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Kent Weyrauch’s Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Kent Weyrauch’s Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Welcome to my first mock draft of the 2023 NFL Draft cycle!

In this first rendition, I will connect prospects to teams I think will fit well. Then as we approach the NFL Draft in April, I will be utilizing betting odds and news to improve and adjust the mock thereafter. Ultimately the goal is to be predictive of the actual 2023 NFL Draft.

2023 NFL Draft Guide: Prospect Rankings & Player Profiles

2023 NFL Mock Draft

Round 1

1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young (QB – ALA)

While exciting and fun, Davis Mills isn’t up to snuff as an NFL-caliber quarterback. Bryce Young represents a fresh beginning for a roster that needs to be repaired at nearly every position. The Texans currently hold the most draft pick value (using OverTheCap.com’s Fitzgerald-Spielberger pick value chart) by a considerable amount. So while trading down is technically a possibility, I doubt they’re considering that option with the first overall pick, given the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner’s elite passing prowess. At this point, it’s a slam-dunk selection for the Houston Texans.


2. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter (DL – UGA)

Jalen Carter might be the best player in this draft, with positional value removed. And even when you factor that in, he’s a near lock to be drafted in the top three picks of the 2023 NFL Draft. Players that weigh 300+ pounds simply should not be able to move as quickly as Jalen Carter does. His combination of power and speed is nearly unmatched, and the Chicago Bears’ defense would immediately reap benefits from this selection.


3. Seattle Seahawks: Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE – ALA)

The other blue-chip defender in this year’s draft is Will Anderson Jr. out of Alabama. Over the last two seasons, Anderson Jr. posted a combined 152 tackles, 48 tackles for loss and 27.5 sacks in 27 total games. His nose for hunting down the opposing quarterback is second-to-none in this class of edge defenders. The Seattle Seahawks are heading into the 2023 season with just Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu as their top edger rushers. Adding Anderson into the mix would beef up a defensive line that ranks 27th in ESPN’s pass-rush win rate.


4. Detroit Lions: CJ Stroud (QB – OSU)

The Detroit Lions claim they are committed to Jared Goff, but reading between the lines tells a different story. Goff is technically under contract through the 2024 season, but he can be cut with just a $10 million dead cap this offseason or a $5 million dead cap prior to the 2024 season. Both of these are viable options should C.J. Stroud fall to them at the fourth overall pick in the draft. Stroud lit the world on fire as a redshirt freshman in 2021. And even though his most recent season wasn’t quite as dominant as the year prior, he still put up outstanding numbers and was a Heisman finalist. If he can work out the inconsistencies in his game, the Lions will be extremely satisfied with Stroud under center.


5. Arizona Cardinals: Joey Porter Jr. (CB – PSU)

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of gaps in their roster at the moment, and cornerback is no exception. They currently have just two total corners signed for the 2023 season Marco Wilson and Christian Matthew. Neither of those two should be considered viable starters in the NFL. Even if the Cardinals bring back Byron Murphy on a new contract, the need at cornerback is still massive. Enter Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State. The legacy prospect of Joey Porter Sr. looks to establish his own successful career in the NFL with a great combination of traits and ball-tracking talents.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis (QB – UK)

This is where things start to get spicy. Will Levis will be one of the more polarizing prospects this cycle at the quarterback position. He was just a three-star recruit that transferred from Penn State to Kentucky in his redshirt junior season and will be entering the draft just two months before his 24th birthday. Not to mention his passing stats at both schools were decent at best. All this said, his athleticism and traits are elite, and there is potential arm talent to be harnessed. A year behind Matt Ryan might be one of the better outcomes for Levis and the Indianapolis Colts.


7. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy (EDGE – CLEM)

Last year the Atlanta Falcons drafted Arnold Ebiketie in the early second round to shore up an edge rushing unit that didn’t have much going for it. This year, it’s fairly likely that they dip back into that well and grab an edge defender like Myles Murphy. In his three years at Clemson, Murphy recorded consistently solid pass-rushing metrics. None of his seasons were eye-popping, but his early contribution as a freshman is a great sign, and his pass-rushing technique has improved each year.


8. Carolina Panthers: Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)

Expect wide receivers to go early and often in this year’s draft. The free agent pool of receivers for the NFL this offseason is atrocious, and many teams will be seeking pass-catchers in the first few rounds of the NFL Draft. Quentin Johnston is the top wideout on many boards, despite his limited production due to injuries. His route running is sharp and creates separation with purpose. The Carolina Panthers are a mixed bag right now in terms of their passing attack entering the 2023 season. Still, regardless of who starts under center, Johnston will improve their offensive situation on day one.


9. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelee Ringo (CB – UGA)

Kelee Ringo is the top cornerback on NFLMockDraftDatabase.com’s consensus big board, but many scouts agree that he might be a boom/bust type of secondary defender. His best trait is his freak athleticism and explosiveness, but he often reverts to falling back on his inherent traits rather than making the correct technical play. The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most complete teams in the NFL right now, so they have the luxury of picking a trait-heavy corner with their first selection.


10. Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr. (OT – OSU)

Every year offensive tackles end up going sooner than expected due to the positional scarcity and the fact that the offensive line is a weak link system. There are two big, strong tackles that will very likely be drafted within the first 15 picks of the NFL Draft. One of those two is Paris Johnson. The 6’6″ behemoth stood strong for Ohio State this season, where he started all 12 games at left tackle. He slots in better on the Las Vegas Raiders because he has experience playing on the right side of the line, and Kolton Miller is their locked-in left tackle.


11. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Gonzalez (CB – ORE)

This year, the third corner off the board should be Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez. His versatility and instincts are some of the best in this class. His balance and tracking ability shined through when he went into contested situations. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a gaping hole at cornerback, so Gonzalez fits in nicely as a combination of elite talent at a position of need.

12. Houston Texans: Peter Skoronski (OT -NWU)

As mentioned earlier, the Texans have a ton of needs. After selecting Bryce Young first overall, it only makes sense that they shore up the offensive line to protect their future. Peter Skoronski was one of the best tackles in college football this year. He allowed just six pressures on 474 pass-blocking snaps for Northwestern, per PFF. The Texans have Laremy Tunsil, but he’s a free agent in 2024 and could even be cut this offseason if the team is looking to move in a new direction.


13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Bryan Bresee (DL – CLEM)

Bryan Bresee is a former five-star recruit who eats blocks for lunch. He often wins with lower body power and solid footwork. After three solid years on the Clemson defense, he lands on a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has a lack of defensive tackles on the books for the 2023 season. Bresee is a day-one starter for the black and gold.


14. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison (WR – USC)

I know last year we just went through the “will the Packers draft a receiver in the first round?” rigamarole, and I know that they did come away with both Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. However, it’s clear that if the Packers want Aaron Rodgers to return, they still need more help at receiver. Jordan Addison fits that bill. Though his strengths are similar to Watson’s, he is capable of working out of the slot to replace Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard.


15. Seattle Seahawks: Trenton Simpson (LB – CLEM)

In recent years, the positional value placed on linebackers has taken a hit, but Trenton Simpson might make a strong case to go in the middle of the first round. Another Clemson defensive stalwart, Simpson is a reactive and aggressive defender whose motor never stops chugging. The Seahawks’ defense has seen highs and lows this year, but definitely favoring the lows side. Getting Simpson will shore up their defense and round out their team.


16. New England Patriots: Broderick Jones (OT – UGA)

The New England Patriots desperately need an offensive tackle, as Trent Brown is the only starting caliber one under contract for next season. Broderick Jones is a former five-star recruit who absolutely dominated after taking over for Jamaree Salyer during his redshirt sophomore season. He allowed just 16 total pressures on 594 pass-blocking snaps at Georgia.


17. New York Jets: Tyree Wilson (Edge – TTU)

Tyree Wilson has been on the rise lately, but I still think he’s destined for the middle of the first round. The New York Jets take the chance on Wilson, hoping he can rotate during his rookie season, then ultimately take over Carl Lawson‘s spot in the defense. He is an explosive athlete that needs to build out his pass-rushing technique before he’s a star in the NFL.


18. Detroit Lions: Cam Smith (CB – SC)

The Detroit Lions get lucky here, as Cam Smith is probably a top-15 player in this class. He possesses really solid speed and lateral agility in coverage and has the length to defend NFL-caliber receivers. He needs to refine his route recognition but has a high floor as a cornerback. The Lions need some help in the secondary, and Smith fits that need perfectly with their second pick in the first round.


19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Verse (EDGE – FSU)

This draft class has no lack of strong options for edge defenders and Jared Verse is no exception. If you were building an edge defender from scratch, you would start with a frame like Jared Verse. He still needs to develop a bit with his bend and pass-rush adjustments but he shows a lot of potential on the bull rush of the edge. He lands on a Buccaneers’ squad that needs some young blood on the defensive line.


20. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Foskey (EDGE – ND)

Despite this being the third edge defender in the last four picks, the Titans will be very happy to land Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey with their first-round selection. He doesn’t quite have the natural talent at the position like the last two edge defenders but shows no mercy as he beats down opposing offensive linemen. His hands are his best feature and should allow him to build out the rest of his tool kit in the coming years.


21. Washington Commanders: Antonio Johnson (S – A&M)

Similar to linebackers, safeties have taken a hit in positional value recently. We just saw Kyle Hamilton fall to the 14th pick when he was arguably a top-five talent in last year’s class. Antonio Johnson is no Kyle Hamilton, but he’s a well-rounded prospect that can start on day one. He’s better in coverage than he is in the box or as a tackler, but has great size and could progress in those areas. He would likely start as a slot defender for the Commanders and earn his way to playing time beyond that.


22. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – OSU)

This is one of my favorite pairings this cycle, and I think it’s quite likely to occur, given Jaxon Smith-Njigba‘s injury. The Los Angeles Chargers have been dealing with plenty of their own injuries at the wide receiver position and both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are approaching the end of their contracts. Some of their younger receivers have shown flashes, but nothing bankable. Smith-Njigba would be an electric pick to pair up with Justin Herbert.


23. Miami Dolphins forfeited their pick.


24. New York Giants: Anthony Richardson (QB – FLA)

As we near the end of the first round, a team will take a chance on Anthony Richardson‘s traits. If a head coach in this range could take Richardson and develop him into an NFL-level passer, it’s Brian Daboll. This season he’s made Daniel Jones appear adequate and that’s saying a lot. Richardson will enter a league conforming to the idea of dual-threat quarterbacks being an important role. For now, his only true threat is running, but arm talent is also there.


25. Baltimore Ravens: Jalin Hyatt (WR – UT)

Jalin Hyatt blazed his way to a late first-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens, who are struggling to field a decent corps of pass-catchers. He’s not as technically savvy as the other top wideouts and only produced for one season, but his explosion was big enough for teams to take notice. Hyatt can step in as the top slot receiver, so Rashod Bateman can operate almost entirely outside.


26. Denver Broncos: Nolan Smith (EDGE – UGA)

Here is another bursty, twitchy edge rusher that absolutely guns the quarterback. Nolan Smith was a four-year starter for Georgia that never quite translated his athleticism into outstanding production numbers. However, the Broncos will be able to integrate him into a system that has done a decent job of shutting down opposing quarterbacks but just needs that extra level of speed.


27. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer (TE – ND)

This is another perfect match. The Bengals’ offense has been rolling lately but tends to break down when one of their star receivers gets injured. Michael Mayer is a pass-catching weapon that has also shown massive strides in his run-blocking skills this season. Mayer led the FBS in total offensive grade, per PFF. He’d juice that Bengals’ offense up immediately.


28. Dallas Cowboys: Devon Witherspoon (CB – FLA)

The Cowboys’ defense has been good this year, but they have some questionable cornerback depth beyond Trevon Diggs. Devon Witherspoon is a speedy corner that performs well in man coverage. He lacks the size that higher-ranked corners possess but shows enough anticipation and aggressiveness in coverage that he should contribute to the Cowboy’s secondary rotation right away.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Brian Branch (S – ALA)

Brian Branch might be considered a cornerback, depending on which team drafts him. He worked mostly out of the slot during his three years at Alabama, but he’s versatile and can work in the box or occasionally cover an outside zone. The Chiefs have decent needs across their entire secondary, so Branch could serve as a very nice wildcard defender for them.


30. Minnesota Vikings: Clark Phillips III (CB – UTAH)

It’s no secret that the Vikings’ defense has been bad to horrific at times this season. The biggest issues have been poor play and injuries among their cornerback group. Clark Phillips is great in coverage but will have to work on his tackling and footwork to sustain an NFL career. Still, the Vikings fill a huge need and will provide an immediate opportunity for Phillips to show out.


31. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson (RB – TEX)

Honestly, I think Bijan Robinson will go higher than this. For now, I just want to make sure people are aware that Robinson deserves to go in the first round of the NFL draft. The Bills are an excellent landing spot for him, as they have a strong roster and can afford the luxury pick. Robinson exploded for 1,894 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns for the Texas Longhorns this season. He has the burst and cutting ability to translate to the NFL immediately.


32. Philadelphia Eagles: B.J. Ojulari (EDGE – LSU)

Rounding out the first round, the Eagles make their second selection on the defensive side of the ball. B.J. Ojulari is a slightly undersized edge rusher but has strong instincts and incredible lateral movement. The Eagles have a lot of dead cap attributed to edge defenders in the coming years, so grabbing one here with the potential for a fifth-year option could return dividends.

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