The NFL draft cycle is a long, exhaustive process, but folks, we’re almost there. From early summer scouting to the college football campaign and pre-draft circuit, here is how I see the first round playing out just a tick over a month away from showtime. Here is my latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Fowler 1.0
1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI)
C.J. Stroud QB, Ohio State
Carolina moved up for a QB and C.J. Stroud looks to be the guy. He’s the future under center—now, get some athletes around him.
2. Houston Texans
Bryce Young QB, Alabama
You either have a franchise guy or you’re looking for one. I believe DeMeco Ryans is the right man in town to work through the ups and downs of starting a young QB. They signed Robert Woods for a reason, and I expect Bryce Young to become a leader for Houston from day one.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama
An athlete that could become one of the more dominant defenders in our game, Will Anderson Jr. is an immediate boost to a team lacking talent. He’s a foundational piece.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Richardson QB, Florida
One of the most unique athletes to enter the draft in some time, having a voice like Shane Steichen in Anthony Richardson’s ear will help immensely. The Colts have pieces in place, now it’s about fine-tuning the small things to allow him to reach his lofty performance ceiling.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Tyree Wilson EDGE, Texas Tech
John Schneider hit a grand slam with last year’s class. While Jalen Carter has been the popular pick here, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Tyree Wilson, an uber-athletic defender that could be a 10-plus-sack-per-year type of pass rusher.
6. Detroit Lions
Jalen Carter IDL, Georgia
There are concerns for teams behind the scenes, but Carter remains one of the most talented prospects in the class who would be allowed to wreak havoc from day one along a front four already touting Aidan Hutchinson. If there’s a head coach in football I’d want coaching up Carter, it’s Dan Campbell.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Will Levis QB, Kentucky
I’m lower than many on Will Levis’ game. The word ‘potential’ gets coaches fired, but falling into this situation under Josh McDaniels should allow Levis to succeed. Throwing to Davante Adams wouldn’t hurt, either.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Devon Witherspoon CB, Illinois
An inside/out versatile corner, Devon Witherspoon is CB1 on many teams’ boards I’ve spoken to. Witherspoon would complement A.J. Terrell nicely. His physicality pops off the screen.
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR)
Myles Murphy EDGE, Clemson
What a dream this would be for Chicago. Having a talent like Myles Murphy fall into their lap after trading back would be another sign of things trending in the right direction for the Bears. Things are looking up, Chicago!
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
Christian Gonzalez CB, Oregon
With Darius Slay potentially on the way out and James Bradberry set to enter free agency, adding a corner is a must—even though we know Howie Roseman loves his sack artists. The most fluid corner in the class, Christian Gonzalez can shut down a third of the field with his quickness, length, and football intelligence.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr. OT, Ohio State
A big man that moves like a linebacker, Paris Johnson Jr. would boost both the pass and run game no matter who is under center—even if Derrick Henry isn’t in town.
12. Houston Texans (via CLE)
Broderick Jones OT, Georgia
One of the most athletic tackles in the class, Broderick Jones could slot in right away on either side with both Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard entering the final years of their contracts. A left tackle by trade, Jones earned his first few snaps for the Bulldogs on the right side and has the athleticism and technique to defeat a dramatic learning curve.
13. New York Jets
Peter Skoronski OT, Northwestern
Start Peter Skoronski at tackle, and if it doesn’t work out, sliding him inside is absolutely fine. Word around the league is teams have him as a guard but he’s better than both options the Jets have on either side right now. He’s an athlete I’d bet on succeeding when thrown into the fire.
14. New England Patriots
Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State
WR1. The Patriots are extremely static currently with the same type of skill set out wide, and adding a pass-catcher like Jaxon Smith-Njigba would open up every level of an aerial attack. The most nuanced route-runner in the class, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins OROY.
15. Green Bay Packers
Bryan Bresee IDL, Clemson
A versatile lineman that can play the 1, 3, and 5 if need be, if everything meshes, Bryan Bresee could be a dominating force in rapid fashion. The Packers drafted Devonte Wyatt last spring, but both Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed are UFAs and you can never have enough guys that can clog gaps in the run and push the pocket. Wyatt needs a wake-up call, and the trio of him, Kenny Clark, and Bresee would give offenses fits.
16. Washington Commanders
Dawand Jones OT, Ohio State
A man the size of your local state park, the Commanders will have a new face under center—again—this fall, and keeping him upright remains paramount. Dawand Jones has a ton of experience in pass pro in his time with the high-flying Buckeyes offense, and Washington is expected to sling it around in 2023. He has a top-30 visit scheduled with Washington in the coming weeks.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Brian Branch DB, Alabama
Pittsburgh has a need both at corner and safety, so why not get a player that can do both in this NFL mock draft? One of my favorite defenders in the class, Brian Branch wins pre-snap, where his ability to diagnose concepts was consistently on display for the Crimson Tide. While some of you may scratch your head here with a desire for a ‘CB1′, talk to me in a few years’ time when he becomes one of the premier defenders in the league due to his versatility.
18. Detroit Lions
Julius Brents CB, Kansas State
The biggest riser in the class, Julius Brents is CB1 on three teams’ boards I’ve spoken to. His 34-inch arms draw attention, but his willingness in the run game, aggressiveness in the air, and fluidity in man showcase an athlete worthy of a day-one pick.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn State
Tampa Bay is in dire need of corners, and Joey Porter Jr. has all the clubs in the bag to become an All-Pro down the line. Teams have concerns about his motor, but it was simply too easy for him at times in the Big Ten. Facing better competition should bring out the best in his game. Competing in a veteran locker room will help too.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Drew Sanders LB, Arkansas
An athlete that fills a need both as a dynamic pass-rusher and at inside linebacker, I love the versatility that Drew Sanders offers and his production in the SEC should see him go on day one. After taking Wilson at No. 5, adding another fresh set of legs within the front seven that wears a variety of hats is good process.
21. Miami Dolphins
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Michael Mayer TE, Notre Dame
He’s not the sexiest playmaker in the class, but Michael Mayer is going to play for a decade-plus in the league and would immediately boost the Chargers’ offense in whatever avenue they desire. A man mover in the run game and a sure-handed, intelligent receiver in space, he’s the safest player in the class that would mesh nicely with Justin Herbert.
23. Baltimore Ravens
Deonte Banks CB, Maryland
An elite athlete, Deonte Banks on the opposite side of Marlon Humphrey could present a case of ‘pick your poison’ for opposing offenses. Touting the size and length to stymie ‘X’ wideouts, Banks would be CB1 for a Baltimore defense that needs playmakers on the perimeter.
24. Minnesota Vikings
Emmanuel Forbes CB, Mississippi State
Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley are UFAs and they cut Cameron Dantzler, making the way for Emmanuel Forbes to start opposite 2022 second-rounder Andrew Booth Jr. this fall. The premier ball-hawk in the class, a secondary of Booth, Forbes, safety Lewis Cine, and Akayleb Evans is young, yes, but extremely talented that can do a lot of things well.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Cam Smith CB, South Carolina
A flat-out DOG on the outside, I love the way Cam Smith plays football. He’s a little grabby at times, but it’s a minor fix, and I love the fit of him opposite of Tyson Campbell.
26. New York Giants
Quentin Johnston WR, TCU
The Giants won’t surprise anyone this year, and with Daniel Jones back, they need to get the kid some help on the outside. Isaiah Hodgins was a great story, but they have four WRs set to enter free agency and Quentin Johnston would immediately become WR1. I wish he was a bit more of a natural hands-catcher, but he checks off a ton of the boxes you look for in a top weapon that can threaten every level of a defense.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Josh Downs WR, North Carolina
I can’t stress enough how much I like Josh Downs’ game. Route-running and separation translate to the highest level of the game and coupling his hands and ability to embarrass corners warrants a day-one selection. This pick fills a need in Dallas and provides a little splash, which we know Jerry Jones loves.
28. Buffalo Bills
Bijan Robinson RB, Texas
I don’t want to hear anything along the lines of ‘but we have James Cook.’ The Bills have the ability to take players at a luxury position in an attempt to reach the Super Bowl, and Robinson is the most talented running back to enter the draft in years. You don’t pass on Robinson because you are hellbent on Cooks’ potential. Take Robinson and move on, just like I did in this NFL mock draft.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton Kincaid TE, Utah
Another weapon for Joe Burrow, there may not be a player in the class (WR/TE/RB) that has better hands than the former Ute. A venus fly trap in space, Dalton Kincaid fits the mold of a modern-day Y/F flex weapon that can dominate the intermediate areas of an offense.
30. New Orleans Saints (via DEN)
Calijah Kancey IDL, Pitt
I’m not getting cute when it comes to Calijah Kancey’s evaluation. The most explosive player in the draft, you need athletes that can play up/down the defensive front, push the pocket with consistency, and run hash to hash in the run. There are going to be a lot of new faces under center in the NFC South this fall, and I promise you they’ll know where Kancey is on every snap.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Jahmyr Gibbs RB, Alabama
A match made in heaven, there is a high likelihood that this happens come draft day. A dynamic three-down talent, Kenny Gainwell will remain in the third-down role this fall, allowing Jahmyr Gibbs to take ahold of the bellcow workload for the Eagles. Slotting in Gibbs after potentially losing Miles Sanders simply isn’t fair.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Jordan Addison WR, USC
A smooth separator that understands leverage and how to bait corners, Jordan Addison would thrive inside a young core joining Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore—and the Chiefs need weapons. I want to see improvement from him when facing press, but the foundation is there for him to succeed right away inside an offense orchestrated by Andy Reid.
NFL Mock Draft: Round 2 (POST-FREE AGENCY)
33. Pittsburgh Steelers (via CHI)
Anton Harrison OT, Oklahoma
Keep Kenny Pickett upright. Anton Harrison will help the young signal-caller reach his ceiling.
34. Houston Texans
Nolan Smith EDGE, Georgia
An explosive athlete at 5-tech, working under DeMeco Ryans should see him thrive.
35. Arizona Cardinals
Clark Phillips III CB, Utah
A flat-out dog on the perimeter, I love the way Clark Phillips III plays football. He’s an immediate contributor that can play inside or out.
36. Indianapolis Colts
DJ Turner CB, Michigan
After trading Stephon Gilmore, the Colts need to add to their CB room. How about drafting the fastest player from the 2023 NFL Combine?
37. Los Angeles Rams
Kelee Ringo CB, Georgia
The Rams are building from the ground up, and after losing Jalen Ramsey, slotting in an uber-athletic talent like Kelee Ringo could see him become a shutdown perimeter defender if all comes to fruition.
38. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
John Michael Schmitz IOL, Minnesota
It isn’t a sexy pick, but John Michael Schmitz will be the anchor of a front five for the next decade-plus.
39. Las Vegas Raiders
Cody Mauch IOL, North Dakota State
With Jimmy Garoppolo in town, Las Vegas needs to add to the OL to keep him as healthy as possible.
40. Carolina Panthers
Zay Flowers WR, Boston College
Zay Flowers can do a lot of the things D.J. Moore did, and with a fresh face under center expected, Flowers will be WR1 from Week 1.
41. New Orleans Saints
Lukas Van Ness EDGE, Iowa
New Orleans hasn’t been able to figure out the edge spot in recent drafts, but a talent like Lukas Van Ness, who touts one of the higher floors in the class, would supplement Cam Jordan nicely. He’s not overly dynamic, but he understands the fine optics of winning reps at 5-tech.
42. Tennessee Titans
Derick Hall EDGE, Auburn
A perfect fit for what Tennessee wants to do within the front seven, Derick Hall’s ability to amass TFLs in the run and consistently push the pocket in a two-point stance will make life tough on tackles for a long time.
43. Cleveland Browns
Christopher Smith SAF, Georgia
An alpha at the roof, joining the likes of Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome would provide the Browns with another elite secondary defender to deploy.
44. New York Jets
Joe Tippmann OC, Wisconsin
It remains to be seen who’ll align under center for the Jets, but having Joe Tippmann as the anchor of a front five will make any QB just that much more comfortable.
45. Atlanta Falcons
Darnell Wright OT, Tennessee
He may not fall here on draft weekend, but he’s a piece for the future and is excellent in both the run and pass games. Turn on his tape against Alabama and enjoy.
46. Green Bay Packers
Darnell Washington TE, Georgia
A nasty run blocker and a smooth athlete in space, humans shouldn’t move the way he does at 6-foot-7. He’s Y/F versatile.
47. New England Patriots
Kyu Blu Kelly CB, Stanford
The Patriots have to get younger in the secondary and it starts with Kyu Blu Kelly, a cerebral athlete that shined in both man/zone this fall for the Cardinal. He’s got NFL genes and would become an intricate part of New England’s defense.
48. Washington Commanders
Luke Musgrave TE, Oregon State
We all know how much Eric Bieniemy values TEs in his offensive structure, and, by the way, he didn’t draft John Bates or Cole Turner. Logan Thomas may be a cap casualty, and Luke Musgrave can play both the Y/F, becoming TE1 within an offense littered with weapons. This is a spot where Washington could very easily go OT/CB, but with a chess piece like Musgrave available, and the additions the Commanders have made in free agency, his addition would be a match made in heaven.
49. Detroit Lions
Sam LaPorta TE, Iowa
Sam LaPorta met formally with Detroit at the combine, and with TJ Hockenson now in Minnesota, his addition would provide another athletic flex weapon that once called Iowa home.
50. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tuli Tuipulotu EDGE, USC
A versatile defender, I expect Tuli Tuipulotu to be moved all over the defensive front on Sundays, similar to what he did for the Trojans.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trenton Simpson LB, Clemson
An athletic specimen, we know how much Todd Bowles values athletes at the second level, and Trenton Simpson would be allowed to roam from sideline to sideline.
52. Miami Dolphins
Tucker Kraft TE, South Dakota State
A unique flex weapon, it’ll be a heck of a change in scenery from the plains of South Dakota to the glitz of South Beach. Jokes aside, Tucker Kraft is a modern-day chess piece that would open up space for Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
53. Seattle Seahawks
Jack Campbell LB, Iowa
One of my favorite picks in this NFL mock draft, Jack Campbell is a MIKE from day one. He and Jordyn Brooks would feed off each other in the years to come.
54. Chicago Bears (via BAL)
Mazi Smith IDL, Michigan
A big man with nasty intentions, Mazi Smith will not only clog gaps, but will push the interior to allow Tremaine Edmunds, T.J Edwards, and Jack Sanborn to eat up quarterbacks and ball-carriers.
55. Los Angeles Chargers
Zach Charbonnet RB, UCLA
If Austin Ekeler is indeed gone, LA needs an RB1. Enter Zach Charbonnet, one of my favorite players in the class.
56. Detroit Lions (via MIN)
Antonio Johnson SAF, Texas A&M
Antonio Johnson is a three-level defender that isn’t afraid to knock your helmet off in the run game or flip his hips and carry a TE down the seam. He’ll fit nicely within Aaron Glenn’s defense.
57. Jacksonville Jaguars
O’Cyrus Torrence IOL, Florida
An upgrade is needed at left guard, and slotting O’Cyrus Torrence beside Luke Fortner and Cam Robinson is extra armor toward keeping Trevor Lawrence upright.
58. New York Giants
Garrett Williams CB, Syracuse
There are teams around the league that have early day-two grades on Garrett Williams. He’s expected to be fully healthy by the fall and he’s got all the traits to be a CB1 down the line.
59. Dallas Cowboys
Henry To’oTo’o LB, Alabama
Dallas needs a green dot within their defense with some LBs set to explore free agency. Damone Clark and hybrid defender Jabril Cox are in town, but Henry To’oTo’o is an experienced ‘backer that will play for a long, long time.
60. Buffalo Bills
Sydney Brown SAF, Illinois
One of the most cerebral athletes in the class, Brown would be a nice fit inside any secondary in football. In a defense littered with veteran playmakers, he can do it all and won’t budge if he has to play special teams as well. He’ll also be a leader from the moment he arrives.
61. Cincinnati Bengals
Matthew Bergeron OT, Syracuse
The future is up in the air for La’el Collins and Matthew Bergeron has the ability to switch over to the right side if need be.
62. Chicago Bears (via CAR)
Will McDonald IV EDGE, Iowa State
Another sack artist for Chicago, I’m excited to see Will McDonald IV go to work when faced with 1-on-1 opportunities. With prior NFL mock draft selections in Myles Murphy and Mazi Smith in town to join Dominique Robinson, teams will be forced to iso block him from the start of his career—a dream for the technically refined edge threat.
63. Philadelphia Eagles
B.J. Ojulari EDGE, LSU
Howie Roseman loves his pass rushers, and B.J. Ojulari has all the makings of a good one. Using his speed to power, length, and flexibility to turn the corner, Ojulari had 127 pressures in three seasons for LSU.
64. Kansas City Chiefs
Keeanu Benton IDL, Wisconsin
A former wrestler, good luck blocking Keeanu Benton and Chris Jones in the middle. An athlete used to competing in the cold from his days as a Badger, Benton’s game would fit seamlessly into what Kansas City likes to do within their front four.
What did you think of the first edition of Ryan Fowler’s 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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