In This Post-Super Bowl 2023 NFL Mock Draft, 3 QB Trades Are Made, And A Stunning No. 1 Overall Pick Emerges
Here we go!! It's officially NFL Mock Draft SZN for every fan base. Some teams don't have first-round picks, so I guess it's not really that exciting for them. Oh well. At least we now know the official draft order.
Sorry to the Philadelphia Eagles for blowing a double-digit halftime lead to lose the Super Bowl to the Chiefs. But hey, good news, Philly! You're still drafting in the top 10 and you have your own first-round pick. As for Kansas City, thanks to a killer job by GM Brett Veach in last year's draft, KC had lots of snaps played by rookies this season, lost Tyreek Hill and still captured the Lombardi Trophy yet again.
Veach will try to find another gem this time around at pick No. 31. The blurbs in this blog are long enough to validate an abbreviated intro. Enjoy.
1. ***TRADE*** — Indianapolis Colts (via Bears) - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
To be VERY CLEAR, this toes the line between audacious and foolish. I wouldn't personally have the intestinal fortitude to do it. HOWEVER, Jim Irsay might. This is one of those wacky moves I could see the Colts owner totally overruling everyone on. Anthony Richardson is the toolsiest, freakiest quarterback prospect in this class. I openly laughed when Richardson first declared for the draft because of how raw he is. All it takes is one team to fall in love with him. Indy could take a wild swing here and hit a grand slam. If Richardson reaches his ceiling, he's like a hybrid of Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts. Do you want to be the team who passes on him?
Speaking of Hurts/the Eagles/Anthony Richardson as a potential fit for the Colts…
2. Houston Texans - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
As long as the Texans can build a solid o-line around him, Stroud has a great chance to be a franchise quarterback. He reminds me a lot of Dak Prescott but more of a natural pocket passer. Only thing about Stroud is, he played with such a loaded cast of Buckeye receivers and, with the exception of his amazing performance against Georgia, often struggled making plays outside of structure. Otherwise, he has the size, accuracy and intangibles you dream of at the position.
3. Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
What a catastrophe the Cardinals are in general. They need a high-impact player to help turn their fortunes around and they're sorely lacking talent on the edge of their defense. Enter Will Anderson, one of the most productive, dynamic pass-rushers college football has ever seen. Over the last two seasons, Anderson had 48 tackles for loss and 27.5 sacks. That's with a "down" 2022 campaign. Ridiculous. A lot of folks are highlighting Darnell Wright's tape against Anderson as reason to put him in the first round. While I agree to an extent, this also happened in their matchup LOL:
4. Chicago Bears (via Colts) - Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
I'm sure Bears fans would be pissed to miss out on Anderson. However, Carter is pretty much the closest thing we've seen to Jets star Quinnen Williams except he's started multiple years, and is bigger and more sudden in his movement at the point of attack. Chicago is flush with cap space to spend on a prized free agent like, say, Eagles tackle Javon Hargrave and/or Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport to build out that d-line even more.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos) - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Inside-outside versatility is something the Seahawks could use in the trenches. They're awful across most of the front seven. Wilson is strong enough to kick inside but speedy enough to still get bend around the edge and excel outside. You need a hell of a damn motor in the Big 12 to keep up with all those uptempo spread offenses, and Wilson is the type of high-energy, relentless player Pete Carroll would love to coach. I'm sure Seattle has an eye on Wilson after drafting ex-Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks 27th overall in 2020.
6. TRADE — Carolina Panthers (via Lions) - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
You can poke holes in Richardson all day. He's built like a brick shithouse. Kentucky's Will Levis is freakishly huge, too. Even CJ Stroud is more or less prototypical size…whereas Bryce Young is the slightest-of-frame first-round QB hopeful of my lifetime. That said, Young is a Heisman Trophy winner from a blue-blood program who fared quite well this year despite a lesser supporting cast than we've seen from Alabama of late.
7. Las Vegas Raiders - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
My guess is that Jimmy Garoppolo winds up in Vegas to reunite with Josh McDaniels and throw to Davante Adams. Maybe an Aaron Rodgers trade gets done, but I wonder how McDaniels would feel going all-in on a guy who's literally not sure if he wants to play football in 2023. That seems counter to the way McDaniels' entire being is wired. Jimmy G is cheaper, knows the system, isn't confrontational, and you can probably win a lot of games with him. Hence the Raiders choosing a sticky-in-coverage outside cornerback in Gonzalez to help their struggling defense.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Atlanta's pass rush continues to be a problem and it's almost annoying at this point. Like, do something impactful. Investing this type of premium draft capital in Murphy would be an encouraging step in that direction. He's got that perfect blend of thick and quick that you want out of a base 4-3 defensive end, yet he's plenty athletic enough in space to stand up. No word yet on how much (if at all) the Falcons endorse Desmond Ridder as a viable QB going forward. Arthur Smith is likely coaching for his job. I doubt he'll want to break in another rookie signal-caller.
9. Detroit Lions (via Rams, from Panthers) - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
A twitchy, wiry, nasty press corner. Devon Witherspoon is a human heat-seeking missile against the run and he will get all up in your face. He plays a lot larger than his 6-foot, 180-pound frame would suggest, allowing a 25.3 passer rating and 35.5% completion rate on 62 passes attempted on him in 2022. Zero TDs, three INTs. As far as team-player fits go, Witherspoon to Dan Campbell's Lions would be among my favorite from this entire class.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints) - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Philly prides itself on depth and firepower on both sides of the line of scrimmage. With Hargrave, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham hitting free agency, I think the Eagles prioritize the edge. They have Jordan Davis and Milton Williams waiting in the wings to take over on the interior anyway. Smith is a crafty, bendy pass-rusher who packs a wallop in the running game. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, questions will persist about his slender build. My take is that he has such excellent functional strength and still has room to add a little more weight to the point where that won't detract from his innate burst.
11. Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The o-line in Tennessee is a mess for the most part. Johnson is my favorite left tackle in this class and he can honestly play anywhere. His move from right guard in 2021 to tackle was a revelation, though. Put him at either spot for the Titans and he'll make life a lot easier for Ryan Tannehill. I think he deserves a shot to start this coming year given how bad the situation was around him just now.
12. Houston Texans (via Browns) - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Skoronski is the choice here who can plug-and-play starter at guard. He's obviously a natural tackle having started there for three years. In any event, he goes a long way in helping Houston solidify its pass protection in front of (hypothetically) CJ Stroud. Don't kid yourself, Texans. That defense is still a disaster. Use the remainder of the draft and free agency before this to build out that side of the ball.
13. New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Since this is where I expect Aaron Rodgers to land, the Jets don't go for a quarterback here even with Will Levis lingering. They can't reasonably count on Mekhi Becton as their left tackle of the future at this point. With a great defense already in place and Rodgers under center in this scenario, might as well buy some premium insurance on the offensive line in a polished protector like Broderick Jones.
14. TRADE — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Patriots) - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
There exist some eerie parallels between Justin Herbert and Will Levis that should merit its own separate blog. Both were doubted coming out of college despite boasting excellent physical tools. Like Herbert, Levis is a high achiever in the classroom, and everyone around the Kentucky program raves about his leadership, work ethic and all that good stuff. So my thing with Levis is, yes, the Herbert ceiling is in play for sure. So is a trajectory similar to that of Carson Wentz. I like the idea of Tampa leapfrogging Washington to catch whichever QB is sliding. My hunch is it'll be Richardson, not Levis. We'll see.
15. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
All indications are Aaron Rodgers is out in Green Bay. Would crack me up forever if they now draft a receiver in Round 1. They almost did with Christian Watson last year. What a hit that looks to be. Now add in a smaller but sure-handed possession receiver with some explosive upside in Addison to the mix with Watson's size-speed combo, and Jordan Love should be in great position to take the reins.
16. Washington Commanders - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Sorry to Nate and PFT that the Commanders weren't moving up two spots to land Levis here. If I were Washington, I'd have called the Raiders with a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick next year for Derek Carr yesterday. To enter the offseason program with Sam Howell as your QB1 seems asinine. Similar to McDaniels in Las Vegas, I don't think Ron Rivera wants to stake his job on an unproven Howell or a rook. Insert veteran QB for the Commanders and draft an excellent outside corner in Porter who can make up for the disappointment of William Jackson III.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
I realize JSN missed most of the 2022 season. Doesn't matter. This guy knows how to get open and is the antithesis of Chase Claypool in every imaginable way. I mean that as a compliment. A Steelers receiving corps of Smith-Njigba, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens looks great on paper for second-year field general Kenny Pickett.
18. Detroit Lions - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Many corners don't like to lay the lumber. Cam Smith is emphatically the opposite. I said before how awesome of a fit Devon Witherspoon is in Detroit. Imagine if the Lions double up on corners in the first round and transform their secondary overnight with two flat-out DUDES who will have no bones about biting kneecaps.
19. New England Patriots (via Bucs) - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Not that I want the Patriots to have nice things in terms of high-end receiving talent. Not that anyone should feel bad for them and their six Super Bowl wins. It's more like my eyes strain and want to suck back into my skill when I watch them try to constipatedly (new word) shit out a modern passing attack. They need a legit WR1 like Johnston to elevate their middling pass-catchers and behind-the-curve schemes. Bill Belichick, please nail one of these wide receiver picks for once.
20. Seattle Seahawks - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Passing up Bryan Bresee here in favor of Kancey is less a slight to the former and more a testament to the latter. Kancey is an undersized defensive tackle outta Pitt so of course AARON DONALD comparisons abound. Not saying Kancey is Aaron Donald. Am saying he's a fucking special athlete. Sometimes I fall back on saying things like, "Dudes this size shouldn't be this quick" or some iteration of that phrase. The living embodiment of it is Calijah Kancey.
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
For a minute I thought Bresee was going to fall out of Round 1, which feels admittedly unrealistic. Maybe the Chargers opt for a right tackle here in Tennessee's Darnell Wright, or even Dawand Jones from Ohio State. The reason I'm going with Bresee is to help Brandon Staley. Guy needs his defense to work this year in the most desperate way. Bresee's interior pass-rushing ability blended with the presence of EDGE studs Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa is a dynamic Chargers fans would be ecstatic about.
22. Baltimore Ravens - Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Whatever Lamar Jackson's future holds, this Ravens passing game needs to create more chunk plays. I feel like Greg Roman did Jackson zero favors by refusing to set up ample quick, easy throws. Downs is the type of playmaker who can take a bubble screen to the house. He racked up 195 receptions in his last two years at UNC. Teaming Downs in the slot with a hopefully-healthy Rashod Bateman on the outside and Mark Andrews at tight end gives Baltimore a solid trio. For a smaller guy, Downs actually has a 70% contested catch rate.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Brian Branch, S/CB, Alabama
Slot cornerback is a specialty role and maybe Branch will flex out to safety in the NFL. He's a good fit for Detroit at 18th if he doesn't wind up with the NFC North rival Vikings. Anyway, the credentials in Branch's case speak loudly. Played for Nick Saban at Alabama. Saw significant action as a freshman in 2020 and started the next two years. Ninety tackles in '22 and only three misses. Minnesota's 31st-ranked defense could use someone like Branch to say the least.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
If I were the Jags, I'd let Evan Engram walk instead of giving him the bag and draft a superior blocker in Mayer who's not the dynamic athlete Engram is, but still provides plenty of production as a pass-catcher (131 receptions the past two seasons). Trevor Lawrence's extension will be due in the 2024 offseason, so might as well start planning for it now and cut costs where you can.
25. New York Giants - John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
After getting some improved guard play and solidifying their tackle spots in 2022, the G-Men have but one hole remaining on their previously embattled offensive line. You could swap out whichever wish fulfillment selection your heart desires here and bank on Schmitz being available in Round 2. Center is far from the sexiest position to kick off your draft with. Nevertheless, Schmitz is one of the safer, high-floor prospects at a position the Giants would like to make a meaningful upgrade.
26. Dallas Cowboys - Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Crazy ball production. Fourteen interceptions in three years as an SEC starter. That's a pretty killer resume to be the Cowboys' CB2 opposite another notorious ballhawk in Trevon Diggs. The prospect of pairing those two together would win out in this scenario, I think, over a potentially splashier pick to find, say, another wide receiver to complement CeeDee Lamb.
27. Buffalo Bills - O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
Buffalo, please draft a mauler like Torrence if he's here and improve your running game. I think Buffalo gets a little too pass-happy at times and asks Josh Allen to do way too much as a ball-carrier. Torrence can pass block well also, but his main function is to bring that road-grader toughness and make the Bills a more balanced offense.
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
I could see Washington's teammate Broderick Jones here if he's still on the board, given how shaky Jonah Williams is at left tackle for Cincinnati. Wouldn't mind a back like Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs, even if the first round is a little rich. Instead, as a Bengals guy, I'm zeroed in on Darnell Washington. Whether or not Hayden Hurst gets re-signed, Washington could give Joe Burrow, Zac Taylor and Co. incredible versatility going forward. Not so much reliance on 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR formations) and someone who could function as an H-back in certain situations. Washington's arrival would be a great step toward evolving this Bengals offense even further.
29. New Orleans Saints (via 49ers) - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Who knows what the hell the Saints are getting from Michael Thomas these days, and Jarvis Landry is on the market. That leaves a void at receiver other than Chris Olave and a bunch of other dudes. Adding a playmaker with true game-breaking speed like Zay Flowers gives New Orleans a real shot in the arm. They're not in a position to address quarterback here late in Round 1, so that'll have to wait.
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
Put him at either safety spot and turn him loose. Robinson's stock may not be through the roof because of the position he's listed at and the fact that Florida State's program has lost its luster in recent years. Doesn't take away from how good he is as a prospect. Would have no issue with my Bengals taking him at 28th overall. For the Eagles, this is a gift.
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
My assumption is the Chiefs will work out a long-term deal with left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. To make that easier, they can get rid of Frank Clark and save $21 million in cap space. No-brainer transaction if you ask me. So then they spring for another EDGE prospect in Lukas Van Ness to pair with 2022 first-rounder George Karlaftis from the opposite side.
Other risers to keep an eye on:
- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
- Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
- Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
- Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
- Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
- Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
- JL Skinner, S, Boise State
- Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
- Mike Morris, EDGE, Michigan
- Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor
- Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
- Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
- Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
- Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
- Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
- BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU