Mock draft season is upon us.
For my first mock draft, I’m sticking strictly to the draft order. No trades.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
1) Chicago Bears- Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama
In all reality, this pick will most likely be traded. However, we aren’t considering trades in this mock draft, so the Bears stay put. In the situation they do, Will Anderson Jr. has to be the pick. He’s the best defensive player in this draft. He has freakish athleticism and is incredibly fluid when he plays. Chicago gets themselves a cornerstone for their defense.
2) Houston Texans- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Even sitting at the second overall pick, the Texans get their QB. Bryce Young is the presumed first QB off the board. The Texans will center their rebuild around their new guy. There are legitimate concerns about his size, being listed at 5’10, 204 lbs. However, Young’s talent is undeniable, and his ability to deliver throws through contact makes him a promising NFL talent.
3) Arizona Cardinals- Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
On the field, Jalen Carter is insanely talented. His ability to create chaos up front will make him an asset for Arizona. The biggest concern with Carter is off the field. On March 1, he was the subject of arrest warrants for reckless driving and racing. While he got these cases dismissed, it doesn’t go unnoticed by teams. There had been whispers of maturity issues with Carter coming into the draft, and this certainly didn’t help.
4) Indianapolis Colts- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Ever since Andrew Luck’s retirement in 2019, the Colts have struggled to find a QB to win with. They’ve gone through multiple veteran QBs to try and fill that hole, but none have done the job. Now, the Colts dive into their rebuild and allow new coach Shane Steichen to develop a QB. C.J. Stroud put on a show in the College Football Playoffs against Georgia that cemented his status as one of the top QBs. His athleticism and arm strength make him my favorite QB talent in this draft, and he goes to a situation with a ton of talent.
5) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)- Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Tyree Wilson jumps right into a defense that’s already super young. The Seahawks’ youth played really well last season, and now they get themselves a talented piece off the edge. Wilson is massive, standing at 6’6, and 271 lbs. His wide wingspan will make him a great run-stopper that fits right into Seattle’s scheme.
6) Detroit Lions (via LAR)- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Lions take another chance on a first-round CB. Witherspoon’s draft stock rose quickly. He allowed just a 34.9% completion rate last season but overcommits on play-action and double moves. He might not be a lockdown CB1 right away, but he has the talent to develop into a nice piece for Detroit.
7) Las Vegas Raiders- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis has the strongest arm of any QB in this draft class. He has the build for success at 6’4 and 229 lbs, but the issues he has to stand out. He doesn’t have elite feel inside the pocket and falls into many off-balance throws when things start to break down. Bottom line: he isn’t a Week One starter, but he shouldn’t be. The Raiders should get a veteran and let him sit and learn. That’s his key to success.
8) Atlanta Falcons- Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The first tackle goes off the board to Atlanta. Well, at least that’s what he’s listed as. Scouts are saying they want to move Skoronski to guard, and it’s hard to deny they’re wrong. He was a good tackle in college, but at 6’4, 313 lbs, he has the size of an elite guard. The Falcons could use help all over the offensive line, so Skoronski fills a need.
9) Carolina Panthers- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Here we go. Anthony Richardson is quite possibly the most athletic QB in draft history. His size, speed, and arm strength make him a freak athlete. He struggles with consistency, but he is ridiculously talented. He’s a developmental QB, but if Carolina plays it right and lets him sit, he has a chance to be a star.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Eagles will most likely lose James Bradberry to free agency, so they need some more help at CB. Christian Gonzalez brings that right away. He’s fast but controlled and fluid. He has a ton of talent, and pairing him with Darius Slay could create a lethal duo that helps Philly pick up right where they left off.
11) Tennessee Titans- Paris Johnson Jr, OT, Ohio State
The Titans are going full rebuild mode. They’ve parted ways with a bunch of their veteran players, and now reports have said that Derrick Henry could get traded. The foundation of any rebuild is the offensive line, and Paris Johnson Jr is a great piece to get. He has experience, and he has the versatility to play tackle or guard. Time will only do him favors.
12) Houston Texans (via CLV)- Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
Houston gets some support for their new QB. Quentin Johnson’s end zone production wasn’t ideal, but his catch radius and separation puts him at the top tier of wide receivers in this draft. He should primarily play on the outside and would be a nice vertical threat for the Texans.
13) New York Jets- Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The one part of the Jets’ defense that lacked last year was at safety. Brian Branch solves that issue. One of the best players in the entire draft might not make it to #13, but this is how the board falls. Branch’s range and ball hawking skills are head and shoulders above every other secondary player in this draft. His ability to stop the run is just the cherry on top. New York pairing Branch with the already-talented secondary will make Robert Saleh very happy.
14) New England Patriots- Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
New England was third in the NFL in sacks last season, and they got another piece to put alongside Matthew Judon to create an elite pass rush. He could create a better inside move, but Murphy has the size and outside move of a natural edge rusher, and he feels like the exact player Bill Belichick would want on his defense.
15) Green Bay Packers- Jordan Addison, WR, USC
A WR in the first round?! 2023 is crazy. Jordan Love will be the Packers’ QB next season, and Allen Lazard will most likely depart in free agency. They’re going to need some weapons for Love to utilize, and Addison could be that guy. He isn’t too big, standing at 5’11, and his production at USC last season makes me skeptical of him. He does create some solid separation and is solid after the catch, so pairing him with the versatile Christian Watson could be fun.
16) Washington Commanders- Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State
Washington could use some real help in their secondary. On top of being active in free agency, they could build the position in the draft. The son of the former Steeler would fit in well with his recovery ability. He matches up well against tight ends, a position that will be much stronger next year in the NFC East. There’s criticism about his ability to change direction, but Porter is a solid prospect for Washington.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers- Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
This might be the year the Steelers finally improve their offensive line through the first round. Pittsburgh’s protection has been subpar the past few seasons, and if they want to help both Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris, they’ll try and improve. Broderick Jones isn’t a finished product, but he’ll be able to hold his own on the left side while he develops. He’s massive, athletic, and could be just what the Steelers need.
18) Detroit Lions- Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
Calijah Kancey isn’t that big (for a defensive lineman). He stands at 6’1, 281 lbs, but you would never know by his play. Kancey is a nightmare for IOL, and he can single-handedly make an impact on a play. He’s fast, powerful, and can stop the run and get to the QB. He has natural grit when he plays and is the perfect player for Dan Campbell.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
We’ve seen what a good TE can do for teams, and the Bucs take advantage of their chance to get one. As a team that wants to establish the run more than they have recently, Mayer can block as well as any tight end, but it doesn’t take away from his pass-catching ability. He needs to continue to develop, but he would be a good pick for the Bucs to add to this offense.
20) Seattle Seahawks- Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Make no mistake: Tariq Woolen was great last season. The issue is on the other side of him. CB is thin at this point in the first round, but Ringo’s size and strength keep him in the first round. Ringo’s from Washington, so he returns home to play for the Seahawks.
21) Los Angeles Chargers- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
There’s a real possibility the Chargers move on from Keenan Allen this off-season. To slide right into that role, they get Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the most talked about receivers in this draft. He can start right away in the slot and will be elevated by his QB. He isn’t too fast, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be effective for the Chargers in that role.
22) Baltimore Ravens- Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The Ravens’ offense is the weakest part of the team, but with Lukas Van Ness available, Baltimore builds on their defense. Van Ness is a raw athlete with a ton of upside. He’s explosive off the line, and his speed allows him to get to the QB quickly. He could really help this Baltimore defense.
23) Minnesota Vikings- Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Bryan Bresee’s injury history and lack of college production lead to him falling in the first round. However, his broad build will help the Vikings’ rush defense, which wasn’t very good last year.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars- Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Chances are the Jaguars will be losing Jawaan Taylor to free agency, so they draft his replacement here. Anton Harrison doesn’t jump out on the tape, but he plays hard and could become a starter for Jacksonville with time.
25) New York Giants- Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
With the Giants’ extension of Daniel Jones and giving Saquon Barkley the franchise tag, there’s now one glaring weakness on this offense: wide receiver. The team found production from Isaiah Hodgins last season, but they don’t have that game-changing WR1. Even if they bring in a guy like DeAndre Hopkins via trade, Zay Flowers is the perfect slot piece for New York to take here. He’s quick, slippery, and put on some size in the last few months. He has a chance to be a real threat in this offense.
26) Dallas Cowboys- Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
The Cowboys don’t seem to be bringing back Dalton Schultz this off-season, so they draft his replacement. Darnell Washington put on a show at the NFL Combine. He showed off his catching ability, and he is just absolutely massive. At 6’7, he’s a mismatch for linebackers and could be a great red-zone threat for this offense.
27) Buffalo Bills- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
I think I’ve mocked the Bills taking an RB every year, but this is the year they shouldn’t have any second thoughts about it. Bijan Robinson is the clear-cut RB1 in this class and one of the best RBs we have seen coming out of college in quite some time. Robinson is a three-down back with great speed and agility. On top of that, he’s also a great pass-catcher. I know people say to never draft an RB in the first round, but there’s no doubt Robinson is worth taking in the first. A game-changing player.
28) Cincinnati Bengals- Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Nobody is expecting Nolan Smith to be a Year One starter, but having Trey Hendrickson on the other side of him would make his job a lot easier. Smith will be a solid run-stopper, but his size is of concern. He doesn’t have the mass of the dominant edge rushers in this league, but he could be a good developmental piece for the Bengals.
29) New Orleans Saints- Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan
Mazi Smith’s athleticism and size make him an interesting prospect. He isn’t the fastest player when it comes to pursuing the QB, but he’s a big body to stick in the middle against the run game. He might not start right away, but Smith has a ton of upside that New Orleans should be excited about.
30) Philadelphia Eagles- O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
O’Cyrus Torrence is big. At 6’5 and 330 lbs, Torrence is still incredibly athletic. He’s gone against some top defensive linemen, including Jalen Carter, and done well. The Eagles’ offensive line is getting older. We don’t know how much longer players like Jason Kelce or Lane Johnson will be playing, so putting Torrence in a locker room with all these veterans could pay off for Philadelphia.
31) Kansas City Chiefs- Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
If there was a prototypical Chiefs WR, it would be Josh Downs. His quickness would help this team in the likely event they don’t re-sign Mecole Hardman. He isn’t the biggest receiver, but can still get up and make those tough catches. Downs was very productive the last two years and could start right away in the slot for Kansas City.
It’s pre-free agency, meaning teams’ needs will change constantly. So remember, this is just the first mock draft.
Chiefs taking a Wr in the 1st I’m not sure about? People forgot they signed UDFA Justyn Ross/Clemson last year, and thought enough of him to protect him all year, knowing his surgery would keep him out. Many said he was a 1st rd talent but his medical concerns from college scared teams off! And Mahomes was glowing about him in OTA’s last season before his foot injury! We’ll see I guess, but the Chiefs always throw a curveball it seems.