An incredible Super Bowl game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, furthers most people's beliefs that having a franchise quarterback is crucial to sustained success in the NFL.
Anytime there are two or more first round talents at the quarterback spot, the narrative surrounding them will generate enormous hype, speculation and stressful days.
The Chicago Bears own the first overall pick and have a golden opportunity to craft the narrative of this year's draft. To quote former Jets linebacker, Bart Scott..."Can't wait!"
1. Bears: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
I'm fully convinced there is a 90 plus percent chance the Bears will trade away the first overall pick for more draft capital. There are so many areas of concern for Chicago, it might be considered gross negligence to not secure more draft picks by trading down. Carter is a disruptive playmaker who is arguably the best non-quarterback prospect in this upcoming draft. Chicago's 4-3 defensive front requires a catalyst at the 3-technique position and Carter's size demeanor and skill set make him ideal for the Bears.
2. Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Moving swiftly and decidedly, the Texans tabbed former franchise defensive standout (33rd overall pick, 2006 draft) DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach. Ryans, as the 49ers' former defensive coordinator, is fresh off of witnessing three quarterbacks suffer season ending injuries in San Francisco. Speculatively speaking, Ryans may want to coach a quarterback with a projected durability upside (C.J. Stroud) over a slightly framed signal caller (Bryce Young) seen as a health risk.
3. Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Future Hall-of-Famer, J.J. Watt announced his retirement while opposite end edge rusher, Markus Golden is aging (turns 32 years old in March). Arizona may want to infuse it's defense with speedier more athletic edge rushers and taking Anderson could be an excellent acquisition. A long-limbed, yet powerfully built athlete, Anderson capably transitions from speed-to-power when pressing his advantage against overmatched blockers.
4. Colts: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Colts fell far from their preseason expectations and find themselves reassessing their team trajectory and assets. Over the past several years, the Colts chose to hinge their fortunes on the arms of Hall of Fame caliber passers, or discarded veterans with something to prove. If Young is available by this pick and shines at the NFL Combine, expect the Colts to try a different tact and possibly select a promising quarterback with elite intangibles and untapped potential.
5. Seahawks (via DEN): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy possesses enormous talent and depending on what Chicago does with the first overall pick, he could be taken anywhere within the top five draft spots. He is an exciting player whose burst and power to speed transitions are mesmerizing to watch. Extremely aggressive at the point of attack, Murphy utilizes his brute strength to overpower opponents. His ability to rush the passer is equaled by his effectiveness and tenacity against the run.
6. Lions (via LAR): Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
A two-time national champion, it would be erroneous for pundits to mistake Ringo's low defensive stats for ineffectiveness on the field. Ringo showcases sprinter speed (4.3 40-time) and at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, his ceiling projects higher than most of his draft class peers. His above average change-of-direction ability, aggressive man to man coverage skills and his proficiency in zone schemes makes Ringo a targeted asset for NFL teams.
7. Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Levis may be the most unpredictable wildcard in the upcoming draft. Opinions on him range from surefire top five pick, to possibly being a mid-third round selection, or an over hyped Carson Wentz clone (and not in a good way). Unless the Raiders trade up for either Stroud or Young, chances are they may talk themselves into taking Levis over any other quarterback in the draft.
8. Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Quick and agile for his size (6'6", 275 lbs), Wilson complements his athleticism by utilizing his length (86 inch wingspan) to create leverage and manipulate blockers at the point of attack. Slippery and exceptionally nimble, Wilson's bendability around the edge is difficult to gauge, complicating blockers attempts at containing his pass rush.
9. Panthers: Bryan Breese, DL, Clemson
Bresee is an instinctive player who plays with leverage and above average strength. He is adept at slipping blocks and pursuing ball carriers with an unsuspecting burst and sustained lateral quickness. Bresee's ability to align as either a three-technique or five-technique defender, attests to the type of versatility he possesses and what many NFL coordinators likely covet.
10. Eagles (via NO): Joey Porter, Jr., CB, Penn State
Among the more experienced defensive back prospects in this draft class (1,704 college snaps played), Porter is extremely nuanced in various techniques for covering receivers. He's excellent in diagnosing routes and utilizing measured anticipatory skills that successfully mirror pass catchers. Throughout his career, he's amassed 20 passes defended and over 100 total tackles while at Penn State.
11. Titans: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
There is only so much Titans' premier running back, Derrick (King) Henry can do for Tennessee's one dimensional offensive attack. Most NFL defenses have zero regard for the Titans' ability to stretch the field, so they play closer to the line of scrimmage, clogging potential running lanes for Henry. As a boundary receiver, Johnston possesses NFL caliber size (6'4", 212 lbs) and speed (4.4 40-time) that should threaten opposing teams' coverage schemes.
12. Texans (via CLE): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
A sound technician with exceptional upper body strength, Skoronski plays with a nastiness that discourages defenders ill equipped to handle his power. He is arguably the best offensive lineman in this draft class, routinely producing top notch performances on a weekly basis. Skoronski is a respected pro prospect who flashes day one starting potential. According to PFF, Skoronski is the highest rated pass blocker (92.4) in the nation.
13. Jets: Paris Johnson, Jr., OT, Ohio State
A natural athlete with easy lateral fluidity in and out of his sets, Johnson projects as a starting NFL left tackle. An intelligent player who executes blocks well into the second level of defenses, he's the type of agile blocker required in today's more open offensive style of play. Johnson's enviable blend of size, length, strength and awareness showcases a high ceiling worthy of a day one selection.
14. Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Witherspoon finished second in the Big Ten conference with 14 passes defended and added three interceptions on the season. His closing speed, high football I.Q. and concept visualization skills make him an intriguing prospect to NFL evaluators. According PFF (Pro Football Focus), Witherspoon is this season's top rated coverage cornerback with a 92.5 rating.
15. Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
For the third season in a row, the Packers have lost their final game played at home with little to no production from the tight end position. In those aforementioned games, over a combined three seasons, Green Bay's tight ends registered 11 receptions for 79 yards and just one touchdown. Drafting Notre Dame's best and most accomplished tight end in school history, could only improve a passing attack that struggles on crucial downs in close games.
16. Commanders: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
The transfer portal in college football provides immediate opportunities for players to proactively change their situations for the better. Sanders began his career at Alabama and for two years (15 games) tallied just 33 tackles and one sack. He transferred to Arkansas for the 2022 season and became wildly productive. In one season he registered 103 tackles; 13.5 tackles for loss; nine and a half sacks; five passes defended and three forced fumbles. Now, he's asking for an opportunity to grow in the NFL.
17. Steelers: Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia
Rarely confused or displaced by stunting blitzers, Jones' fundamental approach to the game is enhanced by his elite athleticism and above average strength. Excellent size (6'4", 315 lbs) and impressive arm length allow him to sting and neutralize power rushers. His quick feet and loose lateral movements help in keeping tempo with speedy edge defenders. Jones may be the most athletically gifted offensive line prospect in the 2023 draft class.
18. Lions: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Simpson moves with video game like suddenness, startling opponents into poor decisions and effectively causing chaos on the offensive side of the ball. He is the type of three-down linebacker that lines up anywhere on the field. So far this season, he's lined up on the defensive front, in the slot and defended within the box. His versatility is exactly what Detroit could use to bolster its inconsistent second unit.
19. Buccaneers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Aside from four-time Pro Bowler, Mike Evans, the Bucs' receiving corps is either aging or constantly dealing with injury and missed games. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award recipient's upside oozes with vast untapped potential that could provide an immediate impact. Addison is a scheme proof, quarterback friendly receiver, who can execute the entire route tree and merge seamlessly with any level of pass thrower.
20. Seahawks: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
In a rebuilding season, the Seahawks making it to the playoffs was an unexpected accomplishment. In addition, the resurgent play of Geno Smith as a starting signal caller might redirect Seattle's team building decisions. Richardson, too, struggled and was doubted by many to be first round material, but finished strong by season's end. It's possible the Seahawks see a little of Smith's perseverance in Richardson's tenacious playing style.
21. Dolphins: Forfeited
The Miami Dolphins forfeited one of their two first-round picks (plus a third-round pick in 2024) for tampering surrounding Tom Brady.
22. Chargers: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Branch boasts a legitimate 40-time of four point four seconds with complimentary lateral quickness. A physical player, Branch's tightly muscled core and strong lower body create significant torque when driving through opponents on his tackles. Over the past 26 contests, Branch tallied 145 total tackles with 19 tackles for loss and 16 passes defended. Branch is truly one of the best back end, hybrid defensive prospects in the upcoming draft.
23. Ravens: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Foskey wins with a ceaseless motor and a physicality that overwhelms opponents. His suddenness off the edge makes him a special talent that commands respect from offensive tackles. Foskey's ability to chase down ball carriers for backside stops, plus his improved awareness in thwarting trap runs and screen passes, makes him extremely difficult to scheme against.
24. Vikings: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez plays with a confident certitude that compliments his athleticism. His ability to pivot cleanly showcases an acceleration that gains immediate upfield access when challenging pass catchers. This long-limbed defender competes tenaciously for 50/50 jump balls, with an astounding 42 inch vertical that challenges the largest of catch radiuses.
25. Ravens: O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
When selecting players this far down the draft board, teams generally acquire individuals that shore up minor areas of concern. Jacksonville's offensive line is decent, but adding another quality lineman further insulates the offense from untimely injuries. Torrence works well in space and does an excellent job of attacking the second level of defenses with effective consistency. He's powerful enough to move the pile and mean enough to do so with practiced prejudice.
26. Giants: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
New York requires a consistent and dependable downfield threat to help its anemic and imbalanced offensive attack. Hyatt possesses phenomenal speed and make-you-miss agility, consistently frustrating defenders' attempts to stop him in the open field. His ability to accelerate and decelerate makes him dangerous either from the slot position or as a boundary receiver. The 2022 Biletnikoff Award recipient's upside oozes with vast untapped potential that could provide an immediate impact.
27. Cowboys: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
A long, rangy athlete at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Van Ness possesses enough size and athletic versatility to play inside or outside along the defensive line. Extremely quick when extending his arms, his length and suddenness generally catch blockers off-guard, helping him establish immediate leverage against most opposition. Van Ness competes with an indefatigable motor and predatory mindset that makes him exhausting to defend.
28. Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Over the course of the 2022 season, Robinson performed as is one of college football's most consistent and exciting ball carriers. Robinson averaged six yards per carry (6.1) and rushed for 18 touchdowns this season. NFL scouts are impressed with Robinson's entire repertoire as a complete running back, too. An adept pass catcher, Robinson also averaged 16.5 yards a reception with two receiving touchdowns.
29. Bengals: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Over the next two years, the Bengals will have a ton of financial decisions to make regarding their core players, especially at the offensive skill positions. Arguably the best receiver entering the 2023 draft class, Smith-Njiba finished the 2021 season tabulating five consecutive games over 100 plus yards, culminating with an electric performance in the 2022 Rose Bowl (15 receptions / 347 yards / 3 touchdowns). Although he's missed several games due to injury in 2022, Smith-Njigba is an intriguing option going forward.
30. Saints (via SF): Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Phillips is a sturdy, versatile inside/outside defensive back with excellent anticipation skills, who plays bigger than his average size would indicate. More quick than fast as a coverage defender, Phillips wins through disciplined positioning and next level awareness. On the season, Phillips' ubiquitous playmaking skills accounted for six interceptions, of which two were returned for scores; plus, six defended passes in just 12 games.
31. Eagles: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
Johnson's positional versatility makes him an attractive prospect for most NFL teams. His ability to line up as a slot corner, a nickel linebacker, or play either safety spot makes him a deceptive defender who keeps offenses guessing. His active mind matches an easy athleticism that can mentally and physically handle today's complex offenses. An exceptional hybrid talent, Johnson makes quick decisions committing with measured abandon and ferocity that typically energizes teammates.
32. Chiefs: Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor
The Chiefs' two best defensive linemen, Frank Clark and Chris Young are the second and third highest played players on the team. Their combined salaries are close to 60 million dollars for next year, so, how likely will the front office pay unrestricted free agent, defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi market value? In addition, both Clark and Young will be unrestricted free agents themselves heading into the 2024 off-season. Ika is problematic for offensive lines because he can collapse the pocket and provide consistent interior pressure. Looking ahead, he might provide an affordable financial option for Kansas City's defensive front line.