With the conclusion of the NFL combine and free agency set to start today, we are beginning to see a much clearer picture of where the top prospects may land. With that being said, here is my 2023 NFL mock draft 2.0.
1: Carolina Panthers. C.J. Stroud. Quarterback
After making the massive move up to No.1 in the draft, the Panthers have their pick of quarterbacks. All signs are pointing to Stroud to end up in Carolina. Stroud is a true pro-style quarterback with the prototypical size for the position. Furthermore, he has a silky smooth release and the pinpoint accuracy to go along with it. He becomes the face of the franchise in Carolina.
2: Houston Texans. Bryce Young. Quarterback
The Texans stick at two and get the guy they probably would’ve taken at one. The 2022 Heisman trophy winner becomes QB1 in Houston joining new coach DeMeco Ryans. Although Young has some significant size concerns, his unteachable traits are undeniable. His combination of poise, playmaking, and arm talent makes him a premier draft prospect. Hopefully, he will lead the Texans back to the playoffs in the coming years.
3: Arizona Cardinals. Will Anderson Jr. Edge
I do think there’s a possible trade down here, but Anderson will be hard to pass up. Especially since their new HC is defensive-minded. Anderson is as intriguing and polished of a prospect that you will find. His combination of athleticism, production, and pure skill likely makes him the best prospect in the class. After the retirement of J.J. Watt, the Cardinals get who they hope to be a future hall-of-fame caliber replacement.
4: Indianapolis Colts. Anthony Richardson. Quarterback
Richardson is probably the single best athlete at QB that the combine has ever seen. After setting records in both the vertical leap and broad jump, there is no doubt he is a special type of football player. Although he didn’t play much ball in college, I think his athletic profile and sky-high ceiling make him a top-five selection. The Colts need a QB badly and get the best athlete of the bunch at four.
5: Seattle Seahawks. Jalen Carter. Defensive Tackle
After his combine was cut short due to some off-the-field issues, many believe Carter’s fill slipped in the draft. I am not one of those people. Many considered him to be the best prospect in the class before the antics and his ability hasn’t changed. Carter was the highest-graded player on the best defense in CFB two years in a row and possesses freakish athleticism for a man of his size. His ceiling will be far to enticing for Seattle to pass up at five.
6: Detroit Lions. Devon Witherspoon. Cornerback
The Lions need a corner and Witherspoon is perhaps the best in the 2023 NFL draft. After a season in which he was the best defender in all of the B1G, Witherspoon has cemented himself as a top pick. Not only is he great in coverage, but he is an absolute dog in the run game. His willingness to come up and make tackles is unmatched in this year’s draft. His mentality and cover ability will be perfect for Dan Campbell and Detroit.
7: Las Vegas Raiders. Will Levis. Quarterback
Since the Raiders seem to be out of the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes, they are going to have a big hole to fill at QB. They will probably sign a vet in free agency, but they need to think about the future. Levis can hurt you with his arm and legs. He also possesses some of the best tools in the class. Levis joins a very talented offense in Vegas and will hopefully help them compete in one of the best divisions in football.
8: Atlanta Falcons. Tyree Wilson. Edge
Wilson’s measurables are borderline unbelievable. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, weighing over 270 lbs, with over 35-inch arms, Wilson is a freak. Not only does his size check out, but he was productive in the BIG-12 to go along with it. The Falcons haven’t had a player amass over ten sacks since 2016 and need pass-rushing help badly. Wilson joins an already young and hungry defense in Atlanta.
9: Chicago Bears. Calijah Kancey. Defensive Tackle
The Bears pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent pre-draft history just a couple of days ago. Now, sitting at No.9, they can go in a couple of different directions. Ideally, one of the top three pass rushers falls, but that doesn’t happen here. So, they get Kancey, another guy that tore apart the combine. The DT out of Pitt is already drawing comparisons to Aaron Donald because of his athletic profile and athleticism. He may not be the perfect scheme fit, but he is talented enough to make a significant difference no matter his role.
10: Philadelphia Eagles. Brian Branch. Defensive Back
Listing Branch at the defensive back was purposeful. He can play either the safety position or slot corner at the next level. Because the Eagles may be losing
3/4 of their starting defensive backfield, Branch would be a perfect replacement. He has plenty of experience playing at the highest level at Alabama and can be a true leader on defense.
11: Tennessee Titans. Peter Skoronski. Offensive Line
Another guy with position flexibility, Skoronski can truly play any position along the line. Although his shorter arm length will make some shy away from sticking him at tackle, I think he has the potential to be a franchise LT. He shows no real weaknesses or holes on the tape. Because of this, he replaces Taylor Lewan as the Titan’s LT.
12: Houston Texans. Quentin Johnston. Wide Receiver
With their second pick of the first round, the Texans take the first receiver off the board. Johnston will be Young’s new WR1 in Houston for years to come.
13: Green Bay Packers (Via NYJ). Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Wide Receiver
After trading Rodgers to the Jets for their first-round pick, the Packers get new starter Jordan Love some more pass-catching talent. Njigba is my personal WR1 in the class and will be the perfect slot receiver for Green Bay.
14: New England Patriots. Paris Johnson Jr. Tackle
Johnson probably has the highest ceiling of any lineman in the class. With Isaiah Wynn likely leaving, the Patriots need a replacement. Johnson becomes their new franchise LT.
15: Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer. Tight End
With their second selection, Green Bay continues to add weapons. Mayer is the perfect blend of an inline blocker and chain mover. He replaces Robert Tonyan and becomes Love’s safety net.
16: Washington Commanders. Christian Gonzalez. Cornerback
The Commanders have a glaring hole at CB1 and get who many consider to be the best in the class at 16. Gonzalez is the most versatile corner in the draft and showed his ability to be a true shutdown corner last year at Oregon.
17: Pittsburgh Steelers. Joey Porter Jr. Cornerback
After his dad was a long-time Steeler, Porter finds himself also landing in Pittsburgh. Porter is incredibly physical, making him a stellar press corner. He fills the gap at CB1.
18: Detroit Lions. Bryan Bresee. Defensive Tackle
Bresee is one of the strongest players in the class. He also has top-tier athleticism. The Lions could use some help on the interior and Bresee is a versatile lineman with pass-rushing upside.
19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bijan Robinson. Running Back
Robinson is one of the best running back prospects we have seen in some time. He is incredibly elusive and has amazing balance, especially for a 215 lb back. He becomes the focal point of Tampa Bay’s offense.
20: Seattle Seahawks. Lukas Van Ness. Edge
After bolstering the interior of their DL, Seattle now adds to their edge group. Van Ness is an absolute unit and uses his incredible size to his advantage. The best bull rusher in the class adds some much-needed talent to the Seahawks’ roster.
21: Los Angeles Chargers. Zay Flowers. Wide Receiver
With Jalen Guyton and Deandre Carter becoming free agents, the Chargers could use a new dynamic weapon at wideout. Flowers is the shiftiest player in the 2023 NFL draft and adds a new element to LA’s offense.
22: Baltimore Ravens. Jordan Addison. Wide Receiver
The 2022 Biletnikoff award winner lands in Baltimore to help whoever they have at QB. Addison is one of the best route runners in the 2023 NFL draft and will be a perfect complement to the talent the Ravens already have on offense.
23: Minnesota Vikings. Deonte Banks. Cornerback
Banks wowed at the combine and his tape matched his athleticism. He sticks to receivers effortlessly and can play inside or out in the defensive backfield. Banks becomes CB1 for the cornerback-needy Vikings.
24: Jacksonville Jaguars. Broderick Jones. Offensive Line
Since Jawaan Taylor was released, the Jaguars’ line is looking a bit thin. Jones profiles well as a tackle, but could also kick inside if need be. Regardless, he will be a quality starter for Jacksonville.
25: New York Giants. Josh Downs. Wide Receiver
Ideally NY addresses their pass catching issue in both free agency and the draft. Downs will best fit as a slot at the next level and can create separation with the best of them. He helps bolster a weak unit for the Giants.
26: Dallas Cowboys. Nolan Smith. Edge
This may be a “rich get richer” scenario with Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence in Dallas. However, Smith and Parsons instantly become the most athletic edge duo in the NFL and I can’t imagine how teams will try to deal with both of them.
27: Buffalo Bills. O’Cyrus Torrence. Guard
The Bills have a solid line, but Rodger Saffold will be 35 by the start of next season. Torrence had an incrediby productive career at Florida and showed he can protect for mobile QBs. Torrence becomes Buffalo’s future starter at LG.
28: Cincinnati Bengals. Anton Harrison. Tackle
Once again, the Bengals paid for having a bad offensive line. Burrow still got sacked a bunch and their run game wasn’t amazing. Harrison is one of the best pass protectors in the class and could play either tackle position for Cincinnati.
29: New Orleans Saints. Myles Murphy. Edge
With Marcus Davenport set to leave in free agency, the Saints need some pass-rushing help. Murphy was inconsistent at Clemson but showed flashes of greatness. Hopefully, Cameron Jordan can mentor him into being a premier pass rusher in the NFL.
30: Philadelphia Eagles. Will McDonald IV. Edge
The Eagles have an aging unit at the edge and are set to lose a couple of key pieces throughout their defense. With their second selection, they take McDonald who brings some pure explosiveness to the group that Philly doesn’t quite have.
31: Kansas City Chiefs. Mazi Smith. Defensive Tackle
With Khalen Saunders hitting free agency, the Chiefs need a new nose tackle to pair with Chris Jones. Smith does just that. He can swallow up blocks like no other and is probably the best-run stuffer in the 2023 NFL draft. He joins the SB champs.
tl//dr: 2023 NFL draft
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