2023 NFL Mock Draft: Debut 3 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 1-16
The 2023 NFL Draft has two Heisman finalists that headline this draft class.
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: September 1, 2022.
Atlanta Falcons: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
- Atlanta gets the first pick thanks to a league worst 1-16 record and a lone victory over the Carolina Panthers. Neither Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder pan out which means Atlanta gets their pick of the quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- The 6-0 194 lb Bryce Young is the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner. He's got a chance to be the first back-to-back Heisman winner since Archie Griffin. Bryce Young can play in a balanced run first offense, a vertical offense where he utilizes the deep passing game, a west coast offense, and a shotgun spread offense. Having a playcaller like former Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien also helped him accelerate in his development since Young can make up to all six progressions in the pocket before taking off and running.
- Bryce Young got to sit behind Mac Jones as a true freshman when Alabama went 15-0 in 2020 going 13/22 with 1 passing touchdown and no interceptions in very limited action. Bryce Young had 4,872 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns, 50 total touchdowns, a 66.9 completion percentage, and 3 interceptions during his Heisman Winning Campaign.
- Bryce Young lost his blue chip left tackle as well as his starting running back and top two receivers after Alabama lost a lot of talent on their 15-0 team that won the 2021 Championship over Ohio State during the 2020-2021 Season. Alabama won the SEC Championship again, but lost the 2022 National Title to Kirby Smart and Georgia after a 12-1 season in 2021.
- Alabama has reloaded offensively with a lot of nice additions. They are the favorite to win the SEC and go 13-0 this year as well as the favorite to win the National Title meaning Alabama could have their second 15-0 season in three years thanks to Bryce Young.
- Drafting Bryce Young opens up this offense for both wide receiver Drake London Atlanta's 2022 first round pick and tight end Kyle Pitts Atlanta's 2021 first round pick with a top 10 left tackle in Jake Matthews being Bryce Young's blindside in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons would be a perrenial NFC South contender in the post Tom Brady era with an offennse featuring Bryce Young, Jake Matthews, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts.
Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
- The Seattle Seahawks grab a Heisman finalist with the number two pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. I have Seattle going 2-15 finishing with the second worst record in the entire league which is why the Seahawks end up picking at 2.
- The 6-3 215 lb C.J. Stroud redshirted in 2020 when Justin Fields was draft eligible and did have a 48 yard rushing touchdown that year. Like Bryce Young he got to watch his team in the National Championship from the sideline. C.J. Stroud had 4,435 passing yards, 44 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a 71.9 completion percentage as a freshman redshirt in 2021. C.J. Stroud can play in a balanced run first offense, a vertical offense where he utilizes the deep passing game, a west coast offense, and a shotgun spread offense. I've seen C.J. Stroud make up to all six progressions and he had the highest quarterback rating of any quarterback in College Football last year even edging out Heisman Trophy Winner Bryce Young.
- The Seattle Seahawks had a good 2022 NFL Draft potentially landing two starting offensive tackles with left tackle Charles Cross and right tackle Abraham Lucas. Seattle also got Kenneth Walker III as their running back. Adding Stroud to that core while keeping veteran receivers like Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf does have me optimistic about Seattle's chances to be a competitive team down the road.
New York Giants: Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami FL
- The 6-4 224 lb Tyler Van Dyke won ACC Freshman of the Year in 2021 as well as ACC rookie of the year becoming the first player since Brad Kaaya to do this, but Tyler Van Dyke is a vastly superior prospect to Kaaya. Tyler Van Dyke took over at quarterback on September 25, 2021 for the Miami Hurricanes during his freshman redshirt season and never looked back.
- You have to look past Tyler Van Dyke's 2,931 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, and 6 interceptions because he didn't start until the fourth game of the regular sesaon as stated earlier. Tyler Van Dyke can play in a balanced run first offense, a vertical offense where he utilizes the deep passing game, a west coast offense, and a shotgun spread offense. I've seen Tyler Van Dyke make up to all six progressions when going through his reads in 2021 which is something the other two Heisman Finalists Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud did. That's one reason why I absolutely love Tyler Van Dyke as a prospect. Another reason I love Tyler Van Dyke is he had the eleventh highest quarterback rating with the top two prospects in this years draft having the two highest quarterback ratings.
- Tyler Van Dyke showed he's a winner with moxy going 6-3 as a freshman redshirt finishing the season with six consecutive games with 316 passing yards being the first quarterback since Joe Burrow in 2019 to accomplish this feat. The positive with Tyler Van Dyke is he went 5-1 in those six games where he had over 300 passing yards getting signature wins over ranked opponents like North Carolina State and quarterback Devin Leary while also leading Miami FL to a road win over the eventual ACC Champion Pittsburgh Panthers. The bad with Tyler Van Dyke is that he had 3 games with interceptions against North Carolina, Florida State, and Pittsburgh going 1-2 in those three games. The ugly with Tyler Van Dyke is he loses his two best wide receivers, but still has his number three wide receiver, his starting tight end Will Mallory a senior tight end, Jaylen Knighton back at running back after a promising freshman season, Zion Nelson is still his blindside at left tackle, and DJ Scaifre Jr. is a good bookend right tackle to Zion Nelson.
- Tyler Van Dyke showed he could lead last year displaying similar leadership to Pittsburgh Panthers and future Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 first round pick Kenny Pickett. Pickett defeated a 10-0 Miami FL team as a true freshman back in 2017, and Tyler Van Dyke showed similar leadership traits with his victories over North Carolina State and Pittsburgh. Now this season the expectation is that Tyler Van Dyke has to lead if he wants to be a top 5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- The Miami Hurricanes have some pieces that will take pressure off of this offense like senior defensive end Mitchell Agude who transferred from UCLA to Miami FL like Jaelan Phillips hoping to ascend into the first round in similar fashion to Phillips. Miami FL has two returning starters at linebacker along with a cornerback trio of Tyrique Stevenson, James Williams, and DJ Ivey whose taken a huge step in his development according to Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy. I see Miami FL losing to Texas A&M at Kyle Field and Clemson in Death Valley, but there is enough talent on Miami FL for the Miami Hurricanes to get to and win the 2022 ACC Championship because this Miami FL team has enough talent to compete with Clemson on a neutral field. I can see the Hurricanes winning the ACC this year because of Tyler Van Dyke, the offensive tackles, Agude, and the cornerback trio. Wake Forest is the only ACC team with all of their receivers returning meaning they have the best chance to expose Miami FL's cornerbacks.
- New York has Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Shane Lemieux at left guard, Jon Feliciano the Bills interior offensive linemen who played right guard in 2020 before moving to left guard in 2021 making the transition to center under former Bills offensive coordinator now Giants head coach Brian Dabboll with Mark Glowinski at right guard, and Evan Neal at right tackle for the 2022 season. All of those offensive linemen except for Jon Feliciano and his backup center Nick Gates would be back for the 2023 season meaning Tyler Van Dyke would have excellent pass protection. New York also currently has more cap space than any NFL team for 2023, so if Saquon Barkley gets 1,000 rushing yards on a team picking in the top 5 of the draft, he's getting extended or franchise tagged. Saquon Barkley would take some pressure off of Tyler Van Dyke. Tyler Van Dyke would have weapons like wide receiver K'Darius Toney, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, and tight end Daniel Bellinger to throw to as a rookie quarterback if Daniel Jones cannot put everything together this year.
- I've got New York going 3-14, but the Giants could end up at 2-15 if Kayvon Thibodeaux isn't back by week 2 when the New York Giants get Carolina in their home opener since that feels like a pickem contest if Kayvon Thibodeaux is back at full health for that game since New York has two good pass rushers with Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux who can both play 3-4 outside linebacker effectively.
Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., RE, Alabama
- Houston has two first round picks once again, but I have the Houston Texans picking here after projecting the Houston Texans at 3-14. In this scenario, with all of the top three quarterback prospects off the board, Houston goes with the best defensive player in the 2023 NFL Draft in Will Anderson Jr. who is a special edge rusher that can do it all whether it happens to be rushing the quarterback, stopping the run, or dropping back into coverage.
- The 6-4 245 lb Will Anderson Jr. is a JACK linebacker in Alabama's defense, but he makes any left tackle quiver in fear regardless of whether you use him as a 4-3 right end or a 3-4 right outside linebacker. He's just that damn good. He outperformed Heisman Runner Up Aidan Hutchinson last year and was arguably the biggest snub among the Heisman finalists.
- Will Anderson Jr. had 57 solo tackles, 44 assisted tackles, 101 total tackles, 33.5 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks, and 9 quarterback hurries in 2021. Aidan Hutchinson had 62 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, and 12 quarterback hurries in 2021. Hutchinson was the best player in the 2022 NFL Draft just based on production, but an argument can be made that Will Anderson Jr. was more deserving of being a Heisman finalist.
- Both Hutchinson and Will Anderson Jr. were deserving of being Heisman finalists, but Aidan Hutchinson's 3 sacks against Ohio State in Michigan's toughest game of the year stood out more than Will Anderson Jr.'s consistency because Will Anderson Jr. didn't play an opponent in the top 10 until Georgia and Alabama met in the 2021 SEC Championship game while Ohio State was ranked 6th when Hutchinson sacked C.J. Stroud three times in Ann Arbor which was ultimately the difference between Hutchison and Anderson Jr. according to the Heisman selection committee.
- Houston drafted two edge rushers first overall with Mario Williams and Jadeveon Clowney. Here, the Texans get the best defensive player in the 2023 NFL Draft with the fourth overall pick after three consecutive quarterbacks go in the top 3 overall. My player comparison for Will Anderson Jr. is Derrick Thomas, but most people on NFL.com are comparing him to Von Miller.
- Houston took care of their biggest need on defense which will allow the defense to finally gel now. The Houston Texans still need to take care of their biggest need on offense with the Cleveland Browns pick.
Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
- Washington is a team that I have going 4-13, but there's 4-6 games in between weeks 5-11 after Chase Young returns from the PUP list where the Commanders can potentially steal some games. If Washington manages to win every game from weeks 5-15 which is a long shot, but not impossible due to a weak strength of schedule, they could end up making me look like an idiot and securing one of the wild card spots simply due to the NFC East division having the four easiest strength of schedules among the 32 NFL teams. I have Washington picking in the top 5, but don't be surprised if this team does better than I'm projecting them to.
- Washington has Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, and 2022 fifth round pick Sam Howell out of North Carolina at quarterback for the 2022 NFL Season. Howell defeated Tyler Van Dyke who I mocked to the New York Giants earlier, so I don't see the Commanders taking a quarterback in the draft unless Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud is on the board. Washington may panic and pass on Stroud after drafting Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State in 2019. There's no guarantee you're picking first overall and there's no guarantee Bryce Young duplicates his freshman season without Evan Neal, Jameson Williams, and John Metchie III in 2022.
- Washington's biggest strength is their defensive line which features four first round picks with Chase Young their 2020 first round pick at 4-3 right end, Montez Sweat a 4-3 left end and Washington's 2019 first round pick, Jonathan Allen at 4-3 defensive tackle a 2017 first round pick, and Da'Ron Payne a 2018 first round pick.
- Washington should draft a Georgia Bulldog at 5, but the question is whether the Commanders go for Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo. Most in draft twitter agree that Carter is the top defensive player not named Will Anderson Jr. I'm not disputing that as I had Carter going fifth overall to Jacksonville back in May when I did a preliminary 2023 NFL mock draft on my podcast.
- Washington spent a 2022 second round pick on Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis and the team may feel he's just as capable of replacing Payne as Carter is. Also, Washington had the 32nd ranked pass defense in 2021 and if Washington has the worst pass defense for a second year in a row there's no doubt they draft a cornerback like Kelee Ringo even if Jalen Carter is the best overall player on the board.
- The 6-3 313 lb Phiadarian Mathis had 20 solo tackles, 33 assisted tackles, 53 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, and 6 quarterback hurries in 2021. His best fit is in a 4-3 defense at defensive tackle, but he's versatile enough to play 3-4 right end, 3-4 nose tackle, and 3-4 left end. Washington is developing him behind Da'Ron Payne and will probably replace Mathis with Payne. Jalen Carter only had 37 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks in 2021. I do think Carter is a top 10 talent, but taking Carter when you have Mathis ready to take over for Payne makes zero sense when you have a much greater need on the secondary.
- The 6-2 205 lb Kelee Ringo had 8 deflections from pass breakups and 2 interceptions with one of those interceptions being a 79 yard pick six in the National Championship against Alabama. The former track sprinter Kelee Ringo had at least 10 big plays as a first year starter at cornerback in 2021 after Georgia lost both cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell to the 2021 NFL Draft. Georgia's defense held opponents to under 20 points in all 14 wins with the only loss being the game where Alabama defeated Georgia 41-24 in the 2021 SEC Championship before Georgia got revenge 33-18 in the 2022 National Championship Game thanks to Ringo.
- Kelee Ringo has the man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage you want a cornerback to have. He can play cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 in the NFL. If I had to grade Ringo from a coverage standpoint, I'd give Ringo an A+ grade in man coverage, an A grade in zone coverage, and an A- grade in press coverage because Ringo does play too aggressive at times which can lead to penalties. I'd give Ringo an A grade for run stuffing and an A+ grade for tackling. The bottom line is Ringo is a gamer he can play despite being overly aggressive sometimes.
- I have Ringo graded lower than the top 2 cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft in Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr., but higher than every other cornerback from the 2020 to 2022 NFL Drafts after those two since those two cornerbacks were tied with Jalen Ramsey for my highest graded cornerback dating back to 2016. Kelee Ringo may not be an A+ cornerback in every coverage category like Gardner or Stingley, but he's got the A+ man coverage that Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain Jr. had while also being more well rounded in zone and press coverage then those two as cornerbacks like Caleb Farley, Eric Stokes, and Greg Newsome II were more complete corners in terms of man, zone, and press despite not having the A+ man coverage that Horn or Surtain possessed.
- Kelee Ringo has the man coverage of an elite cornerback while also being able to play zone or press which is a big reason why Georgia reloaded at cornerback after losing Eric Stokes because Georgia gave up 190.1 passing yards per game which was second fewest among SEC teams in 2021. Kelee Ringo is one of two cornerbacks in this draft who can transform Washington into a secondary that goes from being a target practice for NFC East quarterbacks to one of the most respected pass defenses in the NFL.
New York Jets: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
- New York should get a left tackle, but I think they would choose to keep Duane Brown at left tackle and Mekhi Becton at right tackle for now by taking the best player on the board in Jalen Carter rather than drafting for need. Jalen Carter would replace Sheldon Rankins giving New York Jermaine Johnson II at 4-3 right end, Quinnen Williams at 4-3 defensive tackle, Jalen Carter at 4-3 defensive tackle, and Carl Lawson at 4-3 left end. Most have Carter graded out as as the top defensive player outside of Will Anderson Jr..
- The 6-3 310 lb Jalen Carter had 17 solo tackles, 20 assisted tackles, 37 total tackles, 33 quarterback hurries including 8 in one game against Kentucky, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks in 2021. Jalen Carter is considered the consensus best defensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as the top overall defensive prospect outside of Will Anderson Jr. Most agree Carter is a top 5 lock, so if he falls to six, I think the Jets would probably take Carter and try to find an offensive tackle with their second round pick.
- Jalen Carter has the versatility to play 4-3 defensive tackle, 3-4 right end, 3-4 nose tackle, and 3-4 left end. He's just that damn versatile. He's also got the athleticism, block shedding, rip moves, and swim moves to be an anchor on Georgia's defensive line in 2022.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence finally gets a number one receiver after a 5-12 season where Jacksonville shows minor improvement, but a ton of promise moving forward under Doug Pederson in 2022 after Urban Meyer set this franchise back in 2021. The 6-0 205 lb Kayshon Boutte had 38 receptions, 509 receiving yards, and 9 receiving touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021. Kayshon Boutte ran a 4.27 40-time in the Spring at LSU according to Wes Langley. Boutte will also have much better quarterback play with former Arizona State starting quarterback Jayden Daniels throwing him the football this Fall.
- Like former LSU receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. this is a guy who can run all 30 routes on the route tree. You will see Boutte perform precise routes with screen passes, streaks, slants, wheel routes, post routes, post stops, curls, curl stops, drags, snags, shoots, out routes, out & ups, corner routes, slugos, slugo posts, slugo stops, IOU's, stop & gos, double stops, and double stop & gos. Can execute any type of route at an elite level. Has an extremely high football IQ. He can run all 30 different routes on the route tree.
- Christian Kirk, another route tree guy who can run all 30 routes at 5-11 would thrive as a number two target with Boutte and you'd have Zay Jones and Laviska Shenault Jr. competing for the number three receiver job on the outside next to Boutte with Kirk in the slot. With Kayshon Boutte, I think the Jacksonville Jaguars would finally have enough talent to push for a wild card spot as early as the 2023-2024 NFL Season.
- Jacksonville has drafted from the Southeast region with previous first round picks being Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M (2013), Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida (2014), Dante Fowler Jr., RE, Florida (2015), Jalen Ramsey CB, Florida State (2016), Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (2017), Taven Bryant, DT, Florida (2018), Josh Allen, 3-4 ROLB, Kentucky (2019), C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida (2020), K'Lavon Chaisson, 3-4 LOLB, LSU (2020), Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (2021), Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (2021) Travon Walker, 3-4 LOLB, Georgia (2022), and Kayshon Boutte (2023) would keep this trend alive.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson Jr., LT, Ohio State
- Pittsburgh's streak of 8 win seasons under Mike Tomlin probably ends in 2022. The good news is a high draft pick will allow you to get a left tackle that can pass block for quarterback Kenny Pickett your 2022 first round pick out of Pittsburgh and run block for running back Najee Harris who happened to be one of the better rookies as Pittsburgh's 2021 first round pick out of Alabama. Having this will allow Pittsburgh to keep contending on a year-to-year basis meaning Pittsburgh's rebuild will be short, swift, and decisive.
- The 6-6 310 lb Paris Johnson Jr. is making the transition from right guard to left tackle. Paris Johnson Jr. played right guard in relief of Wyatt Davis when Ohio State played Alabama in hte National Championship. When Nicholas Petit-Friere won the left tackle job from Thayer Munford, Munford moved inside to left guard. Now, Paris Johnson Jr. is going back to left tackle which was his natural position in High School where he was once the number one ranked player in the state of Ohio coming out of High School.
- Paris Johnson Jr. has the pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking you want in a starting offensive lineman. He's got the wingspan and foot speed of an NFL left tackle. He also speaks three languages English, Chinese, and Portugese. He's learning Manderin too and was part of a Student Volunteer program.
- If Pittsburgh is picking this high, I can see the Pittsburgh Steelers falling in love with the football character of Paris Johnson Jr. and getting him as a blindside to Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh took Najee Harris because they fell in love with his football character. Pittsburgh had Kenny Pickett as QB1 in 2022 after having Najee Harris as RB1 in 2021. Its back to drafting a player with a high football character in 2023, and that's what Paris Johnson Jr. will bring to Pittsburgh.
- Paris Johnson Jr. may not be a blue chip prospect, but he's still an upgrade over Dan Moore Jr. as well as the top left tackle in this draft. Another possibility could be South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith since he's closer to Kelee Ringo for the right to be the top cornerback in this draft than people think.
- I could also see Pittsburgh drafting Jaxon Smith-Njigba the younger brother of Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Caanan Smith-Njigba or Jordan Addison Pickett's former number one weapon at Pittsburgh if Diontae Johnson continues to drop passes after getting his extension, but this only happens if both George Pickens and Chase Claypool struggle as a number two target next to Johnson since Pittsburgh drafted Pickens in the second round out of Georgia and Calvin Austin III out of Memphis in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft at wide receiver hoping to give Pickett as many weapons as possible while Pat Freiermuth continues to develop in year two after showing promise as a 2021 second round pick coming out of Penn State.
- Pittsburgh hasn't drafted a receiver in this first round since Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba having an older brother on the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jordan Addison being Kenny Pickett's number one weapon on the Pittsburgh Panthers during his breakout year leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft make both of these wide receivers outside possibilities for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft should Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Chase Claypool, Anthony Miller, and Calvin Austin III all struggle at wide receiver without Ben Roethlisberger in 2022. I'd say there's a 5 percent chance that happens with how Pickens has been balling through training camp and most Steelers fans will tell you there's a 0 percent chance that happens which is why I can't see Pittsburgh drafting a receiver in the first round even if both receivers have amazing rapport with the city of Pittsburgh.
- Paris Johnson Jr. and Cam Smith are the best fits for Pittsburgh at 8 assuming we exclude the possibility of Pittsburgh drafting a receiver in the first round. I'm going with Paris Johnson Jr. because I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers will love his football character and want a blindside upgrade over Dan Moore Jr. Once the Steelers get Paris Johnson Jr., Pittsburgh will be back to contending on a yearly basis with Kenny Pickett and a Pro Bowl caliber left tackle for both Pickett and running back Najee Harris.
Carolina Panthers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
- Carolina will probably roll with Matt Corral in 2023 unless they are picking in the top 3 because there isn't an a quarterback outside of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Tyler Van Dyke that's a sure fire upgrade over 2022 third round pick Matt Corral whose now out for the season. Also Carolina is going to be $35-million dollars over the cap in 2023.
- Cutting Roby Anderson who complained about playing with Baker Mayfield saves you exactly $12-million in cap space. Carolina would have their pick between Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Billetnikoff Award Winner Jordan Addison.
- Last year, there were a lot of rumors about Carolina wanting Kenny Pickett since the Panthers owner Dave Tepper graduated from Pittsburgh, but those rumors about Pickett along with Malik Willis rumors turned out to be false as Matt Corral was Carolina's QB1 for the 2022 NFL Draft the entire time. There's gonna be rumors for all of the wide receivers with Kayshon Boutte, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Jordan Addison at 9 because Addison played at Pittsburgh for two years prior to transferring to USC.
- The 6-0 198 lb Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 receiving touchdowns as a number three receiver next to Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at Ohio State.
- You will see Jaxon Smith-Njigba perform precise routes with screen passes, streaks, slants, wheel routes, post routes, post stops, curls, curl stops, drags, snags, shoots, out routes, out & ups, corner routes, slugos, slugo posts, slugo stops, IOU's, stop & gos, double stops, and double stop & gos. Can execute any type of route at an elite level. Has an extremely high football IQ. He can run all 30 different routes on the route tree. This guy can run all 30 routes on the route tree which is more then you can say about either one of Ohio State's receivers last year, but he's not as sudden in executing his routes as Garrett Wilson and he's not as crisp of a route runner as Chris Olave despite showcasing more explosiveness on his breaks. He was the fastest receiver on Ohio State though and led Ohio State's entire receiving core in receiving yards last year. That's why he's going to be a top 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Giving Matt Corral someone like Jaxon Smith-Njigba to compliment D.J. Moore is the smartest thing you can do for Corral. You can also keep Terrace Marshall Jr. as your slot receiver. If Christian McCaffrey stays healthy for the entire season, then Corral will have those weapons and a running game to take pressure off of him, plus a good offensive line led by Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina's 2022 first round draft pick at left tackle.
- If Matt Corral struggles as a full-time starter with weapons like D.J. Moore and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, that's a clear indicator that the Carolina Panthers could look at a quarterback like Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, or Jaxson Dart in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Chicago Bears: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
- The 6-0 175 lb Jordan Addison gives Justin Fields a second number one receiver outside of Darnell Mooney whose managed to fill that role well for now. Jordan Addison had 100 receptions, 1,593 receiving yards, and 17 receiving touchdowns at Pittsburgh in 2021 with Kenny Pickett before winning the 2021 Billetnikoff Award for the Nations best wide receiver. You will see Jordan Addison perform precise routes with screen passes, streaks, slants, wheel routes, post routes, post stops, curls, curl stops, drags, snags, shoots, out routes, out & ups, corner routes, slugos, slugo posts, slugo stops, IOU's, stop & gos, double stops, and double stop & gos. Can execute any type of route at an elite level. Has an extremely high football IQ. He can run all 30 different routes on the route tree and he may have a greater impact in the deep passing game with Caleb Williams throwing him the ball in 2022. Addison may not be a Heisman finalist in 2022, but Addison, Boutte, and Smith-Njigba are all Billetnikoff Award candidates in the 2022 College Football Season as long as these receivers stay healthy.
- Justin Fields would have no more excuses with Jordan Addison, Darnell Mooney, and tight end Cole Kmet. Fields would have Khalil Herbert as the feature running back if Chicago didn't want to pay their starting running back David Montgomery after this season. Chicago's offensive line would have Braxton Jones entering year two at left tackle as well. It would be put up or shut up time for Chicago's 2021 first round pick with this supporting cast, especially if Aaron Rodgers retires after this season.
Indianapolis Colts: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
- I've got every team drafting in the top 10 finishing 6-11 or worse. There's two teams picking in the 11-12 range of my mock draft that I'm projecting to go 7-10. The AFC team that I'm projecting at 7-10 is the Indianapolis Colts and they ended up with the eleventh overall pick.
- The 6-0 188 lb Cam Smith had 11 deflections from pass breakups and 3 interceptions in 2021. Cam Smith had at least 14 big plays after taking over as South Carolina's number one field cornerback following the departure of 2021 first round pick Jaycee Horn as a sophomore redshirt in 2021.
- I gave Cam Smith an A+ grade in man coverage and zone coverage. Cam Smith can play cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4. Cam Smith is a cornerback that I gave a B grade too in press coverage. He's got to become more consistent in press coverage, but he may has more upside than Kelee Ringo if he fixes his press coverage this Fall. Right now Kelee Ringo is the more complete cornerback prospect and safer pick, but that can easily change by the end of the season when you look at how consistent Cam Smith was last season. That says a lot about about Cam Smith since I liked him in zone coverage more than Jaycee Horn and just as much in man coverage as Jaycee Horn, but the drawback with Smith is that he's worse in press coverage than Horn.
- Cam Smith gives the Indianapolis Colts a number one lockdown field cornerback allowing Stephon Gilmore to play a number two boundary cornerback role while Kenny Moore plays nickel cornerback with Nick Cross at strong safety and Julian Blackmon at free safety. Putting Cam Smith on the Indianapolis Colts would elevate this secondary big time.
Arizona Cardinals: Javion Cohen, LG, Alabama
- Arizona is the NFC team that I have going 7-10. I had this team starting 0-5 before getting their first win against Seattle before DeAndre Hopkins returns from his suspension. I got Arizona going 1-5 in games without DeAndre Hopkins and 6-5 in games with Hopkins. That's why Arizona ended up at 12.
- Arizona has long-term stability on offense thanks to extending franchise quarterback Kyler Murray the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, offensive tackle with left tackle D.J. Humphries and Josh Jones who I'm still holding out hope on developing into a starting right tackle across from Humphries after Kelvin Beachum's contract is up. Arizona will have DeAndre Hopkins, Marques Brown, and Rondale Moore for the next three years along with a tight end tandem of Zach Ertz and Trey McBride. Arizona also extended running back James Conner meaning that Arizona has a realistic window of opportunity from now until 2024 when Super Bowl 59 takes place to get a championship with Kyler Murray at quarterback since DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore both become Free Agents in 2025.
- Arizona has long-term stability on defense at 3-4 middle linebacker with Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins their first round picks from the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts. Also, starting strong safety Budda Baker, Arizona's 2017 second round pick got extended. I think Arizona's best young defensive player is Byron Murphy their field cornerback. Extending Byron Murphy should be the first order of business. The second will probably be to develop Cameron Smith and Myjai Sanders the two 3-4 outside linebackers from the 2022 NFL Draft that Arizona drafted because if Arizona manages to successfully develop both players during the 2023 season next year, then it does give Arizona a legitimate shot at making a run to New Orleans for Super Bowl 59 during the 2024-2025 NFL Season.
- Areas of uncertainty include left guard with Justin Pugh considering retirement before coming back to finish out his contract, right guard with both Justin Murray plus Willie Hernandez as 2023 UFA's, 3-4 right end with J.J. Watt in a contract year, 3-4 left end with Zach Allen in a contract year, a cornerback next to Byron Murphy which could be a position that Arizona has to double up at if he leaves Arizona in the 2023 Free Agency period, and a free safety next to Budda Baker.
- Drafting Texas running back Bijan Robinson will be really tempting perhaps too tempting for Arizona to pass on, but Arizona must resist temptation with James Conner still under contract. Getting a starter at guard, 3-4 defensive end, cornerback, or free safety seems likely and the good news for Arizona is that they have $25-million to spend on Free Agents for 2023 meaning they can extend one key player which has to be Byron Murphy their 2019 second round pick whose Arizona's number one cornerback.
- Arizona will draft the best player on their board. Drafting Bijan Robinson wouldn't surprise me, but if Alabama wins the National Championship then I can see either one of Alabama's draft elgible guards with Alabama left guard Javion Cohen and Alabama right guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. both being in play here depending on which guards declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. I feel like Arizona would draft Cohen with Justin Pugh considering retirement.
- The 6-4 305 lb Javion Cohen was an elite run blocker on Alabama's offensive line by run blocking for Brian Robinson Jr. in 2021. He did a good job in pass protection for Bryce Young in his first season as a starter. The only player that seemed to have his number was Georgia 3-4 right end Travon Walker in the 2022 National Championship Game.
Miami Dolphins: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
- I've got two teams going 8-9. The AFC team that I got going 8-9 is the New England Patriots mainly due to injuries and a tougher strength of schedule. The other team that I have going 8-9 is the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco would draft ahead of New England if both teams went 8-9 and the Miami Dolphins still own one more first round pick from San Francisco. The irony is Miami traded 12 to move up to 6 for Jaylen Waddle and then proceeded to trade the second pick away in the Trey Lance trade for Tyreek Hill.
- The Miami Dolphins will use this third and final first round pick on another playmaker for this offense if they manage to make the playoffs this year. If Miami misses the playoffs, then drafting another quarterback does become an outside possibility if both Tua Tagovailoa and Skylar Thompson both fail to meet team expectations during the regular season, but I have doubts about that happening with two of the top 25 wide receivers on the same offense and with San Francisco's draft position being an unknown variable until after the NFL season.
- The two playmakers that make the most sense are Texas running back Bijan Robinson and Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. I'm going with Robinson since he fills a bigger need at running back and some have Bijan Robinson going in the top 10 of their 2023 NFL Mock Drafts. Adding a running back as good as Robinson to pair with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle who are both capable of having 100 receptions is almost unfair. Tua Tagovailoa would literally have 0 excuses in 2023 if the Dolphins somehow got Bijan Robinson.
- The 6-0 220 lb Bijan Robinson had 195 carries, 1,127 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdwons, 26 receptions, 295 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns, 221 touches, 1,422 total yards, and 15 total touchdowns with Texas in 2021. Texas now has two five star offensive tackles starting as freshmen and Alabama tight end Jahleel Billingsley is now blocking for Bijan Robinson thanks to the transfer portal.
- Quarterback Quinn Ewers will have Robinson at running back, Xavier Worthy who shined as a freshman at wide receiver, Isaiah Neyor who had 12 receiving touchdowns for Wyoming before enrolling in the transfer portal, and Jahleel Billingsley. Texas has a much better supporting cast for Robinson then they did a year ago, so if you stack the box to stop Robinson the rest of the Texas Longhorns offense may be able to exploit you. As crazy as it sounds, I have Bijan Robinson as one of five potential Heisman finalists in 2022 joining Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr., and 2024 draft prospect Caleb Williams of USC. I have Texas defeating TCU in this years Big 12 Championship game which is why I'm higher on Texas right now then the average College Football Expert.
New England Patriots: Henry To'oTo'o, 3-4 MLB, Alabama
- New England's gone for intellectual types that have played in the Senior Bowl in the first round of the NFL Draft the last two years. Quarterback Mac Jones and left guard Cole Strange are proof of this. There's three first round prospects on my board that fit the intellectual type with an off the charts football IQ. Those three players are Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, Northwestern left tackle Peter Skoranski, and Alabama 3-4 middle linebacker Henry To'oTo'o.
- New England still has Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith under contract, but Michael Mayer would be an upgrade over both tight ends. If New England were to draft Michael Mayer, he could end up becoming Mac Jones version of Rob Gronkowski since Tom Brady took his game to a whole new level after the Patriots drafted Rob Gronkowski. While this would be a great move, I think it's the least likely of the three scenarios to occcur.
- Northwestern left tackle Peter Skoranski took over the left tackle job for Northwestern in 2020 as a true freshman after Los Angeles Chargers 2021 first round pick Rashawn Slater opted out of Northwestern in 2020 due to Covid-19. Skoranski already has experience playing in a big stage since he was the left tackle on the Northwestern team that made the 2020 Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State.
- With Trent Brown moving back to left tackle and 2018 first round pick Isaiah Wynn moving from left tackle to right tackle, that tells me that New England may not re-sign Isaiah Wynn. Also, if Trent Brown struggles at left tackle then the New England Patriots could draft a left tackle if the one they like is high on their draft board.
- New England could go on offense, but I think the Patriots draft a player with an off the charts football IQ on the defensive side of the ball since New England hasn't drafted a defensive player in the first round of the NFL Draft since drafting Malcolm Brown out of Texas back in 2015. New England will also have the most cap space of any AFC team in 2023 when the 2023 NFL Free Agency Period approaches this spring.
- The 6-1 230 lb Henry To'oTo'o was a five star recruit and the top player at middle linebacker as a five star recruit for De LaSalle High School in California. Henry To'oTo'o played both running back and middle linebacker in High School on a 12-1 team that won a state Championship prior to enrolling into Tennessee.
- Henry To'oTo'o had 72 total tackles as a freshman in 2019 before leading Tennessee with 76 total tackles as a 4-3 right outside linebacker in 2020. In 2021, Henry To'oTo'o transferred to Alabama and made the transition to a 3-4 defense at 3-4 middle linebacker where he earned enough trust from Nick Saban to call plays on Alabama's defense. Henry To'oTo'o had 53 solo tackles, 60 assisted tackles, 113 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, and 2 deflections from pass breakups in 2021.
- Henry To'oTo'o processes information quicker than any linebacker in this draft. He's a tough, instinctive linebacker who plays through pain and he's also a high energy guy in terms of both his on the field play and his off the field play with his football intelligence.
- Henry To'oTo'o always performs with urgency since he can rush the quarterback, stop the running lanes, and drop back into coverage. There's two linebackers in this draft with the potential to check off all the boxes that you want in a middle linebacker. One of those linebackers is Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell and the other linebacker is Henry To'oTo'o.
- Henry To'oTo'o may not have every athletic trait you want in a linebacker, but his football intelligence does separate him from Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell right now at this time. Some teams may view him as a day 2 pick, but he's got potential to be a day 1 pick with another big season if he improves even more as a senior in 2022. If he can correct his weaknesses and move his hips with more fluidity then he could emerge as a potential candidate to be the first linebacker off the board and the first player from the 2022 Senior Bowl Watch List off the board in this mock draft. Bill Belichick may see a Dont'a Hightower clone with Henry To'oTo'o since this guy disables running lanes and takes away angles for wide receivers and tight ends to exploit when dropping into zone coverage.
Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy, LE, Clemson
- If the Philadelphia Eagles go 9-8 and are one of four teams to miss the NFL Playoffs at 9-8. They are the only NFC team to go 9-8 to miss the playoffs based on my preseason predictions in the NFL, but they are projected to pick at fifteen.
- Philadelphia gets some youth at 4-3 left end. A younger defensive end next to Josh Sweat is needed. Brandon Graham at 4-3 left end has been incredible as he's been with the Eagles every year since being a 2010 first round pick out of Michigan. The defensive captain on the Philadelphia Eagles has an expiring contract after this season.
- Derek Barnett has also been a distraction getting into fights with teammates who have concussions. Derek Barnett Philadelphia's 2017 first round pick and Andre Dillard Philadelphia's 2019 first round pick got into a fight where Barnett made Dillard feel uncomfortable. Philadelphia also has 2021 sixth round pick Tarron Jackson and 2021 seventh round pick Patrick Johnson. I like Philadelphia's depth at defensive end outside of Josh Sweat, but if Brandon Graham leaves, a new starter is needed at 4-3 left end.
- The 6-5 275 lb Myles Murphy had 21 solo tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 38 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, and 4 quarterback hurries in 2021. Myles Murphy causes offensive tackles to fold under pressure and creates an opening for the rest of the defensive line at 4-3 left end. He was huge for Clemson last year when his High School teammate Bryan Breese suffered a season ending injury.
- Myles Muprhy is the fourth Clemson defensive end with two consecutive seasons of multiple forced fumbles and at least 4 sacks. The other three Clemson defensive ends to achieve this were Gaines Adams, Vic Beasley, and Clellin Ferrell. All three of those defensive ends went in the top 8 overall of their draft years. At the same time all three of those defensive ends were busts, so I can see why some fans would be concerned about Murphy being able to buck that trend.
Seattle Seahawks: Jarrett Patterson, C, Notre Dame
- I have Denver going 9-8 and missing the playoffs. This means the Seattle Seahawks get a second pick in the top sixteen of the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Seattle loses both their starting and backup center to Free Agency in 2023. The 6-4 310 lb Jarrett Patterson is the most consistent pass blocking center in College Football going three years in a row without giving up a sack despite having short arms as Creed Humprhey gave up 1 sack in 2018 before going all of 2019 and 2020 without giving up a sack. I don't think he's got Creed Humphrey's kick slide, but I did like his film more than first round pick Tyler Linderbaum heading into the 2021 College Football Season a year ago. Also, being more consistent then Creed Humphrey in pass protection gives him a good chance at being the first center off the board.
- Jarrett Patterson also did well as a run blocker for Kyren Williams when watching his film in 2021. Jarrett Patterson managed to neutralize Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Breese, who was the number one overall recruit coming out of High School two years ago in both of Notre Dame's games against Clemson in 2020.
- Jarrett Patterson will go in the first round if he keeps the quarterback from getting sacked for a fourth year in a row in 2022. Jarrett Patterson is the second player from the 2023 Reese's Senior Bowl watchlist to crack the top 16 joining Henry To'oTo'o.
- With Patterson, Seattle now has Charles Cross at left tackle, Damian Lewis at left guard, Jarrett Patterson at center, Gabe Jackson at right guard, and Abraham Lucas at right tackle for the 2023 NFL Season. This does wonders for C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young if Seatttle manages to land one of those quarterbacks. Kenenth Walker III could potentially approach 2,000 rushing yards with an offensive line that good once Seattle moves on from Penny. Seattle would also have Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Dee Eskeridge, tight end Will Dissley, and tight end Noah Fant as weapons in the passing game for their new quarterback C.J. Stroud who I mocked to Seattle second overall.
Other 2023 NFL Mock Drafts