particularly. But there is a real possibility these teams are all facing the prospect of not having a plan at quarterback heading in 2023. That usually leads to some moves we might not have expected. Plus, it is fun to explore the domino effect of different offseason moves.
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
Carolina sold the farm to move up. You take the best quarterback on the board. That is Young for me. He has size limitations, but I love his game. I think he will translate very well to the NFL and benefit from playing under Frank Reich.
2. Houston Texans – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Nothing really changes for the Texans. They are still in position to land one of the top two quarterbacks in this draft class. I think there is a clear gap between Stroud and the other two QBs still on the board. He is accurate, precise and polished. Houston’s rebuild has to start somewhere. Might as well be with a potential franchise passer.
3. Baltimore Ravens via Arizona Cardinals – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Let’s get wild here. It is tough to figure out what the Ravens will do if Lamar Jackson does in fact leave. It feels unlikely, but in this mock, I have Jackson headed to the Jets. Baltimore has shown they can make it work with one project quarterback with elite running ability. Why not try that again? Richardson is very raw, but he could sit for a year behind Tyler Huntley before taking the reins in 2024.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Colts get the short end of the stick in terms of quarterbacks available. Levis is my QB4, narrowly behind Richardson. I still maintain Indianapolis should have moved up to No. 1. I think Levis has the tools to be successful at the next level, but he is a project with a lower ceiling than Richardson. Indy would still be in a bit of a rebuild after adding him.
5. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
This would be a potential dream scenario for the Seahawks. Anderson would give them a bonafide franchise player to build around. Seattle can afford to spend more draft capital at the position as well with that second first-round selection.
6. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Dan Campbell will be salivating if Carter is on the board at pick six. I think he could be the right type of coach to help Carter straighten out a bit following his legal troubles. On the football field, the former Georgia star would be an instant impact player for a team in desperate need of a defensive upgrade.
7. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas Raiders – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Green Bay is in an interesting spot here. I think they would wind up going best player available trying to retool a defense that disappointed a year ago. Wilson is long and disruptive off the edge. Pairing him with Devonte Wyatt and Kenny Clark would give the Packers a fearsome defensive line.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Atlanta’s pursuit of a pass rusher should finally come to an end in the 2023 draft. With two already off the board, I have them choosing a local product coming off a serious injury. Smith was a dynamic team leader at Georgia prior to the torn pectoral muscle. He showed at the combine why he should be in Top 10 consideration.
9. Chicago Bears via Carolina Panthers – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Bears clearly committed to Justin Fields. Now they need to build around him. Adding my top offensive tackle is a good place to start. Chicago’s offensive line has been bad for years. Johnson is a fluid mover with great size and length. He has starting experience at multiple spots on the offensive line. I like the idea of reuniting him with his former college teammate.
10. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The run on quarterbacks and edge rushers pushes the corners down the board, but the Eagles will not mind. Amidst reports of a Darius Slay trade demand and James Bradberry headed for free agency, Philadelphia needs help on the outside. Witherspoon is a downhill type of player capable of setting the tone for a defense.
11. Tennessee Titans – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Rumors of a fire sale in Tennessee could shift the trajectory of this pick, but with no quarterback on the board worth taking, the front office has to go offensive line here. Skoronski is a talented player, but lacks the ideal length to start in the NFL. We have seen plenty of players overcome that issue before, but it could mean he winds up kicking inside. Not the best outcome, but the Titans could use help at pretty much every offensive line spot.
12. Houston Texans via Cleveland – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
If the Texans believe C.J. Stroud is their franchise quarterback, they will need to get him some receiver to target. Brandin Cooks is still seeking a trade and Houston does not have a whole lot that inspires confidence when it comes to the remaining receivers on the roster. Smith-Njigba was a nightmare for opposing defenses and showed just how explosive he could be at the combine. Don’t overthink the injuries. Go get a game-changing playmaker.
13. Arizona Cardinals via Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
This pick ultimately lands with the Cardinals after being sent to the Ravens by the Jets. I am cramming a lot into his mock draft. Arizona simply needs to start over on defense. Murphy is a quick-twitch athlete with tons of potential.
14. New England Patriots – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
New England’s secondary is headed for a massive makeover. Porter would provide a nice base layer. He is uncommonly long for a cornerback and uses that length to frustrate opposing receivers. He needs a bit of refining, but I trust Bill Belichick will give him all the coaching he needs to be great.
15. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Green Bay cannot make the same mistake it did with Aaron Rodgers this time around with Jordan Love. Adding Addison, who tore up college football over the past two seasons, to a young receiver corps containing Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs would be a great way to set Love up for success.
16. Washington Commanders – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Washington could go a number of directions here, but I think taking Gonzalez would be a perfect example of where value meets need. Washington’s secondary has been the only weak point on an otherwise impressive defense. Gonzalez’ size and improving ball skills make me believe he could be a No. 1 corner.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Pittsburgh needs to protect Kenny Pickett. Plain and simple. Finding someone to open holes for Najee Harris would be nice, too. Jones is coming off a fantastic season with Georgia in which he did not allow a sack. He is still a bit inexperienced, but has the traits and intangibles to grow into the role.
18. Detroit Lions – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
After nabbing a defensive lineman at No. 6, Detroit double dips on that side of the ball with Banks. The Lions desperately need improved cornerback play. Banks is an athletic phenom with all the tools to turn into a shutdown corner. It might not be immediate, but there is a lot to like down the line.
19. New York Giants via Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
New York paid big money to keep Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Now they need to make that investment worth it. Trading up a few picks to grab a potential crucial puzzle piece feels like a logical move. Flowers is a bit undersized, but could thrive playing in the slot. The Giants desperately need someone to turn to on third downs.
20. Seattle Seahawks – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Much like the Lions, the Seahawks also have the opportunity to double up on defense. Anderson is a stand up edge rusher in Seattle’s defensive scheme. Van Ness would likely be playing with his hand in the dirt. He has the play strength to kick inside and be effective. I think Pete Carroll and John Schneider would be happy to continue building in the trenches.
21. Los Angeles Chargers – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Los Angeles needs to find more pass-catching options and improve their blocking ability. Mayer checks both boxes. He is a pro-ready prospect with good college production. Add in good size and above average athleticism and you have a player that should make Justin Herbert’s life much easier.
22. Arizona Cardinals via Baltimore Ravens – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
I felt a bit conflicted about this one, but the Cardinals desperately need help along the offensive line. Four of their five starters from 2022 are free agents. Wright would give Arizona solid bookends to the unit opposite D.J. Humphries. The former Tennessee tackle broke out in his senior season following a shift to the right side of the line.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Turnover in Minnesota is coming. Adam Theilen is already gone. Dalvin Cook and Harrison Smith could potentially follow. There are a number of ways the Vikings could go, but improving a horrific defense should outweigh many other concerns. McDonald brings jobs of athleticism, good production and tons of experience to the table following five years with the Cyclones.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
I know I am higher on Brents than the consensus, but I have been blown away by his performances over the past two months. After tearing up the Senior Bowl, he crushed the combine. Couple that with great measurables and you have a player who should go in the top 31 picks (that feels weird to write). For Jacksonville, finding a corner to pair with Tyson Campbell should be a priority this offseason.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers via New York Giants – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Tampa Bay’s draft approach will largely be shaped by what they do in free agency, with so many key starters set to test the open market. As of now, defensive tackle is a clear need. Bresee has yet to fully recapture the form he flashed as a true freshman at Clemson. However, he had a solid season and looked sharp at the combine. He could be a Day 1 starter for the Bucs.
26. Dallas Cowboys – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Cowboys’ offense will look very different in 2023. Mike McCarthy is taking over as the playcaller. Zeke Elliott will likely be gone. And Dallas will almost definitely have a different receiver to pair with CeeDee Lamb. My vote at this stage would be Johnston, who is a jump ball threat with impressive long speed. I think Dak Prescott would benefit greatly from adding a player of Johnston’s caliber to his group of pass catchers.
27. Buffalo Bills – O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
Buffalo’s interior of the offensive line has slowly decayed over the past few seasons. Without many reliable in-house solutions, the draft would be a logical spot to rebuild the unit. Torrence balled out in his lone year at Florida after following Billy Napier over from Louisiana. I like him as an immediate starter at the next level.
28. Cincinnati Bengals – Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
With Hayden Hurst headed for free agency, the Bengals could be in the market for a new tight end. Washington is a unique prospect given his combination of size and athleticism. Putting him in place to protect Joe Burrow, open up lanes for Joe Mixon and offer an additional target alongside Cincy’s outstanding trio feels like a slam dunk pick.
29. New Orleans Saints via San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos – Josh Downs, WR, UNC
Derek Carr is the new leader of the offense in New Orleans. As of now, it is not overly clear who he will be throwing to other than Chris Olave. Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are free agents while Alvin Kamara is facing legal trouble. Downs is a silky smooth route runner with great hands. He looked fantastic at the combine and I think deserves to be in the Round 1 conversation.
30. Philadelphia Eagles – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Prepare to see this pick mocked a lot. There will certainly be a chance Robinson goes sooner given his talent, but the league has clearly devalued the position in a big way. For Philadelphia, Robinson would be a much cheaper and more talented option than bringing back Miles Sanders. Putting him and Jalen Hurts in the same backfield might be bordering on unfair for the rest of the league.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Kansas City is facing the possibility of needing to replace both offensive tackles this offseason. The Chiefs have learned from past mistakes and will certainly be spending draft capital and other resources to protect Patrick Mahomes. Jones could be part of that equation. He is a massive man with good functional athleticism for that size. I think he could be a quality starting right tackle down the line.
Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our podcast Draft Season Never Ends, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.