2023 NFL Mock Draft and Market Analysis
DraftKings expanded their NFL Draft props market last weekend to where we can start to sink our teeth into each team’s positional odds. Accordingly, here is my first mock draft of the 2023 NFL Draft season with a specific focus on the current marketplace for each team:
Eric Froton’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Panthers get the franchise QB they’ve been yearning for since the Cam Newton era and take Alabama signal caller Bryce Young (5'10/204). The market odds have shifted dramatically over the past few days, with Young going from (+220) this time last week, to (-200) at time of publishing according to our friends at DK. With such a dramatic market shift in recent days, perhaps the amorphous No. 1 Overall Market is finally firming up.
2. Houston Texans
CJ Stroud, QB. Ohio State
Where Young has been the beneficiary of recent rumor-peddling, Stroud (6'3/214) has plummeted in the first pick projections, going from (-105) as of April 9 to (+155) in an 18-hour span. With Young off the board, Stroud is the clear favorite here at (-155) with Will Anderson checking in at (+350). I think the value-play here is Anthony Richardson at 20-1 odds to be taken with the second overall selection, as Houston already has Davis Mills cost-controlled to steer the offense, while AR acclimates to the pros.
3. Las Vegas Raiders (from Arizona)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
To illustrate why I like Richardson’s +2,000 odds to be selected with the second pick, he is quite literally the most physically gifted quarterback to ever perform at the NFL Scouting Combine, testing out at a perfect 10.0 Relative Athletic Score. While Stroud is my personal preference at that spot, AR is also the (-110) favorite to be taken the third overall. So, it’s not that cavernous of a logical leap to think that Houston could be swayed by AR’s (6'4/244) otherworldly traits. In this scenario, the Raiders are the team who moves up to take AR and give Arizona some extra draft capital to work with for sliding down four spots.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Jim Irsay has no reasonable alternative to start the season at quarterback and reaches for the quirky, 24-year-old Levis (6'4/229) here. If they play a game of chicken with Arizona, who trades out instead of taking Will Anderson and leaves Indy in QB limbo, then the best long term move is to target their favorite non-QB at No. 4, and then trade up a few spots into the late-first round from their No. 35 second round pick to select Hendon Hooker. However, I don’t think that measured decision would be on brand for Mr. Irsay, so I’m projecting four straight quarterbacks out of the gate.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Congratulations to the Seahawks fans and organization for having Will Anderson (6'3/253) fall into their laps…A Winner Is You! He is currently slotted at (+200) to be selected by Seattle, with Tyree Wilson (+225) close on Anderson’s heels. I think Anderson is the player to be taken here if Arizona trades with anyone but Indy…which is clearly the most logical thing to do since they will get more draft capital in return by trading with Tennessee or Chicago.
6. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams)
Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
I just don’t’ think the Lions will be able to pass up the potential of pairing up Aidan Hutchinson on the outside with Jalen Carter (6'3/314) on the interior. Off the field concerns aside, Carter was arguably the best player on the vaunted Georgia Bulldogs 2021 defense and has the talent to wreck gameplans by himself. It’s the type of stuff that HC Dan Campbell‘s dreams are made of. Carter is currently lined at (+400) to go to Detroit, just behind CB Christian Gonzalez, CB Devon Witherspoon and EDGE Tyree Wilson. Carter’s draft position is one of the biggest question marks of the top-10 marketplace.
7. Arizona Cardinals (from Las Vegas)
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Good for Arizona trading down in this scenario and grabbing some extra unnamed draft capital and still landing a well-proportioned edge player who tore his way through National Championship runner-up TCU’s offensive line one week before suffering a season-ending injury. Even so, the damage inflicted by Wilson (6'6/271) in both phases of the game and his freaky 35'5'8” arms make him too tantalizing to pass up as the Cardinals seek to replace the legendary J.J. Watt.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez (6'1/197) who has the length and physicality that NFL defensive coordinators covet on the perimeter, which is what gives him the nod over Devon Witherspoon here for a retooling Atlanta team that would like to add a lockdown young corner to their defense. Gonzalez is (+115) to be the first cornerback selected, while Atlanta is (-105) to take a DL and (+185) to go with a CB.
9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina)
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The major pain point for the Bears is clearly defensive line play, though I could also envision them investing in a right tackle to help keep Justin Fields clean. With additional selections at 52, 61 and 64 overall, Chicago will be able to address multiple positions of need in the late second round as well. Accordingly, I think Chicago adds havoc-creating base defensive end Lukas Van Ness (6'5/272) into their rebuilding 4-3 front. A DE selection by the Bears would net a tidy (+200) return, as they are (-180) favorites to select an offensive lineman.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Patriots get the reputation for trading down, but Eagles GM Howie Roseman is fast becoming the standard bearer when it comes to wheeling and dealing, as Roseman has moved around a total of 11 first round selections since 2016. I think they stand pat here and take a CB in Witherspoon (5'11/181) that absolutely smothered opposing Big Ten receivers by allowing just 22 receptions on 62 targets for a miniscule 35.5% catch rate. His Over 8.5 (+115) is a pretty good shot in my opinion since he (-145) and Gonzalez (+115) are both pretty close in terms of who will be the first cornerback taken.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr., OL, Ohio State
I went with Las Vegas to trade up and take Anthony Richardson, but Tennessee is the next most logical team to take the plunge if the Raiders don’t move up in my opinion. Johnson Jr. (6'6/315) has plenty of athleticism for left tackle duty, he just needs to firm-up his anchor on pass sets. I think the Titans pick up their tackle of the future here, though JSN could be too tempting to pass up as well. Johnson Jr’s draft position Over/Under is 10.5. I think that it’s pretty close between him and Broderick Jones (-125) and that it’s possible no tackle gets taken in the top-10 if the Bears go Edge as they did in this mock with Van Ness.
12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The building blocks for a potent Texans passing attack are now in place, as Houston manages to extract both of Ohio State’s star 2023 offensive players, JSN (6'1/196) and Stroud, and bring them down to Texas. Smith-Njigba immediately becomes that vital alpha wide receiver that every quarterback needs to work with in order to be successful. His current Over/Under is (+150) at pick #12.5, so I’m bullish on JSN to go to Houston or Tennessee at those odds and will be closely monitoring those individual team markets.
13. New York Jets
Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia
New York shores up their left side with Jones (6'5/311) as they look to bolster the offensive line for Aaron Rogers’ impending arrival. Known for having quick feet and unnatural agility for his size, Jones is right there alongside Paris Johnson Jr. as the two most projectable true tackles in the class. His 84.1 PFF pass block grade is the third highest mark in the Power Five, while his excellent 9.56 RAS proves he has the requisite traits to make a smooth transition to the NFL. The Jets are currently (-260) to take an offensive lineman. Jones’ Over/Under is 13.5, which is a little rich for my blood and is a stay away. I lean Over, if not for the prohibitive (-175) odds and think his (+700) odds to be the first OL taken is a decent low-investment dice roll.
14. New England Patriots
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
I cannot fathom Bill Belichick using the 14th overall selection on a skill player knowing his track record of futility in that department and with the desperate need to solidify a leaky offensive line. Skoronski (6'4/313) can play anywhere on the line and has the tools to pick his fights in either hand or body leverage. The Outland Trophy finalist is adept at both redirecting speed rushers, or walling off a spirited bull charge. Despite short 32.25” arms, Skoronski would be a much needed stabilizing presence and a very safe selection at #14, unlike whichever non-JSN wideout who is available at that selection. I think uncertainty around which position he ultimately settles at, which makes Skoronski tough to back at (-125) to be the first OL taken. The Patriots are currently (+250) to select one of a WR, CB or OL, with the value being on either OL or CB.
15. Green Bay Packers
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
With a game wrecking speed rusher in Nolan Smith (6'2/238) available, Green Bay begins the post-Rogers era by shoring up their defensive front. Smith’s jaw-dropping 4.39s 40-yard dash time (99.9th%), 1.47 10-yard split (100th%) and 41.5” vertical (99.8th%), coupled with his five-star pedigree, present an upside that is too enticing for the Packers to pass up. Green Bay is favored to take a TE at (+200), though their market is essentially a 4-way dance between TE/WR/OL/Edge positions.
16. Washington Commanders
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The market consensus is (+110) for the Commander’s to select a CB and (+225) to take an offensive lineman. With the top-3 OL off the board, i’m banking on Washington pivoting to take Porter Jr (6'2/193), who is big, physical and has NFL pedigree.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee
The giant UT right tackle shut down Will Anderson during the 2022 season before taking the Senior Bowl by storm, earning offensive line MVP honors for his strong play and elevating Wright (6'5/333) to the first round discussion. There is a lot to like about him, as it’s remarkable how polished his sets are in comparison to other linemen that had some physical advantages over him. Pittsburgh is (+120) to take a cornerback, (+150) to take an OL and (+330) to go with a defensive lineman.
18. Detroit Lions
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Banks (6'0/197) lit up the Combine by running a 4.35s 40-yard dash (98th%), 1.45s 10-yard split (99th%) and a 42” vertical (99th%). He has been one of the biggest risers from the cornerback group thanks to his verified measurables and ability to play in multiple different coverages. Banks is a logical choice for a Lions franchise that just selected Jalen Carter with the sixth pick after taking Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall last year.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Branch (6'0/190) is one of the most game-ready prospects in the 2023 draft, possessing the rare ability to play shut down slot defense or drop into single-high coverage as a safety. The flexible hybrid DB could have presented an interesting value opportunity, as the Bucs are 20-to-1 to take a safety, but 5-to-1 to select a cornerback. But Branch is considered a cornerback on Draft Kings’ position props, so the lower (+500) CB prop hits in this simulation.
20. Seattle Seahawks
O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
One of the top interior linemen in this draft cycle, Torrence (6'5/330) transferred from Louisiana to Florida to follow HC Billy Napier at his new SEC East job. While his 6.15 RAS may be uninspiring, his large frame, wide hands, and long arms suggest he shouldn’t have any problem operating from a phone booth at the next level.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The unchallenged number one running back and a potentially generational-type player, Robinson (5'11/215) could very well be selected before the Chargers’ 21st pick. If he falls this far I think San Diego, who has a history of taking running backs like Ryan Matthews and Melvin Gordon in the first round, take Robinson to mitigate the pending loss of Ekeler who has requested a trade. The Bolts are (+160) to take a wideout, but I think they make an exception for Bijan, which would payout at a (+700) rate.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Johnston (6'3/208) gives the Ravens a big outside receiver to pair with Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman, as Baltimore braces for what life after Lamar Jackson could look like. They are favored to take a corner (-115), but at (+160) their need at wideout is a close second. The best Baltimore value is probably at (+500) to take a defensive lineman.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Zay Flowers, WR, BC
Skol disciples are starved for a dependable outside corner, as is reflected in the (+180) favorite status for the Vikings to take a DB. However with the dynamic Zay Flowers (5'9/182) still available, Minnesota opts to provide Kirk Cousins with a credible WR2 next to Justin Jefferson. I really like the (+210) odds for Minnesota to take a wide receiver in round one, though the (+500) odds to take a QB screams Hendon Hooker to me. Flowers would cash his Under 24.5 prop line in this scenario.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
The market is loosely expecting the Jags to go corner here (+200), but OL (+225) and defensive line (+275) are also very much in play. Murphy (6'5/268) was ranked as the seventh overall player from the 2020 prep cycle according to 247Sports and produced at a high level immediately, recording 36.0 TFL, 18.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 35 games. He didn’t test at the Combine, but ran a 4.53s 40 (99th%) with a 1.59s 10-yard split (95th%) and a 4.29 Shuttle (87th%) at his pro day for an excellent 9.71 RAS. This selection would give Jacksonville a pair of ferocious, cost-controlled defensive ends in Travon Walker and Myles Murphy for the next four-plus years.
25. New York Giants
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Giants are eager to move on from the ill-fated selection of manufactured-touch slot receiver Kadarius Toney and acquire a playmaker who can run a more advanced route tree. Addison (5'11/173) would complement my favorite 2020 wide receiver sleeper out Oregon State, Isaiah Hodgins, and promising slot weapon, Wan’Dale Robinson. New York are heavy favorites to take a WR at (-110), with the next lowest price being CB at +200.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
With their pick of tight ends still available, Dallas goes after their next Jason Witten with Kincaid (6'4/246). With ND TE Michael Mayer checking in 16 pounds lighter than his billed weight of 265, and a pedestrian 4.7s 40-yard dash that ranked 11th out of the 2023 TE class, i’m backing Kincaid as the TE1 and making this selection for the Cowboys accordingly. While TE currently pays out +200, Pitt DL Calijah Kancey has also been a popular choice and makes sense here at +225.
27. Buffalo Bills
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
With Tremaine Edmunds heading out the door in free agency, there is a glaring need on the second line of the Bills’ defensive front. The markets favor Buffalo taking a linebacker here at (+175), but the fanbase is also looking for a complimentary outside receiver (+275) to line up with Stefon Diggs and second-year slot receiver Khalil Shakir. I think the second-round is going to be fertile hunting ground for wideouts, so I think they take the LB1 in Drew Sanders (+115 to be first LB taken) who is a tenacious pass rusher that finished #2 in the SEC with 9.5 sacks in 2022.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
This pick feels like a layup, with newly signed stopgap TE Irv Smith providing a bridge for Mayer to get acclimated and then take over the starting gig in 2024. QB Joe Burrow would have another weapon and the selection of Mayer (6'4/249) cashes Draft Kings’ (+125) line on the Bengals taking a tight end. I could certainly see a cornerback going here as well at (+250).
29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco through Miami and Denver)
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
I really like Bresee (6'5/298) and think New Orleans should run up to the podium to plant the former five-star monster in the middle of their defensive front. New Orleans are heavy favorites to take a DL at (-160) as you’re ever going to see for a team this far down the board. Other options are WR (+380) and TE (+450), but with Olave already in town I think they can afford to wait at WR.
30. Tennessee Titans (from Philadelphia Eagles)
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
I can’t help but assume that Trader Howie will make at least one move on Day 1. With a glut of teams that missed out on one of the early QBs looking to move into late-R1 so they can have the pivotal 5th year of team control on Hendon Hooker‘s rookie deal, I see Philly holding court and grabbing an extra pick to move down a few spots. Tennessee has their heir-apparent to Tannehill and move on from the failed Malik Willis experiment.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Dawand Jones, OL, Ohio State
The Chiefs pickup Super-Heavyweight RT Jones (6'8/374) because you simply cannot teach the kind of size (11 5/8th” hands) and power that this man has. An All-American who didn’t allow a sack or a QB hit all of 2022, Jones would provide a five-year anchor on the right side that QB Patrick Mahomes can rely on to keep him upright. The market for KC’s first pick is a three-way dance with DL as the slight favorite at (+175) with WR and OL close behind at (+200).