The 2023 NFL Draft is filled with uncertainty everywhere, such as who Carolina traded up to get, positional rankings for many positions, and where superstars are going to get traded. We’ll find out on April 27th, but until then, we can only predict. So here is my 2023 1st Round NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
2023 1st Round NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
The Panthers gave up a lot to move and make this pick. So why not take the quarterback with the highest floor? Stroud can come in on day one and be your starter, as he possesses great accuracy and great arm strength. That’s what the Panthers desperately need at QB, and that’s what they get at No. 1. His stock was slipping a bit until Ohio State’s playoff game against Georgia, where he played outstandingly and showed his ability to improvise. Before that game, his biggest flaw with scouts was his ability to improvise. Former NFL journeyman and Panthers QB coach Josh McCown told CJ Stroud, “When you live in Charlotte…” I had Stroud go number one before, but that interaction gave me more confidence.
5′ 10″/204 lbs.
The Texans appear to be taking the quarterback that the Panthers do not. If I were the GM, I would take Anthony Richardson, as I think he fits Houston’s timeline better than Bryce Young. Young is NFL-ready, while Richardson is not. The Texans are not ready to compete. Why not draft the guy who isn’t quite ready and develop him so that when the team is ready, so is he? Nonetheless, the Texans choose Young, who, despite his physique, is a phenomenal player with an amazing arm and accuracy on par with anyone.
The Raiders see Richardson fall past pick two and trade up to snag him in this mock draft. The Raiders recognize that as the draft’s highest upside prospect, he will require time to develop, which he can do while Jimmy Garopollo is on the field. Richardson runs a 4.44 40 yard dash and has the talent, traits, and size to be an MVP-caliber QB in the NFL if he is put in the right situation. That makes him worth the risk at number three, and the Raiders select him. If the Cardinals stay at 3, Will Anderson Jr. is the easy choice
The Colts sit and pick, allowing Levis to fall into their laps in this QB heavy mock draft. Opinions vary on the quarterback from Kentucky, and for good reason. He’s a raw prospect who could be ranked in the 15 to 20 range when it comes to quarterbacks, or he could be one of the top eight throughout his career. Levis’ arm talent and size with regard to accuracy concerns remind scouts of Josh Allen when he was a prospect. The Colts take the chance and draft Levis at 4.
6’3 1/2″/253 lbs.
The Seahawks war room explodes as Will Anderson Jr. falls to them at pick five. The best edge defender prospect in the last decade, Anderson lands in Seattle, where the Seahawks need edge help. The Seahawks finished with 34 QB pressures last year, which placed them 28th. Because he is a game wrecker and a nightmare assignment for offensive tackles, he has all the tools to help right away.
I contemplated having CB Christian Gonzalez here as the Lions need cornerback help, but I don’t think the Lions pass up the chance to bring Carter to Detroit. A generational interior defensive lineman, Carter was viewed as the possible No. 1 pick before his UGA pro day, where he weighed nine pounds more than his combine weight and didn’t complete his drills. Add to that his off-the-field issues, and his draft stock is falling. Yet on the field, he is a monster. He provides immediate elite run support and QB pressure to any team he’s picked by.
After trading back with the Raiders, the Cardinals gain draft capital and pick up one of the best defensive players in the class in this mock draft. Wilson has a 86-inch (7′ 2″) wingspan, which makes him a freak athlete coming off the edge combined with his strength. Tyree has drawn comparisons to Travon Walker through the draft process. While Wilson won’t jump to 1, I would not be surprised if he went higher than this.
With no cornerbacks available, the Eagles seize the opportunity and trade up with the Falcons to select Gonzalez, the best of the bunch.He has good size at the corner position. Gonzalez is one of the best defensive players in the class when you consider his 4.38 40 yard dash time and elite cover skills.He has good ball skills and awesome cover skills to go along with his freakish NFL Combine numbers. Pairing Gonzalez with Darius Slay and James Bradberry will be a nightmare scouting situation for NFC opponents.
After getting a massive haul for the first overall pick, the Bears sit and wait to see who falls to them. With no offensive linemen off the board, the Bears take the first swing and take Jones in my first round mock draft. He moves very well for his size and is one of the most explosive offensive linemen in the draft. The Bears pass on the more polished linemen and go with Jones, who has the most upside of any lineman in the class.
The Falcons trade back two spots with the Eagles, and Smith becomes the third Bulldog off the board in this mock draft. Smith is explosive and provides immediate run support off the edge. Combine that with the flashes of elite pass rush he showed in college, and Smith can be developed into a fantastic defender.
With the Titans heavily rumored to be trading superstar RB Derrick Henry, they chose to find his replacement by taking Robinson. Bijan is the best running back prospect since Saqoun Barkley, and with his elite vision and receiving threat out of the backfield, he adds high level playmaking to a needy Tennessee offense. People might think 11 is high for Robinson, but the run heavy Titans fall in love with their guy and don’t pass up the chance to take him.
After drafting their potential franchise quarterback at No. 2, the Texans take Van Ness at No. 12 in this mock draft. While he is unpolished and has not been developed as a pass rusher, Van Ness has the size and athletic ability to be an elite player. His only move off the edge is his power, but if he can be taught more moves, Van Ness can be a scary player in the Houston defense.
5’11 1/2″/181 lbs.
With Aaron Rodgers saying he intends to play for the Jets, the Packers oblige and trade him to New York. In return, they receive number 13 among other things and select Witherspoon. While not having ideal size for his position, Witherspoon’s tape from last year is arguably the best in class. Despite being a bit handsy, he blankets opposing receivers and would be a good fit for the Packers defense. Green Bay would have considered Brian Branch here as well, but Witherspoon was chosen instead.
In need of getting younger on the offensive line, the Patriots take the polished and versatile prospect in Skoronski. Skoronski is appealing to many teams due to his ability to play all three positions on the line.Combine that with his elite footwork and great size, and I could definitely see him going off the board earlier than this.
6’2 1/2″/193 lbs.
After trading Aaron Rodgers, the Packers continue to build their assets even more by trading back to pick 19 with the Bucs. Tampa Bay senses a run on corners incoming and moves from 19 to 15 to select Porter Jr. Porter has excellent size on the outside, makes plays on the ball as well as anyone, and can match up with larger-framed pass catchers. With Tampa in desperate need of corners, they would jump at the chance to sign Porter.
After Porter goes the pick prior, Washington takes the next available corner in Banks. Banks was a combine standout, running a 4.35 40 yard dash and jumping a 42-inch vertical. With a solid frame, Banks can be a great player for Washington for years to come. H He is fluid in zone coverage and has good hand use in man-to-man. I’m not sure if Banks changes the Washington defense immediately, but he is a great grab for the future.
The Steelers boost their offensive line in a big way as they take Paris Johnson Jr. The explosive tackle can play both inside and out on the line while having elite ability to use his hands. After passing on the offensive line in the first round the last two drafts, the Steelers chose to protect Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris here at 17.
Branch quickly becomes the Lions’ most versatile defender. Playing the “star” role at Alabama, Branch played all over the field and played very well. Branch’s ability to play on the outside, in the nickel, in the box, and at safety provides explosiveness and excitement for a Detroit team that’s on the rise under Dan Campbell.
When I made the mock for this, I had Dalton Kincaid, but I chose for the Packers to take Murphy. Murphy has elite size and speed for his position off the edge. He uses his long arms to impact the run game and push his blocker into the pocket. The Packers boost up their defense with young talent as they head to a complete revamp.
After landing Will Anderson Jr. at five, the Seahawks move to the other side of the line and take Torrence. He uses his very broad frame to protect the quarterback without being penalized, as he wasn’t flagged all year. With one of the worst-ranked interior lines in the NFL during the 2022 season, the Seahawks look to improve the line for Kenneth Walker III to run behind.
The first receiver domino falls as Smith-Njigba is added to an already explosive Chargers offense. Zay Flowers can be in play here, but Los Angeles chooses the guy with a bigger body. Smith-Njigba did not have the best 2022 season, but his previous two are more than enough to convince the Chargers that he is the right fit for their offense.
With superstar QB Lamar Jackson’s status up in the air, the Ravens tempt him to stay by taking Flowers in this mock draft. The most explosive player in the draft, Flowers can flat out fly. In open space, he’s a nightmare for opposing defenses. Why size could be a concern for teams, Flowers is a game wrecker and could be the first WR off the board.
The run of wide receivers continues as the Vikings select Addison in this mock draft. The Pitt transfer had an elite season at USC with QB Caleb Williams. Despite a smaller frame, Addison can be electric in space and is very good at getting open. After releasing veteran Adam Thielen, Minnesota takes no time to replace him.
In a super-deep TE class, the Jaguars take the first one in Washington. The ginormous pass catcher is an excellent blocker with good receiving skills. The Jaguars need explosiveness, and he adds that. Despite Evan Engram being placed on the franchise tag, the Jaguars could use TE help. He also adds protection on the line as he is large enough to block defensive linemen. If Washington is developed correctly, the Jaguars’ offense could be very scary.
Once the first TE goes off the board, it won’t be long for the others to start going. In need of offensive playmakers, particularly at tight end, the Giants select Kincaid, the best pass catcher available. Kincaid has great speed and size and will immediately elevate the Giants offense.
The Cowboys need help on the defensive line, and Kancey can provide it right away. Despite his lack of size for his position, he excels at getting the quarterback. He uses his upper-level change of direction and athleticism to wreak havoc on defense, which is what Dallas needs. He goes 26th overall in this mock draft.
6’3 1/2″/332 lbs.
Why people might see this as high for Avila is the potential solution to the Bills need for interior line help. Avila has good size and uses his flexibility on the line. With experience at both center and guard, his versatility is appealing to the Bills, who are just a few pieces away from a Super Bowl win.
Despite improvement on the offensive line, it’s still a need for the Bengals, and they chose Wright to help. He uses his size and length to move blockers out of the way and has the ability to stay in his spot. Wright could no doubt go higher than this as he gains traction in the draft process, but he falls to No. 28 and the Bengals snag him.
6’5 1/2″/298 lbs.
With Kancey off the board, the Saints chose Bresee to boost their defensive line in my mock draft. Bresee is severely underrated as he has good pass rush skills and is a run stopper in the middle by using his hands intelligently to cause chaos. He comes into New Orleans and provides immediate help to a subpar defense.
In the original mock draft, I had this pick as Jahmyr Gibbs, but I think the Eagles will go with Oljuari instead. He uses his dip and quick feet off the edge to reach the quarterback while using his quick speed. Eagles GM Howie Roseman loves the athletic edges, and that doesn’t change here as they improve the defensive line.
To guarantee that fifth-year option, the Vikings trade back into the first round with the Chiefs to grab Stevenson in this mock draft. The Georgia transfer figured it out at Miami and got rewarded by being selected at 31. Stevenson is fantastic at breaking up passes and using athleticism to make plays. He needs to be developed but can end up being a super-solid NFL cornerback. I could also see this pick being CB Keelee Ringo from Georgia.