The 2023 NFL Draft is just days away. After months and months and months of film-watching, research, hypotheticals, and galaxy-braining, we will finally welcome 259 new draft picks to the NFL. In this exercise, I put together my latest predictive mock draft based on the information I’ve heard, reports from people I trust, and research. While my final predictive mock draft will drop the night before the draft, this is my best guess as of now.
The 2023 NFL Draft will take place in Kansas City from April 27th-29th over three days. Round 1 begins on Thursday, April 27th. Rounds 2 and 3 are on Friday, April 28th. Finally, rounds 4-7 occur on Saturday, April 29th. Stick with The Draft Network leading up to, during, and after the 2023 NFL Draft for full coverage and breakdowns of everything and anything you need to know about the newest players entering the NFL. In the meantime, let’s dive into my latest predictive 2023 NFL mock draft.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI)
Bryce Young QB, Alabama
I feel very confident this will be the first pick announced on Thursday night in Kansas City. Despite speculation to the contrary, C.J. Stroud was never the runaway favorite to be the No. 1 pick inside Carolina’s organization—he was simply in contention like the other top options. Apparently, Bryce Young’s Pro Day really tipped the scales in his favor, with reports that his arm strength was a pleasant surprise to the Panthers.
2. Minnesota Vikings (via HOU)
Will Levis QB, Kentucky
Surprise! You may have seen the betting odds change for the No. 2 overall pick on Saturday, with Will Levis becoming the odds-on favorite. But I don’t think that’s because the Texans are taking him. I’ve heard loud rumblings that Minnesota is very active in trying to trade up for a quarterback and I think they will pull off a blockbuster here. Levis will succeed Kirk Cousins after the Vikings chose not to extend the latter beyond this season. There is a major disconnect between how fans and those inside the NFL view Will Levis. Don’t get me wrong, there are several people in the NFL who are uninterested in drafting Levis this high, but there are plenty who believe he is absolutely worth the cost with the upside to be the best passer in the class when it’s all said and done.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Tyree Wilson EDGE, Texas Tech
I don’t know if the Cardinals are overplaying their hand, are undecided on whether or not they want to take the top defensive player on their board, or a little bit of both. But if a team does jump them to move up to No. 2, I’m not sure how robust the market will be for another team to pay the price to move up. I don’t want to project something that has never happened before—quarterbacks going 1-2-3-4 to start the draft—so Arizona sticks and picks here. There is plenty of momentum for Tyree Wilson to be the first defensive player on the board and I can see the Cardinals’ regime falling in love with Wilson’s pass-rush upside.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Anthony Richardson QB, Florida
I firmly believe the Colts had their sights set on Will Levis, but their fan base gets its preferred option in Anthony Richardson. Richardson blew everyone away with his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine. I think Richardson being paired with Shane Steichen is a great fit for both the player and coach.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama
The top five of this NFL mock draft is the dream scenario for the Seahawks. The best player in the class falls into their lap at No. 5 and they rush to the podium to make the pick. Will Anderson Jr. is a great fit in Seattle, addresses an area of need, and continues to build up the Seahawks’ young defensive corps.
6. Detroit Lions
Devon Witherspoon CB, Illinois
I really do believe general manager Brad Holmes when he says he doesn’t feel pressure to draft a quarterback right now. Jared Goff played perfectly fine last season and I think the Lions will look to add instant starters with their first-round picks instead. Devon Witherspoon played a lot of man coverage in college and the Lions played a ton of man coverage last season. Consider Witherspoon a plug-and-play starter.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Christian Gonzalez CB, Oregon
The Raiders need more cornerback help and they get one of the top two options here. Christian Gonzalez is a great combination of size and skill who should fit in quite well in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. While C.J. Stroud was in consideration here, I think Las Vegas is fine with Jimmy Garoppolo starting in 2023 and 2024.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Jalen Carter IDL, Georgia
Atlanta has a plethora of potential options here, from OL1 to a quarterback to Bijan Robinson. However, I think they take a nearby talent in Georgia’s Jalen Carter. Just a few months ago, Carter was being discussed as the potential No. 1 overall pick, but an… um… less-than-ideal start to 2023 has muddied Carter’s draft stock. Still, Carter is a tremendous football talent and a blue-clip addition to Atlanta’s defensive line.
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR)
Darnell Wright OT, Tennessee
Darnell Wright is a player who the league is higher on than many draft analysts—he’s got a real shot to be the OT1 in this class on Thursday night. The Bears’ interest in Wright is real, so much so that they may avoid the temptation to trade back again to ensure they land him here before the offensive line run starts
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
Paris Johnson Jr. OT, Ohio State
The Eagles have shown plenty of interest in Paris Johnson Jr. and you can never have too much depth along the offensive line. Johnson Jr. might need to start at RG to begin his career—he played there for Ohio State in 2021—but is the long-term successor to Lane Johnson at right tackle.
11. Tennessee Titans
C.J. Stroud QB, Ohio State
C.J. Stroud’s draft stock has been on a roller-coaster ride for the last couple of months. After being installed as the betting favorite to go No. 1 overall when the Panthers traded up from No. 9 to No. 1 with the Bears, some less-than-ideal leaks and reports have emerged. When push comes to shove, I can see Mike Vrabel—who has as much power as he’s ever had in the organization—going back to his Ohio State roots to find out anything and everything he needs to know about Stroud to feel comfortable enough making this pick to nab his quarterback of the future.
12. Houston Texans (via CLE)
Nolan Smith EDGE, Georgia
Trading out of the No. 2 spot means passing on the top EDGE players on the board, but they can still land a high-upside option here. Nolan Smith is an impactful player against the run and pass and a leader DeMeco Ryans would love to have in his locker room. I expect Smith to grow with the Texans’ defense and will soon become an all-downs type of disruptor.
13. Green Bay Packers (via NYJ)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State
Part of me hates projecting any sort of pass-catcher to Green Bay until I see this Packers regime actually pick one this early, but there are too many things to like here. Green Bay needs more weapons for new starter Jordan Love and Jaxon Smith-Njigba brings a dynamic skill set currently lacking in the Packers’ receiver room. There are some whispers linking Smith-Njigba to the Packers as well.
14. New England Patriots
Bijan Robinson RB, Texas
Finding a landing spot for Bijan Robinson isn’t as easy as you’d think it would be for a player of his caliber. He’s in play for the Falcons at No. 8—and I almost put him there—but I’m not convinced the Falcons will pass up a defensive player with that pick. So what about the Patriots? There’s rumored interest and Bill Belichick is kind of an old-school guy who sticks to his grades no matter what. With so few projected first-round-graded players, it’s quite possible Robinson will be the top player on the board when New England is on the clock.
15. New York Jets (via GB)
Broderick Jones OT, Georgia
The Jets must add to the offensive line and can’t rely on Mekhi Becton to be a starter until he proves otherwise. Broderick Jones is TDN’s top-rated offensive lineman and a true stud who can play LT from the jump.
16. Washington Commanders
Deonte Banks CB, Maryland
Outside of the tier-one corners, Deonte Banks may be the most in-demand corner in the class. He’s met with what feels like every team in the NFL, including Washington. I expect Banks to be CB3 on draft day and to be an instant contributor to the Commanders’ secondary.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Peter Skoronski OL, Northwestern
Peter Skoronski slides here and the Steelers are the big beneficiaries. I do worry about how many teams have Skoronski graded as a guard, subsequently placing him behind the top tackles in the class in the offensive line pecking order. However, Skoronski would be an upgrade to multiple spots on Pittsburgh’s offensive line and can help the Steelers get their five best linemen on the field.
18. Detroit Lions
Calijah Kancey DL, Pitt
This is a very popular pick right now and it’s easy to draw the connections. Calijah Kancey fills an area of need for the Lions, and general manager Brad Holmes was instrumental in Aaron Donald going to the Rams when he was coming out of Pitt. While Kancey isn’t Donald, could Holmes see enough to make this selection?
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Myles Murphy EDGE, Clemson
While the Buccaneers could be tempted by a corner here, I’m not sure they expect a pass-rushing talent like Myles Murphy to fall. While the Buccaneers did not have a Top 30 visit with Murphy, they’ve met with a ton of EDGEs—which makes sense as an area of need. Murphy would be a great addition to Todd Bowles’ defense with the ability to contribute in 2023.
20. Kansas City Chiefs (via SEA)
Zay Flowers WR, Boston College
Zay Flowers worked out with Patrick Mahomes recently, yes, but the rumblings about Kansas City trading up for a wide receiver have been loud even before that. There are some solid pieces on the Chiefs’ wide receiver depth chart, but it’s far from set. I expect Flowers to be the second wide receiver drafted on Thursday night.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Jordan Addison WR, USC
As the Chargers look to diversify the skill sets in their wide receiver corps, Jordan Addison would be a great fit. Addison’s NFL Scouting Combine testing numbers were underwhelming, but he’s still a crafty receiver who can create separation on all levels. In an offensive firepower race in the AFC West—and with the Chiefs already adding a wide receiver one pick sooner—the Chargers respond with the former Biletnikoff winner.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn State
Man, would Steelers fans riot over this one. The Ravens do what they usually do, sit back and wait for a top player to fall into their lap. There are some mixed reviews about Joey Porter Jr.’s overall game, but everyone agrees that his upside is quite high and the physical profile is elite. Baltimore needs to continue to build up its secondary and finds itself fortunate Porter Jr. makes it to this selection.
23. Houston Texans (via MIN)
Quentin Johnston WR, TCU
DeMeco Ryans continues to build out his roster while waiting on the 2024 quarterback class. While they’ve been linked to Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 12, a trade-back likely reorders their priorities at that spot. However, they can still land one of the tier-one wide receivers here in TCU’s Quentin Johnston. Johnston, Nico Collins, and John Metchie III are a nice, young trio to build around for whoever is under center for Houston in 2024 and beyond.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Mayer TE, Notre Dame
While Evan Engram was franchise-tagged, no long-term deal is in place as of now. Plus, Engram played a lot in the slot last season, so Doug Pederson could use a more traditional tight end in his offense. Michael Mayer isn’t a physical freak or a separation specialist like some other tight ends in this class, but he does everything well. Who better to get the most out of him than Pederson?
25. New York Giants
Brian Branch CB/SAF, Alabama
I wouldn’t rule out an interior offensive lineman or a wide receiver here, but I think the desire to upgrade the secondary paired with the ability to add to those other positions with quality players on day two wins out. Brian Branch is a versatile CB/SAF that can move around the Giants’ defensive backfield.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Emmanuel Forbes CB, Mississippi State
While the acquisition of Stephon Gilmore makes a cornerback a little less pressing in Round 1, Gilmore will turn 33 this year and has only one year left of his deal. I’ve been told by a source that the Cowboys are very interested in Emmanuel Forbes and I think he’d be a great fit in Dallas.
27. Buffalo Bills
Mazi Smith IDL, Michigan
The Bills need some long-term answers for the middle of the defensive line and I really like this fit. I know wide receiver (the top four are gone) and offensive line (I don’t think O’Cyrus Torrence is a fit and Anton Harrison might be a round-two target) are popular picks here, but who are the Bills going to have under contract on the defensive line in 2024 and beyond? Mazi Smith has great strength and will be a major boost to Buffalo’s run defense.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Julius Brents CB, Kansas State
Julius Brents is another player the league is higher on than many analysts. His tenacious playstyle and pterodactyl-like length should appeal to the Bengals, who need to add to the secondary in this draft. There are some CB-needy teams ahead of them, but it’s a deep class and they still get a potential day-one starter in Brents at No. 28.
29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN)
Keion White EDGE, Georgia Tech
Keion White was one of 17 players invited to the 2023 NFL Draft green room this year, a non-insignificant fact worth knowing. The Saints appear poised to add to their defensive line and take a shot with the toolsy, three-down-potential prospect.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Lukas Van Ness EDGE, Iowa
Lukas Van Ness takes a bit of a tumble here relative to where we’ve seen him in most mock drafts. He feels like a fit for the Eagles at No. 10–but there are better options available then—and the Packers at No. 15—but they go offense in this NFL mock draft—but it’s hard to find a landing spot otherwise. If his rawness does cause him to drop, I think Howie Roseman would be more than happy to scoop him up here.
31. Seattle Seahawks (via KC)
John Michael Schmitz IOL, Minnesota
The Seahawks have done plenty of work on John Michael Schmitz and could be looking for their next Max Unger. Don’t be surprised if they spend a first-round pick on Schmitz, their new starting center.
What did you think of the fourth edition of Jaime Eisner’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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