2023 Mock Draft 3.0

published on 4/3/2023

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Round 1

Picks 1-16
1. Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Welcome to my 2023 Mock Draft. I usually focus on fantasy football ranking (Top 5 Fantasypros last year in weekly and ROS) but I do enjoy dabbling in mock drafts come April and I, like everyone else, knows WalterFootball is the place to be for draft info. I don't pretend to be up to Charlie and Walt's accuracy levels, though I did finish 4th in Fantasypros Mock Draft accuracy in 2021. Would love feedback on my attempt.

And just like that, Bryce Young is back to being the overwhelming favourite to be taken first overall. For some time, rumors have been swelling that Young is the owner's favorite while the coaches prefer CJ Stroud. It seems the owner will won out with reports Young has cancelled all other visits and bookies locking in Young as the overwhelming favorite to go first. This isn't quite as cut-and-dry as some may be making out, in my opinion, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Panthers are trying to trick the Texans into trading up with them (which may be giving them too much credit) or that we're all just over-reading the actions of some of the pa

2. Texans: Will Anderson, DE, Alabama

This pick will set off a cascade of effects through the top 10 and beyond and there's a surprising number of foreseeable options. It would be insane for the Texans not to take a quarterback and Stroud is clearly the best of the available options, but there's a lot of chat that Houston don't love the Ohio State man. That brings Will Levis into the conversation. I really don't understand why a team would want an inaccurate passer with limited upside but it is what it is. There's also a lot of noise suggesting the Texans might forego a QB entirely (a classic Texans move) which bring in both Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson. That would obviously bring in a wide range of trade up options for teams like the Raiders, Titans and Buccaneers. This pick will be fun!

3. Titans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Cardinals would ideally like to slide down for more capital given their wide range of needs. In the past, I've had them trading with the Raiders while the Titans are very much in the mix too. Whether either really likes Anthony Richardson enough to move up for him is another question and I think the answer is trending towards no. While Will Anderson is a solid, safe pick, the Cardinals seem to prefer the upside of Wilson and he does fit their scheme a little better. Wilson is a strong replacement for JJ Watt and offers more interior pressure than Anderson.

4. Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Colts are presumedly all-in on a quarterback as Gardner Minshew is the only option on their roster and they surely must be done with retread veterans by now. Bookies are split on whether Levis or Stroud is the more likely option but if Stroud goes to Houston, Levis becomes the almost certain pick. While he's a mediocre passer with a strong arm but limited upside otherwise, the Colts are more win-now than many teams in this range which precludes them from the upside pick in Anthony Richardson.

5. Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

The Seahawks will likely take whichever D-linemen falls to them with Will Anderson likely their preference. This result would hence be a big win for them, but Tyree Wilson and Jalen Carter are good consolation prizes. There's also talk they like Anthony Richardson or even a cornerback with some knowledgeable mock drafters slotting a QB in here. I don't see it though. Geno Smith took them to the playoffs and they just signed him to a big contract. It makes no sense to waste a pick on a signal-caller when you're in a win-now position and have many other needs.

6. Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

While I prefer Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon is the overwhelming bookies favorite to go to Detroit. He is most certainly a Dan Campbell-type player and has shown well in workouts and interviews, fulfilling a major need for the Lions. A QB isn't totally out of the question but there has been very little buzz suggesting that's even a possibility so I don't think that's likely. Their other needs can certainly be serviced in the latter rounds so unless they go for BPA, Witherspoon is the likely pick.

7. Raiders: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

The Raiders should be in on a quarterback but it's very possible they view Jimmy G as a viable option they can try for a few years before triggering the rookie contract timer on a later selection. D-line is another major need and Jalen Carter would be perfect but most believe he's off the Raiders board thanks to a Vic Tafur report. That leaves some lesser options like O-line (and Paris Johnson is certainly in the mix) or Christian Gonzalez. I've gone for the cornerback but I could see myself changing that before draft night.

8. Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

This pick really should be used to improve the Falcons' dismal pass-rush. While I think this is too rich for Nolan Smith (or any of the other remaining edge guys) this is more a prediction than what I would do and NFL teams and the media both seem to love Smith. This is, for me, the earliest we could see Bijan Robinson too and I do like that fit, though I doubt it'll happen. Quarterback is also an option but I could see the Falcons waiting until next year as it's easy to see them having another Top 10 pick with Desmond Ridder at the helm.

9. Bears: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

It's hard to believe this is the first O-lineman off the board but it is what it is! Johnson isn't your prototypical tackle and maybe end up inside at least initially but he's got a lot of upside and seems likely to be the first offensive player off the board that isn't a QB. I do like this fit, though I also think Jalen Carter is a very viable option for the Bears, if they can handle his character risk.

10. Eagles: Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia

It's been widely publicised that Carter isn't taking interviews outside the Top 10 and while that's a questionable choice (what if a team wants to trade up?) it does lead to a natural 10th pick floor. I think it's very possible Carter goes to the Seahawks or the Bears and if that's the case, the Eagles could easily go for Bijan Robinson or even an edge player. But Carter is my pick here for now.

11. Cardinals: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

It's starting to look like either Levis or Richardson will make it outside the top 10 and that CJ Stroud may even be available at this pick. With the Titans awkwardly positioned between one last challenge and a total rebuild, it's hard to know what direction they'll go in. Would they take any of the top 4 QBs? Would they prefer to rebuild the O-line and get one last season out of King Henry? I really don't know, but Richardson has had so much top 10 buzz it's hard to see him drop further than this.

12. Texans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

This is the first spot we could see a receiver and JSN to the Texans has been a popular choice for experts. While Houston could easily please coach Ryans by hitting the defense here, with Lukas Van Ness in the mix, I think it makes sense to give their new quarterback a new weapon. Smith-Njigba is a magificant slot weapon and while teams do tend to ease off slot-only players this early in drafts, he would be the perfect fit for a mediocre Texans offense in need of a spark.

13. Packers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Peter Skoronski is my favorite tackle, but there's been a lot of buzz suggesting the Jets would prefer a traditional OT-type. Jones is a big, strong man would Aaron Rodgers would love added to this line. Skoronski is the better player but he doesn't fit what Coach Saleh needs.

14. Patriots: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern

Bill Belichick loves versitile O-linemen and Peter Skoronski fits that bill prefectly. While his short arms have been a concern for many, he's got so much talent and can play guard and tackle making him a classic Pats-type. Having said that, Big Bill rarely follows the expected route and I think it's more likely this is someone totally unexpected. Wide receiver, cornerback and interior D-line are all needs but knowing the Pats, this will be something really random like Hendon Hooker or Jahmyr Gibbs.

15. Jets: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

While pass catcher is a major need for the Packers, they rarely go receiver or tight end in the early rounds. Safety is also a major need and Brian Branch could go this early, but I think the mediocre Green Bay pass rush badly needs help and that is the position you hit early if you need it. Van Ness is quick and talented but as a redshirt sophomore, he's very raw. Having said that, he could just as easily go in the top 10 so I wouldn't be shocked to see him here at all.

16. Commanders: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

While Porter to the Steelers is a popular mock option (as his father played for them), I think cornerback is by far the most pressing need for Washington. Joey Porter is the best remaining option, but there's plenty of other cornerbacks I could see goind here too, namely Deonte Banks. O-line is the other viable option, with Darnell Wright a name often linked with the top 10. If he's available this late, you could see a team go BPA and snap him up.

Picks 1-16