Kyle Dvorchak gives his first mock draft of the year now that the 2023 NFL Draft order is set.
1. Chicago Bears
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
There are still a lot of dominoes to fall at quarterback in free agency and via trades. Once Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr have landing spots, predicting a trade for the No. 1 pick will be possible. Until then, I’m waiting to forecast trades. If things break awkwardly for the Bears, they could be stuck at the top of the draft anyway. There are worse positions to be in as Anderson is an elite pass-rusher who will fit well in Matt Eberflus‘s defense.
2. Houston Texans
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young is still the favorite to be the top pick at most sportsbooks and Houston could even trade up to the 1.01 if they want him significantly more than C.J. Stroud or Will Levis. If Young is gone, Stroud is likely to be the next man up. Seeking the face of their franchise, Houston’s only choice at this spot is quarterback.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Based on the league’s highest-paid defenders, the NFL has placed an emphasis on EDGE defenders over interior defensive linemen, giving Anderson slightly higher odds of coming off the board first. However, Carter is a menace to opposing quarterbacks, separating him from the average defensive tackle. Pro Football Focus graded him as their No. 2 and No. 1 pass-rushing defensive lineman in the past two years.
4. Indianapolis Colts
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Had I been projecting trades, Indy moving up to No. 1 to get a quarterback would have been my first prediction. After churning through veterans for a few years, it’s time for them to take a shot on a rookie. Stroud tossed 85 scores in two seasons as the Buckeye’s starter and even has an outside chance to be the first quarterback off the board.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Barring a surprising Will Levis selection by one of the QB-needy teams ahead of Seattle, it’s hard to see any other combination of players having their names called in the first four picks. The Seahawks’ needs depend entirely upon what they do with Geno Smith, who is a free agent. If he is brought back (I think he will be), the Seahawks are likely zeroed in on a pass-rusher here.
6. Detroit Lions (via the Rams)
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
A year after adding Aidan Hutchinson to their defensive line, the Lions are in desperate need of help in their secondary. Devon Witherspoon and Joey Porter are both candidates to go here, but the mild consensus seems to have Gonzalez as the top corner in the draft.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Raiders have not traded for Aaron Rodgers yet, so quarterback remains a need for them. If that holds until the draft, it’s hard to see them cutting Derek Carr only to trot out Jarrett Stidham or Jimmy Garoppolo for a season. Once their quarterback situation becomes more clear, this pick will be easier to predict. For now, I see them making a gamble on the upside that Carr couldn’t give them.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
The Falcons have had the league’s saddest excuse for a pass-rush for multiple years. They are also in need of a quarterback. With the board shaking out this way, that will have to wait. Murphy has an elite combination of size and speed, giving the Falcons some much-needed juice in their front seven.
9. Carolina Panthers
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Richardson might be a reach here. Grinding the Mocks has his ADP at 15. However, the Panthers can’t keep taking shortcuts at quarterback. Giving Frank Reich a toolsy quarterback teeming with upside is a great way for Carolina to turn the page.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via the Saints)
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
What an absurd luxury it must be to have a Super Bowl-caliber roster and a top-10 pick, plus another selection at the end of the first. Even though the Eagles are loaded, I don’t see them spending this pick frivolously. They could even trade back. Without projecting that, their best bet is it replace free agent James Bradberry with an aggressive outside corner.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Left tackle Taylor Lewan has already said he expects to be cut by the Titans and is mulling retirement. That leaves a massive hole on Tennesee’s roster and first-year GM Ran Carthon would be sprinting to the podium to take Johnson if he is still available.
12. Houston Texans (via the Browns)
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
All signs point to Houston moving on from Brandin Cooks in the offseason, leaving them with a barren receiver room. Johnson ranked third among all Power Five receivers who declared for the draft in yards per route run. Listed at 6'4/215, he also has prototypical size to match his blazing speed. Pairing Stroud and Johnson on Day One would be a monstrous win for Houston.
13. New York Jets
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Jets have four tackles hitting free agency in the spring. Former first-round left tackle Mekhi Becton has appeared in one game over the past two years. Having hit home runs at running back and receiver last year, Jets GM Joe Douglas will want to round out his offense with an anchor on the offensive line.
14. New England Patriots
Joey Porter, CB, Penn State
Both Matt Miller and Todd McShay have Porter to the Patriots. McShay even has him as the first corner off the board. Normally a strength of New England’s defense, cornerback was a sore spot for Bill Belichick in 2022. Porter’s physical brand of play would be perfect for Belichick’s secondary.
15. Green Bay Packers
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
It would be ironic for the Packers to finally draft a wide receiver in the same offseason Aaron Rodgers leaves. However, if they want any chance of seeing Jordan Love succeed, he needs more firepower at receiver.
16. Washington Commanders
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
The Commanders are strong contenders to take a quarterback, but they will need to make a significant trade to acquire their man. Instead, this scenario sees them roll with Sam Howell and bolster their defense with a top-flight corner.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Kenny Pickett flopped as a rookie, but Pittsburgh needs to give him a fair shake with an improved offensive line. If he continues to struggle with better protection, it could be time to move on next year.
18. Detroit Lions
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The Lions are likely looking at taking a pass-rusher and a corner with their two first-round picks. Given their investment in Hutchinson, it makes sense for them to hold off on another EDGE until the second time they take the podium.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Like the Commanders, the Bucs will be exploring avenues to get a quarterback via the draft unless they make a drastic move before the end of April. If they stay put, investing in their secondary, which is set to lose multiple corners in free agency, is a solid consolation prize for missing out on a quarterback.
20. Seattle Seahawks
O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
The Seahawks spent the 2022 draft upgrading their tackles. This time around they will get the chance to improve the interior of their offensive line. Torrence is almost unanimously considered the best interior offensive line prospect this year.
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Kancey will be drafted for his pass-rushing chops but can contribute in run-defense as well. PFF graded him as their No. 1 Power Five defensive lineman against the pass and No. 20 against the run last year. His ability to play in all phases allows his to fill multiple needs for the Chargers.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Rashod Bateman improved in his second season. Even if he continues to grow, the Ravens are in desperate need of a second viable receiver. Bateman has played almost exclusively on the outside in Baltimore, perfectly positioning JSN to take on slot duties as a Raven.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Wide receiver is also on the table here, but the Vikings’ massacre at the hands of Daniel Jones to end their season should steer them in the direction of cornerback. Grinding the Mocks has a notable drop-off after the sixth corner comes off the board and PFF sees Banks as the end of an even smaller tier.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Pass-defense was an issue for the Jags last year and Branch is the highest-graded corner or safety remaining on most boards. Branch’s versatility will be a huge draw for the Jags, who need help at multiple spots in their secondary.
25. New York Giants
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
No team needs a No. 1 receiver more than the Giants and there are multiple candidates to fill that role with this pick. What Flowers (5'7/178) lacks in size he makes up for in production. He earned a 93rd percentile Dominator Rating in his final season at Boston College.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
The Cowboys already have one top-end receiver in CeeDee Lamb, but their options beyond him proved to be subpar replacements for Amari Cooper. They were banking on big plays from 33-year-old T.Y. Hilton in the playoffs.
27. Buffalo Bills
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Finding a landing spot for Robinson is nearly impossible because of how excellent of a prospect he is. Per PFF, Robinson racked up 104 broken tackles in 2022. That was 21 more than any other back. He’s also a strong receiver. Robinson plays a devalued position in the modern NFL, but he is on par with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott as a prospect.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Bengals will have to address their offensive line via free agency and the draft, but Mayer has the talent of a top-20 selection and also fills a massive need for them. Three Cincinnati tight ends are about to enter free agency, including Hayden Hurst.
29. New Orleans (via the 49ers)
Bryan Bresse, DT, Clemson
The Saints ranked 29th in pressure rate in 2022. They have four defensive tackles who are set to hit free agency. Bresse fills that need on their roster and does his best work against the pass.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Howie Roseman and the Philly front office have never shied away from doubling down on the strengths of the roster. The Eagles have an elite receiver duo but not much going on behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith on the depth chart. Giving Jalen Hurts a third receiver to throw to would supercharge an already-elite offense.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
The Chiefs can save $22 million by cutting Frank Clark. Though Clark had a strong postseason, his regular season shortcomings make his release almost inevitable. Wide receiver was also a strong contender at this spot but the Downs pick at No. 30 moved Kansas City to EDGE.