The NFL Draft is fast approaching.
Teams are scrambling to evaluate prospects and explore different simulations and the corresponding content is exploding. The NFL has capitalized on the amount of coverage surrounding the draft process, to maximum effectiveness.
At Stadium Rant, we are not immune to the excitement. The draft represents hope for struggling franchises, retooling success for contenders, and the chance at a superstar for a middling organization. Fans wait with bated breath to get the opportunity to see their team select the next cornerstone, hopefully filling a roster need in the process.
In my first 2023 mock draft, the Chicago Bears still had the first overall selection. Also, I decided not to include any trades.
Not this time. All bets are off, and this 2023 NFL Mock Draft embraces the chaos.
All Trades are Listed Below:
Arizona Trade 2023 1st (3rd overall) to Indianapolis for 2023 1st (4th overall) and 2023 2nd (35th overall).
Seattle Trade 2023 1st (5th overall) to Las Vegas for 2023 1st (7the overall) and 2023 3rd (70th overall).
Chicago Trade 2023 1st (9th overall) to Pittsburgh for 2023 1st (17th overall) and 2023 2nd (49th overall).
Philadelphia Trade 2023 1st (10th overall) to New England for 2023 1st (14th overall) and 2023 3rd (76th overall)
New York Jets Trade 2023 1st (13th overall) and 2024 3rd to Green Bay for QB Aaron Rodgers and 2024 4th.
Detroit Trade 2023 1st (18th overall) and 2023 5th (152nd overall) to Los Angeles Chargers for 2023 1st (21st overall) and 2023 3rd (85th overall).
Dallas Trade 2023 1st (26th overall) to New Orleans for 2023 1st (29th overall), 2023 4th (115th overall), and 2024 6th.
NFL Mock Draft: Round One
Pick 1 – Carolina Panthers – QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
The Panthers sacrificed significant assets to acquire the first selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. The front office wants to halt the turnstile of mediocrity that has occupied the most important position for some time in Carolina. C.J. Stroud is an accurate passer with significant production in his collegiate career, including over 8,000 passing yards, 85 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He gives the Panthers their next building block, without the size concerns of the next prospect off the board.
Pick 2 – Houston Texans – QB Bryce Young (Alabama)
Bryce Young would almost certainly be the number-one selection if not for his size. Regarded as the most complete prospect in terms of skillset, the Alabama quarterback has been amazing in his two collegiate starting seasons. He earned himself a Heisman Trophy in 2021, on the back of 4,860 passing yards and 50 total touchdowns. He followed that up with a 91.5 PFF overall grade in 2022, his second 90+ overall PFF season grade in a row. The Texans get an elite prospect that can hopefully overcome his size and become an NFL franchise QB.
Pick 3 – Indianapolis Colts – QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)
The Colts cannot risk another team snagging the quarterback that they want. Richardson has perhaps the highest upside in the 2023 NFL Draft class, although his game will need some refinement. There are elements of his game that are truly elite. At 6’4″, 244 pounds, Richardson exploded at the Combine. He ran a blistering 4.43 40-yard-dash, 40.5″ vertical jump, and 10’9″ broad jump.
Furthermore, he achieved a 93.1 PFF deep passing grade, and 85.8 intermediate grade and rushed for nine touchdowns in his 2022 season with the Gators. The Colts give Shane Steichen another rushing force after he helped Jalen Hurts catapult his career into elite status. If he hits, Richardson will be QB1 in this class and top 10 in the NFL.
Pick 4 – Arizona Cardinals – EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)
The Cardinals win in this scenario. They trade down one slot, still get arguably the best player in the draft class, and fill a desperate need. Anderson racked up more than 200 pressures in his three seasons for the Crimson Tide, as well as 34.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss, and a pass rush win rate of 20.4%. He displayed consistent dominance and is simultaneously one of the highest-floor, highest-ceiling prospects in the NFL Draft.
Pick 5 – Las Vegas Raiders – QB Will Levis (Kentucky)
With the Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, and Washington Commanders looming, the Raiders sacrifice a third-round selection to ensure they secure one of the four best quarterback prospects. Kentucky’s Will Levis possesses prototypical size at the position, with a 6’4″, 229-pound frame and a sizzling arm. The Raiders are an ideal landing sport for a developmental prospect under center, after signing Jimmy Garoppolo to be their bridge mentor signal caller. Levis can sit for a season to learn from the veteran and maximize his chances of hitting on his potential.
Pick 6 – Detroit Lions – RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)
The analytics community is going to despise this selection, especially after Detroit inked David Montgomery on a three-year deal and has D’Andre Swift as an incumbent. However, the Lions have two first-round picks, and decide to add a weapon that can make their offense virtually unstoppable. Robinson is not simply just another running back, he is an offensive weapon.
The Texas prospect set the PFF broken tackle record with 104 and had a ridiculous 96.1 PFF rushing grade. Moreover, Robinson racked up 4,215 scrimmage yards in just 31 games and found the end zone 41 times. Running back value has dropped, but Bijan is a textbook exception to the rule.
Pick 7 – Seattle Seahawks – DI Jalen Carter (Georgia)
Some NFL teams have been rumored to take Jalen Carter off their draft board. It seems inappropriate to speculate or correspond to the football impact of the tragedy that occurred in January, in which two Georgia alumni tragically passed away. Instead, we place this pick here without significant justification, merely acknowledging Carter’s elite talent and seamless fit for the Seattle Seahawk’s defensive line needs.
Pick 8 – Atlanta Falcons – EDGE Nolan Smith (Georgia)
The Atlanta Falcons must fix their passing defense. The team combined for just 39 sacks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Seasons. Combined. Alarmingly, 17 other teams had more sacks than that this year. While it will take more than Nolan Smith to fix, the Falcons snag an absurdly talented athlete that showed out at the NFL Combine. He had a phenomenal 25.5% pass rush win rate and has displayed the ability to play an integral role in a championship program. Smith provides the Falcons with an extremely promising edge defender to begin to rebuild their defense.
Pick 9 – Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State)
Pittsburgh finally address their middling offensive line play. The Steelers surrender one of their two second-round picks for the opportunity to have their pick of the OT prospects. They land on Paris Johnson Jr. out of Ohio State, a blocker with freakish arm length (over 36″), and the sort of nasty play that Mike Tomlin will be enamored by.
Pick 10 – New England Patriots – CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
The Patriots don’t often like to trade up. The opportunity to go and get a premium cornerback is too tempting for New England’s front office here, however. They snag the tools-laden Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon, who emphatically flaunted his incredible physical traits at the NFL Combine. His 4.38 40-yard dash, 41.5 inch vertical, and 11’1″ broad jump show his freakish ability, as well as his 83.9 PFF coverage grade boasting solid production. Bill Belichick can set and forget Gonzalez on an island at cornerback.
Pick 11 – Tennessee Titans – OL Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
Skoronski’s arm-length plummets him outside of the top 10 selections. The Titans are ecstatic and sprint this card into Roger Goodell’s hands. The Northwestern prospect has true five positional flexibility and presents perhaps the highest floor in the class. His sterling PFF grade of 89.5 last season further cemented his acumen, before his fantastic showing at the NFL Combine. Tennessee re-fortifies its run game and further galvanizes its long-term ground-and-pound identity.
Pick 12 – Houston Texans – WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
The Houston Texans have holes all over the roster. That being said, they must ensure that their new rookie quarterback is put in a position to succeed, and what better way than by grabbing a dominant wide receiver? Smith-Njigba struggled with injuries in 2022, but revisiting his 2021 statistics is just baffling. He had an astounding 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns during that season, outpacing both Chris Olave (936 yards) and Garrett Wilson (1,058 yards). Both of these first-round selections have burst onto the NFL scene with successful rookie campaigns, so there seems to be no reason Smith-Njigba can’t follow suit.
Pick 13 – Green Bay Packers – EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
With the additional selection in the first round and their apparent allergy to drafting pass catchers on the opening day of the NFL Draft, the Packers address their mediocre pass rush. After totaling just 34 sacks in 2022, Green Bay steal an absolute athletic freak that manhandled opposing offensive linemen in college. Wilson’s 7’2″ wingspan, as well as 22.3% pass rush win rate, should help the Packers get more consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Pick 14 – Philadelphia Eagles – DI Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh)
This truly seems like a perfect fit. Kancey is undersized but ran a 4.67 40-yard dash, 0.01 seconds faster than his old Pitt alumni Aaron Donald. Now, we aren’t comparing the two, so let’s just make that clear. However, Kancey is explosive, had a ridiculous 92.4 PFF pass-rushing grade, and still holds his own against the run. He will be a fantastic fit alongside behemoth nose tackle Jordan Davis, and give the Eagles a fantastic weapon to deploy along multiple alignments in their deep trench rotation.
Pick 15 – Green Bay Packers – CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
Of course, the Packers double up on defense here. But how can they not with the feisty Devon Witherspoon staring them right in the face? The selection allows Jaire Alexander to have a consistent, superstar running mate on the outside, one that plays with a similar tenacity and mean mentality. Witherspoon allowed just 22 completions on 62 targets in 2022 and did not allow a single touchdown. The Packers get another absolute steal in the middle of the first round.
Pick 16 – Washington Commanders – CB Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
Joey Porter Jr. has long arms. Like, seriously, Google his arms. His athletic traits project him as a seriously sticky corner who will be able to physically dominate opposing receivers in press coverage. He allowed just 15 receptions in 2022 for Penn State and can be put on an island out wide. Porter somehow sacrificed just 68 yards on 106 press coverage snaps last season.
Pick 17 – Chicago Bears – OT Broderick Jones (Georgia)
The Chicago Bears are in talent acquisition mode. While Broderick Jones certainly requires development, as detailed in one of my previous articles, he is an incredible athlete. Playing for the Georgia Bulldogs has readied him for fierce competition and he could be immediately inserted at right tackle, allowing Teven Jenkins to slide back inside.
Pick 18 – Los Angeles Chargers – WR Quentin Johnston (TCU)
The Chargers must get faster on offense. Johnston is a big-bodied receiver with explosive speed and incredible measurable. His 40.5-inch vertical and 11’2″ broad jump will translate at the next level, and give Justin Herbert a deep threat who can stretch the field.
Pick 19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Tom Brady has finally retired. The Buccaneers have now been thrust into a full rebuild, one that certainly can’t be fixed in just one offseason. While they have multiple holes across the roster and can afford to wait for a premium QB in a later draft, they decide to buy into the increasing hype and take a chance on Hooker. The Tennessee prospect had just 12 interceptions in his four seasons as a starter, as well as 80 touchdowns and 8,974 yards. He achieved a phenomenal 90.8 overall PFF grade in 2022 and showed the ability to flash against premium competition, racking up 385 yards, and five touchdowns in a coming out party against NCAA elite Alabama Crimson Tide.
Pick 20 – Seattle Seahawks – EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)
The Seahawks were squishy in run defense in 2022, and have addressed the defensive interior with their first selection. With their next pick on Day One, Seattle take a traits-driven approach and grabs a huge edge defender in Lukas Van Ness. The Iowa defender is 6’5″, 272 lbs, and ran a blistering 4.58 40-yard dash. The versatility that his size presents can be such a weapon for the Seahawks front.
Pick 21 – Detroit Lions – DB Brian Branch (Alabama)
Branch seems like a Dan Campbell kind of dude. The Alabama defensive back can fill either a safety or nickel role for the Lions and overall should help to bolster the back end of a defense that ranked third last in passing yards allowed and fifth worst in first downs allowed. Branch gives the Lions a productive prospect that has a ferocious play style and can both cover and assist in run support.
Pick 22 – Baltimore Ravens – EDGE Will McDonald IV (Iowa State)
The Ravens stick and pick in the latter half of the first round again, this time getting a solution to the team’s shallow edge position. McDonald IV is a perfect fit for a 3-4 scheme and if allowed to pin his ears back will be ferocious as a pass rusher. He earned a ridiculous 92.1 PFF grade on true pass set rush reps.
Pick 23 – Minnesota Vikings – LB Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
The Vikings need some youth on their defense and have multiple positions to fill. Instead of drafting both an EDGE and LB, they grab Arkansas defender Drew Sanders and simultaneously find a little of both. As discussed in my more detailed report of the Razorbacks’ defender, he can stuff the stat sheet and be versatile enough to be lined up in almost any role along the defense. He can occupy so many different roles on defense, including stuffing the run, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage.
Pick 24 – Jacksonville Jaguars – EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson)
Murphy might not have been ultra-productive for the Tigers, but he has the tools that should have teams considering taking him in the top 20. Luckily for the Jags, he slides down to 24 in this scenario, and Trent Baalke practically stumbles over himself to sprint in the card. Murphy joins 2022 first-overall pick Travon Walker to form a pair of hyper-athletic, prototypical edge defenders. Good luck to any team trying to run to the outside of this defense.
Pick 25 – New York Giants – WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)
The New York Giants’ leading wide receivers were Darius Slayton (724 yards) and Richie James (569 yards) last season. They just extended franchise QB Daniel Jones and grabbed him a reliable tight end in Raider’s weapon Darren Waller. The next step is to get him an explosive wide receiving weapon, which is Boston College prospect, Zay Flowers. Brian Daboll gets a versatile weapon to create with and Daniel Jones finally gets the support of a dynamic playmaker.
Pick 26 – New Orleans Saints TE: Dalton Kincaid (Utah)
The New Orleans Saints signed Derek Carr in the offseason, and now they need to give him weapons. With a solid offensive line and wide receiving corps, the Saints look to tight end to get the former Raiders quarterback a big target, akin to what sort of weapon he had in Darren Waller. Kincaid had a 91.8 PFF receiving grade in 2022 for the Utah Utes, and is as reliable as they come, dropping just two of his 93 targets last season.
Pick 27 – Buffalo Bills – IOL Steve Avila (TCU)
The Buffalo Bills must upgrade their offensive line. Their roster is one of the most complete in the NFL, but they can most certainly address the trenches on either side of the ball. Steve Avila is a premier pass-protecting guard, who played a gauntlet of different positions for TCU over the past three seasons. In the combined 2,276 snaps from those past three campaigns, Avila allowed just four sacks and four hits.
Pick 28 – Cincinnati Bengals – IOL O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida)
Speaking of the interior offensive line, the Bengals go and get an absolute bulldozer. Torrence mauled defenders in college, surpassing an 88 PFF overall grade in each of the past two seasons. At 6’5″, 330 lbs, Torrence is a bully that will escalate lanes for Bengals’ ballcarriers, while holding up solidly in pass protection. Torrence did not allow a single sack in his last three seasons in college.
Pick 29 – Dallas Cowboys – TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
The Dallas Cowboys have lost Dalton Schultz to the Houston Texans. The team has also released Ezekiel Elliot, but still prioritises the running game, as an offensive identity. As a result, the Cowboys attempt to solve both problems in one prospect, grabbing Notre Dame’s 6’4″, 249 lbs tight end. Mayer had a 92.5 overall PFF grade in 2022 and Danny Kelly of the Ringer compared him to a combination of Heath Miller and the Berserker Uruk-hai from Helm’s Deep. Dallas fans will relish the physicality of their new offensive weapon.
Pick 30 – Philadelphia Eagles – TE Darnell Washington (Georgia)
The Philadelphia Eagles have an affinity for 12 personnel looks. The run-heavy team has had a shallow tight end room since the departure of Zach Ertz in 2021. Washington would provide Jalen Hurts with a massive target in the passing game while providing the blocking acumen to be essentially a sixth offensive lineman in the run game. His presence will allow Philadelphia to align Goedert in the slot more often, while still using heavier personnel. He seems to be tailor-made for the Eagles roster who want to ground and pound, play the RPO, and roll out heavy personnel to pass out of.
Pick 31 – Kansas City Chiefs – CB Kelee Ringo (Georgia)
The Kansas City Chiefs are a little thin in the secondary. While Trent McDuffie has shown flashes and L’Jarius Sneed has been extremely solid, they could stand to add depth to the position. Ringo has plummeted down draft boards as the season went along, due to his underwhelming production in 2022. That does not change the elite size he has at the position at 6’2″, 207 lbs. Furthermore, he has the athletic traits to deploy in a variety of different alignments, including outside corner or even safety. The physical defender may need some development but has the tools to become an elite defensive back in the NFL.
Let us know what you think of this mock draft, and comment on our socials who you would like to see your team select. As always, follow Stadium Rant for all of your sporting news.