Folks ... it’s mock draft time.
The 2023 NFL Draft will be upon us sooner than you think, and mock drafts will be filled out with names from the biggest programs in college football.
It feels like through the first quarter of both the NFL and college football season, there’s a consensus top prospect: Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. The junior edge rusher for the Crimson Tide has 4.5 sacks and an interception through the first few games of the season, but has all the talent and production to continue to keep his name at the top of the boards.
What will also be interesting is the peking order of the quarterbacks come draft day. The top two signal callers right now figure to be Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young. Stroud is more of a true pocket passer with accuracy to all three levels of the field, while Young has the quick processing and ability to make plays outside of structure.
Just outside of the fold is senior QB Will Levis from Kentucky. He fits the mold of a prototypical QB with the 6’4 frame and arm strength and velocity to make every throw, but struggles with accuracy and processing at times. Teams will fall in love with him at the top of the board though.
Here’s the first mock draft of the year, with the order being based on OddShark Super Bowl odds from pre-Week 3 projections.
2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
|1||Atlanta Falcons||Will Anderson Jr.||Alabama||EDGE||Junior|
|2||Seattle Seahawks||CJ Stroud||Ohio State||QB||Junior|
|3||Houston Texans||Bryce Young||Alabama||QB||Junior|
|4||Carolina Panthers||Will Levis||Kentucky||QB||Senior|
|5||Chicago Bears||Broderick Jones||Georgia||OT||Sophomore (RS)|
|6||New York Jets||Jalen Carter||Georgia||DT||Junior|
|7||Jacksonville Jaguars||Michael Mayer||Notre Dame||TE||Junior|
|8||Detroit Lions||Anthony Richardson||Florida||QB||Sophomore (RS)|
|9||Washington Commanders||Trenton Simpson||Clemson||LB||Junior|
|10||Pittsburgh Steelers||Peter Skoronski||Northwestern||OT||Junior|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Jaxon Smith-Njigba||Ohio State||WR||Junior|
|12||New York Giants||Kelee Ringo||Georgia||CB||Sophomore (RS)|
|13||Houston Texans (via CLE)||Bryan Bresee||Clemson||DT||Junior|
|14||New England Patriots||Kayshon Boutte||LSU||WR||Junior|
|15||Las Vegas Raiders||Paris Johnson Jr.||Ohio State||OL||Junior|
|16||Arizona Cardinals||Myles Murphy||Clemson||EDGE||Junior|
|17||Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)||Noah Sewell||Oregon||LB||Sophomore (RS)|
|18||Indianapolis Colts||Jordan Addison||USC||WR||Junior|
|19||Dallas Cowboys||Gervon Dexter||Florida||DT||Sophomore (RS)|
|20||Cincinnati Bengals||Jaelyn Duncan||Maryland||OT||Senior (RS)|
|21||Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)||Cam Smith||South Carolina||CB||Junior|
|22||Minnesota Vikings||Kyu Blu Kelly||Stanford||CB||Senior|
|23||Baltimore Ravens||Henry To'o To'o||Alabama||LB||Senior|
|24||Miami Dolphins (via SF)||Nolan Smith||Georgia||EDGE||Senior|
|25||Detroit Lions (via LAR)||Antonio Johnson||Texas A&M||S||Junior|
|26||Los Angeles Chargers||Josh Downs||North Carolina||WR||Junior|
|27||Green Bay Packers||Quentin Johnston||TCU||WR||Junior|
|28||Philadelphia Eagles||Jordan Battle||Alabama||S||Senior|
|29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Bijan Robinson||Texas||RB||Junior|
|30||Kansas City Chiefs||Isaiah Foskey||Notre Dame||EDGE||Senior|
|31||Buffalo Bills||Andrew Voorhees||USC||IOL||Senior (RS)|
The Anthony Richardson Conundrum
Anthony Richardson is an interesting draft prospect. He has the size at 6’4 230 pounds, and the tantalizing athleticism to be a threat with his arm and his legs. However, through four games this season Richardson just hasn’t shown the processing and accuracy to start from Day 1 in the NFL. Every pass right now is a fastball, with touch being a big issue with his accuracy.
In Mock Draft 1.0, Richardson goes to the Detroit Lions with the 8th pick. Yet, I think he should return to school and enter the 2024 draft. There’s much more he needs to do in order to start right away, and going back for another year of school would benefit him. This is where the conundrum comes in. If he were to enter the NFL Draft, I think he would be picked very high, by a team who doesn’t necessarily need him to start right away and has a good foundation for a QB to succeed.
Enter Detroit. The Lions are building a fantastic foundation with one of the best offensive lines in football and plenty of skill position players, especially when Jameson Williams gets healthy. Richardson can come in and sit behind Jared Goff (provided he doesn’t get outright cut this offseason) or any bridge QB they bring in, and when he’s ready he can take over the reigns.
Where do the receivers fall?
The upcoming receiver class doesn’t have the superstar power of 2020, or the overall depth that the 2021 class has shown, but there are still some fantastic players at the position who are draft eligible. In this first mock draft I have five receivers going in the first round, and it could be more depending on what the Jaguars do.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba has missed time due to an injury, but he’s a smooth receiver who can operate from the slot or outside. There might be questions about his overall athleticism, but having a receiver as nuanced and smooth as him raises the floor of your receiving group, which is why the Titans take him at 11.
The Patriots need a ball winner, and LSU’s Kayshon Boutte is a ball winner. He’s physical at the catch point and has the athleticism to win on the outside-just what New England needs.
Jordan Addison is probably the biggest question mark here. The production is there, he’s scored six touchdowns in four games and is averaging 16 yards per catch. However, his size (6’0, 175) might make scouts question his ability to constantly win at the NFL level. Right now he’s at 19 to the Indianapolis Colts, but he could also be the first receiver off the board.
Where does Jalen Carter go?
Jalen Carter could be the second best prospect in the entire draft. You just don’t find many guys at his size with his athleticism and technical prowess to dominate defenders at the next level. He might have been the best defensive prospect on that historic Georgia defense that sent five defenders to the NFL in the first round alone.
Well, why wouldn’t he be the second overall pick? It gets complicated. In this exercise, the Seahawks, Texans, Panthers and Bears opt to choose other players. Carter goes sixth to the Jets. The first three teams are QB needy and will be looking to draft their signal caller of the future. The Bears could draft Carter, but it’s pivotal for them to take a lineman, in order to protect young QB Justin Fields.
Carter could go anywhere in the top 10, depending on the order. However, teams that need a quarterback could make him slide a bit.
How to watch the 2023 NFL Draft
Event: 2023 NFL Draft
Date: April 27 – 29, 2023