With all declarations finalize and draft spots decided, it’s time to start connecting players to teams for the upcoming draft. With the Chicago Bears sliding into the first overall pick on the last game of the season, things are already beginning to get spicy! Typically predicting trades for the first round of the NFL Draft is a difficult endeavor, but in this mock draft, we will explore Chicago’s possibilities.
- Kent Weyrauch’s Mock Drafts (1.0)
- Matthew Jones’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0)
- Matthew Jones’s Big Board
- Most Surprising Players Returning to School
- Post Bowl Game Risers
Kent Weyrauch has been a top-30 most accurate NFL Mock Drafter for each of the last two years.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
1. Seattle Seahawks: Bryce Young (QB – ALA)
Let’s kick things off with a trade! The Seahawks have two first-round and two second-round picks in this year’s draft. Geno Smith returned to earth over the last two months of the season, culminating in a wildcard weekend loss to the San Francisco 49ers. With Smith set to become a free agent, the Seahawks bundle up a package that is centered around giving up their fifth and 20th overall to Chicago. Bryce Young will step in as the face of the Seahawks’ future.
2. Houston Texans: CJ Stroud (QB – OSU)
Despite getting knocked out of the first overall draft position, the Texans ultimately still walk away with an excellent quarterback prospect. CJ Stroud’s performance in the Peach Bowl was nothing short of outstanding. Unfortunately, the missed field goal as time expired prevented Stroud from walking away with the trophy – though to no discredit of himself. Thanks to this showing, Stroud should firmly be considered in the top three picks of this year’s draft.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE – ALA)
The Cardinals are heading in new directions following the dismissal of GM Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury. What better way to begin this transition than with a blue-chip edge defender like Will Anderson Jr.? He is currently the highest-ranked player on Jack Lichtenstein’s consensus big board that aggregates nine of the biggest draft coverage websites. The former five-star recruit amassed 174 total pressures in his three years at Alabama and will look to continue haunting passers in the NFL.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis (QB – UK)
After getting leaped by the Seahawks, the Colts are left with the biggest enigma of a quarterback prospect for this draft cycle – Will Levis. If you haven’t seen the clip of him firing passes off in practice yet, don’t worry… you will. Many argue that he possesses immeasurable arm talent that can be cultivated in NFL training conditions. And you can’t deny he does have a heck of an arm. What we don’t know is whether he can consistently guide an offense at the next level, as we don’t have irrefutable proof that he could do it in college.
5. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter (DL – UGA)
Can’t let a national champion make it out of the top five picks! The Bears would be quite happy to pick up draft capital for a rebuild while also landing an immaculate 3-technique to bolster their leaky defense. Jalen Carter’s combination of size and athleticism is second to none in this year’s draft class.
6. Detroit Lions: Joey Porter Jr. (CB – PSU)
In my “early” mock draft, I had the Lions slated to grab a quarterback, but they’ve moved down two spots since then and will likely be sticking with Jared Goff for at least one more season. Instead, the Lions will pick up Joey Porter Jr. to reinforce their secondary. The Lions struggled heavily against the pass this year and should begin the process of replacing the disappointing Jeffrey Okudah as the team’s top corner. Porter ended the year on AP’s first-team All-Big Ten team and has very transferrable game fluidity that will help him succeed against NFL receivers.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez (CB – ORE)
Shortly after Porter, Christian Gonzalez heads to Las Vegas to help repair the broken Raiders. He has quickly risen up draft boards, and many are favoring him as the potential CB1 of the class. Where Porter may be a smoother player overall, Gonzalez has better instincts and body framing in contested situations.
CB Christian Gonzalez from Oregon has chance to be CB1. Guys with this size (6’2” 200) don’t usually move with this fluidity. Elite athlete with ball skills who can play press and off coverage. Rumors he may run in 4.3’s at combine.#RaiderNation
— Ryan Holmes (@Rholm22) January 18, 2023
8. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy (EDGE – CLEM)
If you’re looking for speed and power, look no further than Myles Murphy. Edge is easily one of the Falcon’s largest needs heading into this draft, and they are gifted a twitchy powerhouse without lifting a finger. Though a bit raw compared to others in this top tier, his ceiling is higher than most. If Murphy cleans up his leverage control and learns to drive through blocks, the league should be on notice.
9. Carolina Panthers: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – TTU)
It took Tyree Wilson a few years to find a groove on Texas Tech’s defense after transferring from Texas A&M, but once he did, the sacks started flowing. He garnered 14 sacks on 87 total pressures in his final two seasons. He heads to a Carolina team that has a mish-mash of struggling edge defenders behind Brian Burns.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Bryan Bresee (DT – CLEM)
During the 2022 season, the Eagles attempted to shore up their defensive line through veteran free-agent signings. And while that patchworking did provide relief, the Eagles would prefer some younger blood at the position. Enter Bryan Bresee, the stout defensive tackle who was a five-star recruit in both 247 Sports and ESPN’s ratings. Bresee suffered an ACL injury during his sophomore season but rebounded with 330 defensive snaps and 24 pressures from the interior this year.
11. Tennessee Titans: Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)
This year’s draft class doesn’t possess any true blue-chip wideouts, but Quentin Johnston is, by all means, a great receiving prospect. His production doesn’t jump off the sheet due to injuries, but Johnston’s ability to separate and dissect zone coverage is elite. He could be the quintessential perimeter receiver in this class.
12. Houston Texans: Peter Skoronski (OT – NW)
Some might project Skoronski to a guard at the next level, which makes the Houston Texans an ideal landing spot for him. In his first one or two seasons, he would be a starting guard immediately, then potentially transition back to his natural left tackle position if Laremy Tunsil leaves. Skoronski allowed just six pressures on 474 pass-blocking snaps for Northwestern, per PFF.
13. New York Jets: Brian Branch (CB – ALA)
Brian Branch is another name soaring up draft boards in the transition from collegiate football season to the NFL Draft cycle. The Jets’ defense was solid in 2022 but has needs in the safety department. Branch boasts elite zone sense that meshes well with the Jets defense who utilized the 10th-highest zone coverage rate last season.
14. New England Patriots: Paris Johnson Jr. (OG – OSU)
It’s looking like the Patriots will move on from former first-rounder Isaiah Wynn. Paris Johnson Jr. 7 will step into his spot on day one to improve the Patriots’ offensive line. Not to mention, their other tackle, Trenton Brown, has mostly played right tackle throughout his career. This means that Johnson would have an opportunity to earn the left tackle position right away. Johnson allowed just 14 pressures last year for Ohio State.
15. Green Bay Packers: Isaiah Foskey (DE – ND)
With Jared Verse returning to school, we’ll see a few edge rushers push their way into the middle and late first round. One of those names is Isaiah Foskey, the high-motor edge rusher from Notre Dame. He’s a bit raw, so there is a high likelihood that he works as a rotational piece for his rookie season before earning starting snaps in 2024.
16. Washington Commanders: Cam Smith (CB – South Carolina)
The top of this cornerback class is so good – and Cam Smith is no exception. He logged over 1,300 defensive snaps for the Gamecocks over four seasons. Over his last two seasons, Smith allowed a catch percentage of just 47.1% in coverage. The Commanders were ninth in dropback EPA allowed but still need some cornerback depth to keep that train rolling into the 2023 season.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)
With Devin Bush likely seeking free agency after getting his fifth-year option declined and Myles Jack not playing up to expectations, the Steelers could use some fresh blood in their linebacker unit. Not a single player rated higher than 58.8 in defensive grade last season.
Bringing in Trenton Simpson would give the Steelers an aggressive and flexible mid-fielder that logged 119 tackles while playing at Clemson.
18. Detroit Lions: Michael Mayer (TE – ND)
The Lions sent TJ Hockenson away to the Vikings at the trade deadline this last year, so filling that gap with another top-tier tight end makes sense. Michael Mayer cleared 800 receiving yards and scored at least seven touchdowns in each of his last two seasons with Notre Dame. With OC Ben Johnson and Jared Goff returning, the Lions look to improve their offensive buzzsaw even further with a versatile player like Mayer.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Antonio Johnson (CB – Texas A&M)
The Bucs could potentially have some turnover in their secondary unit this off-season. At this point in time, there isn’t an obvious starting safety across from Antoine Winfield Jr. Slotting in Antonio Johnson here could return dividends for the Bucs. Johnson could start as a slot corner and transition into a more physical underneath safety within his first couple of seasons.
20. Chicago Bears: Jordan Addison (WR – Pittsburgh)
This would be a dream scenario for the Bears after trading down from the first overall pick to then draft Jalen Carter and Jordan Addison. Despite trading their valuable second-round pick for Chase Claypool, the Bears are still in desperate need of pass-catchers to assist Justin Fields. Addison posted a 30% break-out age at just 19 years old while playing at Pitt. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury after transferring to USC, but before that, he put up 875 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games.
21. Miami Dolphins forfeited their pick.
22. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – OSU)
Another receiver that had the injury bug bite after a strong sophomore season with Ohio State, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was pacing as the WR1 for this year’s class for the longest time. I’ve had him paired with the Chargers for a while, as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams aren’t getting any younger. Should JSN stay healthy, he has an easy path to being the Chargers’ top wideout within a couple of seasons.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)
It was just reported that Greg Roman would not return to the Ravens as offensive coordinator for the 2023 season. And while Anthony Richardson would be a potential replacement for Lamar Jackson – should he also leave – Richardson stands as the most intriguing set of physical traits in this year’s quarterback class. Richardson has room for improvement in his passing technique, but he rumbled for 654 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns for the Gators last year.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Kelee Ringo (CB – UGA)
The Vikings let Daniel Jones destroy them on the Wildcard Weekend and need to find better ways to defend the pass. While he might be a bit divisive after a tough showing in coverage during their playoff battle with Ohio State, he rebounded nicely in the utter destruction of TCU in the championship. Nearing the end of the first, the Vikings can take a risk on Ringo’s traits and size in hopes that he improves his consistency.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Broderick Jones (OT – UGA)
With Jawaan Taylor set to become a UFA in 2023, the Jaguars need a right tackle. They could also potentially release Cam Robinson with just $5 million in dead cap. Broderick Jones has mostly played left tackle for the Bulldogs but did start his journey as a right tackle. Also Walker Little has prior experience on the right side, so Jones might take the left tackle job in camp. Considering his former five-star recruiting status and dominant performance in Georgia, that seems within the realm of possibilities.
26. New York Giants: Jalin Hyatt (WR – TEN)
Jalin Hyatt won the first-ever Biletnikoff Award for the Tennessee football program. He accumulated 1,267 receiving yards and 15 scores as a junior in the SEC – a great showing. However, he is a late-blooming prospect that didn’t notch more than 300 receiving yards until this last season. He already has a 4.3 forty-yard dash to his name, and his speed on the field is electric. The Giants could use another burner with Darius Slayton‘s return in question due to his pending free agency.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Clark Phillips III (CB – Utah)
Clark Phillips III is a bit smaller than the other potential first-round cornerbacks this year, but his agility and lateral quickness are extremely potent skills to possess in coverage. The Cowboys are okay for the next season in the secondary but lack any long-term plan. Phillips needs to hone his tackling skills, but he is a versatile weapon in coverage.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington (TE – UGA)
More and more teams are looking for inventive ways to create mismatches in coverage. Enter Darnell Washington. This 6’7″ and 270-pound behemoth is strong enough to work as the sixth man on the offensive line but fast enough to burn linebackers on seam routes. We haven’t seen the full capabilities of Washington in the red zone yet, either – he’s scored just three touchdowns in his career at Georgia. Working him into this Bengals offense would be a great fit.
29. Denver Broncos: Nolan Smith (DE – UGA)
A four-year starter for Georgia, Nolan Smith is a big, athletic edge rusher with great traits. He just needs to fine-tune some of his mechanics to maintain anchor and drive through to the passer. The Broncos may not be clamoring for an edge rusher, but rather they go BPA hoping they can develop Smith into a high-ceiling starter down the line.
30. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson (RB – TEX)
Same as my early mock draft, I have Bijan Robinson landing on a Bills squad that needs just a bit more firepower to assist Josh Allen. The Texas Longhorns running back had an impressive season with 1,894 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. He has the quickness and agility to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: B.J. Ojulari (DE – LSU)
The LSU edge defender B.J. Ojulari heads to a Chiefs defense that was all over the map during the 2022 season. Heading into 2023, an edge is a massive need for them. Ojulari isn’t the biggest or the strongest edge rusher, but his instincts are strong, and he uses his fluid hips and quick hands to move around offensive linemen with ease.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)
To end the first round, the Eagles scoop up Devon Witherspoon. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award this season and on the AP All-American first team. After grabbing Bryan Bresee earlier in the first, the Eagles bolster their secondary that could be losing James Bradberry to free agency.
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