Josh Frey’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft (3.0): Five QBs Go in Round 1
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on our sister-site, PurplePTSD.com.
With the 2023 NFL Draft now under a week away, teams are in the process of finalizing their draft boards, and we will soon know which teams the top prospects will begin their NFL careers with. However, if recent reports are to be believed, this is shaping up to be one of the wilder drafts in recent memory. So, one more time before we make some official predictions for this spring’s draft, here are two rounds of chaos in the third version of the 2023 NFL mock draft.
1. Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young, Alabama
Even in a mock draft, it’s hard to ignore -1000 odds. It’s become clear that Bryce Young is the favorite to become the next starting QB of the Carolina Panthers, and it’s an excellent selection.
2. Houston Texans: EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
If reports and odds are to be believed, the Houston Texans aren’t entirely sold on the idea of drafting C.J. Stroud in this spot. Instead, they opt to snatch a potentially generational talent in Will Anderson.
3. New England Patriots (trade w/ ARI): QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
During 2021, I thought the Patriots would trade up for Justin Fields, so this is a real ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ situation. That being said, in recent years, the Patriots have passed up on Lamar Jackson, and they settled for Mac Jones in 2021 rather than moving up. This time, after seeing the Texans say no to C.J. Stroud, they pounce at the opportunity to take one of the top QB prospects in this class. They send the Cardinals Nos. 14 and 76 as well as a 2024 first-rounder and 2024 third-rounder.
4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
If you’re going to take a chance on a QB this high in the draft, you might as well go get the guy with a rocket arm and freakish athleticism. We’ve never seen anything quite like Richardson in the NFL, and the Colts will soon find out what happens when they plug him into an NFL offense.
Anthony Richardson scouting report
5. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
There are legitimate injury concerns with Tyree Wilson, and he isn’t the most explosive pass rusher off the line of scrimmage. However, he combines ridiculous length with some terrific strength to make him a versatile defender in both run and pass defenses. Needing to solidify their defensive front, Seattle pounces at this opportunity.
6. Detroit Lions: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
Detroit made a clear effort to improve one of the worst defensive units in the NFL from 2022 during free agency, and that trend continues in the draft. Devon Witherspoon is an almost perfect CB prospect, and he will be a welcomed addition to the Lions revamped secondary.
Devon Witherspoon scouting report
7. Houston Texans (trade w/ LV): QB Will Levis, Kentucky
Before you get too upset at me for not sending the Texans a QB at No. 2, let’s not forget that they had the No. 12 pick as well. With Levis tumbling down a bit, Houston seizes the opportunity to move Nos. 12, 33 and their 2024 first-round pick to get No. 7 from the Raiders and grab their QB.
8. Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
I know, I know, Bijan Robinson is a running back. But he’s the best running back prospect we’ve seen since Saquon Barkley. Atlanta needs a consistent runner to take some pressure off QB Desmond Ridder (assuming he will be the starter), and you can’t do any better than Robinson there.
Bijan Robinson scouting report
9. Chicago Bears: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State
We’ve seen a number of college QB/WR reunions in the NFL lately, but how about a QB/OL reunion? That’s exactly what happens here with the Bears selecting Paris Johnson to help solidify their offensive line to protect QB Justin Fields, who blocked for Fields for five games during the 2020 season, including the CFP National Championship Game.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
The Eagles love their interior pass rushers, and we get another collegiate teammate reunion as Jalen Carter heads to Philadelphia and joins Jordan Davis in the middle of the defensive front.
11. Tennessee Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Treylon Burks has been a bit underwhelming so far, but even if he does pan out in the next couple years, the Titans need to find another consistent receiver. Jaxon Smith-Njigba offers a lot of versatility in his playstyle, and he should make things easier on Malik Willis if he starts in 2023.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba scouting report
12. Las Vegas Raiders (trade w/ HOU): OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Following the failed Alex Leatherwood experience, the Las Vegas Raiders once again need offensive tackle help, and Darnell Wright is a mauler in the trenches. Wright is built like a brick wall, and his first step off the line will make it tough for even the most athletic pass rushers to get by him.
13. New York Jets: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
Broderick Jones doesn’t have quite as sturdy a build as Wright nor as long as Johnson, but he is the best athlete of the bunch. With the Jets inevitably having concerns about Mekhi Becton, they grab a top tackle in this class.
14. Arizona Cardinals (trade with NE): CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
It looks like the Cardinals might be going through a total rebuild on the defensive side of the ball, and what better way to begin that process than to grab a potential cornerstone at CB? Christian Gonzalez is great in man coverage and has elite athleticism, making him a no-brainer here for Arizona after trading down.
Christian Gonzalez scouting report
15. Green Bay Packers: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
The Packers no longer have Robert Tonyan, and they need a tight end that can be a threat in the receiving game as they bring along Jordan Love in 2023. Dalton Kincaid is the best tight end in this class as a pass-catcher, and he fits well with Green Bay.
16. Washington Commanders: OT Peter Skoronski, Nortwestern
Defensive back could an area that receives some attention here, but if the Commanders are actually going to try to start Sam Howell this year, they need to get better pass protection on the offensive line. Peter Skoronski is a smaller tackle, but he comes from the same mold as Rashawn Slater, who has thrived with the Chargers.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
Last year, the hometown QB Kenny Pickett stayed in Pittsburgh with their first-round pick, and this year, the son of a former Steelers great also goes to Pittsburgh. Joey Porter Jr. has ridiculous length and has the chops to mix it up with even the toughest receiver matchups in the league. Pairing him with a strong pass rush should bring back the once-vaunted Steelers defense.
Joey Porter Jr. scouting report
18. Detroit Lions: EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
Myles Murphy is massive at EDGE and still maintains some elite athleticism, so Detroit runs this pick to the podium after his mini-fall down the board into the late-teens. There’s an argument to be made for interior defensive line, and the Lions have a number of pass-rushers for 2023. However, the EDGE spot could thin out quickly next offseason, Detroit firms up the position for the future with this pick.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
There is very little long-term plan in place for Tampa Bay at quarterback right now, and they seem committed to a rebuild at this point. Hendon Hooker has the potential upside that it’s worth taking a stab at him here and try to develop him into a quality starter.
20. Seattle Seahawks: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
The Seahawks need more depth at receiver behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and there isn’t much of a better fit for Seattle’s offense than Zay Flowers. He’s an elite route-runner out of the slot and will give the Seahawks yet another slippery pass catcher.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
The Chargers still have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but how much longer can they rely on this duo to be reliable for Justin Herbert? Planning for the future, they take Quentin Johnston, who may have the highest ceiling in this receiver group.
Quentin Johnston scouting report
22. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jordan Addison
Make it three straight wide receivers off the board as the Ravens continue to attempt to entice Lamar Jackson to remain in Baltimore with the selection of Jordan Addison. The Pittsburgh and USC product is an extremely smooth route runner, and he can line up in a number of different spots for an offense.
Jordan Addison scouting report
23. Minnesota Vikings: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
Had three receivers not flown off the board right before Minnesota’s selection, there could be a case for a receiver in this spot. However, to maximize value, they go with arguably their biggest need right now: a boundary cornerback. Deonte Banks has ideal size and terrific athleticism at the position, and his prowess in press man coverage makes him a great fit in Brian Flores’ defense.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia
No longer having a need at QB, the Jaguars feel like a quality player is going to fall with a potential for five QBs going in the top 20 picks. They are proven correct here as Nolan Smith is available despite putting up some truly incredible combine measurements and being a productive pass-rusher for Georgia.
25. New York Giants: IOL O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
The Giants could also use either CB or WR, but any selections from what’s left on the board would feel like a reach, especially considering they have both of their Day 2 picks as well. O’Cyrus Torrence brings some beef to the middle of their offensive line in this spot.
26. Dallas Cowboys: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Without Dalton Schultz on the roster, Dallas needs to find another solution at tight end. Mayer may not be a better route runner than Kincaid, but he is the more balanced tight end that can show some blocking chops as well.
27. Buffalo Bills: S Brian Branch, Alabama
This may not be the biggest need in Buffalo right now, but Branch is a prospect whose talents should translate to the NFL fairly easily. Getting him at the end of the first round is a big win here.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
Joe Mixon’s future in Cincinnati is uncertain because of an off-the-field situation, and if the Bengals find themselves in need of a running back this season, Jahmyr Gibbs is a great option that can help balance the offense.
29. New Orleans Saints: DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
The Saints lost both David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle in free agency, so they desperately need another producer in the middle of their defensive line. They like their big boys in the middle of the line, and Keeanu Benton continues that trend.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
The Eagles somehow maintained both James Bradberry and Darius Slay, but long-term stability at the position should be a priority sooner rather than later. Considering they got a steal with Jalen Carter at No. 10, they can justify reaching a little bit for Emmanuel Forbes and his upside here at 30.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
The biggest need for the Chiefs right now is at their EDGE position, and they continue a trend of finding uber-athletic prospects at the end of the first round with the selection of Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah scouting report
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
We’re committed to the storylines for the Steelers at this point, so why not send them another Pittsburgh product? That being said, Pittsburgh needs some help on the interior of their defensive line, and Kancey can be an immediate force in the pass rush.
Calijah Kancey scouting report
33. Las Vegas Raiders (trade w/ HOU): CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
With their newly acquired second-round pick, the Raiders go ahead and shore up their secondary with the selection of CB Kelee Ringo, a very physically-imposing defensive back that dominates one-on-one matchups against smaller receivers.
34. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
Lukas Van Ness has been a steady producer for Iowa at the EDGE spot for Iowa and is a bendy athlete that uses a few lethal moves to get by offensive tackles. Arizona needs to replace J.J. Watt, and another Big 10 pass rusher gets the nod.
Lukas Van Ness scouting report
35. Indianapolis Colts: WR Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
In a very small-statured draft class for wide receivers, the Colts land one of the few big-bodied players here to pair with their new QB Will Levis. Cedric Tillman had his 2022 season derailed due to injury, which caused him to go a bit forgotten this offseason, but he is an NFL receiver.
Cedric Tillman scouting report
36. Los Angeles Rams: EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
The Rams need an athletic pass-rusher and have been in that boat since Von Miller left following the 2021 season. Will McDonald should be able to step into at least a rotational pass-rushing role immediately.
37. Seattle Seahawks, DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson
Seattle continues their mission of rebuilding their defensive front in this draft with the selection of Bryan Bresee. The Clemson defensive tackle needs to clean some things up as a run-stopper, but he wreaks havoc on the interior of the defensive line against the pass.
38. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
If we’re going off best player available, the Raiders aren’t going to do much better than Drew Sanders at this spot. After playing EDGE for most of his Alabama career, he transferred to Arkansas and took more of an off-ball role and immediately thrived. This diversity will be valuable in Las Vegas.
39. Carolina Panthers: WR Josh Downs, North Carolina
The Panthers grab another precise route-runner at wide receiver for their new QB Bryce Young, and Josh Downs stays in North Carolina, joining DJ Chark and Adam Thielen in the receiver room.
40. New Orleans Saints: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Michael Thomas may be sticking around in New Orleans and hoping to be healthy, but New Orleans needs another burner at receiver to complement he and Chris Olave. Jalin Hyatt can do that and plays a very similar versatile style as Olave with the ability to play either in the slot or on the outside.
41. Tennessee Titans: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Tennessee added receiver help in the first round, and now in the second, they get one of the final top offensive tackles in this class with the selection of Anton Harrison.
42. New York Jets: C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
John Michael Schmitz is the best center prospect in this draft class, and with New York not really having a true center on their roster right now, he is a great value pick here.
43. New York Jets: DL Mazi Smith, Michigan
Now that the Jets have figured things out on the offensive line, they switch over to the defensive side and snag a defensive tackle to pair with Quinnen Williams and create a truly fearsome duo in the middle.
44. Atlanta Falcons: CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
The Falcons will catch a lot of flack over the 24ish hours between their pick on Thursday night and their pick on Friday night for taking a running back over a corner like Christian Gonzalez, but they quiet those criticisms quickly with the selection of Cam Smith here.
45. Green Bay Packers: EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
Green Bay needs to find more consistency in their pass rush for the 2023 season, and Adetomiwa Adebawore out of Northwestern can be an explosive athlete at the NFL level at the EDGE position.
46. New England Patriots: CB Julius Brents, Kansas State
Julius Brents really burst onto the scene at the Senior Bowl, and he is a massive cornerback that can jump into a defense and immediately be a physical presence.
47. Washington Commanders: CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami
Corner remains a top need for Washington heading into 2023, and he brings ideal size into the NFL along with some great testing at the combine.
48. Detroit Lions: LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Detroit may have brought back Alex Anzalone, but they absolutely need to find more long-term solutions at linebacker now that they’ve figured things out both in the secondary and on the defensive front. In three picks, the Lions defense has turned into a beast.
Trenton Simpson scouting report
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
The run of defenders comes to an end as the Pittsburgh Steelers commit to finding an offensive tackle option to protect Kenny Pickett in the passing game. Dawand Jones is one of the largest players in this class, and he has the athleticism to keep up with many pass rushers.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
The Buccaneers got their QB at 19, and now they try to fix up their offensive line with a powerful pass protector in Jaelyn Duncan.
51. Miami Dolphins: TE Darnell Washington, Georgia
This would be a fantasy football player’s dream scenario for Darnell Washington. With Mike Gesicki off the roster, this opens up Darnell Washington to be a starter and not only dominate opponents with his blocking, but also take a few receiving reps as well.
52. Seattle Seahawks: IOL Steve Avila, TCU
The Seahawks switch back to the offensive trenches with this pick, taking one of the better guards in this class with Steve Avila. The TCU product has favorable athletic ability and is built like a truck on the interior of the offensive line.
53. Chicago Bears: DT Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
Chicago didn’t take Jalen Carter earlier in the draft, but they do go get a very versatile defender in Tuli Tuipulotu who can play any position on the defensive line.
54. Los Angeles Chargers: RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
With Austin Ekeler potentially on his way out of Los Angeles, the Chargers look to the hometown kid and take Zach Charbonnet to fill in at running back to help out Justin Herbert in the offense.
55. Detroit Lions: TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
With Detroit’s final pick of the first two rounds, they fill one of their only remaining needs: the tight end spot. After trading T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings, they still need to find some consistent production at the position and turn to Sam LaPorta to fill that role.
56. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Clark Phillips III, Utah
A bottom-five passing defense from 2022 adds some much-needed depth at corner in Clark Phillips, who for some time, was considered a borderline first-round selection during this process.
Clark Phillips III scouting report
57. New York Giants: WR A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
Again, with so many small receivers in this draft class, the Giants need to take advantage of a guy that has size, considering they have so many smaller players at the position already.
58. Dallas Cowboys: DL Siaki Ika, Baylor
Dallas has plenty of linebacker help, but they need some beef in the middle of the defensive line. Siaki Ika won’t knock your socks off with athleticism, but he is a bull at a nose tackle spot.
59. Buffalo Bills: IOL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
Buffalo’s interior offensive line needs some work, and we see the toothless wonder Cody Mauch go towards the end of the second round to try and offer some guard help for the Bills.
60. Cincinnati Bengals: TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Hayden Hurst is now a Falcon, and despite adding Irv Smith, the Bengals need help at tight end. After adding a top RB in Jahmyr Gibbs and now Luke Musgrave at tight end, the Bengals offense looks set to become a well-oiled machine in 2023.
61. Chicago Bears: EDGE B.J. Ojulari, LSU
The Bears continue working towards constructing their trenches with young, athletic talent. B.J. Ojulari needs to continue to fill out his frame, but he has tons of upside that should give production sooner than later for Chicago.
62. Philadelphia Eagles: S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
With C.J. Gardner-Johnson leaving in free agency, the Eagles need some help at safety. This safety class is not great all around, so they snag one of the top two players at the end of the second round.
63. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Tank Dell, Houston
The Chiefs have lost Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman in each of the past two offseasons, so they could use another athletic receiver for Patrick Mahomes to throw to. They get one of the more promising players remaining at the position in Tank Dell.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.
You must be logged in to post a comment.