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Steven Cheah's 2023 NFL Mock Draft 5.0 (Post Aaron Rodgers Trade Edition)

Richard Schultz. Getty Images.

It's Draft Week! We had a major trade with Aaron Rodgers going to the Jets to get the dominos falling, so here's where I see things shaking out with a few days left until the Commish takes the stage:

For reference, here is Mock Draft 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0

*Note: My Final Mock Draft will be coming out on Thursday

1) Carolina Panthers (via Chicago Bears) - QB Bryce Young (Alabama)

There was some very late smoke this morning that this could be a landing spot for Will Levis. It appears to be internet fodder with Levis moving all the way from 20:1 to 7:1 this morning to go 1st overall. The reason is that someone is saying Levis told his family he's going #1 overall.


Bryce Young is still the overwhelming favorite. But Young is small. Half an inch shorter than Russell Wilson and about it took him a lot of work to get up to 204 lbs. His playing weight is probably closer to 190 lbs, which would be ~15 lbs. lighter than Russ. The comp. is Drew Brees, which would be a great pick. But Drew Brees had success with a great Offensive System/Coaching and a great Offensive Line, specifically interior of the Offensive Line. The Panthers have Austin Corbett, Bradley Bozeman, and Brady Christensen from Left Guard to Right Guard. Only one of those guys rank in the top half of their position groups per PFF. Skill positions could be an issue as well with Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, and Hayden Hurst headlining a group looking like it was assembled by my Uncle Jimmy in a Madden fantasy draft. Young's size gives me pause and I just don't think Carolina is ready to have a successful Quarterback.

2) Houston Texans - EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)

Credit to Lance Zierlein who originally hatched this theory and I think it has some merit. The Texans wanted Bryce Young, but with Young going #1, do they settle if they don't love a guy? There is so much smoke around C.J. Stroud bombing his S2 test which is now the most important thing in the world. But aside from that, new HC DeMeco Ryans is a Defensive Guy from San Francisco where they took Nick Bosa #2 overall. Going Wilson over Will Anderson Jr., who like Ryans, went to Alabama, is a bold choice, but Wilson's size (6'6" frame clocking in at 271 lbs. with long 33 5/8" inch arms) is better and upside is arguably higher because of that.

3) Arizona Cardinals - EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

The Cardinals want to trade this pick sooooo bad, but I don't see a buyer. I think the QB market cools on Thursday and we only see one in the top 3. Will Anderson Jr. is my top rated player so if you stay here, this is a run the card up deal. The Cardinals have a lot of holes, but Anderson will allow them to feel good about one of their EDGE positions.


4) Indianapolis Colts - QB Will Levis (Kentucky)

The Colts are taking a Quarterback at #4, but which one? C.J. Stroud is on the board here. Anthony Richardson reportedly has fans in the building in and new HC Shane Steichen came from the Eagles and coaching Jalen Hurts, can he do more with Richardson? I have them going Will Levis who is a riser in the process because his upside is outstanding too. Critics can point to 2022 as a down year, but the guy lost 4/5 of his Offensive Line and his go-to WR in WanDale Robinson. 

5) Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) - DT Jalen Carter (Georgia)

Carter's image definitely took a nosedive recently with the charges coming out but in reality I can't see him falling that far. In fact, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus says they are only meeting with teams with Top 10 picks. He is one of the best players in the Draft and would immediately upgrade the interior of Seattle's line to help get after the NFC West's QBs.

6) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) - CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)

They traded CB Jeff Okudah, who was a top 10 pick a few seasons ago to the Falcons. So this is a glaring need with a guy they've been heavily linked to. Witherspoon is slight in size at 5'11" 181 lbs. but he is a DOG and just the kind of guy Dan Campbell would love.

7) Las Vegas Raiders - CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)

The Raiders have holes everywhere, but with Jimmy G signing with the Raiders, it removes the immediate need for a starting QB. Gonzalez is built like a create-a-player for a Corner at 6'1" 197 lbs. with 32" inch arms and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. He also fits the new ideal for CBs which is having a WR background. Not only does that help him understand the position and route concepts, but he's got good enough hands to turn bad throws into turnovers.

8) Atlanta Falcons - QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

Atlanta has Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder, but simply can't pass up C.J. Stroud who is sitting there, staring them in the face at #8.. The S2 test certainly counts for something, but the tape counts for more. And his tape is good. He's a pure thrower of the football and while his athleticism was questioned because he didn't pile up rushing yards like his predecessor, Justin Fields, he did carve up defense after defense, including Georgia's which is loaded with guys that'll be playing on Sundays. 


9) Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers) - WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)

A lot of buzz the Bears go Offensive Tackle here, but Ryan Poles has hit on Offensive Lineman later in the Draft, so I could see them investing in another need, like WR, and why not get Justin Fields' old teammate in JSN? He was limited to only 3 games last season due to a hamstring injury but had 95 catches for over 1,600 yards with 9 TDs in 2021 with the Buckeyes.

10) Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints) - EDGE Nolan Smith (Georgia)

There is a lot of chatter that the Eagles LOVE Smith, so I'm actually buying this. He's a bit undersized at 6'2" 238 lbs. with 32 5/8" inch arms. But he did tear up the Combine with a 4.39 40-yard dash. The Eagles not only are a Quarterback factory but an EDGE rusher factory and Brandon Graham is a grandpa in NFL years, so Smith will be a good addition to the rotation with Graham, Haason Reddick, and Josh Sweat.

11) Tennessee Titans - QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)

The Titans appear to be the wild card team of the Draft. New GM Ran Carthon comes from San Francisco and is well respected around the league. He didn't sign Ryan Tannehill and he didn't draft Malik Willis. There is a clear youth movement in Nashville and they may take Richardson here and redshirt him so he's ready to go in 2024.

12) Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) - WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)

The Texans need some help for Davis Mills or whoever is throwing passes next season and Zay Flowers is the ticket in my mind. He's not the biggest guy at 5'9" 182 lbs., but his agility and change of direction will always have him open.

13) Green Bay Packers (via New York Jets) - TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah)

This pick went to the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers deal and a young QB's best friend is a Tight End. And Kincaid is the best pass catching TE out there. While he's a bit undersized at 6'4" 246 lbs., he's got the unique ability to get open with some nuanced wiggle at the top of his route. Jordan Love gets a new safety valve.

14) New England Patriots - OT/OG Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)

The Patriots have a bunch of needs and Offensive Line you could argue is set after they signed Riley Rieff to play Offensive Tackle, but it's a 1-year deal on the cheap and Skoronski has position versatility. After Cole Strange had a rough rookie year, who knows if his spot is guaranteed. At #14, Skoronski is good value and the Pats can figure this out in camp. They are in the business of needing good players and this is a good player who can help make them better.

15) New York Jets (via Green Bay Packers) - OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State)

Jets GM Joe Douglas is a former Offensive Lineman and their former 1st round pick OT Mekhi Becton hasn't been able to stay healthy. While he does seem like he's on great weight loss journey to get fitter, their other options are 37 year old Duane Brown and Max Mitchell. Paris Johnson Jr. would be a big upgrade.


16) Washington Commanders - OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee)

The Commanders don't know who will be throwing the ball next year. But whether it's Sam Howell or someone else, they'll need to protect them and Wright has some intriguing tools to pass on at #16. He's had success against Will Anderson and other top pass rushers.

17) Pittsburgh Steelers - WR Jordan Addison (USC)

The Steelers pair Kenny Pickett with his old buddy Jordan Addison who caught 100 balls with 17 TDs from Pickett in 2021 before Addison transferred to USC. Addison is an undersized WR at 5'11" 173 lbs. and running a 4.49 40-yard dash, but the Steelers are the best franchise in the league at Drafting WRs and they get a good one here with a little input from their QB.

18) Detroit Lions - DT Calijah Klancey (Pittsburgh)

Lions GM Brad Holmes was with the Rams when they took an undersized DT from Pitt who turned into one of the league's best players. Klancey isn't Aaron Donald, but he fits the profile.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)

The man they call "Hercules" is rising up Draft boards despite never starting at Iowa. But at 6'5" 274 lbs. with 34" inch arms running a 4.58 40-yard dash, he's got the freakshow measureables that Jason Licht & co. love in the 1st Round. They've also got what I would think would be great intel on him with OT Tristan Wirfs and EDGE Anthony Nelson both being Iowa alum. This pick makes sense to add Van Ness to a pass rush rotation of Shaq Barrett, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, and Anthony Nelson. He can also kick inside on 3rd downs.

20) Seattle Seahawks - OT Broderick Jones (Georgia)

The Seahawks like to draft size at the position in the trenches and at 6'5" 311 lbs. with 34 3/4" inch arms fits that bill. Jones did a nice job establishing run and is athletic enough to get out in space. 

21) Los Angeles Chargers - RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)

The Chargers have an elite pass catching RB in Austin Ekeler who has asked for a trade. Bijan Robinson is an elite pass catching RB that could reset the clock for their backfield. Robinson is an dynamic weapon who has outstanding stop/start explosion but can also split out wide and can both run routes and has elite hands. He'd be a weapon for the Chargers in the up tempo AFC West.


22) Baltimore Ravens - CB Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State)

Both Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters have battled injuries in recent seasons and Forbes is a really interesting prospect. Forbes is a dynamic player on the outside and torn up Indy with a 4.35 40-yard dash. The concern is his weight, which clocked in at 166 lbs., but he's an ultra athlete.

23) Minnesota Vikings - CB Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)

The Vikings have CB Byron Murphy at CB and nobody else really. Porter has elite size for the position 6'2" 193 lbs. with an insane 34" inch arm length. 

24) Jacksonville Jaguars - TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)

The Jags placed the Franchise tag on TE Evan Engram, but may not be able to afford him long term. Mayer isn't the fastest (4.7 40-yard dash), but he's polished and versatile. He can catch and block and step in Day 1.

25) New York Giants - WR Quentin Johnston (TCU)

The Giants need some playmakers for Danny Dimes and Johnston is a big bodied WR who can make cuts like a smaller WR. New York invested in Daniel Jones monetarily over the off-season and are now investing premium draft capital in his success.

26) Dallas Cowboys - CB DJ Turner (Michigan)

This is a surprise pick in the 1st Round. Turner could be a late Day 2 guy, but I see him sneaking into the 1st Round after he blazed a 4.26 40-yard dash at the Combine. The Cowboys have Trevon Diggs and brought in Stephon Gilmore, but in this day and age you need three good Corners.

27) Buffalo Bils - EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson)

The Bills defense looked like a shell of themselves when Von Miller went down. Gregory Rousseau has shown flashes, but Boogie Basham hasn't to the same degree. So Murphy can provide that big bodied pass rusher they crave. He also plays with outstanding effort and has a Pro's mentality.

28) Cincinnati Bengals - S Brian Branch (Alabama)

The Bengals drafted Dax Hill last year with the 31st pick, but he hasn't exactly panned out and they lost their playmaking Safety Jessie Bates in Free Agency. Branch is a versatile guy who can play both Safety and Nickel CB and he can help shore up Cincinnati's back end.

29) New Orleans Saints (via Denver Broncos) - EDGE Will McDonald IV (Iowa State)

Cam Jordan isn't getting any younger. He's 33 years old and even though they drafted Payton Turner early last year, they still need ton continue to overhaul their pass rush. 

30) Philadelphia Eagles - DT Mazi Smith (Michigan)

Mazi Smith is one of the strongest players in this draft having put up a staggering 34 reps of 25. That'll fit in nicely in Philly where Fletcher Cox is 32 years old and could use a rotational DT to give him a break once in awhile. 

31) Kansas City Chiefs - WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee)

The Chiefs love fast Receivers and Hyatt blazed a 4.40 and despite only having one year of big production, did it in the biggest matchups with 6 catches for 207 yards and 5 TDs against Alabama. He'd be a nice new weapon for Patrick Mahomes.


Final Mock Draft coming Thursday! Stay tuned…