The 2023 NFL season has concluded but the seemingly non-stop train of events will continue to roll on, including the Scouting Combine. So, before these glorious athletes we’ve grown accustomed to take to Indianapolis to be poked, prodded and analyzed by executives and coaches, it seems a fitting time to drop installment number 3 of my mock drafts for this cycle.
What’s new? Well, this time around I am boosting it to two rounds. So if you’re a fan of a team such as the Rams or Dolphins who don’t own a first round pick, you’re in luck this time around. However, I am waiting until v.4 or v.5 to add trades, so please don’t throw stones at me Chicago fans.
1 – Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter (IDL, Georgia)
Without trades, the Bears stick at pick one here and take the best player in the draft with Jalen Carter. His ability to rush the passer from the inside and eat up interior run blocks sets him apart from Will Anderson at the top of this class for me and gives Matt Eberflus a playmaker defensive lineman.
2 – Houston Texans: Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
Houston needs a QB and Bryce Young projects the best at the next level. He has size concerns, but he’s incredibly agile and makes plays both in the pocket and on the move.
3 – Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE, Alabama)
Cardinals are another team that could look to make a trade, but with Jonathan Gannon on board as the new head coach, he’ll want to beef up a defense that has struggled for a few years. Anderson is a home run pick at 3 to add a premier pass rusher to the Cardinals defense.
4 – Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
Colts biggest need is obviously a QB, and C.J. Stroud is the second best in the class for me. There are some concerns for sure, but with new head coach Shane Steichen having been the offensive coordinator for Jalen Hurts rise, Indianapolis fans should be pleased with his potential to elevate Stroud at the next level.
5 – Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Myles Murphy (EDGE, Clemson)
Seattle won big with the Russell Wilson trade by netting a top 5 draft pick, and they take the best defensive player on the board in Myles Murphy. The Seahawks defensive line was gashed at times last year, and they’ll seek to make some serious improvements with a top end pass rusher like Murphy.
6 – Detroit Lions (via LAR): Tyree Wilson (EDGE, Texas Tech)
The Lions were quite impressive in 2022, sitting a game out of a playoff spot after getting hot down the stretch. General Manager Brad Holmes has had back-to-back excellent draft classes and has another two first round picks this year, and they grab Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech with this one. Wilson is an alien in terms of size and potential, and a worthy flier selection for a team looking to beef up its defense.
7 – Las Vegas Raiders: Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
The first big surprise of the Draft! The Raiders have a clear need for a QB, but I’m making this pick with the idea that they will acquire a veteran elsewhere instead. The RB position gets maligned for being invaluable, but Robinson is the best offensive prospect in the class and is the perfect package at the position, and allows the Raiders to avoid paying Josh Jacobs.
8 – Atlanta Falcons: Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
Falcons could go a number of different ways here, but they need another corner opposite AJ Terrell. Gonzalez is a great athlete that made huge gains in his development after transferring from Colorado to Oregon this past season.
9 – Carolina Panthers: Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
Will Levis is going high in this draft and none of us can stop it. The Panthers could have avoided this by just drafting Justin Fields a few years ago, but after years of throwing around random players at the position, Matt Rhule is out and Frank Reich is in, and he’s going to want a young QB after dealing with a similar issue in Indianapolis.
10 – Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Bryan Bresee (IDL, Clemson)
The Eagles roster should still be in good shape but they do have some issues with upcoming free agents and aging veterans. Bresee provides the Eagles with a young interior presence on the defensive side of the ball.
11 – Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski (OT, Northwestern)
The Titans recently announced they were releasing the boy Taylor Lewan, which signals a big need for the franchise at the left tackle position. Mike Vrabel loves running the ball with Derrick Henry, and Skoronski was arguably the best left tackle in college football this season.
12 – Houston Texans (via CLE): Quentin Johnston (WR, Texas Christian)
After taking Bryce Young at 2, the Texans come back and grab him a weapon with the first WR off the board in Johnston. A long, ranging freak of an athlete, Johnston will have to work on his route game but the ceiling is off the charts.
13 – New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr. (OT, Ohio State)
The Jets need a QB, but I expect them to get a veteran somewhere else. Johnson gets that new QB a stud up front for an offensive line that is still missing a few pieces.
14 – New England Patriots: Broderick Jones (OT, Georgia)
The first round run on OTs ends here with the Patriots taking Broderick Jones from Georgia. Jones is young but possesses a pretty high ceiling with his vast athletic traits.
15 – Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness (EDGE, Iowa)
I expect the Packers to bypass receivers here like normal, so instead I have them taking Van Ness from Iowa. The prototypical Hawkeye prospect, Van Ness provides power and rushing ability off the edge.
16 – Washington Commanders: Devon Witherspoon (CB, Illinois)
I’ve mentioned Witherspoon in previous mocks as my favorite prospect in this class. He plays with a chip on his shoulder at all times and has great mix of physical traits and ball tracking instinct.
17 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr. (CB, Penn State)
I mean, Joey Porter Jr. in a Steelers uniform would be sick, right?
18 – Detroit Lions: Clark Phillips III (CB, Utah)
A run on CBs continues with Clark Phillips III to Detroit. Phillips is a little undersized, but he creates plenty of turnovers from the secondary and fits the type of player Dan Campbell loves.
19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Smith (CB, South Carolina)
Make it four straight (!!) CBs as the Buccaneers fill a need in the secondary with Cam Smith.
20 – Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
Another surprise! I do think the Seahawks will bring back Geno Smith, but how long of a contract will they end up giving him considering he’s 32 and doesn’t have long term production in the league? With Seattle having plenty of high draft capital, they can afford to swing on Richardson as a developmental prospect with high upside here.
21 – Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison (WR, Southern California)
Ultimately, I expect Lamar Jackson back with the Ravens. With Todd Monken coming in from Georgia at OC, I expect better production at WR which creates a bigger need at the position.
22 – Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
The Chargers have a few needs they could address, but the opportunity to snag their pick at the top of a good tight end class was hard to pass up. Mayer provides the best combination of blocking/catching at the position in the class.
23 – Minnesota Vikings: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
I don’t love the board here, so I’m giving the Vikings Smith-Njigba to create a potential lethal receiving tandem with Justin Jefferson. Adam Thielen is on the opposite side of his prime.
24 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Darnell Washington (TE, Georgia)
The Jaguars could look at a few different positions here as well, but I’m giving them the massive human known as Darnell Washington. He still needs to work on some things, but Doug Pederson found success with two TE’s in Philadelphia, and Washington’s current skill set pairs well with potentially returning Evan Engram.
25 – New York Giants: John Michael Schmitz (IOL, Minnesota)
The Giants found a lot of success in Brian Dabolls first season as coach, but the roster needs plenty of work. They seem to have found both offensive tackles, but could use some interior help. Schmitz had a great week at the Senior Bowl and likely propelled himself into late first round discussions.
26 – Dallas Cowboys: Brian Branch (S, Alabama)
The Cowboys defense is pretty solid up front, but beyond Trevon Diggs, they could use some extra help in the secondary. Branch is the best DB available here.
27 – Buffalo Bills: Zay Flowers (WR, Boston College)
It was pretty evident down the stretch that the Bills needed another weapon outside of Stefon Diggs in the passing game. Both Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox are solid players, but neither are true playmakers. Flowers has a big ceiling after producing for a fledging Boston College team the past two seasons.
28 – Cincinnati Bengals: Luke Musgrave (TE, Oregon State)
The Bengals could look to bring Hayden Hurst back as he’s set to hit free agency, but until then, I’m giving them one in Musgrave. A fast riser in the past month or two, Musgrave is a solid pass catching tight end with high upside.
29 – New Orleans Saints (via SF): Josh Downs (WR, North Carolina)
With no QB worth the pick here, I’ll look at a WR in Josh Downs to pair with Chris Olave. The Saints will need to overhaul almost all of the offense this offseason.
30 – Philadelphia Eagles: Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)
I wouldn’t bet on James Bradberry coming back this offseason, so instead we’ll give the Eagles a corner in Kelee Ringo. It’s possible he has to switch to safety at the next level, but he provides a lot of size in the back end of the defense.
31 – Kansas City Chiefs: Nolan Smith (EDGE, Georgia)
To round out the first round, the Chiefs grab *another* Georgia defensive prospect. Nolan Smith, a former number one overall recruit, provides a good pass rush prospect with Frank Clark coming up on a big payday via free agency in the near future.
32 – Pittsburgh Steelers (via CHI): Dawand Jones (OT, Ohio State)
33 – Houston Texans: Derick Hall (EDGE, Auburn)
34 – Arizona Cardinals: Deonte Banks (CB, Maryland)
35 – Indianapolis Colts: Anton Harrison (OT, Oklahoma)
36 – Los Angeles Rams: O’Cyrus Torrence (IOL, Florida)
37 – Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Drew Sanders (LB, Arkansas)
38 – Las Vegas Raiders: Tuli Tuipulotu (EDGE, Southern California)
39 – Carolina Panthers: Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Alabama)
40 – New Orleans Saints: Christopher Smith (S, Georgia)
41 – Tennessee Titans: Rashee Rice (WR, Southern Methodist)
42 – Cleveland Browns: Jalin Hyatt (WR, Tennessee)
43 – New York Jets: Antonio Johnson (S, Texas A&M)
44 – Atlanta Falcons: Trenton Simpson (LB, Clemson)
45 – Green Bay Packers: Tucker Kraft (TE, South Dakota State)
46 – New England Patriots: Kyu Blu Kelly (CB, Stanford)
47 – Washington Commanders: Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah)
48 – Detroit Lions: Cody Mauch (OL, North Dakota State)
49 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Siaki Ika (IDL, Baylor)
50 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Isaiah Foskey (EDGE, Notre Dame)
51 – Miami Dolphins: Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi State)
52 – Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Battle (S, Alabama)
53 – Chicago Bears (via BAL): Matthew Bergeron (OT, Syracuse)
54 – Los Angeles Chargers: Mazi Smith (IDL, Michigan)
55 – Detroit Lions (via MIN): Sydney Brown (S, Illinois)
56 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaelyn Duncan (OT, Maryland)
57 – New York Giants: Kayshon Boutte (WR, Louisiana State)
58 – Dallas Cowboys: Joe Tippmann (IOL, Wisconsin)
59 – Buffalo Bills: Noah Sewell (LB, Oregon)
60 – Cincinnati Bengals: DJ Turner (CB, Michigan)
61 – Carolina Panthers (via SF): BJ Ojulari (EDGE, Louisiana State)
62 – Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Williams (CB, Syracuse)
63 – Kansas City Chiefs: Keion White (DL, Georgia Tech)