The NFL draft is one of the best times of the football calendar year, and it can make or break a franchise for years to come. Every year, there are surprises, trades, giant bear hugs, and more.
There are also mock drafts, tons and tons of mock drafts. The picks seem to change every day as new information and insight come to light. Therefore, I decided to share my thoughts on what I think the unpredictable 2023 NFL draft will look like.
1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Panthers are in a rebuilding phase as they look for their next franchise quarterback under new head coach Frank Reich.
2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Multiple reports have suggested Houston could go defense here, especially with new head coach DeMeco Ryans, who has an extensive defensive background. With that being said, in the NFL, you will go nowhere without a QB, and the Texans need one.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
There is potential for a team to attempt to make a trade with Arizona here. However, if Arizona stays put, they will take the best player available in Anderson because they need help at various positions.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Colts have not figured out the quarterback position since Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement. With new head coach Shane Steichen, the Colts will look to go for it here, taking a high-upside prospect in Richardson.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Seattle is in a prime position to take a defensive lineman here, and they need some help getting to the quarterback. Wilson is the match here, especially with concerns surrounding Jalen Carter.
6. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
It didn’t work out with former first-round pick Jeff Okudah, so the Lions will continue their offseason by bolstering their secondary and drafting a top corner.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Raiders have a glaring need in the secondary and will attempt to fill that need by going with the AP All-Pac-12 second-team cornerback.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Atlanta is a team with a ton of options in this draft. But if they stay at eight, Atlanta will get one of the top-rated o-linemen in the draft, who has the team on his wish list.
9. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, Georgia
With off-the-field issues, Carter falls to the Bears at No. 9 overall as they continue to add to their defense.
10. New England Patriots (via Philadelphia): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Our first trade has happened as the Philadelphia Eagles are exchanging first-round picks with the Patriots. Philadelphia was unable to get Carter at No. 10, so they swap spots with the Patriots and acquire some additional late-round picks. Meanwhile, the Patriots get the highly regarded Skoronski to help protect Mac Jones in a tough AFC East.
11. Tennessee Titans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Tennessee does not seem to believe in Malik Willis as their next franchise quarterback, so they go and draft another one just outside the top 10 in Levis.
12. Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Even with all the rumors of the Texans drafting heavily on the defensive side of the ball, I think they could do the opposite and reunite Stroud with Smith-Njigba.
13. Green Bay Packers: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
After the Aaron Rodgers trade was finalized, the Packers moved up two spots. With this pick, they stick to their guns and take another defensive player in the first round for the third consecutive year.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (via New England): Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
After a trade with New England, the Eagles sit at pick 14, and no, they don’t use it on Bijan Robinson. Instead, they use it on a pass rusher to bolster the defensive line after losing some key players in the offseason.
15. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets moved back a couple of spots after the Rodgers deal was finalized, and why not help out their new QB by drafting an offensive lineman to help protect him?
16. Washington Commanders, Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Commanders need a bit of an upgrade in the secondary, and Porter Jr. seems to fit the mold. Washington is reportedly “zeroing in” on Porter as a target for this spot in the draft, according to Mike Fisher of CommandersCountry.com at SI.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers, Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Steelers addressed the interior of their offensive line during the offseason with the free-agent signings of Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig. However, they need one more piece to the puzzle — a tackle. The Steelers fill out their o-line by taking Wright, who will protect QB Kenny Pickett for the foreseeable future.
18. Detroit Lions: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The Lions continue with a defensive theme in this draft and take an edge rusher to pair with Aidan Hutchinson.
19. Buffalo Bills (via Tampa Bay): Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The shock of the draft comes when the Bills trade up to draft Robinson. The Bills see an opportunity with Robinson slipping down the board and jumping into the top 20 to take him before he falls to a team like the Chargers or the Cowboys. Buffalo makes its offense much more dynamic with the 2022 Doak Walker Award winner.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Could there be a run on receivers toward the end of the first round? It is certainly possible, and I believe the Seahawks start it up by drafting Flowers.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
With an aging Keenan Allen, Justin Herbert needs all the support he can get, and Johnston has the potential to be a productive wide receiver in the NFL.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Baltimore goes defense late in the first round and picks up the former Terrapin standout to help bolster their secondary.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
With the Vikings releasing Adam Thielen in the offseason, Minnesota gets Kirk Cousins another weapon to pair alongside Justin Jefferson in Addison.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Branch could fall anywhere in this year’s draft, but have him going to the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s secondary desperately needs to be upgraded, and Branch brings a versatile skillset that could help in coverage.
25. New York Giants: O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
The Giants just gave Daniel Jones a giant contract, and the best way to protect him is to draft an interior offensive lineman, and that’s what they will do.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
After losing Dalton Shultz in the offseason, Dak Prescott will need a security blanket, and Jerry Jones will go out and get one in Mayer.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Buffalo): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
After trading back with the Bills, Tampa Bay acquired future assets to help them reset after the retirement of Tom Brady. They will start the rebuilding process by taking an offensive lineman that can help protect Baker Mayfield or whoever is under center for them next year.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Another tight end-needy team finds the other top tight end in the draft, who falls into their lap. After losing Hayden Hurst in the off-season, the Bengals replace him with Kincaid, adding a weapon to the arsenal of Joe Burrow.
29. New Orleans Saints: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The Saints do not have a lot of depth on the defensive line and will need to add to it. Bresee had a good collegiate career at Clemson, recording 51 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and nine sacks.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
It’s not Robinson, but it’s one of the top running backs in this year’s class. Gibbs falls to the Eagles at No. 30 and will join a team that just went to the Super Bowl and has the top offensive line in the league.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
The Chiefs need a pass rusher, and with their only first-round pick, they go with Ojulari, who has a high upside and could be a force off the edge.
[Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports]