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Matthew Jones’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

Matthew Jones’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

Below is my latest guess at how the NFL Draft’s first round might unfold if it were held today. I’ve also included a list of prospects who were considered for one or more picks but ultimately just missed the cut.

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2023 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

1. Chicago Bears – Will Anderson Jr. (DE – ALA)

I anticipate the Bears continuing to build around Justin Fields, so I’d be surprised if they leaned toward a passer here. If they stay at No. 1, I expect Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter.

2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young (QB – ALA)

Winning their season finale dropped the Texans to second overall. However, unless someone trades ahead of Houston, Bryce Young will be available and is an easy choice for them at this spot.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Myles Murphy (DE – CLEM)

Jalen Carter is probably the most highly-regarded defensive lineman available, but I’m sticking with Myles Murphy here as a better fit for Vance Joseph’s scheme, at least until the Cardinals hire a head coach.

4. Indianapolis Colts – CJ Stroud (QB – OSU)

With the Matt Ryan experiment being unsuccessful, it’s probably time for the Colts to try drafting a franchise quarterback rather than acquiring another late-career stopgap at the position.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) – Jalen Carter (DT – UGA)

This seems like an easy pick, with some considering Carter the best prospect in the class and Seattle needing to add a foundational piece to their defensive line to shore up a relatively weak front.

6. Detroit Lions (from Rams) – Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)

This could be any position on defense; I’m assuming Detroit wants to hang on to Jared Goff after a strong season. Bryan Bresee dealt with a lot this past year, but he’s still an incredible talent.

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

Tackle was a relative strength for the Raiders’ weak offensive line, with Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor having solid years, but the latter, as well as Paris Johnson Jr., have experience inside.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Tyree Wilson (DE – Texas Tech)

After recording just 21 sacks this past year, a pass-rusher would make sense here. It’s too early in my view to give up on Desmond Ridder by drafting someone like Will Levis.

9. Carolina Panthers – Will Levis (QB – UK)

Divison-rival Atlanta passing on Levis means the Panthers can address the quarterback spot with arguably the most talented (though inconsistent) passer in the draft.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints) – Antonio Johnson (S – A&M)

This may be slightly early for Johnson, who played more slot than safety in college, but he can do a little bit of everything, and beyond Darius Slay and James Bradberry, Philadelphia are somewhat thin in the secondary.

11. Tennessee Titans – Peter Skoronski (OT – NWU)

Taylor Lewan may be on his way out of Tennessee, having dealt with numerous injuries in recent years, including a torn ACL this season. If so, the Titans will need to add a tackle.

12. Houston Texans (from Browns) – Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)

This year’s class doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver prospect, but Quentin Johnston is the most talented option. Even if Brandin Cooks stays, the Texans could use a wideout.

13. New York Jets – Broderick Jones (OT – UGA)

It doesn’t look like Mekhi Becton will be the long-term answer in New York after failing to play in a game this past year, and drafting Anthony Richardson may be too risky at this point.

14. New England Patriots – Cam Smith (CB – SC)

Brian Branch may be an even better fit here should Devin McCourty retire, but otherwise, maybe a physical cornerback who would allow New England to play more man coverage next year.

15. Green Bay Packers – Michael Mayer (TE – ND)

I’m sticking with this pick because I think what Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs showed this past year was promising. Michael Mayer gives Aaron Rodgers help without undermining the young receivers.

16. Washington Commanders – Brian Branch (S – ALA)

Safety isn’t necessarily a major need, but Washington often likes to invest premium picks in their defense, many of whom have been Alabama players (Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, etc.)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kelee Ringo (CB – UGA)

Finding a true No. 1 cornerback will likely be one of Pittsburgh’s priorities this offseason. Kelee Ringo fits what the Steelers look for well, with the freakish physical tools to justify being selected this high.

18. Detroit Lions – Christian Gonzalez (CB – ORE)

Doubling down on Clemson prospects with Trenton Simpson would be interesting. However, given how major of a need cornerback is for the Lions, a polished prospect like Christian Gonzalez would be hard to pass on.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bijan Robinson (RB – TEX)

Bijan Robinson shouldn’t be available this late, but if he is, he’d immediately fix one of the league’s most stagnant rushing attacks and become a focal point of the offense, with or without Tom Brady.

20. Seattle Seahawks – Nolan Smith (DE – UGA)

One of the most explosive athletes in the class, Nolan Smith would be a good fit for the “Leo” rusher spot in Seattle’s defense. They have shown a willingness to draft different body types on the edge.

Miami Dolphins – pick forfeited

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Siaki Ika (DT – BU)

A few directions are possible here many expected the Chargers to draft a wide receiver high last year but it’d also be worth considering a foundational piece for their three-man defensive lines.

22. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Addison (WR – USC)

This could really be either of the receivers left. Yet, should Jordan Addison and/or Jaxon Smith-Njigba be available here, the Ravens would have to strongly consider adding one to their passing game.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Clark Phillips III (CB – Utah)

While there are more physically gifted cornerbacks available at this point, someone with Clark Phillips III’s polish and versatility would perhaps be a good fit for a playoff team trying to win right now.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

Tyson Campbell is having an excellent year as the Jaguars’ top cornerback, but the Jaguars still ranked 18th in pass defense this year, allowing the fourth-worst rate of third-down conversions.

25. New York Giants – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – OSU)

Regardless of whether or not the Giants re-sign Daniel Jones, providing their quarterback with much better weapons in the passing game is a major priority, given the failed Kenny Golladay experiment.

26. Dallas Cowboys – DL Gervon Dexter (DL – UF)

If the Cowboys have a weakness this year, it’s the run defense. They have been rushed at more than all but five other teams and rank 22nd in run defense on the year, with a lot of rotation inside.

27. Cincinnati Bengals – O’Cyrus Torrence (OG – UF)

Cincinnati’s averaging less than four yards per attempt on the ground this year, and Joe Burrow has been sacked over 40 times, so drafting a guard or (if they want to slide Jonah Williams inside) a tackle makes sense.

28. Denver Broncos (from 49ers/Dolphins) – Dawand Jones (OT – OSU)

Russell Wilson was sacked 55 times this past season, and the team’s offensive line allowed 63 in total. Left tackle Garrett Bolles is expensive and missed most of the season, while Cameron Fleming is set to hit free agency.

29. Buffalo Bills – Anton Harrison (OT – OU)

Two years into former third-round pick Spencer Brown‘s career, it’s not clear whether he’ll ever develop into a solid starter on the right. Although they’d have to flip Anton Harrison over, this might make sense.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – Lukas Van Ness (DE – IOWA)

Frank Clark was pretty solid this past year. Yet, the team can save over $20 million by moving on from him this offseason, and we all know that Andy Reid loves building through the trenches.

31. Philadelphia Eagles – Joey Porter Jr. (CB – PSU)

Bradberry and Slay have been excellent this year, but the former is an impending 30-year-old free agent, while the latter will be 32 next year. Cutting Slay post-June 1 would save $17.5 million.

Also considered: QB Anthony Richardson, WR Zay Flowers, WR Jalin Hyatt, DL Tuli Tuipulotu, DE B.J. Ojulari, LB Trenton Simpson

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