The first major hurdle of the 2023 NFL Draft cycle has come and gone—the all-star circuit is complete. The addition of some new data points to consider when looking to slot homes for the talent of this year’s NFL draft could give me a chance to implement some new pairs in my latest scheduled NFL mock draft. But instead, we at TDN have our own new data points to consider: our NFL Mock Draft Simulator is returning!
Premium subscribers have been engaged in beta testing of the Mock Draft Machine (MDM) for approximately two weeks now, smoke testing our rebuilt engine to ensure that things work smoothly when we launch publicly. That time is nearly here, and so I wanted to take the opportunity here to adjust the board and then promptly let the simulator do its thing: simulate the draft.
The end result is the NFL mock draft you’ll see below: a one-round, fully simulated and auto-picked 2023 NFL mock draft courtesy of the beta MDM. I can’t promise all the picks are the ones I would make, but that’s the fun twist on a mock like this for me—I can be #MadOnline too about the outcome if there’s fits I feel missed the mark. Keep an eye out for the public return of the MDM soon—we’re wrapping beta testing up and getting ready to go. But in the meantime, here’s hoping this NFL mock draft can hold you over.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1. Chicago Bears
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama
Listen, we all know that the Bears are hoping to be sitting on a winning ticket for a plethora of draft picks. But if they are unable to find a partner, drafting one of the two disruptive defensive talents in Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter is the proper play from a value perspective. I’m sure you’ll get back to your regularly scheduled “trade scenario” programming in next week’s NFL mock draft, but the MDM has different plans for you this week, Chicago.
2. Houston Texans
Bryce Young QB, Alabama
The Texans’ quarterback decision will be a fascinating one. So, too, is whether or not the team swings at QB at all with new HC DeMeco Ryans coming in and ready to fire up a rebuild on the defensive side of the football. The case for Bryce Young is simple to be the top passer: his college resume illustrates the most direct examples of consistent play that you want at the NFL level. The issue, especially for Houston, will be putting an infrastructure around him that allows him to play to those strengths.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Jalen Carter IDL, Georgia
It’s hard to be mad about a player who some consider to be the top prospect in the class as the “consolation prize.” And yet, that is where the Cardinals find themselves with Carter, a blue-chip interior penetration player, falling into their lap.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Will Levis QB, Kentucky
The discussion for WIll Levis, like Young, is simple. Levis is the blend of all the traits you romanticize at the position, with the question being whether or not you can coach him up to put the pieces together. As the Colts embrace the hard knock reality of their situation as a franchise, one would have to imagine they’ll be receptive to drafting a more long-term developmental player for the bigger payout in the end. But you’ll have to get the coaching right.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Myles Murphy EDGE, Clemson
Seattle adding a big, physical pass rusher into their ranks surely checks out with the Seahawks I’ve come to know over the years. Bravo, MDM; well done!
6. Detroit Lions
Tyree Wilson EDGE, Texas Tech
The Lions drafted Josh Paschal in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft to complement Aidan Hutchinson. I like Paschal, but I definitely think Tyree Wilson is the supercharged version of that player and I am very much a subscriber to not letting good players prevent you from acquiring great players. I’m in.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Bijan Robinson RB, Texas
The Raiders are looking to remodel their offensive to better suit Josh McDaniels’ system. I would have to imagine having a warhammer at running back would very much be a luxury they’d still like to have even as Josh Jacobs prepares to bounce in free agency.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Gonzalez CB, Oregon
Corners that are big, long, fluid, physical, and show budding ball skills don’t grow on trees. But the Falcons found one that falls into their lap here with Christian Gonzalez, who would be my personal choice as the top corner in this class. It’s hard to argue the result from the MDM here in this NFL mock draft.
9. Carolina Panthers
C.J. Stroud QB, Ohio State
Exhale, Carolina. Your long suffering search for a quarterback of the future is over in this NFL mock draft scenario. C.J. Stroud may not have the instinctual gifts of Young or the physical gifts of Levis, but he is, for my money, the best blend of traits of all kinds in this quarterback class—even if the other members of the class have more top-tier individual traits.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
Bryan Bresee IDL, Clemson
Bryan Bresee is looking healthy right now in his NFL Combine training and I absolutely hope we get to see the best version of Bresee as he looks to transition to the pro game. The Eagles would absolutely love to have a player of this talent in their ranks, too. A disruption player is a welcomed addition as the Eagles face a number of expiring contracts on the defensive line.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr. OT, Ohio State
Here’s why I think the MDM did right by the Titans: Paris Johnson Jr. can play either side of the line and play guard or tackle. You’re drafting him to be your long-term left tackle, but if another opportunity arises for 2023, he’ll still be in the starting lineup.
12. Houston Texans (via CLE)
Jordan Addison WR, USC
Am I a little surprised to see a wide receiver here? Yes. I’d have guessed we’d have gotten a defensive pass rusher like Lukas Van Ness or a corner like Devon Witherspoon here. We didn’t. But hey, I’m not mad about giving a young quarterback all the support they could possibly ask for.
13. New York Jets
Peter Skoronski OT, Northwestern
The Jets’ offensive front has some questions at tackle. So does the quarterback position, but it sounds more likely that this pick ends up in Green Bay’s hands as a part of an Aaron Rodgers deal than seeing the Jets pick a passer themselves. Peter Skoronski is technically-refined and should step in as an immediate starter.
14. New England Patriots
Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn State
Needless to say, the MDM has the Patriots’ historical perimeter corner trend down pat by drafting Joey Porter Jr. to pair with the young crop from 2022 and Bill Belichick.
15. Green Bay Packers
Lukas Van Ness EDGE, Iowa
With Rashan Gary coming back from injury and Preston Smith entering into the bigger years of cap commitments as he gets into his 30s, having more off the edge feels like a proper need for the Packers. Lukas Van Ness would fit their body type on the edge quite well.
16. Washington Commanders
Devon Witherspoon CB, Illinois
The Commanders have to be thrilled to get a talent like Devon Witherspoon at No. 16 as the third cornerback off the board in this NFL mock draft. Witherspoon is instinctual and physical, giving the Commanders a physical edge on the perimeter.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dawand Jones OT, Ohio State
Our first big Senior Bowl winner makes an appearance! Dawand Jones practiced one day on Tuesday and spent the rest of the week supporting his teammates but not diving into the action himself. No matter, he proved his point on Tuesday anyway. With a record-setting wingspan, he’s incredibly long and also incredibly fluid. His addition for Pittsburgh is one that gives the team a total mountain up front to help create room for RB Najee Harris and time for QB Kenny Pickett.
18. Detroit Lions
Kelee Ringo CB, Georgia
It sure seems like Kelee Ringo is a polarizing player within league circles. But if he’s able to test well and reaffirm his elite athletic profile, you have to imagine this is the kind of range where he can get his name called. I don’t think he’s as instinctual as the three corners that went ahead of him, but this would be a nice addition to a Lions’ defense that needs reinforcements in talent nonetheless.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brian Branch SAF, Alabama
The Buccaneers are bidding farewell to Tom Brady (for real this time, seriously), but there are a lot more needs for this squad than just quarterback; the defensive side of the ball has a lot of expiring contracts and the unit regressed as a whole in 2022. Brian Branch is a physical tackler who is also diverse in his ability to cover in the slot, giving Todd Bowles a weapon in the secondary.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Anthony Richardson QB, Florida
The Seahawks sound like they’re making headway on a deal with QB Geno Smith. But let’s be honest about Smith and the Seahawks—he’s 32 years old and coming off a season in which he threw half of his career touchdown passes and one-third of his career passing yards. I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world for Seattle to pick a quarterback even with a Smith extension in the making. And quite frankly, a situation like Seattle for Anthony Richardson, where he can develop and not be pressed prematurely into action, actually feels like an ideal one. I love Smith as much as anyone, but even if he becomes the next Rich Gannon, Gannon’s peak lasted four seasons. Seattle has to keep the long-term view in mind. I like this pick for them.
21. Miami Dolphins
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Luke Musgrave TE, Oregon State
Another Senior Bowl standout makes an appearance! Luke Musgrave returned to the field after missing his first game action “since Pee-Wee” in 2022. The appeal is easy to see. Musgrave gives the Chargers another big body for Justin Herbert and I see no reason why he can’t eat up passing game volume in the middle of the field. He’s much more dynamic than the other tight ends that Kellen Moore has had to work with in Dallas.
23. Baltimore Ravens
Quentin Johnston WR, TCU
Whether it is Lamar Jackson or someone else, the perimeter needs more big-play ability and the offense needs more vertical lift. Quentin Johnston accomplishes both. Well done, MDM.
24. Minnesota Vikings
Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State
You certainly don’t get the warm and fuzzies about Adam Thielen right now in Minnesota, so wide receiver makes sense as a pivot for the Vikings. A cornerback run earlier in the draft likely didn’t help us get defensive help for the Vikings but he, the draft is more than one round long. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a nifty route-runner who can complement Justin Jefferson very well.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Mayer TE, Notre Dame
The blasphemous occurrence of Michael Mayer as not the TE1 in this class played itself out in this NFL mock draft simulation and I honestly get why the buzz is happening. It isn’t just because Daniel Jeremiah dropped that nugget the other week, either—teams like dynamic players and Mayer is a study, consistent, and clean player. But teams love high ceilings. Mayer’s ceiling is high but the appeal here is really with the floor.
26. New York Giants
O’Cyrus Torrence IOL, Florida
The Giants’ interior offensive line was a major inhibitor to success in 2022. Anyone who can move the point of attack is a needed pick as far as I’m concerned.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Drew Sanders LB, Arkansas
Dallas getting Drew Sanders as another chess piece for Dan Quinn doesn’t really seem fair but here we are. Don’t blame me, blame the MDM. I would love, however, to see how Sanders and Micah Parsons could move around the same front seven together to test protections.
28. Buffalo Bills
John Michael Schmitz IOL, Minnesota
The Bills get the last big Senior Bowl winner in this first round. John Michael Schmitz has lived in this projection range for our NFL mock drafts regardless, but he was one of the best players in Mobile and firmly established himself as the top center in the class. For Buffalo, he may be a left guard early on, but he’d be one of the best five up front for sure.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
Darnell Washington TE, Georgia
The Bengals have Hayden Hurst looming as a big free-agent piece. Amid the other contracts that need to get handed out, I can’t imagine he’s going to be a top priority. Darnell Washington can step in, not take targets from Ja’Marr Chase, and help breathe more life into the run game.
30. New Orleans Saints (via DEN)
Jahmyr Gibbs RB, Alabama
Alvin Kamara has never logged a 1,000-yard rushing season and over the last two years, Kamara has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry. Over that same stretch, no other running back on the roster has surpassed 260 rushing yards in a single season. We certainly need some more options here in the backfield. Jahmyr Gibbs might not be my choice here for the Saints but I ultimately do appreciate how and why a running back could be added into the backfield. New Orleans could even move on from Kamara after next season and save $7.5M in cap space.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Broderick Jones OT, Georgia
The Chiefs landing a mauler like Broderick Jones this late in the first round as a replacement to Orlando Brown Jr. is a kind of cruel twist of fate for the rest of the AFC. Jones would be a great fit with the physical wall the Chiefs boast up front in front of Patrick Mahomes.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Clark Phillips III CB, Utah
James Bradberry is on an expiring contract for a Philadelphia team that offers one of the best defenses in football. Ensuring the team doesn’t fall off in the secondary is going to be just as important as retaining their talent level in the front. The Eagles accomplished the latter with their previous pick and now lock up a feisty, competitive corner to step in outside opposite Darius Slay.
What did you think of the sixth edition of Kyle Crabbs’ 2023 NFL Mock Draft? Let us know what you think about this or any edition of our NFL Mock Draft series on Twitter and Instagram and stay tuned next week for the next edition of TDN’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft series.
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