The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away!
With the draft rapidly approaching and more information publicly available, it seemed like a good time to offer my second NFL mock draft. Player rankings have changed over time, and some notable players (looking at you, Jalen Carter) have started to fall down draft boards.
This mock draft will be another one centered on the first round (first 31 picks). Traditionally, there are 32 picks, but the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-rounder this year for their role in the violation of league integrity rules.
Without further ado, here is my updated first-round mock draft.
- Carolina Panthers select C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
- Houston Texans select Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
- Arizona Cardinals select Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
- Indianapolis Colts select Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
- Seattle Seahawks select Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
- Detroit Lions select Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
- Las Vegas Raiders select Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
- Atlanta Falcons select Christian Gonzales, CB, Oregon
- Chicago Bears select Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
- Philadelphia Eagles select Jalen Carter, iDL, Georgia
- Tennessee Titans select Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
- Houston Texans select Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
- New York Jets select Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
- New England Patriots select Bryan Bresee, iDL, Clemson
- Green Bay Packers select Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
- Washington Commanders select Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
- Pittsburgh Steelers select Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
- Detroit Lions select Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
- Seattle Seahawks select Calijah Kancey, iDL, Pitt
- Los Angeles Chargers select Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
- Baltimore Ravens select Jordan Addison, WR, USC
- Minnesota Vikings select Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
- Jacksonville Jaguars select Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
- New York Giants select John Michael Schmitz, iOL, Minnesota
- Dallas Cowboys select Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
- Buffalo Bills select Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
- Cincinnati Bengals select Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
- New Orleans Saints select Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
- Philadelphia Eagles select Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
- Kansas City Chiefs select Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Here are some draft pick breakdowns:
Pick 10: Jalen Carter’s fall stops with Philadelphia
With my first mock draft, I had Jalen Carter going to the Arizona Cardinals with the third overall pick. In this scenario, he slides to the tenth overall pick. Why? Beyond the car racing issue that landed him in hot water, there are several behavioral concerns that have teams worried.
He showed up at the Georgia Pro Day almost ten pounds heavier than he showed up at the NFL Combine. He’s perceived as a potentially lazier player than you want if you’re drafting top-5.
Despite all of that, Philly seems like a perfect fit – a match made in heaven. He slides into a backup role in Year 1 on a deep and talented defensive line. The Eagles front four (Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, and former Georgia teammate Jordan Davis) is set. This will give the Eagles’ coaching staff some time to work with Carter before he and Davis can ultimately form the next dominant defensive line duo in Philadelphia.
Pick 14: The Patriots opt for defense instead of offense
The Patriots wide receiver depth chart is tough. Juju Smith-Schuster is the presumptive WR1, followed by DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne, rounding out their top-3. It’s not league-worst, but it’s not great, either. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was available too.
But I have a hard time believing that Bill Belichick would draft a first-round WR in a deep receiver class when a talent like Bryan Bresee is still on the board. Despite injury concerns, Bresee seems like someone who can be an elite run defender and 4-6 sack guy, even as a rookie.
Pick 17: A legacy pick in Pittsburgh
How cool would it be to see Steelers icon Joey Porter cheering for his son in black and gold? The son of the former Steelers standout has star potential as a cornerback, where he recorded 113 tackles, 20 passes defended, and an interception during his time in Penn State. The Steelers opted to let Cam Sutton walk and replaced him with Patrick Peterson. Peterson, Akhello Witherspoon, and Joey Porter Jr. make a solid cornerback trio in Pittsburgh.
Pick 21: The Chargers swing for the fences
It seems obvious now that the Chargers will open the season without star running back Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has been very public about his trade demands, and there are several teams that could definitely use his services. Even if Ekeler does come back, the Chargers would be wise to snag his replacement in the first round this year.
Yes, I’m talking about Bijan Robinson. The most talented running back prospect to enter the NFL since Saquon Barkley, Robinson is a home run player. I’d typically advocate for not spending a first-round pick on an RB, but Robinson is no normal prospect. He just ran for almost 1,600 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 6.1 yards per carry as the feature back for a Texas Longhorns offense. He also caught 19 passes for 314 yards (16.5 yards per catch) and 2 touchdowns as well.
If Ekeler plays, good luck defending an offense that features Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Bijan Robinson.
Pick 31: Kansas City Chiefs go get their WR1
My last mock saw the Chiefs snagging Michael Mayer at the end of the first round as someone they could groom to replace Travis Kelce (who is 34) eventually. In this mock, the Chiefs opt for a WR to replace (more than capably) the departed Juju Smith-Schuster.
Josh Downs produced 94 catches, 1,029 yards, and 11 touchdowns in an otherwise unimpressive UNC Tar Heels wide receiver group this year. He was the star. He was the guy. Kansas City takes advantage of his availability and adds him to an offense that doesn’t need to be the premier target from day 1.
He can easily jump Kadarius Toney or Skyy Moore on the depth chart, slotting alongside Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a starting wide receiver for the Chiefs. He’s another dynamic weapon in space for the Chiefs, a slot receiver with elite route-running prowess. He’s somewhere in the vicinity, for me, of Marquise Brown.
It wouldn’t be out of the question for Downs to produce 50+ catches/700+ yards/6+ touchdowns as a rookie in the Chiefs offense.
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