2023 NFL mock draft includes some substantial surprises

Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

ESPN’s Matt Miller recently released his updated 2023 NFL mock draft. Here’s why he has a few curveballs being thrown into the mix next year.

Since the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, all we have heard about regarding the 2023 draft class is the strength of the top two quarterbacks. Since the 2021 season, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud have drawn a remarkable amount of praise and many NFL Draft analysts believed these two players would be the top two picks in the draft next year.

Recently, however, Matt Miller has taken a different approach. While the ESPN NFL Draft expert isn’t making a bold statement by having top-flight pass rusher Will Anderson as the top pick in his recent 2023 NFL mock draft, where Miller has the quarterbacks being selected is interesting.

Instead of slotting Stroud and Young inside his top three picks like most other NFL Draft analysts have done, Miller currently believes they could fall to picks 5 and 6, respectively in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Ahead of them, Miller has EDGE Will Anderson going to the Jets with the first pick followed by WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the Bears, DT Jalen Carter to the Texans, and CB Eli Ricks to the Jaguars. Miller’s rankings remind me of what people were thinking this time last year.

Could Stroud and Young slide in the 2023 NFL Draft?

During this exact time of year in 2021, analysts were convinced that Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler and North Carolina QB Sam Howell were bound to be two of the top picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. That obviously didn’t happen.

Both took a step back last season. Nobody thought that Rattler was going to be benched and forced to transfer schools, while fans watched in amazement as Sam Howell fell all the way to the fifth round of the NFL Draft before the Washington Commanders finally selected him.

I can’t see anything this extreme happening with prospects like Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. However, perhaps we were too quick to make assumptions about their draft position.

There’s a lot to like about each player, but they have shortcomings of their own. For instance, Young is very undersized. There are rumors that he might measure in at 5’11” and in the 195-pound range.

Stroud, meanwhile, will likely check most of the boxes for NFL teams when it comes to his size. However, he might not be that elite athlete or playmaker teams are now looking for, and his game has been likened to Teddy Bridgewater at times.

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Teams will always be a little more aggressive when it comes to the quarterback position, but if these two underperform during the 2022 season and a few other top-notch prospects have good years, I can see a scenario where Matt Miller is right and they slide a bit in the 2023 NFL Draft. This is certainly something to keep an eye on when the college football season eventually kicks off.