Can you feel it? Hope is in the air, fan bases are optimistic, hundreds of dreams are about to be fulfilled — the 2023 NFL Draft is here. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but now the actual good part of this season has arrived. To celebrate, here’s one more mock draft that is doing its best to cut through some of the rumors and predict the first round of the draft.
Barring a last-second unforeseen change, former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young will be the new signal-caller for the Panthers. The No. 1 pick being known leading up to the draft isn’t a new phenomenon, but it does give an easy spot to start a mock draft. Thank you for that, Panthers.
It’s hard to peg exactly what the Texans want to do with their second pick, but here they take the second quarterback off the board with Kentucky's Will Levis. Levis is the second of five quarterbacks to go in the first round, with all of those five players going in the first 16 picks of the draft. Ohio State's C.J. Stroud slid a bit to the Titans, while the Commanders took a huge swing on Tennessee's Hendon Hooker. Hooker is recovering from a torn ACL, but it seems like teams are still in on him as a first-round pick.
Alabama edge Will Anderson has a fluid draft situation right now, but it’s hard to see him falling too far down the board. He’s looked like a top draft pick since he was a freshman and should hit the ground running as an impact defender in the NFL. That’s something the Cardinals desperately need right now as new head coach Jonathan Gannon makes his impact on the defense. Tyree Wilson, Lukas Van Ness, and Nolan Smith rounded out the edge prospects in the first round.
The run on quarterbacks and offensive linemen pushed the wide receivers down the board with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison coming off in the final third of the first round. This class doesn’t have an uber-dominant top wide receiver, so those guys might fall down the board a bit.
There you have it. The final mock draft before the real thing kicks off. Pick 1 is already known, but the rest of the draft feels like a big mystery compared to other years, which should make for an exciting first round.
1. Carolina Panthers (via Chicago Bears): Alabama QB Bryce Young
2. Houston Texans: Kentucky QB Will Levis
3. Arizona Cardinals: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos): Georgia DL Jalen Carter
6. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (via Atlanta Falcons): Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
9. Chicago Bears (via Panthers): Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints): Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez
11. Tennessee Titans: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
12. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness
13. Green Bay Packers (via New York Jets): Tennessee OL Darnell Wright
15. New York Jets (via Packers): Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison
17. Atlanta Falcons (via Steelers): Texas RB Bijan Robinson
18. Detroit Lions: Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
20. Seattle Seahawks: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
23. Minnesota Vikings: Maryland CB Deonte Banks
25. New York Giants: Alabama CB/S Brian Branch
27. Buffalo Bills: Michigan DL Mazi Smith
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
29. New Orleans Saints (via San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos): Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy
30. Philadelphia Eagles: TCU C Steve Avila
31. Kansas City Chiefs: USC WR Jordan Addison
(One first-round pick was forfeited by the Miami Dolphins as a result of the NFL's tampering investigation.)