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2023 NFL mock draft: Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud lead QB-heavy class

The 2023 QB class is expected to be decidedly improved on the 2022 class.

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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

Pick Team Player Position School
Pick Team Player Position School
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.