2023 NFL mock draft

Staff member predicts top 16 picks of the year

The 2023 NFL Draft Class has gone through months of athletic testing, interviews and other evaluations. Now, college stars are ripe for the picking as NFL teams look to bring in what they hope to develop into future franchise stars. The class is deep at the quarterback position, in contrast to last year, but also has plenty of offensive weapons and defensive talents which can change a game’s momentum. This mock draft will include theoretical trades, but otherwise uses the draft order for the first 16 picks.

1) Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young – QB – Alabama

Approaching draft day, more and more speculation about who the Panthers might take kicks up. Young is the most polished passer in the class, a former Heisman trophy winner, and one of the brightest spots for the Crimson Tide in the past two seasons. Young also scored best in the class on the S2 test (98th percentile), a cognition test taken by many of the draft’s top quarterbacks. 

2) Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud – QB – Ohio State

Stroud is of prototypical size and has led the Buckeyes offense to almost 45 points per game in two seasons as the starter. A solid Texans offensive line should aid his transition to the NFL. He has an underrated mobility that was put on display in an impressive Peach Bowl performance against Georgia, though he still struggles under pressure. 

3) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson – QB – Florida

PROJECTED TRADE WITH CARDINALS In a projected trade with the Cardinals, Indy moves up one spot to not risk losing out on the athletic Richardson, who has been compared to a Josh Allen like dual-threat passer. Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was able to get the most out of 2022 MVP candidate Jalen Hurts’ rushing ability last season, so the first year head coach could establish a similar offense with Richardson. 

4) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr. – EDGE – Alabama

PROJECTED TRADE WITH COLTS The Cardinals haven’t seen much change for who they’re expected to draft with their first pick. Anderson Jr. will replace future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt on the defensive line.  

5) Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter – IDL – Georgia 

Off-the-field issues hurt Carter’s draft stock. A questionable pro day could drop him further, but Seattle needs interior defensive line help and Carter has been unblockable when on the field. His game changing ability to generate pressure will help Seattle follow up on its unprecedented 2022-23 playoff appearance. 

6) Detroit Lions: Tyree Wilson – EDGE – Texas Tech

Detroit brought in upgrades to their secondary during free agency via defensive backs Cameron Sutton and C.J. Gardner Johnson. While a top cornerback, which this draft has, could be useful, they opt to improve the defensive line with Wilson. The Red Raider could plug and play along the Lions defensive line, adding another pass rusher to play opposite of second year edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson

7) Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez – CB – Oregon

If the Raiders end up really liking Will Levis, that’s who they should take here. The defense, primarily the secondary, is still in definite need of some upgrades. Gonzalez has flown up draft boards after an impressive NFL Scouting Combine performance and a career year at Oregon, where he intercepted four passes. 

8) Tennessee Titans: Will Levis – QB – Kentucky

PROJECTED TRADE WITH FALCONS Ryan Tannehill’s age has made him a salary cap crunch for the Titans, and while the Titans drafted Malik Willis as his replacement just last year, a prospect like Levis may be too hard to pass up on. Watching as the Raiders pass up on him, the Titans take no risks and trade up to snag the cannon-armed Kentucky product. 

9) Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski – OT – Northwestern

The Bears likely don’t mind seeing Justin Fields’ scrambling ability on display, but he definitely needs some help on offense, especially along the offensive line which gave up a league-most 55 sacks last season. Skoronski is the best offensive tackle in the class and could even slide inside to play guard.

10) Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson – RB – Texas

Philly did well at managing free agency. The Eagles could take hard hitting defensive back Devon Witherspoon, but Robinson is touted as a generational talent at running back. Miles Sanders, the team’s leading rusher last year, signed with the Panthers in free agency, so Robinson could be his replacement. 

11)​ Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy – EDGE – Clemson

PROJECTED TRADE WITH TITANS With recent drafts providing young offensive talent for Atlanta, they opt to revive their pass rush with the 6’5” bull rusher who racked up 54 QB hits and 15 sacks in his last two seasons at Clemson. 

12) Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba – WR – Ohio State

Pairing up the Ohio State teammates will only help Stroud settle in Houston. The Texas-native Smith-Njigba will also get the chance to replicate his historic Rose Bowl performance with Stroud under center. 

13) Green Bay Packers: Dalton Kincaid – TE – Utah

It finally happened: the Jets brought in their long-awaited, and it seems as though both sides got good compensation. This shouldn’t change the Packers draft day game plan too much. They need weapons other than Christian Watson, especially after losing Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan to free agency. Kincaid is the best receiving tight end in this year’s class, with his 890 receiving yards making him the leading Utes receiver in 2022.

14) New England Patriots: Paris Johnson Jr. – OT – Ohio State

The Patriots offensive line was highly penalized last season, has some veterans who are getting older, and already traded guard Shaq Mason to the Buccaneers. Johnson Jr. will have tackle and guard versatility for the Patriots, though they could also elect to stop Witherspoon’s slip.

15) New York Jets: Broderick Jones – OT – Georgia

The Jets still managed to retain a 2023 first rounder out of the Aaron Rodgers trade, and their draft philosophy should be even more set in stone now that they have him. Jones will bring in another big man up front to keep Rodgers clean as he looks for former Packers teammate Allen Lazard or 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson

16) Washington Commanders: Devon Witherspoon – CB – Illinois

This is an enormous slide for Witherspoon, who held opposing quarterbacks to a 25.3 quarterback rating in 2022. He’s a physical cornerback with a nose for the football that will help the Commanders defend against a stellar group of NFC East receivers like AJ Brown and Ceedee Lamb.