Here's A Post-Combine 2023 NFL Mock Draft That Strives Not To Overreact TOO Much To The Underwear Olympics
Mock draft SZN is in full swing for the 2023 NFL Draft. Once the Combine hits, it's full speed ahead until late April. In my last one, I had the Colts trading up to select Anthony Richardson — and that was before he put on a literally unprecedented show in Indianapolis.
Let's get this thing kicked off. The entire first round with trades, plus a mock of the first 10 selections in Round 2. You can find my first offseason mock below for reference.
1. **TRADE** Indianapolis Colts (via Bears) - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Amid all the buzz about Anthony Richardson's freaky athleticism, how small Bryce Young is and how inconsistent Will Levis has played, it feels like the Colts will take the relatively safe route and select CJ Stroud here. He's the best pure thrower in the class and just needs a solid o-line in front of him. His ceiling feels like a Rich Man's Dak Prescott, which is actually a good outcome. I'm sure Indy would take that.
2. Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Ex-Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio is manning the Texans' front office. The ties between the Pats and Nick Saban go back for decades. Caserio needs to inject life into the franchise. Between a fresh, hot head coaching hire in DeMeco Ryans and Bryce Young, that'd be a hell of a combination to boost optimism in 2023. I'm concerned about Young's size as much as anyone. That said, he's a total outlier when it comes to how good his game tape is.
3. Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Jalen Carter's sinking stock made this decision a lot easier for Arizona, who needs all sorts of help on the front seven. Anderson has the best combination of innate talent and production I can recall seeing from an EDGE prospect. Not a tough call here.
4. TRADE Carolina Panthers (via Bears) - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Panthers owner David Tepper isn't afraid of risk. Frank Reich has built a killer coaching staff. While Carolina could be tempted to go with more of a "win-now" QB, they have the roster infrastructure to deal with Anthony Richardson's growing pains in the event he's thrust into duty as a rookie. Should Richardson hit that consciousness-altering ceiling of his, Carolina could own the NFC South for a long time.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos) - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Seahawks could talk themselves into a corner or even take Will Levis. Instead, they address a need area that Pete Carroll has publicly acknowledged on the front seven. Wilson has inside-outside versatility, a 7-foot-2 wingspan he knows how to utilize, and certifiably has that dog in him. Think I've mentioned this before, but Seattle found success in Round 1 a few years ago in ex-Red Raiders linebacker Jordyn Brooks. I'm sure they've kept a close watch on Wilson.
6. Detroit Lions - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Whichever corner the Lions choose, they can't go wrong. I love Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon as prospects. Gonzalez gets the nod here because of how twitched-up and agile he despite a longer frame (6-1, 197). Detroit is about to transform its secondary overnight. Just a matter of who GM Brad Holmes prefers.
7. Las Vegas Raiders - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Remember in December when Baker Mayfield caught the Raiders in press man coverage at the end of that magical Thursday night game and threw the winning TD? Well, if you had Devon Witherspoon on the field then, chances are, you could’ve dialed up that call and been just fine. As PFF gawd Mike Renner likes to cite often, Witherspoon allowed one yard in press man coverage for Illinois in 2022. One. Yard.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
You can try to see what you have in Desmond Ridder. He looks like he could be a decent starter. I just have doubts he's the guy to lead the Falcons to the top of their awful division and to playoff contention on a regular basis. For all of Levis' faults, he has such a higher ceiling than Ridder, has already operated a pro-style offense not dissimilar to Arthur Smith's system, and could hit the ground running behind a stout o-line and a run-heavy attack.
9. Chicago Bears (via Panthers) - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Justin Fields and JSN have discussed reuniting in the NFL ever since the former was drafted by the Bears. On the heels of a couple trade-downs and with multiple second-round picks now in the chamber, GM Ryan Poles should take a swing on Smith-Njigba in this scenario. Fields needs help and already has built-in chemistry with JSN, who I think is WR1 in this class.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints) - Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Everyone is waiting to see how Carter's legal situation plays out. He's confident he'll be exonerated of any wrongdoing. Since the Eagles have an extra first-round pick, they could be one of the teams willing to take the risky flier. The payoff of having Carter and Jordan Davis starting at defensive tackle together would be enormous.
11. Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
My favorite tackle in the draft. Johnson has trained for a number of years with Bengals legend Willie Anderson. He's way ahead of the curve from most rookies as a result. Perfect match for the Titans here in terms of need and best player available.
12. Houston Texans (via Browns) - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Whatever slight-of-frame concerns Bryce Young has, the complete opposite is true for Johnston. He's 6-3, 208 and sprung up to a 40.5" vertical. That's what we call a monster catch radius, folks. Young is plenty accurate enough as is. Increasing his margin for error with someone like Johnston is a scary proposition for opponents to ponder.
13. New York Jets - Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Whether he plays guard or tackle, the Jets could team Skoronski up with another uber-versatile, first-round lineman in Alijah Vera-Tucker and figure out the rest once they suit up. Skoronski is one of the safer prospects and makes too much sense for Gang Green to reject.
14. New England Patriots - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
For all the undersized wideouts who disappointed with their Combine weigh-ins, Zay Flowers got out ahead of that by packing on 13 pounds beforehand and seemingly losing none of his elite quickness. The Patriots can coach Flowers on the finer details of route-running and perhaps, at long last, hit on a first-round receiver. A young tandem of Flowers and Tyquan Thornton supplies New England with the explosiveness its offense has lacked of late.
15. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
At 5-11 and only 173 pounds, Addison has some play strength concerns. On the other hand, he's arguably the best route-runner this side of Smith-Njigba. Addison won the 2021 Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver at Pitt before transferring to USC. Guess who won the Biletnikoff hardware the year before him? DeVonta Smith. He's overcome size concerns to thrive in the NFL. My guess is Addison will, too. He's a nice complement to Christian Watson and a welcome change-up to Green Bay's penchant for size guys at wide receiver.
16. Washington Commanders - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Kendall Fuller is a fine cornerback. I have questions about every single other player on that area of Washington's depth chart. Porter is a long, physical, plug-and-play starter with an NFL pedigree who the Commanders could use more than their fourth-ranked pass defense would initially lead you to believe.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Brian Branch, S/CB, Alabama
Pittsburgh can plug Branch in as their starting nickel cornerback and be confident he can thrive right away. He's one of the smartest, most instinctive and surest-tackling players in this draft. Seems like a classic, vintage Steelers defender who can align at either safety spot. The disguised coverage possibilities are tantalizing.
18. Detroit Lions - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
So much upside and so many different ways you could use Smith in an NFL defense. With how great the Georgia standout is at operating in space — a strength shared by Lions star Aidan Hutchinson — Detroit could get so creative in scheming up exotic blitz packages. Don't forget about James Houston, either! PS: Smith blazed an official 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Would love to see what Zyon McCollum can do at cornerback in Year 2. Nevertheless, McCollum is still a project and the Bucs have to be thinking longer-term. It looks like they're headed for a rebuild with a $56.5 million salary cap deficit and Kyle Trask as QB1. Carlton Davis' extension only runs through 2024. Other incumbent cornerbacks like star Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are no longer under contract. Banks can be a viable CB2 right away.
20. Seattle Seahawks - Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
It's downright nuts how Kancey converts speed to power and winds so soon off the snap. Anyone looking for a game-wrecking interior pass-rusher won't find many better than Kancey in this or any other draft. His undersized frame is the only real knock. You'd have to think the Seahawks draft room would be doing backflips off a Round 1 haul of Tyree Wilson and Calijah Kancey.
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan
If you're unfamiliar with the annual Freaks List compiled by The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, it's a wonderful way to keep tabs on toolsy NFL Draft prospects coming into the college football season. Mazi Smith kicked off the list last year. The Michigan man tipped the scales at 323 pounds at the Combine, put up 34 reps of 225 on the bench press, and is capable of explosive athletic feats like the one below that make your jaw drop. Brandon Staley badly needs an interior d-lineman to make his scheme click. Smith is too tempting to pass on here.
22. Baltimore Ravens - Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Pure deep speed and a raw skill set to mold make Hyatt one of the most compelling prospects of the year. I don't think he's come close to hitting his ceiling — and he averaged 18.9 yards per catch as a junior with 15 TDs. Whether Lamar Jackson is still the Ravens' QB or not, they could use a splashy playmaker like Hyatt to open up their downfield passing attack.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
A little rich for my blood to take Bresee here. He has an injury history and doesn't "wow" me as much as he should considering his elite physical tools. Easy to see a team desperate for defensive help like the Vikings fall in love with him, however. Bresee seems like a great dude and could be a big get for Minnesota here if he's more consistent in the pros.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Many of these picks are destined to change once free agency comes and goes. Prime example: Jags right tackle Jawaan Taylor is expected to command one of the richest contracts of anyone available. We've kind of seen what Taylor is and he's solid but not spectacular. Jones is a 374-pound behemoth who sports a SEVEN-FOOT-FOUR wingspan, the strength to manhandle anyone and a basketball background that's helped make him way more nimble than he has any right to be at his size.
25. New York Giants - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
About as sure-handed as tight ends come. Only two drops on 93 targets this past season for Kincaid. Plus, he's surprisingly elusive after the catch, and even though he won't bully anyone in the trenches, the effort is at least there to make you think he can bulk up and be serviceable in that capacity someday. We all know the G-Men need weapons. Rather than reaching into the deep pool of small receivers, Kincaid is the call here.
26. Dallas Cowboys - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Dalton Schultz should be walking since he played under the franchise tag in 2022. The Cowboys still don't seem interested in paying him long-term. In Michael Mayer, Dallas would get a more well-rounded player (assuming Mayer hits his potential) and a comparable athlete to Schultz who's going to cost way less in the coming years. Mayer had 180 catches and 18 TDs in three years at Notre Dame.
27. Buffalo Bills - Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Dubious value to put a linebacker in the first round. When you look at how well Campbell tested, how productive he was and how his stop at Iowa is such a good match for what he'd be in for in Buffalo, it's an enticing pairing of prospect and team. Tremaine Edmunds is about to hit the open market, and the Bills are paying big money at the position to Matt Milano already. For Buffalo's specific situation, Campbell is a logical option.
28. Cincinnati Bengals - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bengals guy here and I'm THRILLED to see the draft fall this way. Joe Mixon is a very possible cap casualty and Samaje Perine is a free agent. Bijan Robinson is the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. I'm blown away by Bijan's acceleration, ability to cut without losing speed, and overall vision. What an X-factor Bijan could be for a Cincinnati team that's made the AFC title game two years in a row.
29. New Orleans Saints (via 49ers) - Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Marcus Davenport is walking in free agency in all likelihood. Cam Jordan turns 34 in July. Payton Turner keeps getting banged up. In addition to providing necessary insurance at a key spot, Van Ness actually played more snaps inside than on the edge at Iowa. Tweener concerns aside, I imagine the Saints could cook up some fun stunts up front with Van Ness in the mix and that many versatile big bodies. Operating under the assumption that New Orleans retains defensive tackle David Onyemata, too.
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Kind of a polarizing one here I'd suspect. In almost any other non-Bijan year, he'd be RB1. Has excellent pass-catching skills and not a lot of wear and tear. He's drawing Alvin Kamara comparisons. Rather than pay Miles Sanders whatever he wants, it's more cost-effective for the Eagles to get Gibbs here.
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Cut Frank Clark, save $21 million in 2023 cap room and draft Murphy. Seems like a straightforward approach for the Chiefs to cap Day 1. They nabbed George Karlaftis last year around this point. I don't love the EDGE pairing of Murphy and Karlaftis, they're serviceable and benefit a great deal from having Chris Jones on the interior.
First 10 of Round 2
32. Pittsburgh Steelers (via Bears) - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia — Total gift for Pittsburgh, courtesy of that second-rounder from Chicago in the Chase Claypool trade. They might move up into the first round if Jones is sitting there in the late going. In any event, he’d be a no-brainer choice to protect Kenny Pickett’s blind side.
33. Houston Texans - O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida — The Texans obviously need defensive help, but their o-line could really use a road grader like Torrence to pave running lanes for talented tailback Dameon Pierce.
34. Arizona Cardinals - Steve Avila, OL, TCU — Although he’s not quite the run blocker Torrence flashes as, Avila can play any of the three interior positions and had more decisive wins in pass protection. Keeping Kyler Murray upright should be a big priority in Arizona.
35. Chicago Bears (via Colts) - Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern — Matt Eberflus is going to want some more pieces to work with in the defensive trenches. Adebawore set the Combine on fire, can play inside or out, and should be an instant upgrade as a base defensive end.
36. Los Angeles Rams - Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State — With Jalen Ramsey trade rumors flying around, I’d expect the Rams to invest in their secondary early on. They may do that in the first round, provided they land a Day 1 pick from a Ramsey deal. Brents tested very well in Indy and is really quick for a 6-foot-3 corner.
37. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos) - DJ Turner, CB, Michigan — I’d be fascinated to see Turner’s burners opposite the freak show that is Tariq Woolen. Both Turner and Woolen hit 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Turner could interchange with Coby Bryant in the slot as well.
38. Las Vegas Raiders - Sydney Brown, S, Illinois — If the Raiders come out of the first two rounds with an all-Illini lineup, they should be thrilled. Brown and Devon Witherspoon would be such a spark to Las Vegas’ perpetually struggling defense.
39. Chicago Bears (via Panthers) - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee — Worry not, Bears fans. "Finally" addressing the o-line here. Wright can play either tackle spot, and Chicago can find another interior lineman later on. I’d start Wright at right tackle in Week 1. Wouldn’t be comfortable with Alex Leatherwood out there as things stand now.
40. New Orleans Saints - Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina — With Derek Carr now in town, imagine if the Saints could hypothetically get anything close to what Michael Thomas once was combined with Chris Olave AND Josh Downs? Could be a special receiver trio in New Orleans.
41. Tennessee Titans - Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State — Bud Dupree was a free-agent bust and cap casualty. Harold Landry is coming off a torn ACL. I'll send help to Tennessee in the form of a unique, bendy pass-rusher in McDonald whose spin move and suddenness off the edge are most impressive.