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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Way-Too-Early Version 1 (May 2022)

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Way-Too-Early Version 1 (May 2022)

The 2022 NFL draft is only one week old, but there’s no time like the present to seize the future, so here it is: My way-too-early 2023 NFL mock draft.

Did the world ask for this?


But does the world need it? …

Well, probably not.

Still, you’re gonna get it.


In my way-too-early 2022 NFL mock, I had Kayvon Thibodeaux and Derek Stingley in the top five, and I predicted Evan Neal to the Giants at No. 7. Oracle, indeed. I definitely know what I’m doing.

Most importantly, I categorically did not have Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell mocked Nos. 1-2. Never happened.

Each mock is absurd. Even if it’s done the day of the actual NFL draft. It’s ridiculous. A mock done a year in advance — before the selection order has been set, before the college football season has been played, before any prospects have declared — that’s just full-on ludicrous speed.

As it happens, ludicrous speed is my only speed.

Over the past four years, I’m the No. 2 mocker in the FantasyPros Accuracy Contest.

In creating this mock, I set draft order by consulting consensus team futures. The Texans have the longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +25000, so they get pick No. 1. The Bills have the shortest odds at +650, so they have pick No. 32. When teams have identical odds, I’ve determined draft order by using odds from the following sportsbooks in this order.

I’m sure a more sophisticated way exists to set the draft order, but this method suffices.

If you’re curious, here’s my way-too-early 2023 top 50 big board.

Andrew Erickson Mock Draft

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)
If the Texans finish with the worst record in the league, second-year third-rounder Davis Mills will almost certainly not be the long-term starting quarterback for the team, and Stroud is the near-consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2023 class.

2. Atlanta Falcons: Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)
Marcus Mariota is a stopgap option. Desmond Ridder is a Day 2 selection. The Falcons need a franchise quarterback.

3. Detroit Lions: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)
I’m being aggressive in putting Smith-Njigba this high, but he’s the clear No. 1 wide receiver entering the 2022 college season, and the Lions could use a top-tier pass catcher to partner with Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Quarterback is a bigger need, but No. 3 is a reach for any of the quarterbacks on the board, and the Lions can take one later with their second first-rounder.

4. New York Jets: Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)
Depending on which team ends up with the top pick, Anderson could be the No. 1 overall selection.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Carter (DT – Georgia)
The Jags grab 2022 No. 1 pick Travon Walker‘s college teammate to pair with him on the defensive line.

6. Carolina Panthers: Tyler Van Dyke (QB – Miami)
The No. 3 quarterback in the class could be a number of people. Right now, I’ll go with Van Dyke.

The Panthers finally get a real option at quarterback — but not soon enough to save head coach Matt Rhule’s job.

7. Chicago Bears: Jordan Addison (WR – Transfer Portal)
I can’t tell you where the 2021 All-American and Fred Biletnikoff Award winner will play in 2022, but the Bears sure could use him in 2023.

8. Seattle Seahawks: Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)
In high school Bresee was the No. 1 recruit in the nation. The Seahawks won’t be able to pass up an impact player of his caliber, especially since they can address the quarterback position later in Round 1 with their second pick.

9. New York Giants: Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)
Four passers in the top 10? It’s true that quarterbacks tend to be overrated in mock drafts, but this might be the greatest quarterback class since 1983, when an NFL-record six players at the position were selected in Round 1.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson (G – Ohio State)
Even though Johnson has played guard to this point in his college career, he was the No. 1 offensive tackle in his recruitment class and probably has the talent to kick outside in the NFL.

Even at guard, Johnson is arguably the top offensive lineman in the class, and the Steelers need to fortify their line.

11. Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo (CB – Georgia)
Ringo enters the 2022 season as the No. 1 corner in the class, given his role as the marquee cover man on the vaunted Bulldogs defense.

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)
The Eagles value depth at edge rusher and routinely invest in the position. Veteran Brandon Graham is 34 years old and slated for free agency in 2023.

Pick via New Orleans Saints

13. Minnesota Vikings: Kayshon Boutte (WR – LSU)
No. 2 wide receiver Adam Thielen turns 32 years old in August, and No. 3 receiver K.J. Osborn is unproven. Boutte would be a worthy running mate alongside Justin Jefferson.

14. New England Patriots: Eli Ricks (CB – Alabama)
The Patriots seemingly have 20 cornerbacks, and not one of them is a shutdown defender.

15. Las Vegas Raiders: Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)
2019 No. 4 pick Clelin Ferrell is slated for free agency in 2023 after the team declined his fifth-year option.

16. Miami Dolphins: B.J. Ojulari (EDGE – LSU)
Outside of Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips, the Dolphins are thin at edge rusher.

17. Philadelphia Eagles: Malachi Moore (S – Alabama)
Rodney McLeod is now with the Colts, and Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps are free agents in 2023. Moore is a versatile safety/corner hybrid who started at the “star” position for Alabama as a true freshman.

18. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)
Bodies are needed to block for running back Derrick Henry. In what looks like a down year for offensive linemen, Skoronski might be the top tackle in the class.

19. Arizona Cardinals: Joey Porter Jr. (CB – Penn State)
The Cardinals entered the 2022 draft desperately needing to take a cornerback, and they did … in the seventh round.

20. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Hayes (OT – Michigan)
If the Colts pick No. 20 next year, that will probably mean quarterback Matt Ryan played well enough to keep the starting job for at least another season, in which case drafting a blocker for him might be more important than finding his long-term replacement.

21. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnson (WR – Texas Christian)
The Ravens need to get quarterback Lamar Jackson another receiver after trading away No. 1 option Marquise Brown — and TCU is known for producing Hall-of-Fame first-round receivers, such as Jalen Reagor and Josh Doctson. What could go wrong?

22. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)
This pick is almost too perfect to happen in reality.

23. Houston Texans: Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)
On the one hand, it would be ridiculous for the Texans to take Robinson in Round 1. On the other hand, he could go much higher than this in the actual draft … and the Texans do kind of need a running back.

Pick via Cleveland Browns

24. Dallas Cowboys: Noah Sewell (LB – Oregon)
If there’s one thing owner Jerry Jones can’t refuse, it’s an athletic linebacker in Round 1. Of course, there isn’t much that Jones can’t refuse, but that’s another issue.

25. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Nelson (OL – Miami)
I put Nelson in Round 1 of my way-too-early mock last year — and then he returned to school for his senior season. Second time’s the charm, and the Chargers need to protect quarterback Justin Herbert.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Spencer Rattler (QB – South Carolina)
Rattler was the No. 1 pick in last year’s way-too-early mock, and the Seahawks need a quarterback, so here we are.

Pick via Denver Broncos

27. Miami Dolphins: Jahmyr Gibbs (RB – Georgia Tech)
I’m skeptical that the Dolphins will actually draft Gibbs here given that head coach Mike McDaniel rose through the ranks working for Mike and Kyle Shanahan, but the Dolphins need a lead back, and Gibbs has a shot to go in Round 1.

Pick via San Francisco 49ers

28. Detroit Lions: Phil Jurkovec (QB – Boston College)
In a deep quarterback class, the Lions get their guy near the end of Round 1. Also in consideration here were Anthony Richardson, Devin Leary and Brennan Armstrong.

I can’t put more than a record-tying six quarterbacks in Round 1 of a mock, especially one this far in advance. I wouldn’t be able to respect myself if I did.

But it’s worth noting that Mel Kiper set the line at 6.5 quarterbacks on a recent episode of the Adam Schefter Podcast — and he took the over.

Maybe that just means Kiper isn’t great at setting a line — but it’s notable that right now he thinks the 2023 quarterback class could be truly historic.

Pick via Los Angeles Rams

29. Green Bay Packers: Josh Downs (WR – North Carolina)
I doubt the Packers will draft a wide receiver in Round 1 next year — but they need more bodies at the position, and I need to get Downs into the top 32. The fit is good enough.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)
Even after selecting Leo Chenal in Round 3 of the 2022 draft, the Chiefs could still use another playmaking off-ball linebacker, and Simpson is widely mocked in Round 1 right now.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Isaiah Foskey (EDGE – Notre Dame)
If Tom Brady leaves the Bucs or retires next offseason, this pick would likely be a quarterback — if the 2023 class is as strong as people believe.

Right now, I’ll assume that Brady will be with the Bucs, so I’ll give them another edge rusher, where they are thin after letting Jason Pierre-Paul walk in free agency.

32. Buffalo Bills: Jalen Catalon (S – Arkansas)
I was tempted by wide receivers Marvin Mims and Dontay Demus, but the Bills have good depth at the position, and starting safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are both 31 years old and could be elsewhere after the 2022 season.


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