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2023 NFL Mock Draft - First Round

Anthony Richardson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

The NFL 2023 Draft is a month away, and there are still questions. There is no consensus on who will be drafted number one overall except that it will be a quarterback. The question, of course, is which quarterback?

Then there is the strategy of team drafting. Will they draft for need? Or will they just go for the best player available? And then there are those teams who don't have a pick in the first round. The Miami Dolphins lost their pick for tampering. The Cleveland Browns mortgaged their pick on a quarterback. The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are currently without first-round picks.

Let's see what the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft could look like. Remember, this year, the first round will only have 31 picks because Miami is forfeiting their draft selection.

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2023 NFL Mock Draft - Round 1

Pick 1- Carolina Panthers (from Chicago): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

The Panthers acquired the number one pick from the Chicago Bears and gave up wide receiver DJ Moore, the ninth and 61st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick. They wanted this pick badly!

The "traditional" argument is that CJ Stroud or Bryce Young will go here, which is a good bet. But what about Richardson?

Richardson has a ridiculous size and elite arm strength and athleticism. He has the highest potential ceiling in this class. The right offensive mind can untap his potential. Enter Frank Reich.

And now that the Panthers have signed Andy Dalton, it makes one wonder if they are banking on giving Reich a year to unlock his potential.

Pick 2- Houston Texans: QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State

The Texans have found their franchise quarterback. Per Pro Football Focus, Stroud's highest graded game came when the lights shined the brightest, the College Football Playoff game against Georgia.

Stroud was 23-of-34 for 348 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions in that game. And he also managed to quiet those concerned about his leg use by extending plays and adding 70 yards on the ground.

Stroud is playing his best game in 2022 under the most pressure:


Pick 3- Arizona Cardinals: DL Jalen Carter, Georgia

Carter is the most talented defensive lineman, if not overall player, in the draft. An auto accident in January killed one of his teammates and a staff member, and Carter left the scene of the accident. Will teams still be willing to draft Carter after his underperformance at Georgia Pro Day and his plea deal after the charge of racing and reckless driving?

As we have witnessed, talent often prevails over "indiscretions." The Cardinals may find Carter at three too much to pass up.


Pick 4- Indianapolis Colts: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

"I wish I were a little bit taller; I wish I were a baller," you know the rest. Young is a baller; he would be the consensus number-one pick if he were taller.

As it stands, his 5'10" and 204-pound frame raises some concerns about his ability to withstand the rigorous nature of the NFL. Fortunately, his high football IQ, ability to make every NFL throw, and straight-line speed will calm some of the stature concerns.

What new head coach Shane Steichen looks for in a quarterback:

Young checks all those boxes Steichen likes.


Pick 5- Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Edge Will Anderson, Alabama

In three seasons at Alabama, Anderson collected 34.5 sacks, 62 tackles for loss, and a pick-six. His nickname is "The Terminator" because of his relentless rush style.

Now picture Anderson combined with Uchenna Nwosu. Anderson at five would be a steal for the Seahawks.


Pick 6- Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): Edge Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

The Lions add more talent to their Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston collection.

In 10 games last season, Wilson led his defense with 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. He fractured his foot on November 12. Wilson did not play the remainder of the season or go through the drills at the 2023 NFL Combine.

Wilson is expected to go through the drills at Texas Tech's Pro Day on March 29.


Pick 7- Las Vegas Raiders: Cornerback Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

The Raiders' defense needs help at all three stages. Gonzalez projects as a shutdown corner at the NFL level.

In addition to his 10 combined pass breakups and interceptions at Oregon, he ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Combine while also posting an 11'1" in the broad jump and 41.5" in the vertical.

His speed, size, and explosiveness make him a steal at the seventh pick.


Pick 8- Atlanta Falcons: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson

The Falcons were busy during free agency. Their free agent haul included defensive lineman David Onyemata and re-signing Lorenzo Carter. Carter was their most productive edge rusher last season. He was good for only four sacks.

Adding Murphy will give new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen more tools to reshape the Falcons' defense.


Pick 9- Chicago Bears (from Carolina): Offensive Lineman Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

Why not add one of the best offensive line players to the 14th-ranked offensive line, per PFF?

The Bears did sign Nate Davis in free agency. Adding Skoronski adds depth to the seventh-ranked run-blocking offensive line that needed help in pass protection.


Pick 10- Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans): Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia

Smith's breakout season was in 2021, where he had 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one interception. Last season, he played eight games before he was sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.

Although smaller in size at 6'2" and 238 pounds, Smith plays the team's first defense that the Eagles are known for.

New Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai helped the Seahawks reach the playoffs last year as associate coach of the defense while finishing second in the league in snaps and games started by rookies.


Pick 11- Tennessee Titans: Offensive Lineman Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State

The Titans' offensive line ranked dead last season, per PFF. They were last in pass-blocking efficiency and the third-worst in generating yards before contact in the run game.

The case for Johnson to the Titans:


Pick 12- Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Offensive Lineman Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

What better way to get your rookie quarterback comfortable than pairing him with a 6'5', 315-pound man who gave up only nine pressures on 447 pass-blocking snaps in the 2022 season?


Pick 13- New York Jets: Offensive Lineman Darnell Wright, Tennessee

While it is expected the Jets will have their quarterback, they will have to improve on the 31st-ranked offensive line, per PFF. In the 2022 season, the Jets offensive line gave up 192 pressures on 689 pass-blocking snaps, the seventh-most in the league.

Picking at 13, the Jets may have to reach to get a true pass blocker. Wright is predicted to go early on Day Two, but he is a pass protector who only gave up three pressures on 93 true pass sets this season.


Pick 14- New England Patriots: Safety Brian Branch, Alabama

Not only will this be rubber-stamped for approval by Nick Saban, but it will be a replacement for the retiring Devin McCourty.

In his last season in Alabama, Branch started all 13 games, collecting 90 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven pass breakups, and two interceptions.


Pick 15- Green Bay Packers: Safety Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

Complete safety for a team that needed players on the back end of their defense.


Pick 16- Washington Commanders: Cornerback Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

Last season, opposing quarterbacks posted a 70.0 quarterback rating on throws outside the numbers against the Commanders (23rd).

Witherspoon intercepted three passes last season and was the second-best in the nation, allowing only 3.2 yards per target. He would be the perfect complement to Kendall Fuller.


Pick 17- Pittsburgh Steelers: Cornerback Joey Porter Jr., Pennsylvania State

The Steelers lost Cam Sutton in free agency. While they have acquired the services of Patrick Peterson, that is just a stopgap.

Porter is 6'2", 193 pounds, ran 4.46 in the 40-yard dash, and has a 35" vertical.

In his last season, he missed two games with appendicitis, but still managed 27 tackles and 11 pass breakups and won the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player Award.

Oh, and his dad was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers:


Pick 18- Detroit Lions: Cornerback Deonte Banks, Maryland

The Lions added Emmanuel Moseley and Cameron Sutton during free agency, so cornerback isn't a must-have need. But there is no reason not to take a top-five-ranked rookie cornerback.

Now that the Lions have added riches to the defense in the first round, they can target a big-bodied wide receiver in the second round.


Pick 19- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quarterback Will Levis, Kentucky

With all their talk of the love for Kyle Trask, the Buccaneers signed Baker Mayfield to a one-year deal in free agency. Maybe it was to give Trask more time, or maybe it was "coach speak."

If Levis falls this far, it is hard to see the Buccaneers passing up on a quarterback with the physical make-up and gifts of an NFL prototype quarterback.

If only they had someone in their organization known for helping quarterbacks reach their potential.

Levis showing off at the 2023 NFL Combine:


Pick 20- Seattle Seahawks: Cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

Head coach Pete Carroll discussed upgrading his defensive line in his post-season press conference. They added Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed in free agency.

Adding Anderson with the fifth pick adds depth, and now with their extra pick in the first round, they can go after areas of 'lesser need.'

Why not Forbes? He is the type of boom-or-bust player that seems to thrive in Seattle.


Pick 21- Los Angeles Chargers: Wide Receiver Quentin Johnson, TCU

For now, Austin Ekeler is still a Charger, but the team still needs speed at the wide receiver position.

Johnson has a legitimate 4.40 speed and is a dominating presence at 6'4" and 215 pounds.


Pick 22- Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Lamar Jackson is still a Raven, for now. So Baltimore needs to add a reliable receiver to the team.

An injury derailed Smith-Njigba in the 2022 season. In his 2021 season, he averaged 192 receiving yards in his last five games.

He is viewed almost primarily as a slot receiver with reliable hands.


Pick 23- Minnesota Vikings: Wide Receiver Jordan Addison, USC

The Vikings added Byron Murphy Jr. and Marcus Davenport in free agency. They also lost Adam Thielen.

Addison is the best route runner in the class and possesses reliable hands. His draft profile reads as 'Thielen-adjacent.'


Pick 24- Jacksonville Jaguars: Cornerback Cam Smith, South Carolina

Smith has good coverage instincts and high football IQ. In his senior season, he played 591 defensive snaps (11 games). He finished with 24 tackles, four stops, six pass breakups, an interception, and a quarterback rating of 71.3 when targeted.


Pick 25- New York Giants: Wide Receiver Zay Flowers, Boston College

Although Flowers weighs 182 pounds and stands 5'10", he played most of his snaps on the outside. He has elite speed and reliable hands. In his 12 games in 2022, Flowers had 78 receptions, 1077 yards, and averaged 13.8 yards per catch. He added 12 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 106.1 when targeted.


Pick 26- Dallas Cowboys: Running Back Bijan Robinson, Texas

The Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard is coming off a late-season injury and will be playing on the franchise tag.

The best running back in the class is available. Robinson can run outside or inside and is a capable three-down back.

If it were only Robert Griffin III's call:


Pick 27- Buffalo Bills: Offensive Lineman Broderick Jones, Georgia

Jones was a redshirt freshman when he took over the left tackle position for the final four games in the 2021 season. He dominated. He is 6'5" and 311 pounds, adept at both run blocking and pass protection.

In 2022, he allowed zero sacks.


Pick 28- Cincinnati Bengals: Tight End, Darnell Washington, Georgia

The Bengals lost Hayden Hurst in free agency. Washington stands 6'7" and weighs 264 pounds. He is a mismatch for linebackers and an athletic freak. A tight end that doubles as an extra offensive lineman in pass protection cannot be bad.

Especially when he can be an extra receiver on the field:


Pick 29- New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco): Defensive Tackle Bryan Bresee, Clemson

While the Saints added Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders during free agency, they also lost Shy Tuttle, David Onyemata, and Marcus Davenport. Adding another able body is a good thing for the line.


Pick 30- Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

The Eagles are looking at changes in their coaching staff but are mostly stationary on the field. Returning will be James Bradberry and Darius Slay in the secondary. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox will anchor the line. Picking the best available player is their best option.


Pick 31- Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive Lineman Dawand Jones, Ohio State

The Chiefs lost Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie. They signed Jawaan Taylor, but adding another offensive tackle makes sense to protect their franchise QB Patrick Mahomes.

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