Way-Too-Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Four quarterbacks feature while Alabama, Clemson and Georgia dominate the first round

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The 2022 draft is in the books, which means it is time to start wildly speculating about the 2023 draft class. Full disclosure, I have not done much film study on any of these players yet. I’ve watched maybe one game of each of them, if not just watched some highlights or saw them play during the 2021 season. Most of this will change dramatically in the coming months, but it is a fun introduction to the prospects that will make up the 2023 draft class.

With that in mind, I did not create the draft order. These odds are the latest from DraftKings and tiebreakers were determined by strength of schedule in 2022.

1. Houston Texans (200-1) – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
I would like to formally apologize to Davis Mills. I believe the Texans will be better than this in 2022. But if Houston has the No. 1 pick, it will be tough to pass on Stroud. After a slow start to the 2021 season, Stroud found his groove with 44 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He has good size at 6’3″ and an NFL-level arm.

2. Atlanta Falcons (150-1) – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Atlanta could pull the trigger on Bryce Young here, but instead, I think they will grab his Alabama teammate who should have won the Heisman in 2021. Anderson was nearly unstoppable this past season, posting 17.5 sacks. Had he been eligible, he would have been the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft. Positional value pushes him to the second spot here, but make no mistake, he enters the year as the No. 1 overall prospect.

3. New York Jets (150-1) – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
I truly hope the Jets are not picking in the top five again. If they do, Carter would be an excellent target. After picking up Jermaine Johnson II in the 2022 draft, New York can round out their front four with Carter. He is supremely athletic and disruptive. He will be a major catalyst for Georgia’s defense this season.

4. Detroit Lions (150-1) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
This is the best case scenario for the Lions as the 2021 Heisman winner falls into their laps. This would reunite him with one of his favorite targets in Jameson Williams. Young is a very polished player with a great arm and solid mobility. His biggest test will be continuing to perform without his top two targets, (Williams and John Metchie). We saw him struggle without them against Georgia in the National Championship Game.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars (130-1) – Jackson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
I don’t care that you just paid Christian Kirk a ridiculous amount of money. Smith-Njigba is a game-changing player with incredible ball skills. He dominated playing out of the slot for Ohio State and often looked like the best receiver on a team that just produced two first-round selections at the position. His monster game in the Rose Bowl points to what he could look like as the featured target for C.J. Stroud.

6. Seattle Seahawks (100-1) – Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
Seattle chose to pass on the quarterback position in this draft class, opting instead to rebuild its offensive line and restock its defense. Now, the Seahawks can grab a quarterback to grow with. Van Dyke turned some heads this past season at Miami. He took over the starting job a couple games into the season and finished strong. This pick is about projection that he will take the next step in his development, notably, increasing his completion percentage.

7. Carolina Panthers (100-1) – Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia
Carolina could go a couple directions here, including quarterback, but I think they will give Matt Corral another year to prove himself, especially with three quarterbacks off the board already. Instead, they go with the best player available in Smith. He flies around in that Georgia defense. We will get a chance to see him take on a much larger role with Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean now in the NFL.

8. Chicago Bears (100-1) – Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh
If Justin Fields is going to be successful, he is going to need weapons to work with. Chicago did grab Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking Addison here. One of the most productive players in college football a year ago and Kenny Pickett’s favorite target, there are rumors Addison could go link up with Caleb Williams at USC for his junior season.

9. New York Giants (100-1) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
If the Giants are picking in the top ten, I think this pick will be spent on a quarterback. New York ignored the position in the 2022 draft and declined Daniel Jones’ 5th-year option. Levis put together an impressive year at Kentucky. He will need to cut down interceptions, but he is a good athlete, shows good pocket presence and has a compact throwing motion. Plus, he plays in a pro-style offense.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (65-1) – Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
Pittsburgh still needs help in the secondary after not drafting a single corner in the 2022 draft. Ricks enters the year as my top corner. He essentially spent the past two seasons as LSU’s No. 1 corner with Derek Stingley Jr. out. Now, he will join Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa before likely making the jump to the NFL.

Editor’s note: Eli Ricks was arrested Sunday evening for speeding and possession of marijuana.

11. Washington Commanders (65-1) – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Another SEC corner, Ringo will get a chance to show he can be the top option with Derion Kendrick now in the NFL. Ringo is big at 6’2″ and a good athlete. He showed his playmaking ability with a 79-yard pick-six of Bryce Young in the National Championship Game. For the Commanders, he would give them a No. 1 corner, especially with William Jackson looking like a potential cap casualty after the season.

12. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints (50-1) – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Sure, the Eagles still have Dallas Goedert, but after trading away Zach Ertz this past year, there is not much at the position other than Goedert. Bringing in Mayer allows the Eagles to go back to running two tight end sets and gives Jalen Hurts another weapon. Mayer is a very well-rounded prospect and seems in good position to be the first tight end drafted in 2023.

13. Minnesota Vikings (45-1) – Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Adam Theilen turns 32 this year and struggled with injuries in 2021. Minnesota might have other needs here, but grabbing another LSU receiver to pair with Justin Jefferson feels like a great investment. It seems even smarter when you look at the cost of keeping top-end receivers these days. Boutte had 509 yards and nine touchdowns in just six games before missing the rest of the season with an injury.

14. New England Patriots (40-1) – Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama
New England lost J.C. Jackson in free agency and has yet to take any meaningful steps to replace him. Malachi Moore had a good year, with three interceptions as he stepped into a bigger role for the Tide defense. He has good size and skills, but needs to show he can be a true No. 1 corner this season. It will help sharing a defensive backfield with Eli Ricks.

15. Las Vegas Raiders (35-1) – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Bresee is a former No. 1 recruit who has dazzled in the limited playtime he has gotten at Clemson. It is not because he is not talented enough either, he just missed the final nine games of the Tigers’ season due to injury in 2021. When healthy, he is one of the most dominant defensive players in college football. He would give the Raiders an incredibly talented front four, which they will need playing the AFC West.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (35-1) – Tony Grimes, CB, UNC
The Eagles had a good 2022 draft, but did not find any corners to reshape the secondary. Grimes is a tall corner with good coverage skills. He has good make up speed and uses his hands well to break up passes. He has room to grow, but he looks like an NFL corner.

17. Miami Dolphins (30-1) – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bring back the first-round running backs! Robinson enters the year as a Heisman candidate after a strong sophomore campaign. He is thick at 6’0″, 214 pounds and perhaps most importantly, can catch the ball out of the backfield. He has 41 catches across his first two college seasons. Miami desperately needs an upgrade in the backfield.

18. Tennessee Titans (28-1) – Akheem Mesidor, DL, Miami
This is a name that you should get to know. Mesidor flashed some real promise at West Virginia before transferring to Miami for the 2022 season. He has a sweet spin move and a high motor that makes him incredibly difficult to keep out of the backfield. Tennessee could add him to an already very talented defensive front.

19. Arizona Cardinals (25-1) – Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
The Cardinals revamped their offense with Hollywood Brown and Trey McBride. Now, they need to continue investing in their defense. Budda Baker is a great player, but Arizona could use another safety. Joseph has nine interceptions over the past two seasons and brings great size to the position. Now he will get a chance to showcase that talent at Notre Dame after three seasons with Northwestern.

20. Baltimore Ravens (22-1) – Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
Lamar Jackson needs some more weapons. The Ravens have a ton of depth at receiver, but not enough quality starting options. Mims could help change that. He is a bit undersized, but he is dynamic in space and catches the ball well away from his body. I like him as a replacement for Hollywood Brown with even more upside.

21. Indianapolis Colts (22-1) – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Indianapolis quietly had a good draft, but I’m not so sure Bernhard Raimann is the surefire answer at left tackle. If he is, then this definitely won’t be a need in 2023. Until then, I believe the Colts need to invest in the offensive line. Johnson could be the best tackle from a slightly underwhelming class, at least at first glance.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (18-1) – Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Cincinnati struck gold with Chidobe Awuzie in free agency last year, but they still need some more help in the secondary. Phillips is a bit undersized, but he is dynamic. He flashed his playmaking potential in the Rose Bowl, forcing a fumble of Jackson Smith-Njigba and intercepting C.J. Stroud. He also showed that he has some work to do to solidify himself as a first-round player.

23. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns (17-1) – Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson
Houston continues to go with the best player available. At this stage, that is Davis. He had a bit of an underwhelming season missing four games due to injury as well. If he can get healthy and return to the form he showed as a freshman (nine tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) then he will earn his spot in the first round.

24. Dallas Cowboys (17-1) – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Another Clemson defender. Murphy took the next step in his development as a sophomore, posting eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He has great size at 6’5″, 275 pounds. Dallas needs someone to play across from DeMarcus Lawrence.

25. Los Angeles Chargers (16-1) – Trenton Simpson, EDGE, Clemson
In case you weren’t aware, Clemson has a really good defense this year. Simpson is well built and incredibly versatile. He has an explosive first step off the line and a nose for the football. He is capable of dropping into coverage as well. Brandon Staley would love getting his hands on him.

26. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos (16-1) – Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama
Bobby Wagner is gone and Seattle does not have a clear replacement on the roster right now. To’oTo’o was one of the best linebackers in college football this past year and made a bit of a surprising decision to return to school. He looked sharp in his first season with Alabama after transferring from Tennessee.

27. Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers (14-1) – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Miami should continue to prioritize surrounding Tua Tagovailoa with talent. Skoronski has a big frame that he needs to continue to grow into. If Liam Eichenberg does not lock down the starting spot at right tackle, Skoronski could be his replacement.

28. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams (10-1) – Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas
Detroit entered the 2022 draft needing some safety help. Perhaps third-round pick Kerby Joseph will be able to fill the void. If not, then Catalon could be a logical choice here. He earned some first-round buzz this past season before deciding to return to school.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1) – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Kansas City added Skyy Moore in the second round, who is a speedy, slightly undersized receiver. However, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling likely won’t be around long. The Chiefs could also use a bit more size at receiver too, which is where Johnston comes in. He is 6’4″ and excels at making contested catches. He is a run after the catch threat as well with his relentless running style.

30. Green Bay Packers (10-1) – Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama
Hopefully, Robert Tonyan will be back to full strength after missing most of 2021 due to injury. Either way, he is on a one-year deal and the Packers do not have much behind him in terms of tight end depth. Latu is a big-body target at 6’5″ and moves very well in space. He can be flexed out to give Aaron Rodgers, or whoever is quarterbacking Green Bay, another weapon to throw to.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-1) – Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
There are a number of directions I could see the Buccaneers going. So much is unknown about Tom Brady’s future. Let’s assume Tampa does not need to address the quarterback spot for right now. Lavonte David is essentially a free-agent after the year is over, so perhaps the Bucs would seek out his replacement, Sewell, brother of Lions tackle Penei Sewell, plays downhill and seeks out contact. He should be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

32. Buffalo Bills (13-2) – Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
Let’s squeeze another running back in here. If you are looking for an explosive, do-it-all playmaker, look no further. Achane is a bit undersized, but that only matters if you can catch him. He would give the Bills a really dynamic element in the run game and short passing game with his game-breaking speed.

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