The Champ Mock 3.0

published on 3/25/2023

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Round 1

Picks 1-16
1. Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Well, I did say that I thought the Panthers were primed to do something big. In giving up #9, a 2nd rounder via SF, a '24 1st, and a '25 2nd, that was noise in and of itself. Adding DJ Moore to the mix made it an offer that the Bears simply could not refuse. Well done, Ryan Poles. As for Carolina, early indications seem to be that they like Stroud the most, and betting markets still have him as the solid favorite to go #1 overall, even if the odds aren't as strong as when this pick was first traded for. Josh McCown glowingly broke down film of Stroud with Underdog Fantasy's Josh Norris (who had an epic performance in his 2021 mock draft), and McCown is, of course, the new QB coach for the Panthers.

2. Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

On the one hand, it's possible that the Texans prefer Young to Stroud, so you could argue that the foolish Week 18 win to lose the #1 pick won't cost the Texans anything. (And I'm sure they'll publicly say that they had Young rated as the best QB, even if they privately didn't.) However, being at #1 would've given the Texans more options, like the haul the Bears just got. Perhaps the Texans wouldn't have been willing to move the pick anyway, but still, you always want more options. In any case, they may end up with Young after all.

3. Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

TRADE! #4 and #35 for #3.

This is a potential dream scenario for the Cardinals. The Panthers have come up to #1, and the Texans, of course, are widely expected to pick a QB at #2. If the Colts don't trade up to this spot, they risk another team doing so, which means that the Colts could get stuck with the #4 QB at #4 overall, widely thought to be Will Levis. I think that most teams are going to have Richardson quite a bit higher. New coach Shane Steichen just saw what an athletic QB like Jalen Hurts can do, and Richardson is a lot more athletic than Hurts is. If Arizona deals with Indy, they can still get Will Anderson at #4. Of course, it's possible that other teams picking below Indy could make a substantial offer, too, and maybe the Cardinals won't be able to resist that. But for now, I'll project that it's Indy to come up one spot to secure Richardson, and they have to surrender #35 overall to do it.

4. Cardinals: Will Anderson, DE, Alabama


This would be a great job by Monti Ossenfort, nabbing Anderson and getting the #35 overall pick as well. Good start to what looks to me like a rebuild for the Cards, though they will certainly hope that Kyler Murray can come back looking good from his ACL surgery at least by next year.

5. Seahawks: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

OK fine, Mr. Bitter has convinced me that Carter is going to drop below this pick. We'll see how far he falls. In the meantime, Seattle adds further pass rush help in Wilson.

6. Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Detroit has now signed 3 quality DB's in free agency, but none of them project as a long-term solution as an outside CB. (This regime will likely move on from Jeff Okudah when his rookie deal is up...or maybe even with a trade during the draft or shortly thereafter.) In my very first mock early in this process, I had Witherspoon here, over Gonzalez. Jordan Reid seems to think that Witherspoon will go in the Top 10, and if there's a team that would see him as CB1, it might be the Lions. Dan Campbell specifically said that he values the tape over measureables. No guts, no glory.

7. Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

I'm actually going to go away from Levis for the Raiders. Richardson seems to have leapfrogged him, and with some potential heat on this regime if they have another bad season, perhaps the play will be to try to do the utmost that they can with this pick to contribute towards winning this year. As such, I think this would come down to an OL (Skoronski?) or a CB. Other than Nate Hobbs, Vegas is extremely thin on the back end. So I'll opt for Gonzalez, who is probably the CB1 for many teams.

9. Bears: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

The Bears are in this spot after the huge haul that they got from the Panthers. I think we can rule a WR out after getting DJ Moore in the deal. If Jalen Carter had no potential off-the-field concerns, I think this could be a slam-dunk for the Bears. However, he does. Plus, in thinking about this further, the team didn't land either Orlando Brown or Mike McGlinchey at LT or RT in free agency. They aren't in play for one of the top 4 QB's, as moving down from #1 to #9 was a clear indication that they want to give Justin Fields a fair shot to succeed this year, and adding Moore certainly helps in that regard. With all of this in mind, perhaps going for a potential LT of the future is a better play than going for Carter. Johnson is NIMBLE for a man his size and might have the most upside of any of the OL this year. Of course, this could just as easily be Broderick Jones if they like his upside more, or Peter Skoronski if they want more of a high-floor, experienced technician.

8. Titans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

TRADE! #11 and #72 for #8 and #113.

Though Arthur Smith is not the GM of the Falcons, and though the Titans have a new GM in Ran Carthon, perhaps that familiarity between Smith and the Titans (where coach Mike Vrabel undoubtedly has influence) could help to get a deal done here. We know that the Titans made a previous offer to move up to #1 and we know they have been sniffing around the top QB prospects for the last 2 years. Malik Willis looks like a swing and a miss, although that wasn't a premium draft pick, at least. Perhaps Carthon and Vrabel think that Levis can turn into a pseudo-Josh Allen in time, and this is the final year of Ryan Tannehill's deal.

Atlanta already has Tennessee's 4th round pick, actually, so they are giving the Titans a pick in that round back, while keeping the higher one. And they'll now pick at #72 and #75 in the 3rd Round.

10. Eagles: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

I'm going to guess that Philly simply won't be able to pass on Carter if available here at #10, even though there remains the chance that he falls much further than expected. Still, Philly has a surplus 1st Round pick at #30, and Carter was seen as the potential #1 overall pick not too long ago, if Chicago would have stayed at #1. They take the plunge.

11. Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas


After the move 3 spots down the board, I think the Falcons could have their eye on possibly the highest-graded player in the entire draft, though he happens to play a devalued position in today's NFL. Atlanta's free agency suggests that this is a team that thinks it can win a wide-open NFC South in 2023. Carolina will be starting a rookie, Derek Carr isn't THAT good, and unless Lamar Jackson is walking through that door for Tampa Bay, the Bucs will regress significantly without Tom Brady. The Falcons poached two front 7 players from division rival New Orleans and just signed Calais Campbell, they added one of the game's top young safeties in Jessie Bates, and they made huge moves to not only lock up Chris Lindstrom, but also to re-sign RT Kaleb McGary. We know that Arthur Smith wants to run the rock, and though their stable of backs did a decent job last season, Robinson might give them an offensive centerpiece. As Smith sees it, anyway. If they could get Bijan while also moving up 41 spots and back into Day 2 of the draft, that would at least represent recouping value, making a RB pick much more palatable.

12. Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Even though I no longer have Stroud going to the Texans, I'll still keep JSN as the pick here. I think he's overtaken Johnston and Addison as the WR1, and getting Young an immediate weapon could still make sense. As for talk that he's strictly a slot receiver, I heard the same things about Justin Jefferson coming out of LSU. Now, JSN isn't as fast as Jefferson, but I think getting Young an immediate high-volume pass-catcher could be important. Despite the lack of long speed, it's not like I think JSN will be a non-YAC type in the pros.

13. Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern

Yes, Aaron Rodgers will end up with the Jets, but the Packers don't have the leverage to land this pick in a trade. They'll probably get one of the Jets' 2nd rounders, and perhaps further compensation in 2024. Skoronski seems likely to be ready to play immediately, and though his shortish arms may make some teams question whether or not he can play LT, the Jets could start him out at RT if they think that Mekhi Becton can come back and man the blindside of Mr. Discount Double Check. The Jets drafted a similar player coming out of college in USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker, who is now a starting guard for them. In this case, they'll surely hope that Skoronski can man one of the tackle spots.

14. Patriots: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Jones has the length that Bill Belichick typically values in his tackles.

15. Packers: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa

The Packers love toolsy and youthful pass rushers who are great athletes, so perhaps Van Ness fits the bill.

16. Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Washington was one of the teams that immediately came out and said they will not be pursuing Lamar Jackson, and instead they are going with Jacoby Brissett and Sam Howell in a QB competition that has another .500-ish season written all over it. Purgatory, in other words. In any case, with Washington in need of another outside corner, they potentially steal Porter Jr. away from the Steelers, picking next.

Picks 1-16