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The NFL season is officially in the rearview mirror, with the Kansas City Chiefs crowned victors after Super Bowl 57.
What does the 2023 NFL Draft landscape look like as we turn the page - officially - to the offseason? Let's find out with my first NFL Mock Draft - including trades - of 2023.
1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young (QB - Alabama)
The Chicago Bears are going to have plenty of suitors for this draft spot, but they make a deal with Houston to move down to No. 2 overall and allow the Texans to come up for the QB of their choice. There will be major questions surrounding Young's transition to the NFL game in relation to his size - particularly his weight - but until we officially get those measurements, he deserves to still be viewed as the top QB in this draft. Meanwhile, the Bears recoup some draft capital to continue building around Justin Fields.
Trade Details: Houston sends No. 2 overall, No. 33 overall, and a 2024 2nd to Chicago for No. 1 overall.
2. Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud (QB - Ohio State)
The likelihood of Chicago being able to trade down twice within the top-5 is slim, but we know from the 2022 NFL Draft that Ryan Poles is a big fan of moving down and amassing draft capital. Indianapolis is going to do everything they can to ensure that they get a young QB to develop under their new Head Coach, Shane Steichen, and they move up here to ensure that they get the guy that they want. There's a possibility that the Colts may end up favoring other QB prospects in this class that have a bit more upside, but Stroud's a polished prospect that can provide a high floor right away for this new chapter of the Colts franchise.
Trade Details: Indianapolis sends No. 4 overall and a 2024 1st to Chicago for No. 2 overall.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson (EDGE - Alabama)
Jonathan Gannon is the new head coach of the Cardinals, and you can bet significant money that this selection is going to be on the defensive side of the ball. Arizona needs cornerstone players to rebuild around and Anderson figures to be in the All-Pro conversation in 2-3 years.
4. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter (DL - Georgia)
This is the dream scenario for Bears fans. They recoup a high second-round pick in 2023, they now have additional first- and second-round picks for 2024, and they still get the player they would have taken at No. 1 overall. Carter's a wrecking ball on the interior of the defensive front that provides immense upside as a pass rusher but is also a force in the run game. Matt Eberflus will be pounding the table for Carter all the way through draft night.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson (EDGE - Texas Tech)
We'll have to wait until the NFL Combine later this month to get official measurements, but Wilson reportedly stands at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds and has a wingspan of 86 inches. For context, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks stands at 6-foot-11 and 243 pounds and has a wingspan of 87 inches. NFL talent evaluators are going to fall in love with his upside due to these measurements, and there's seemingly no way that he's getting outside of the Top 10. Seattle needs to load up on the front seven, and Wilson is an excellent start.
6. Carolina Panthers: Will Levis (QB - Kentucky)
The Detroit Lions seem pretty content to have Jared Goff be the starting quarterback for their franchise for the foreseeable future, which means that they're more than willing to let Carolina come up and get their quarterback of the future. Frank Reich was brought in to mentor and develop a young passer, and Levis has all the tools and traits that he should covet. There is certainly some projection with this selection, but the upside is absolutely there for a franchise that desperately needs an answer at football's most important position.
Trade Details: Carolina sends No. 9 overall and No. 39 overall to Detroit for No. 6 overall.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon (CB - Illinois)
Derek Carr is out of town now, and the Raiders have to do something to address the quarterback position, but it seems highly unlikely that Josh McDaniels will be content putting his job security in the hands of a rookie quarterback. A veteran free agent like Jimmy Garoppolo or Aaron Rodgers via the trade market is a much more likely outcome to pair with McDaniels and his complex scheme. This means that Las Vegas can focus on retooling their defense, which needs significant help. Witherspoon's slightly undersized for the position, but his tape indicates that he could be one of the better cover corners in the league sooner than later.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Richardson (QB - Florida)
The quarterbacks are flying off the board, and potentially the biggest wildcard in the entire draft lands in Atlanta with Arthur Smith. Richardson possesses every tool and trait you could possibly want from the position in today's NFL. He's big and physical, has a rocket of an arm, and would easily be considered one of the league's most dynamic runners at the position right from day one. He just simply hasn't played much, which makes his projection a bit murky. However, from a scheme standpoint, there may not be a better fit for Richardson. Atlanta already has two dynamic receiving threats to help eliminate his accuracy troubles, they have a solid stable of running backs to take pressure off of him, and the system is already designed and built for a mobile quarterback. Desmond Ridder showed potential toward the end of 2022, but that shouldn't prevent the Falcons from taking a swing on a player who could be regarded as the best quarterback to emerge from this draft class in two or three years.
9. Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez (CB - Oregon)
The Lions have taken swings at trying to solve their secondary in previous years, but it hasn't clicked for one reason or another. Gonzalez is a big and physical lockdown corner that can match up against the better wide receivers the league has to offer from day one, which is exactly what this defense needs.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Peter Skoronski (iOL - Northwestern)
Philadelphia's on the board at this spot due to their trade last year with the New Orleans Saints, meaning they get to play with house money here a bit. If there's one thing we know for certain regarding Howie Roseman and the NFL Draft, he will invest in the trenches. Skoronski is the most pro-ready offensive tackle in this draft class, but he will face criticism for his arm length. The Eagles are the perfect landing spot for Skoronski as he can start inside at right guard and potentially move out to tackle when Lane Johnson decides to hang them up if he proves he can hold up against NFL-caliber pass-rushers. This move would absolutely keep the Eagles atop the offensive line rankings going into 2023.
11. Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones (OT - Georgia)
The Titans' offensive line last season was a disaster. That unit needs to be overhauled this offseason for Tennessee to win football games the way they want as a ground-and-pound team. Jones is a physical and imposing presence on the outside of the offensive line that would help set the tone for the rest of the unit play in and play out, which would also help pave the way for running lanes for Derrick Henry.
12. Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness (EDGE - Iowa)
With Ogbonnia Okoronkwo set to be a free agent and Jerry Hughes now at 35 years of age, edge rusher becomes a massive position of need for this team. DeMeco Ryans is going to be pounding the table for an edge rusher to build his defense around, and Van Ness has the traits that defensive coaches are going to covet. His production isn't there - which makes this a bit of a risky selection - but the traits indicate that the Iowa rusher could be a centerpiece on defense for this new coaching staff.
13. New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr. (OT - Ohio State)
The Jets offensive line has had some massive investments made in it in recent years - whether through free agency or the draft - but it hasn't all come together for various reasons. They need to continue doing what they can to solve that, and Johnson would be able to slot into their left tackle spot and play at a high level right away.
14. New England Patriots: Joey Porter Jr. (CB - Penn State)
If you've followed the NFL Draft for any length of time, you know that it's completely unpredictable who the Patriots will take at any given spot. A running back could easily be the selection at this spot, knowing Bill Belichick's history, but the smart move is to invest in the secondary with a promising cornerback prospect. Porter's a smooth and instinctive corner with great size that would be able to match up with the talented WRs the AFC East has to offer.
15. Green Bay Packers: Myles Murphy (EDGE - Clemson)
The Packers' draft strategy could look drastically different in just a few weeks once the Aaron Rodgers saga is wrapped up, but for now, they need to focus on the defense. Murphy's a solid pass-rusher that comes with ideal size for the position, but he needs to work on consistency. Bringing him along as a rotational pass rusher behind Rashan Gary and Preston Smith would be ideal in the short term while working to iron out those inconsistencies for an expanded role down the line.
16. Washington Commanders: O'Cyrus Torrence (IOL - Florida)
Quarterback is obviously the biggest need for Washington going into 2023, but they will be unlikely able to address that position at this point of the draft. Expect Washington to be active in the veteran free-agent market, which frees them up to invest in the offensive line at No. 16 overall. Torrence profiles purely as an interior player, but he should be a solid and stable presence up front for whoever is throwing the ball for Washington next season and beyond.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deonte Banks (CB - Maryland)
The Steelers could use some help on the offensive line, but the remaining options seem to be a bit of a reach at this point of the process. Instead, they'll focus on another key position of need on the defensive side of the ball and address the secondary with the young defensive back from Maryland. Banks brings great size and athleticism to the position, but he'll have some inconsistencies to iron out. If he is able to fix those, though, Pittsburgh could have gotten a steal at this point of the draft.
18. Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey (DL - Pittsburgh)
The Lions addressed the secondary with their first selection, and they get some additional pass rush help with their second of the first round. Kancey's a fast riser in this predraft process, and it's not hard to see why when you put on his film. A defensive front with Kancey, Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeil, and James Houston IV going after the quarterback will keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bryan Bresee (DL - Clemson)
Bresee's the most difficult evaluation for analysts heading into this NFL Draft. His tape from 2022 indicates that he shouldn't be considered until the middle rounds, but injuries could have played a big part in his lack of production. The Bucs have an interesting situation to figure out at quarterback in 2023, but they can't solve that at this point in the draft. Instead, they'll add to an already strong defensive line and take a swing for the fences with Bresee to line up alongside Vita Vea.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Zay Flowers (WR - Boston College)
The first WR comes off the board all the way down at No. 20 overall, which is a significant divergence from previous drafts with the likes of JaMarr Chase, Jerry Jeudy, etc. The Seahawks need to add another weapon to this offense to help - assumedly - Geno Smith, and Flowers is one of the most polished receivers of this entire draft class. He could initially start out in the slot as an underneath option and then move to the outside to take over Tyler Lockett's role when he decides to hang them up.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jalin Hyatt (WR - Tennessee)
There aren't many WRs in this class that possess elite traits. There are some very good and solid prospects, but there aren't many that possess a trait that we can point out to and signal that it's among the best in the NFL already. This year's Biletnikoff Award winner has an elite trait, and it happens to be one that today's NFL values very highly: speed. He's a slender-framed wide receiver, but there is a very real possibility that Hyatt runs in the 4.2s at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. This Chargers offense, which is now captained by Kellen Moore, desperately needs a field-stretching option for their rocket-armed quarterback. This is a dream fit for Hyatt and the Chargers alike.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston (WR - TCU)
Johnston has his flaws, yes. His drop rate is considerably higher than you would like to see from a top-tier wide receiver prospect, but he has the size and athleticism that NFL teams are going to covet in a class that doesn't offer a whole lot of it. Johnston as a WR1 for an NFL offense isn't exactly a winning strategy - at least not right away - but Baltimore would offer him the opportunity to play alongside receiving threats like Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews, where he wouldn't have to be. He'd be able to grow and develop at his own pace while still being able to make splash plays in the meantime.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Brian Branch (S - Alabama)
Wide receiver has been a popular mock draft selection across the industry for the Vikings at this point, but anyone who watched this defense this year has to acknowledge that it needs a lot of help. Their secondary, in particular, was historically bad, and they need help at multiple spots. Branch is one of the best prospects in this entire draft class, but it's hard to find a home for him within the Top 20 due to the position that he plays. For Minnesota, he'd be able to step in as a slot corner to begin his career and then potentially move over to Strong Safety when Harrison Smith calls it a career in the next year or two.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Darnell Wright (OT - Tennessee)
It's shocking to see the Jaguars picking this late in a mock draft. It's even more shocking to realize that this team doesn't have many glaring holes on its roster. Jawaan Taylor is slated to be a free agent this offseason, though, which leaves an opening at Right Tackle if the Jaguars choose to let him walk. Wright's a battle-tested right tackle prospect who's gone up against the best pass-rushers the SEC has to offer over the course of his college career, and he's often on the winning side of those matchups. He'd be an instant plug-and-play option for this young and talented team.
25. New York Giants: Bijan Robinson (RB - Texas)
For the sake of this argument, let's assume that Saquon Barkley does not re-sign with the Giants in free agency. He will demand a significant salary, and the Giants front office may not be willing to give it to him. However, they'll still need a dynamic threat out of the backfield to help take the pressure off of Daniel Jones and the passing attack, which is where Robinson enters into the equation. It's important to remember that drafting Bijan at No. 25 overall is significantly different than Saquon at No. 2 overall, and they'd get to take that money from Saquon's contract and allocate it to the receiving corps via free agency. It's never a bad strategy to get younger and cheaper at running back while not experiencing a significant drop-off in talent.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Jordan Addison (WR - USC)
Jerry Jones was just saved from himself because he absolutely would've selected Bijan if he were on the board at this spot. Instead, Jones does the sensible thing in this scenario and invests in the receiving corps. The Cowboys' depth at wide receiver was challenged this past season, and it showed up in the postseason. The former Biletnikoff Award winner would fit in nicely alongside CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in this offense that will look to push the ball vertically downfield.
27. Buffalo Bills: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR - Ohio State)
Buffalo was sorely missing a reliable receiving threat over the middle of the field this past season. In an attempt to solve the problem, they even brought back Cole Beasley halfway through the year, but they need a long-term solution versus just a Band-Aid. Smith-Njigba is a bit of a complicated projection to the NFL due to his lack of production and playing time in 2022, but his high-level tape is absolutely outstanding. The Bills need to continue going all-in on this offense with Josh Allen to get by the Bengals and the Chiefs in the AFC, and Smith-Njigba could be the missing piece.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyrique Stevenson (CB - Miami)
While Eli Apple is a legendary trash talker off the field, he doesn't exactly back that up on the field, and he's a free agent this offseason. Cincinnati needs to add a piece to this secondary to continue their dominance, and Stevenson should be very high up on their draft board.
29. New Orleans Saints: Mazi Smith (DL - Michigan)
The Saints are back in the first round after the Sean Payton trade to Denver, and you can bet that they are going to go back to the trenches with this selection. David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, and Kentavius Street are all pending free agents, and it's hard to see how New Orleans can bring them back with their salary cap situation. They need size on the interior, and Smith provides that for them.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Antonio Johnson (S - Texas A&M)
The Eagles are back on the clock after focusing on the offensive line with their first pick. This time, they turn to their secondary and add the versatile and talented prospect out of Texas A&M. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps are both pending free agents, and Philadelphia will have to address the Safety spots in some form or fashion this offseason. Johnson's played all over the secondary for A&M, and that versatility is going to be highly coveted by this Eagles coaching staff.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: B.J. Ojulari (EDGE - LSU)
The Chiefs added a pass-rusher in the NFL Draft last year, and they go right back to the well here. With Frank Clark now on the wrong side of 30 - plus with a very expendable contract - they need to restock that position group badly. Ojulari would be a perfect compliment to George Karlaftis on the edge and Chris Jones on the interior.
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