We have finally made it to the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Weeks of speculation are now over and teams will make selections that could change the future of their franchise for better or for worse. However, our Denver Broncos are without a first-round pick because of them acquiring head coach Sean Payton from the New Orleans Saints. So, we will have to wait until Friday to see our Broncos to make a pick.
With that said, I am still going to do my best to mock the first round of this likely very unpredictable first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Carolina, you’re on the clock!
1. Carolina Panthers: Alabama QB, Bryce Young
The Panthers traded up from 9th overall with the Chicago Bears so they could get their guy. There was some speculation on who that guy could be, but at the end of the day, Bryce Young will be a Carolina Panther.
2. Houston Texans: Ohio State QB, C.J. Stroud
There is talk that the Texans will go defense here but I think that is nonsense. They need a quarterback and Stroud can be that guy. They hired DeMeco Ryans to be their head coach and now get him a quarterback to grow with.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Alabama EDGE, Will Anderson
The Cardinals would prefer to trade down here, but if Will Anderson falls into their laps, he is too good to pass up. The Alabama edge rusher is getting comparisons to Von Miller and will add some much-needed talent to the Arizona defense.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Kentucky QB, Will Levis
There is a lot of smoke here between the big-armed Levis and the Colts and I am buying it. After going with multiple veteran bandaids for years, they get their hopeful franchise quarterback here in Levis.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Alabama DT, Jalen Carter
Entering the draft, Jalen Carter was viewed as the best player in the draft. However, after some off-the-field stuff and a terrible pro day showing, his stock dropped a bit. With that said, his tape is still dominant and the Seahawks take a chance on the talent.
6. Detroit Lions: Illinois CB, Devon Witherspoon
The Lions traded away former top pick Jeff Okudah earlier this offseason and need to add their secondary. Now, they add the talented Witherspoon to bolster Dan Campbell’s defense.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Oregon CB, Christian Gonzalez
The Raiders could go quarterback or offensive line here but they need to improve their secondary, especially when playing within the AFC West. So, I have them selecting the big and talented Christian Gonzalez here at 7th overall.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Texas RB, Bijan Robinson
The Falcons leaned on the run game last season and will lean on it, even more, this year after selecting arguably the best player in the draft in Bijan Robinson. He is an explosive runner who is an equally good receiver who can instantly become the Falcons identity moving forward.
9. Chicago Bears: Ohio State OT, Paris Johnson Jr.
Justin Fields had a breakout year last year and now, the Bears need to help protect him. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. is expected to be the top tackle off the board and I have him joining the Chicago Bears.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Texas Tech EDGE, Tyree Wilson
Despite appearing in the Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles have a top-10 pick and use it to bolster their pass rush. Ideally, a cornerback would fall to them here or even Bijan, but they settle on getting a top pass rusher in this draft.
11. Tennessee Titans: Florida QB, Anthony Richardson
The Titans have been in the market for a quarterback and get their guy here in Anthony Richardson. He is full of upside but needs time to grow as a prospect and can do that behind Ryan Tannehill.
12. Houston Texans: Ohio State WR, Jaxon Smith-Njigba
After selecting C.J. Stroud with their second overall pick, I have them selecting his former Ohio State teammate in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The Texans need help at receiver after trading away Brandin Cooks and JSN will do just that and have a smooth transition with Stroud.
13. Green Bay Packers: Georgia OT, Broderick Jones
With the Jordan Love era now underway in Green Bay, I have them improving their protection by selecting Georgia tackle Broderick Jones. They have dealt with injuries at tackle the past few seasons and now are without Aaron Rodgers so adding some youth and talent there is needed.
14. New England Patriots: Northwestern OT, Peter Skoronski
The Patriots missed out on the top tackles and receiver, so this might be the worst-case scenario here for them, but they still get a good one in Skoronski. He can play either tackle or guard and gives them some much-needed offensive line depth. Knowing the Patriots, they will take a third-round graded player here.
15. New York Jets: Tennessee OT, Darnell Wright
The Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers and kept their first-round pick and will use that pick to bolster their offensive line. I have them selecting Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright here to help protect Rodgers’s blindside.
16. Washington Commanders: Mississippi State CB, Emmanuel Forbes
The Commanders can go a few different ways here but I have them selecting the talented Emmanuel Forbes to help improve their secondary. They seem to be against going after a quarterback so I have them passing on Hendon Hooker.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Penn State CB, Joey Porter Jr.
I may have forced this pick a little bit, but it makes sense and seems like something the Steelers would do. Joey Porter is a former great player and coach for the Steelers and now gets his talented son to help their secondary.
18. Detroit Lions: Georgia EDGE, Nolan Smith
The Lions continue to improve their defense with this pick and select the explosive Nolan Smith to pair with Aiden Hutchinson. He has 4.3 speed and could thrive in Dan Campbell’s defense.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Clemson EDGE, Myles Murphy
The Tom Brady era is over and the Baker Mayfield era is here but I have them going defense here. Todd Bowles adds to his pass-rushing unit here by taking Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Maryland CB, Deonte Banks
The Seahawks struck gold last year when they selected Tariq Woolen last in last year's draft and he turned out to be a star. Now, I have them finding a corner who can pair with him here with Maryland’s Deonte banks.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Boston College WR, Zay Flowers
The Chargers have a new offensive coordinator and are looking to add playmakers around quarterback Justin Herbert. So, I have them selecting the speedy Zay Flowers here to go with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Iowa EDGE, Lukas Van Ness
Each year it seems like a talented player falls to the Ravens and they select them and turn them into a star and I think it happens again. I have them selecting edge rusher Lukas Van Ness here to help improve their pass rush.
23. Minnesota Vikings: USC WR, Jordan Addison
The Vikings lost longtime receiver Adam Theilen to the Panthers in free agency and need to find some playmakers to go with Justin Jefferson. So, I have them selecting USC wide receiver Jordan Addison here to give quarterback Kirk Cousin another talented weapon to throw too.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alabama S, Brian Branch
The Jaguars look to improve their defense by adding the versatile defensive back Brian Branch to their secondary. He can play either safety position and even be a solid slot defender for them.
25. New York Giants: TCU WR Quentin Johnston
The Giants did add to their offense during free agency and I have them addressing it again here by selecting TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston. The big receiver will give Danny Dimes and the Giants a big target in their improving passing attack.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Utah TE, Dalton Kincaid
The Cowboys lost Dalton Schultz to free agency and I have them replacing him with Utah’s talented tight end, Dalton Kincaid. He is a big and athletic tight end who could emerge as a playmaker for quarterback Dak Prescott.
27. Buffalo Bills: Arkansas LB, Drew Sanders
During free agency, the Bills lost star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to the Chicago Bears and now will replace him with Arkansas linebacker, Drew Sanders. The former edge rusher thrived as an off-the-ball linebacker and will do well next to star linebacker Matt Milano.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Notre Dame TE, Michael Mayer
The Bengals continue to add to their explosive offense here by adding the talented in-line tight end Michael Mayer to their offense. He is a solid run blocker who is also a weapon in the passing game who could thrive in the middle of the field for the Bengals' offense.
29. New Orleans Saints: Pittsburgh IDL, Calijah Kancey
The Saints need help along their defensive line, so I have them selecting pass rush specialist Calijah Kancey. He is smaller and lighter than you would like, but his pass-rushing ability will make him an intriguing player in the NFL.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Alabama RB, Jahmyr Gibbs
The Eagles lost Miles Sanders to free agency and replace him with the explosive Jahmyr Gibbs. He can help out in the backfield, as a receiver, and give the Eagles another dynamic player to an already loaded offense.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Clemson DT, Bryan Bresee
To round out the first round, the reigning Super Bowl champions select Clemson defensive lineman, Bryan Bresee. The athletic lineman will pair nicely next to star defensive lineman Chris Jones.