2023 NFL Mock Draft: Debut 3 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 17-31
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: September 1, 2022.
Houston Texans: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
- The Houston Texans got this pick from the Cleveland Browns in the Deshaun Watson trade. I have the Cleveland Browns going 9-8 without Deshaun Watson in large part due to an easy strength of schedule. Houston is able to secure a second top sixteen pick in 2023 thanks to Roger Goodell suspending Deshaun Watson for eleven games while fining the most successful quarterback in Houston Texans history $5-million dollars.
- Houston gets a raw quarterback with huge upside. When I say Anthony Richardson has huge upside I mean he may have the most throwing power and velocity of any quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. In fact, the only quarterbacks from the 2017 NFL Draft to now who have more arm strength than Richardson are Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray.
- I think Richardson is the only quarterback in College or the NFL outside of these three and maybe Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson that can throw a 70 yard completion without his receiver bailing him out. Joe Burrow threw some 70 yard touchdowns, but those were 50 yard completions where Ja'Marr Chase gained 20 yards on a big play touchdown where Chase finished what Burrow started. I'd give Richardson the arm strength advantage over Burrow, but Burrow would have his number in every other category that you use to evaluate quarterbacks.
- He also went through all 6 progressions at quarterback when starting against Georgia last year despite going 12/20 with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in his first College start against the number one defense in the country last year. Anthony Richardson's decision making improved during Florida's Spring Game earlier this year after Richardson threw 2 touchdowns and no interceptions for Florida's Blue Team in their Spring Game. I honestly believe this guy can throw a football further than Sam Darnold and he's calmer under pressure too from just a sample size of what he did in 2021.
- Richardson has a better understanding of reading progressions at this point in his development than Josh Allen did in his draft year at Wyoming since he was staring at six different receivers going through all his reads before completing passes against the eventual 2021 National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. The problem is Richardson only played five games last year starting two of those games, so people need to see what Richardson can do as a full-time starter in 2022. Josh Allen was able to improve his progressions over the course of the 2018 NFL Draft after his rough game against Iowa in 2017 with a strong bowl game before improving his progressions again at the 2018 Senior Bowl. Now Allen is the face of the Buffalo Bills franchise, so the bottom line is progressions are a skill that can be learned and mastered over time.
- The 6-4 234 lb Anthony Richardson has the traits you want from a future NFL quarterback despite only playing in 5 games where he had 635 passing yards, 6 passing touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Also, if Houston drafts him here, they don't have to bench Davis Mills in 2023 unless Richardson wins the starting quarterback job in training camp where he'd be re-united with Florida running back Dameon Pierce who won the rookie running back job after being a fourth round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Outside of the top 3 quarterbacks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Tyler Van Dyke, the only other quarterback that I've seen make up to all 6 progressions in College Football is Anthony Richardson.
- Anthony Richardson can play in a balanced run first offense, a west coast offense, a shotgun spread offense, or a vertical offense where he's able to throw lots of deep passes. I wasn't as high on Davis Mills as most, but I absolutely love Anthony Richardson as a potential quarterback to break out heading into the 2022 College Football Season. Florida opens up with Utah, a Kentucky team with a quarterback that I'll mention later in my mock draft, South Florida, and a showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers who have a 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospect at Neyland Stadium to wrap up the month of September.
Baltimore Ravens: Noah Sewell, 3-4 MLB, Oregon
- The Baltimore Ravens are one of two 9-8 teams in the AFC remaining that did not make the playoffs. On paper, you could argue their the best of the 9-8 teams fighting for the final wild card when fully healthy.
- Baltimore has Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes starting at 3-4 middle linebacker heading into 2022. Baltimore had Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison two draft picks from the 2020 NFL Draft on LSU and Ohio State starting at 3-4 middle linebacker before benching Malik Harrison for Josh Bynes. The good news for the Ravens is there is one more linebacker on the board that's a massive upgrade over Josh Bynes at 18.
- The 6-2 253 lb Noah Sewell came onto Oregon in the Fall of 2020 and led Oregon in tackles as a true freshman after his older brother Penei Sewell opted out of Oregon to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft during Covid-19. Noah Sewell had 53 solo tackles, 61 assisted tackles, 114 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 5 deflections from pass breakups, and 4 sacks in 2021.
- The only other middle linebacker outside of Alabama's Henry To'oTo'o who convinced me he's checked off nearly every box on film is Noah Sewell. New England should end up having their pick of those two linebackers with Baltimore getting an opportunity to grab the other guy. I gave the Patriots Henry To'oTo'o at 14, so the Ravens got Noah Sewell at 17.
Los Angeles Chargers: Isaiah Foskey, 3-4 LOLB, Notre Dame
- The Los Angeles Chargers go 9-8 and secure the 6 seed in the AFC. The Los Angeles Chargers also get the ninteenth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft thanks to having the weakest strength of schedule among the 9-8 teams that made the 2023 NFL Playoffs following the 2022 NFL Regular Season. I think you can certainly argue that the Chargers are better than this, but drawing the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card round when Cincinnati has a much stronger offensive line the 2021 Bengals team that the Chargers defeated in the regular season in Cincinnati a year ago makes this matchup fairly evenly matched on both sides of the ball where this could go either way. I'd give the Bengals the advantage over the Chargers right now though because the Bengals have more depth on their secondary too thanks to the 2022 NFL Draft with additions like Daxton Hill and Cam Britt-Taylor at cornerback and safety along with all 11 starters from Cincinnati's Super Bowl 56 team back.
- Los Angeles goes for a pass rusher here. Joey Bosa is amazing at 3-4 right outside linebacker, but Khalil Mack has dealt with injuries in the past and the Chargers can save $18.4-million in 2023 when they move on from Mack. Also, the Chargers are gonna be around $27-million over the salary cap in 2023 and will need money to extend quarterback Justin Herbert. That's the biggest reason why I mocked Isaiah Foskey to the Los Angeles Chargers at 19 because he can do what Mack does for a fraction of the price on a rookie deal.
- The 6-5 265 lb Isaiah Foskey had 38 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles, 52 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, and 6 forced fumbles in 2021. Isaiah Foskey also showed the versatility to line up at 3-4 right outside linebacker or 3-4 left outside linebacker making him a fantastic edge rusher to compliment Joey Bosa.
Detroit Lions: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
- The Detroit Lions go 9-8 and thanks to a week 1 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, they get the final wild card in the NFC. You thought that last years Eagles VS Buccaneers game was brutal, the first projected playoff contest between Jared Goff and Tom Brady since Super Bowl 53 could be even more brutal as Tampa Bay knocks out Detroit.
- The Detroit Lions get a number one field cornerback here because Amani Oruwaryie is an unrestricted Free Agent and the 2019 fifth round pick that I had a first to second round grade on is currently beating out Jeffrey Okudah the third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for the number one field cornerback job. The 5-10 183 lb Clark Phillips III 13 deflections from pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 15 big plays from passes defended, and 2 defensive touchdowns going 2/2 while getting pick sixes as a freshman redshirt in 2021.
- Clark Phillips III is a cornerback that I'd give an A+ grade to in man coverage, a C grade to in zone coverage, and a B grade to in press coverage. He's the only first round cornerback left who showcased an A+ skill in man coverage after watching his film which is the biggest reason I graded him out as my third best cornerback.
- Clark Phillips III did impress me in three games I watched of him against Ohio State, USC, and BYU. He showed first round potential as a freshman redshirt by limiting what USC wide receiver Drake London the ninth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson the tenth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on film. He also limited what Jaxon Smith-Njigba could do in coverage when playing in a cover 0 and cover 1 scheme. Clark Phillips III is better in man coverage than Jaylon Johnson, but you can argue his zone and press coverage isn't as sound as Jaylon Johnson's was coming out of Utah when Johnson was in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Las Vegas Raiders: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
- The Las Vegas Raiders go 9-8 and secure the final wild card in the AFC by getting the 7 seed. If the Raiders lose in the wild card round for a second year in a row after adding Derek Carr's former Fresno State teammate Davante Adams as a number one wide receiver, then getting a number one field cornerback that can limit what Ja"Marr Chase, Stephon Digggs, and Kansas City's wide receivers will probably become the area the Raiders address. Nate Hobbs is a good number two cornerback. I like the additions of Trayvon Mullen and Rock Ya Sin, but both of those cornerbacks enter contract years. There's no guarantee either cornerback gets re-signed when they become unrestricted Free Agents in 2023.
- The Las Vegas Raiders get a number one field cornerback here. The 6-2 190 lb Eli Ricks was a five star recruit in High School who committed to LSU. He showed promise as a number two boundary cornerback next to Derek Stingley Jr. after replacing Kristian Fulton. He dealt with injuries in 2021 before transferring to Alabama after LSU's cornerbacks coach left to go to Florida.
- Eli Ricks is a cornerback that I'd give an A grade to in man coverage, a B grade to in zone coverage, and a A- grade to in press coverage. Eli Ricks thrives in either a cover 0 and cover 1 coverage scheme. Outside of Kelee Ringo he's probably the most consistent cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Philadelphia Eagles: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse
- New Orleans goes 10-7 with Jameis Winston, but too many turnovers have the Saints losing this wild card game to the Los Angeles Rams. The defending Super Bowl Champion Rams are too much for New Orleans to handle. Philadelphia got this 2023 first round pick from New Orleans thanks to the trade Howie Roseman made leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft.
- Philadelphia loses two of their top three running backs with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott set to be unrestricted Free Agents. Getting a running back to push Kenneth Gainwell for reps isn't a bad idea.
- The 5-10 205 lb Sean Tucker had 246 carries, 1,496 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 20 receptions, 255 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 266 touches, 1,751 total yards, and 14 total touchdowns with Syracuse in 2021. Sean Tucker is the only underclassmen running back outside of Bijan Robinson that can run, catch out of the backfield, and pass block effectively. He's got good ball carrier vision too, but it's not as consistent as Bijan Robinson's. Still, he's the only underclassmen outside of Bijan Robinson who checks off nearly every box when watching his tape.
- Philadelphia would have Sean Tucker as their feature back and Kenneth Gainwell as a third down pass catcher and change of pace running back for two more years. With A.J. Brown at wide receiver, DeVonta Smith at wide receiver, Dallas Goedert at tight end, and those two running backs, there's a lot of good pieces surrounding this supporting cast for quarterback Jalen Hurts on offense.
Dallas Cowboys: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
- Dallas was a team that I was going to pick to have the best record in the league. Then, the Tyron Smith injury happened. Now I still have Dallas winning the NFC East going 12-5, but the Dallas Cowboys only go as far as Dak Prescott takes them. The last time Dallas didn't have Tyron Smith or La'El Collins, Dak suffered a season ending injury in 2020. Dallas is my only Division Winner to lose in the wild card round.
- Dallas will need a cornerback for three reasons. Dallas may have reservations about giving Trevon Diggs if his interceptions drop while he continues to give up yards. Remember Diggs gave up the second most yards in coverage behind James Bradberry in 2021. Anthony Brown is a Free Agent in 2023. Also, Kelvin Joseph, the Dallas Cowboys 2021 second round pick out of Kentucky nearly got cut after being cleared by police of a murder investigation after being honest with authorities. Maybe Dallas goes in a different direction, but I'm leaning cornerback here.
- The 6-2 198 lb Joey Porter Jr. is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter. He's also the cousin of former Pittsburgh Steeler Jason Gildon.
- Joey Porter Jr. was one of the best cornerbacks in Western Pennsylvania on a 10-1 North Allegheny Tigers team back in 2018. He eventually committed to Penn State on an NCAA Scholarship.
- Joey Porter Jr. redshirted in 2019 before starting 8 games as a freshman redshirt in 2020. He had enough talent to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft following his sophomore redshirt campaign, but wisely opted to return to Penn State.
- I gave Joey Porter Jr. an A grade in man coverage, a C grade in zone coverage, and a B grade in press coverage. He does have potential to develop into an A grade corner in terms of zone coverage and press coverage with a really good cornerbacks coach. He's a natural cover corner in a cover 0 or cover 1 coverage scheme. I'd also argue that Joey Porter Jr. is the hardest hitting cornerback in the entire 2023 NFL Draft. Hitting hard runs in the Porter family.
- Dallas could make a run at Super Bowl 58 in a year from now during the 2023 season if everyone stays healthy. A lot of the Dallas Cowboys draft picks from the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts will be nearing the end of their rookie deals and that may motivate those guys to step up so they can get more money.
Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoranski, LT, Northwestern
- I've got Tennessee going 10-7, winning their wild card game against Miami and losing in the Divisional round after winning the AFC South Division in 2022. Tennessee will be $24.9-million over the cap in 2023. There's a few players Tennessee can move to save cap space to get under the salary cap, but Titans GM Jon Robinson should try to get these players to restructure their contracts before cutting any players to get the Titans under the salary cap.
- Cutting Ryan Tannehill would save Tennessee $17.8-million, but I don't see Tennessee moving Tannehill to save cap space unless the Titans miss the playoffs or lose in the playoffs again with Tannehill having a worse game then the playoff contest he had against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since I have the Titans beating the Dolphins, we're gonna presume the Tennessee Titans keep Tannehill for the final year of his contract and let Malik Willis develop for a second year.
- Left tackle Taylor Lewan hasn't played a full season since 2017 when the Titans defeated the Chiefs in the wild card round. There's no dead cap penalty in Lewan's contract and cutting him to save $14.8-million is something to consider if Taylor Lewan cannot play a full season in 2022. Tennessee would still be $10.1-million over the cap even if they moved on from Lewan to save cap space.
- There's also no dead cap penalty in Robert Woods contract. If Robert Woods suffers a season ending injury at any point in in the next two years Tennessee can cut him at the start of the 2023 or 2024 offseason to save cap space before his contract is up in 2025. Tennessee would save $13,750,000 if they cut Woods after the 2022 season.
- The Tennessee Titans could save $12.5-million by releasing All Pro running back Derrick Henry. I'm not entertaining this idea at all even though most Texans, Colts, and Jaguars fans would like to see Henry leave the AFC South. If someone offered a 2023 or 2024 first round pick for Derrick Henry it would be pretty tempting with the running backs set to enter the next two NFL Drafts, but Derrick Henry might be the baddest back in your back field when he's fully healthy and the draft pick might not be high enough for Bijan Robinson or Tre'Veon Henderson which is why I'd still say no.
- A team would have to offer two first round picks to turn that no we're not trading Henry into a maybe. A maybe is not a definite yes, a maybe is simply we may consider the trade if one of those two first round picks is high enough for Bijan Robinson out of Texas or Tre'Veon Henderson on Ohio State whose currently the top running back in the 2024 NFL Draft. No sane NFL General Manager would make that deal with the longevity of running backs in todays NFL which is why the Titans are better off keeping Henry.
- Tennessee can save $9,350,000 if they cut 3-4 right outside linebacker Bud Dupree and $9,250,000 if they cut 3-4 middle linebacker Zach Cunningham. There's a few players Tennessee can move to get under the salary cap for the 2023 NFL Season.
- There are three players I've decided to move to get Tennessee under the cap for 2023. Those three players are Taylor Lewan assuming he doesn't play a full 17 game season, Robert Woods who has a 91% probability of getting injured, and Bud Dupree. Moving Lewan and Woods gets me $2,850,000 under the cap for 2023. Moving Dupree along with those offensive players with injury history gives the Titans $12,200,000 in cap space for 2023 and it also gives Rashad Weaver, the Tennessee Titans 2021 pass rusher out of Pittsburgh a chance to start next to Landry before his rookie deal is up if you cannot find an edge rusher you like in the 2023 NFL Draft. The 2023 NFL Draft will have talent at wide receiver, left tackle, and edge rusher in the first three rounds of the draft allowing the Titans to reload and save cap space while Chig Okonkwo out of Maryland takes over for Austin Hooper at tight end after Hooper's contract is up.
- Center Ben Jones and the two offensive tackles competing for the right tackle job would be the only returning starters. Neither Dillon Radunz or Nicholas Petit-Friere has wowed head coach Mike Vrabel while competing for the right tackle job. Lewan is gone to save cap space, the Titans never replaced Rodger Saffold as Aaron Brewer feels like a downgrade, and Nate Davis is a Free Agent in 2023 at right guard. Rebuilding this offensive line from the ground up so Malik Willis has somewhat of a competent blindside at left tackle seems like the most critical area to addresss.
- The 6-4 315 lb Peter Skoronski has started at left tackle since he was a true freshman in 2020. Skoronski was thrusted into the left tackle job right away after Los Angeles Chargers 2021 first round pick Rashawn Slater opted out of the 2020 College Football Season to avoid getting Covid-19. Slater's 2019 tape was good enough to get him picked thirteenth overall.
- Peter Skoronski was good enough to get Northwestern to the Big 10 Championship as a true freshman. He's a first round prospect like his predecessor Rashawn Slater, but he's got questions about his arm length much like Slater did. Peter Skoronski has the pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking you want as Northwestern allowed the third fewest sacks in the Big 10 when they made the 2020 Big 10 Championship Game.
- Peter Skoronski opened up the 2022 College Football Season on a high note helping Northwestern get an upset win over Nebraska in Dublin Ireland. Skoronski kept his first round status in tact.
- Tennessee will need a new blindside at left tackle for either Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis if they choose to move on from Taylor Lewan to save cap space in 2023. Most NFL Draft websites believe Peter Skoronski is the only left tackle who may have Pro Bowl upside outside of Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson Jr.
- I remember one of my good friends telling me about Skoronski in the Summer of 2021 following his amazing freshman campaign and I put him on my radar despite Nebraska offensive tackle Turner Corchoran gaining traction as the OT1 for the 2023 NFL Draft at the time. One year later Corchoran is no longer Nebraska's left tackle, while Peter Skoronski enters the 2022 College Football Season as a consensus first round prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Minnesota Vikings: Bryan Bresse, NT, Clemson
- I have the Minnesota Vikings going 11-6 and being the only wild card team to win on the road. Minnesota defeats Dallas, but loses to my top seeded NFC team in the Divisional Round.
- Minnesota uses this 2023 first round pick to fix their 3-4 defensive line. Bryan Bresse won some one-on-ones against Georgia center Sedrik Van Pran. He also lost some one-on-ones to Notre Dame center Jarrett Patterson in the 2020 ACC Championship game. He missed the first meeting with Notre Dame that year due to an injury when Trevor Lawrence missed a game due to Covid-19. He's too talented not to go in the first round, but I don't think he's the top 10 prospect that some are hyping him up to be either. Myles Murphy was the most consistent player on Clemson's defensive line last season despite the fact that Bresse was recruited higher than his High School teammate Myles Murphy.
- The 6-5 305 lb Bryan Bresse is a 4-3 defensive tackle for Clemson that is versatile enough to play 3-4 right end, 3-4 nose tackle, or 3-4 left end. He was also the number one defensive tackle recruit in the country back in 2019 before graduating from High School in 2020 and starting on Clemson's defensive line as a true freshman.
Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
- I've got the Cincinnati Bengals going 13-4 winning the AFC North. I have Cincinnati defeating the Chargers in the wild card round, but have them losing in the Divisional Round. Cincinnati has most of their starters from Super Bowl 56 back plus $33-million in cap space for 2023 and $136-million in cap space for 2024. The only position that the Bengals failed to upgrade in my mind was tight end. Here, Cincinnati gets the best tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- For the past three years, Draft Utopia correctly predicted all of the Cincinnati Bengals first round picks. I had LSU quarterback Joe Burrow 2020 NFL Draft, I had LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase in my 2021 NFL Draft, and Michigan free safety Daxton Hill in my 2022 NFL Draft. I'm not the only Draft Utopia staff member to correctly predict the Bengals last three first round picks. Jason Bantle also predicted those three players to Cincinnati. Tee Higgins was also the top player on my board after the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft as I had him ranked around 12th overall on my big board before the Bengals drafted Tee Higgins as a wide receiver out of Clemson with the thirty third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
- I've never been a Hayden Hurst fan, and if the Bengals traded for Mike Gesicki, I'd actually consider making the Bengals my AFC Champion this season. Hurst wasn't even on my draft board for the 2018 NFL Draft as I didn't have Hurst in my top 300 while Andrews and Gesicki were my top two tight ends that year and both fell out of the first round. Hurst lost his job to two vastly superior tight ends that I had ranked higher in Mark Andrews after the Ravens drafted two tight ends in 2018 and Kyle Pitts who was a generational talent at tight end. Cincinnati will be thrilled if Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer falls here since he's the best tight end to enter the NFL Draft since Kyle Pitts out of Florida in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- The 6-4 251 lb Michael Mayer was the top recruit at tight end coming out of High School. Mayer had 42 receptions, 450 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns as a true freshman in 2020. Michael Mayer had 71 receptions, 840 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns in 2021. He's the one tight end in this years draft that can catch, block well, and run all 30 routes on the route tree.
- You will see Michael Mayer 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. Pairing Michael Mayer with Ja'Marr Chase is going to give Joe Burrow an unfair advantage against a majority of the NFL in 2023.
- Pairing Michael Mayer with wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins is just straight up unfair. I've seen Mayer ranked as high as sixth overall on some big boards which is just insane. I do believe he's the best tight end in the draft, but the Bengals are the first team I see that screams desperation for a tight end upgrade.
Detroit Lions: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
- I got the Los Angeles Rams going 14-3 and losing in the Divisional round after winning the NFC West. Detroit has their 2023 first round pick. Detroit gets a slot receiver here with the Rams pick with D.J. Chark set to be a Free Agent after this season. A wide receiver tandem of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and Cedric Tillman is gonna scare a lot of cornerback rooms even with Jared Goff at quarterback.
- One of my staff members and Wes Langley has Tennessee going 10-2. This can happen if Tennessee only loses to Georgia and Alabama. If it does, then there are two Tennessee Volunteers on the 2023 Senior Bowl watchlist that could creep into the back half of the first round. The first of those two Tennessee seniors is wide receiver Cedric Tillman.
- The 6-3 215 lb Cedric Tillman had 61 receptions, 1,081 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns in 2021. Cedric Tillman had incredible chemistry with quarterback Hendon Hooker while showing the versatility to run all 30 routes on the route tree.
- You will see Cedric Tillman 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. He got off to a slow start, but his best games were against tough competition like Georiga and Alabama.
Buffalo Bills: Brandon Joseph, SS, Notre Dame
- I got the Buffalo Bills going 14-3 winning the AFC East Division and getting to the AFC Championship Game as the 2 seed in the AFC. Buffalo ends up making their second AFC Championship Game in three years. Buffalo still has a two to four year window of opportunity to get Josh Allen a Super Bowl before the Bills new stadium opens, but this years Buffalo Bills team may be the most complete team to date which is why the Bills are a trendy pick to win Super Bowl 57 even though I'm leaning towards a State Farm Super Bowl in Arizona.
- The 6-1 192 lb Brandon Joseph transferred from Northwestern to Notre Dame. Brandon Joseph would have been my top safety in the 2022 NFL Draft had he declared. Instead he's the top strong safety in the 2023 NFL Draft and the only safety drafted in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Brandon Joseph had 54 solo tackles, 25 assisted tackles, 79 total tackles, 4 deflections from pass breakups, and 3 interceptions in 2021. He's taking over for Kyle Hamilton at Notre Dame in 2022. I gave Brandon Joseph a B grade in man coverage, an A+ grade in zone coverage, and a C grade in press coverage. Joseph is an elite zone coverage safety and the only safety in this draft who can pick up where Jordan Poyer left off assuming the Bills decide to move on from Poyer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
- Tampa Bay goes 15-2 and wins the NFC South. Another team that handed Tampa Bay one of their two losses went 15-2 also and that team ends up defeating Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship. Tom Brady ends up retiring after this season.
- The 6-4 215 lb Hendon Hooker emerged at Tennesssee last Fall. Hendon Hooker had 2,945 passing yards, 31 passing yards, and 3 interceptions in 2021.
- If Tennessee goes 10-2 in 2022, I think there are multiple Volunteers who will have a shot to crack the late part of the first round. Cedric Tillman the wide receiver for Tennessee will be the first of those two players. The second player could end up being former Virginia Tech quarterback who turned Tennessee Volunteer Hendon Hooker.
- The 24-year-old Hendon Hooker only knows the shotgun spread offense, but if he dominates in 2022 I think NFL teams will look past his age especially if Tennessee wins 10 games because he's got a good arm, good decision making, and can make up to 5 progressions when going through his reads. He needs to work on his medium and deep ball accuracy, but his decision making is much better than Josh Dobbs was at this point in Hendon Hooker's development. Hooker only had the ball for 13 minutes against Kentucky and went 15/20 with 316 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions. Hooker also went 26/41 in his bowl game with 378 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions in Tennessee's bowl game against Purdue.
Kansas City Chiefs: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
- Kansas City goes 14-3. I'm projecting the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC this year. I think Patrick Mahomes wins MVP this year, but falls short on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders are both unrestricted Free Agents in 2023. Getting a second 4-3 defensive tackle to pair with Chris Jones wouldn't be a bad idea. Mazi Smith topped Bruce Feldman's list of College Football Freaks for the 2022 College Football Season.
- The 6-3 337 lb Mazi Smith is the only returning starter on Michigan's defense. Mazi Smith is so strong that he forced Michigan to upgrade its combo-twist machine. Mazi Smith is also Michigan's best defensive player this upcoming season with some comparing him to Kris Jenkins. I really believe playing with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo is gonna prepare him for a breakout season in 2022.
Green Bay Packers: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, 3-4 ROLB, Kansas State
- Green Bay is a team I'm projecting at 15-2. I also have them winning Super Bowl 57 over Kansas City at State Farm Stadium. Green Bay will be $14-million over the cap for 2023, but if the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl 57 and Aaron Rodgers comes back for one more season, then I can see guys like David Bakhtiari at left tackle, Kenny Clark at nose tackle, and running back Aaron Jones restructuring their contracts to get Green Bay under the salary cap so Green Bay can make one more run with Aaron Rodgers in 2023.
- Preston Smith at 3-4 right outside linebacker and Rashan Gary at 3-4 left outside linebacker are a pretty good pass rushing tandem. Preston Smith had 9 sacks while Gary had 9.5 sacks in 2021. Neither is a sack artist yet, so Green Bay drafts a sack artist to compliment the two.
- The 6-4 255 lb Felix Anudike-Uzomah had 37 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles, 52 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and 11 sacks in 2021. He's a hand in the dirt edge rusher despite the fact that he has the body of a 3-4 outside linebacker meaning he can play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme. The only player who had more sacks than Felix Anudike-Uzomah was Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.
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