2023 NFL Mock Draft
The 2023 NFL draft is fast approaching, and all 32 franchises will soon be adding new playmakers to their rosters. While just 27 of them are set to pick in the first round, it’s an exciting time for football fans as they eagerly await to see how their team will fare. This post discusses a sample 2023 NFL mock draft.
As a former general manager and executive with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, I know firsthand how difficult it is to make draft selections. That’s why I’m taking a different approach with my third annual GM mock draft. Instead of projecting what I believe will happen based on rumors and speculation, I’m putting myself in the general manager’s chair for each team with a first-rounder and making my own picks. This is based on my own evaluations, preferences, and philosophies.
Sample 2023 NFL mock draft
So without further ado, here are my GM selections for the first 31 picks, starting with a tough call for Panthers GM Scott Fitterer at No. 1:
- Carolina Panthers (from CHI) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama After several years of uncertainty and stop-gap options at the quarterback position, the Panthers have to find a long-term answer. And after trading up to No. 1, I’d be going all-in on Bryce Young. While his size is a concern, his talent is unquestionable. He’s the guy I’d lean on to turn the passing game around in Carolina. This is just the start of our 2023 NFL mock draft.
- Houston Texans – Next on our list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State After Young came off the board, it’s no sweat for Houston to pick up C.J. Stroud. He had an outstanding performance against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, and his tremendous throwing performance at the combine and overall college tape make him a top quarterback prospect.
- Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama The Cardinals need a pass-rusher, and Anderson is the perfect fit. He’s long, quick, and has shades of Von Miller in his game. With the most sacks and pressures in the FBS over the past three years, he’s a dominant force.
- Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky The Colts are desperate for stability at quarterback after trying Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan over the past four seasons. Levis has inconsistency issues, but his physical traits and upside remind me of Ben Roethlisberger when he came out of Miami (Ohio) in 2004.
- Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) – Next on the list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee This might be a surprise pick, but I think Hooker is under-scouted right now. He has a strong arm and a 6-3 frame, and he looked great for the Vols before his injury. I see him as a potential franchise quarterback and someone who can lead an offense.
- Detroit Lions (from LAR) – Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech The Lions need help with their pass rush, and Wilson had an outstanding career at Texas Tech after transferring from Texas A&M. With 14 sacks over the past two seasons, he’s a long and heavy-handed player who will pair well with Aidan Hutchinson.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon With the top four quarterbacks off the board and Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter, the Raiders can attack another weakness. Gonzalez is long and can play in man and zone coverages. With four interceptions last season, he has all the makings of a star CB1.
- Atlanta Falcons – Next on the list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson Atlanta needs help up front after fielding a moribund pass rush last year. Murphy had 18 sacks and 31 tackles for loss over three seasons at Clemson, and
- Northwestern OT/G Peter Skoronski is a great fit for the Bears who need to rebuild their offensive line to develop a young quarterback. Skoronski is considered the most refined pass protector in this year’s class and is tough and dependable. He would start at guard and eventually slide to tackle, similar to Laremy Tunsil’s trajectory in Miami.
- Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) will take Georgia OT Broderick Jones, who is a plug-and-play guard with the potential to move to tackle in the future. With the losses of two offensive linemen, Jones will provide depth and stability for the Eagles.
- Tennessee Titans will select Florida QB Anthony Richardson, who has compelling upside but needs more time to develop. He broke more tackles as a runner in 2022 than any other college quarterback and has a huge arm, but his completion percentage needs to improve for him to be an effective NFL quarterback.
- Houston Texans (from CLE) will add TCU WR Quentin Johnston to catch passes from their No. 2 pick, quarterback CJ Stroud. Johnston reminds Mel Kiper of Mike Evans with his 6-3 size and solid speed.
- New York Jets will take Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. to bolster their offensive line. Johnson only allowed pressure on 2.4% of his snaps last season and will help protect Aaron Rodgers, should he become a Jet.
- New England Patriots will select Tennessee OT Darnell Wright, who excelled in neutralizing Will Anderson Jr. and allowed just one sack all season. The Patriots’ offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting Mac Jones, and Wright would help.
- Green Bay Packers will add Ohio State OT Dawand Jones to build around young quarterback Jordan Love. Jones measured in at 6-8 and 374 pounds with an 87⅞-inch wingspan and allowed pressure on 1.2% of his snaps during his college career.
- Next on the list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is Washington Commanders will select Utah TE Dalton Kincaid to provide Sam Howell and/or Jacoby Brissett with a reliable target. Kincaid proved incredibly productive last season with 70 catches for 890 yards and eight touchdowns.
- Pittsburgh Steelers will add Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon, who allowed the second-fewest yards per pass attempt among FBS qualified defenders. Witherspoon is tough, competitive, an effective tackler, and the most physical cornerback in this year’s draft.
- Detroit Lions will select Georgia DT Jalen Carter, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing after an arrest during combine week. Despite just six sacks over the past two seasons, his talent is on another level, and this could end up a great pick at No. 18.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take Texas RB Bijan Robinson to alleviate pressure on their uncertain quarterback position. Robinson averaged 6.3 yards per rush as a Longhorn and tallied 33 career rushing touchdowns.
- Seattle Seahawks will add Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness to improve their third-down defense. Van Ness played 899 snaps and logged 14 sacks across two years at Iowa, and with outstanding physical traits at 6-5 and 272 pounds, he is a perfect defensive playmaker for coach Pete Carroll.
- Los Angeles Chargers will select Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba to provide Justin Herbert with a tremendous route runner and exceptional hands. Despite playing in only three games last season, Smith-Njigba’s record-breaking 15-reception, 347-yard, three-touchdown performance in the 2021 season’s Rose Bowl is difficult to forget.
- The Baltimore Ravens may have found their solution to their wide receiver problems in Zay Flowers, a standout from Boston College. Last season, the Ravens’ leading receiver, Mark Andrews, had 848 yards, and the next closest was Demarcus Robinson with only 458 yards. No Ravens wide receiver had more than three touchdowns, and the only addition to their receiving corps was Nelson Agholor. With Rashod Bateman missing 16 games in the past two seasons, the Ravens are in desperate need of a game-changing wide receiver, and Flowers could be that guy. He had a fantastic season last year, with 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns, showcasing his game-breaking speed and quickness.
- The Minnesota Vikings struggled to defend against opposing quarterbacks last season, allowing the third-most passing yards per attempt in the NFL. Losing their best cornerback, Patrick Peterson, didn’t help, even with the addition of Byron Murphy Jr., who can play both inside and out. In Brian Flores’ man-to-man scheme, the Vikings need more depth at cornerback, which is where Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State could come in. Porter is a physical and tough cornerback with rare 34-inch length at 6-3 and 193 pounds. Despite not having any interceptions, Porter broke up 11 passes last season.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars allowed only 28 sacks last season, which was the fifth-fewest in the NFL. However, their underlying blocking numbers were below average, and they lost starting right tackle Jawaan Taylor to the Chiefs in free agency. Anton Harrison, an offensive tackle from Oklahoma, could be an immediate starter for the Jaguars. Harrison has ideal size at 6-4 and 315 pounds, and he started 24 games in his collegiate career. With zero sacks allowed last season and just two over his three-year career at Oklahoma, Harrison could provide an immediate upgrade to Jacksonville’s offensive line.
- Despite having Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, who led Giants receivers with only 724 yards last season, the New York Giants still need a standout wide receiver. Jalin Hyatt from Tennessee could be their guy, even though he’s slightly undersized at 6 feet and 176 pounds. Hyatt flourished in Tennessee’s offense last season when Josh Heupel took over, and he posted 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. Hyatt’s speed could make him the Giants’ WR1 as soon as he is drafted.
- The Dallas Cowboys need a replacement for Dalton Schultz at tight end, and Michael Mayer from Notre Dame could be that guy. Mayer is 6-5 and a solid blocker with high-end receiving talent. He was very efficient last year with 67 catches, 809 yards, and nine touchdowns, all of which ranked in the top three among FBS tight ends. Schultz accounted for 14.8% of the Cowboys’ receiving yards and scored five of their 28 passing touchdowns, but Mayer could immediately fill that void at a high level.
- Next on the list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is The Buffalo Bills struggled in rushing last season, ranking 27th in rushing yards (1,470) and tying for 26th in rushing touchdowns (eight), excluding quarterback contributions. Jahmyr Gibbs, a running back from Alabama, could help boost their rushing attack. Gibbs is a dynamic runner who averaged over six yards per rush attempt and recorded an incredible 44 catches last season.
- Cincinnati Bengals Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes is a great value pick for the Bengals. While they had a solid pass defense last season, ranking second in opponent QBR at 46.8, safety Jessie Bates III signed with Atlanta and cornerback Eli Apple is a free agent. Adding depth at corner can help keep their pass defense strong. Forbes may be slender at 6-1 and 166 pounds, but he has impressive on-the-ball production with 14 career interceptions, including six returned for touchdowns. He can start for the Bengals from Day 1.
- Next on the list of the 2023 NFL mock draft is New Orleans Saints (from SF/MIA/DEN) With Derek Carr joining the Saints’ offense, adding octane to their receiver room is a must. Michael Thomas is on a one-year deal, and he has missed 40 games since his record-breaking season in 2019. Jordan Addison produced at an All-American level in two different college programs, combining for 219 catches and 3,134 yards over three years at Pitt and USC. He is an elite route runner who can emerge as a fantastic option opposite Chris Olave.
- Philadelphia Eagles Nolan Smith from Georgia can provide the Eagles with the edge rusher they need. While they retained Brandon Graham, their long-term outlook on the defensive line is murky. Outside of Graham, Josh Sweat, and Derek Barnett, the depth has taken a hit. Although Smith had an injury-shortened 2022 season with a torn right pectoral muscle and is undersized at 238 pounds, he had an incredible combine workout. Smith ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash and posted jumps of 41.5 inches (vertical) and 10-foot-8 (broad). The Eagles can afford to give him time to add much-needed bulk to his frame before starting in 2024.
- Kansas City Chiefs Deonte Banks from Maryland has all the makings of a future starting corner for the Chiefs. While they performed well against the pass last year, allowing the seventh-fewest yards per pass attempt at 6.7, and loaded up at cornerback in the 2022 draft, L’Jarius Sneed is in the last year of his deal. Banks performed well at the combine and allowed only 20 completions last year. The value he brings to the table is too good to pass up, especially in the AFC West where you can never have enough starting corners.
Just missed: Will McDonald IV (Iowa State), Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern)
You can also check out my post on pff mock draft.