It’s never too early to look ahead to the NFL Draft, especially if you’re a football sicko like I am. I know this whole exercise is a little silly with an entire college football season to play out, but it’s interesting to see the trends change from now until the pre-draft period next year.
For instance, we knew the 2022 class was going to be weak at quarterback from the jump. In pre-season mocks a year ago it was widely agreed that Sam Howell and Matt Corral would be at the top, then nobody else. Obviously that didn’t occur, but we did know that it was going to be a poor class for passers.
Before anyone gets angry about the draft order: This is the reverse order of Super Bowl odds over at DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s the most objective thing we have to go off right now.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
|1||Houston Texans||Bryce Young||QB||Alabama|
|2||Detroit Lions||C.J. Stroud||QB||Ohio State|
|3||New York Jets||Will Anderson Jr.||EDGE||Alabama|
|4||Atlanta Falcons||Paris Johnson Jr.||OT||Ohio State|
|5||Jacksonville Jaguars||Bryan Bresee||DT||Clemson|
|6||Carolina Panthers||Jaxon Smith-Njigba||WR||Ohio State|
|7||New York Giants||Tyler Van Dyke||QB||Miami|
|8||Chicago Bears||Myles Murphy||DT||Clemson|
|9||Seattle Seahawks||Spencer Rattler||QB||South Carolina|
|10||Washington Commanders||Bijan Robinson||RB||Texas|
|11||Pittsburgh Steelers||Michael Mayer||TE||Notre Dame|
|12||New Orleans Saints||B.J. Olulari||EDGE||LSU|
|13||Minnesota Vikings||Phil Jurkovec||QB||Boston College|
|14||New England Patriots||Malachi Moore||S||Alabama|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles||Jalen Carter||DT||Georgia|
|16||Las Vegas Raiders||Jahmyr Gibbs||RB||Alabama|
|17||Miami Dolphins||Kelee Ringo||CB||Georgia|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Nolan Smith||EDGE||Georgia|
|19||Arizona Cardinals||Isaiah Foskey||DT||Notre Dame|
|20||Baltimore Ravens||Kayshon Boutte||WR||LSU|
|21||Indianapolis Colts||Hendon Hooker||QB||Tennessee|
|22||Cincinnati Bengals||Eli Ricks||CB||Alabama|
|23||Dallas Cowboys||Trenton Simpson||LB||Clemson|
|24||Houston Texans||Marvin Mims||WR||Oklahoma|
|25||Seattle Seahawks||Brandon Joseph||S||Notre Dame|
|26||Los Angeles Chargers||Byron Young||DT||Alabama|
|27||Miami Dolphins||Will Levis||QB||Kentucky|
|28||Green Bay Packers||Joey Porter Jr.||CB||Penn State|
|29||Kansas City Chiefs||Henry To'oto'o||EDGE||Alabama|
|30||Detroit Lions||Clark Phillips II||CB||Utah|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Zach Evans||RB||Ole Miss|
|32||Buffalo Bills||Jordan Addison||WR||Pitt|
These are the big things to look for during the college season and what we can expect a year from now.
The year of the quarterback
If you wondered why a lot of QB-needy teams waited to take passers, or didn’t address the position at all, here’s your answer. 2023 has been circled as a huge year for quarterbacks, and even as I mock seven in the first round, I can’t help but wonder if we won’t see another sneak in.
Right now, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud look as good as any player we’ve seen at the position in the past three years. However, the depth of this class at passer is what’s remarkable. I could absolutely see any of these guys (as well as Florida’s Anthony Richardson if he progresses) become starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and plus-level starters at that.
Hold up ... running backs?
We’ve become conditioned to the idea that no running back is worth a first round pick to the point that the position has been devalued far too low. A lot of teams have drafted well and invested money into their need positions to the point now where running back is the missing piece of the puzzle.
The upcoming draft has elite talent at RB. Texas’ Bijan Robinson is a force who should build off his 1,127-yard, 15-touchdown year as a junior showcasing unreal size and athleticism at the position. Jahmyr Gibbs transferred to Alabama for a better opportunity to showcase his ability, and looks like a lock to be the best all-purpose back in the class.
We still see RBs go in the first round in 2023, and it’ll be a stark departure from recent trends.
Wide receiver will be the big wild card
As we saw this year, there’s an ongoing reckoning happening at WR. Teams are taking into consideration future contractual obligations with the position, and choosing to lock up more talent on rookie deals — then jettison them down the road. This offseason we saw Davante Adams, Amari Cooper, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown all get traded because of this, and it’s not going to change any time soon.
My mock is receiver-light, but I fully expect we could see many more jump up into the first round if we don’t see some huge salary cap changes to allow for the rapid inflation we’re seeing in salary at the WR position.