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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Pre-Super Bowl 2.0

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Pre-Super Bowl 2.0

One game is all that remains of the 2022-23 NFL season: The Super Bowl.

And that means #DraftSZN is almost here.

Last May — shortly after the 2022 NFL draft — I published my way-too-early 2023 mock draft, so that’s technically Version 1, but it was written well in advance of the selection order being set, the college football season being played and any prospects having declared.

So this piece (Version 2.0) should probably be considered my first “real” mock for 2023.

Over the past three years, I’m the No. 1 mocker in the FantasyPros Accuracy Contest. Over the past four years, I’m No. 2. For obvious and selfish reasons, I prefer the three-year window.

2023 NFL Draft Guide: Prospect Rankings & Player Profiles

Historically, I’ve done well betting on the draft.

  • 2019: 54-29 (+17.7 units)
  • 2020: 124-88 (+26.2 units)
  • 2021: 158-140 (+32.0 units)
  • 2022: 70-50 (+29.3 units)

Check out my 2023 NFL draft prop card to see all the bets I’ve made to date. As I make more bets, I will post them first in the NFL draft channel in our FREE BettingPros Discord and then write up my bets for publication. To get my draft bets as quickly as possible, join Discord.

A couple of notes:

  • The Dolphins forfeited the No. 21 pick because of the team’s “impermissible contact” with QB Tom Brady and HC Sean Payton when they were respectively under contract with the Patriots and Saints. Rather than list that missing pick below, I have moved what would have been Picks 22-32 to Picks 21-31.
  • I am projecting Picks 30-31 based on the Super Bowl odds on our BettingPros odds page.

Matthew Freedman’s Pre-Super Bowl 2023 NFL Mock Draft

1. Chicago Bears: Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)

Based on what we saw out of second-year QB Justin Fields in 2022, I don’t expect the Bears to select a quarterback, which means they will probably try to trade out of the No. 1 spot. If they do, I will likely project them with a different player, but for the time being I’ll keep them at No. 1, and I think the odds are high that they will select a defender unless they trade down far enough to put them in reasonable range for a wide receiver or offensive tackle.

But I also don’t think they will want to trade down that far.

The No. 1 defender selected I expect to come down to Anderson and DT Jalen Carter. Given the premium based on pass rushers, I’m going with Anderson at the top of the draft. A two-time unanimous All-American, he’s worthy of No. 1 consideration regardless of whichever team ultimately makes the pick.

Anderson is the No. 1 player on Matthew Jones’ 2023 draft prospect big board.

Will Anderson: Prospect Profile


2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)

The Texans need a quarterback, and Young is the consensus top option at the position. He’s small (6-0, 194 pounds).

But he was a dynamic producer in two years as a starter.

  • 2021 (15 games): 4,872-47-7 passing | 66.9% completion rate | 10.0 AY/A
  • 2022 (12 games): 3,328-32-5 passing | 64.5% completion rate | 9.9 AY/A

Even with his size, the 2021 Heisman winner seems destined to be a top-three pick.

Bryce Young: Prospect Profile


3. Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter (DT – Georgia)

It’s hard to know what the Cardinals will do now that they have parted ways with HC Kliff Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim, but the presence of QB Kyler Murray on the roster all but guarantees that they won’t take a passer at No. 3, so I’ll go with Carter, one of the few true blue-chip players in this class.

A unanimous All-American last season, Carter was a key contributor to the 2021-23 National Championship-winning defense for the Bulldogs.

Jalen Carter: Prospect Profile


4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)

The Colts are a popular candidate to trade up for the top pick, and Levis looks like the kind of quarterback they’d like, so I do have a position on Levis No. 1 overall: Young’s size will likely scare some teams off, and QB C.J. Stroud is already getting the Ohio State-based Justin Fields treatment (No. 11 in 2021, should’ve been top three).

Levis has prototypical size (6-3, 232 pounds) and arm strength. He’ll appeal to the NFL decision makers who want a “traditional” quarterback, which makes him a real option to go in the top five, maybe No. 1 overall. Levis has seen his draft stock move up significantly since last summer, and I expect that momentum to sustain itself into the spring.

Graphic via Grinding the Mocks
Will Levis: Prospect Profile


5. Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)

In the summer, Wilson wasn’t at all on my radar, but he moved up draft boards in the 2022 season with a notable senior campaign, racking up 61 tackles, 14 for loss and seven sacks. Wilson has the size to hold up in the running game and to move inside on passing downs, and he has the strength and explosiveness to rush the passer off the edge.

The Seahawks need help on the defensive line, and Wilson looks like the kind of athlete they have tended to prize.

Tyree Wilson: Prospect Profile
Pick via Denver Broncos


6. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)

The Lions did well in 2022 to add EDGEs Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal, but they could use some muscle on the interior of their defensive line, given that they ranked No. 28 in defensive rush success rate in the regular season (44.8%, per RBs Don’t Matter).

It’s uncommon to see two defensive tackles (and four defensive linemen) go in the top six, but this cohort of prospects is somewhat lacking on the offensive side of the ball. A five-star recruit ranked No. 1 overall by some scouting services when he entered college, Bresee is a worthy top-10 candidate.

Bryan Bresee: Prospect Profile
Pick via Los Angeles Rams


7. Las Vegas Raiders: C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

A real option to go No. 1 overall, Stroud represents great value for the Raiders at this spot.

The No. 2 pocket passer in his recruitment class, Stroud lived up to the hype in his two years as a starter with 8,123-85-12 passing on a 69.3% completion rate and 11.2 AY/A.

C.J. Stroud: Prospect Profile


8. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)

The Falcons defense was dead last in the league in 2022 with a 4.0% adjusted sack rate (per Football Outsiders). The team needs someone on the perimeter of the line to complement defensive tackle Grady Jarrett on the interior, and Murphy has a good chance to go in the top 10.

A five-star recruit who just turned 21 years old, Murphy has the profile of a player who could be a consistent NFL contributor for a decade.

Myles Murphy: Prospect Profile


9. Carolina Panthers: Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

I’m skeptical that we’ll see four quarterbacks in the top 10. This isn’t a great class at the position, quarterbacks tend to fall in the draft relative to their mock expectations and a team at the top of the draft — perhaps the Raiders or Panthers — might take itself out of the rookie market by signing a veteran in free agency.

QBs Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo are options.

But until we see that happen, I’ll project the Panthers with a quarterback at No. 9, and Richardson has established himself as the No. 4 option in this class.

With a 54.7% completion rate and 7.4 AY/A for his career, Richardson is far from polished as a passer, but he has the rushing upside (evidenced by his nice 6.9 yards per carry) to be a legit dual-threat producer in the NFL.

Anthony Richardson: Prospect Profile


10. Philadelphia Eagles: Joey Porter Jr. (CB – Penn State)

With a championship-caliber roster, the Eagles don’t have many needs. And with two picks in Round 1, they have enormous flexibility, so predicting what they might do is difficult.

But CB James Bradberry is an unrestricted free agent in 2023, so I can imagine the Eagles drafting his replacement. A physical defender with Richard Sherman-like size (6-2, 196 pounds), Porter feels like the kind of player the Eagles would like — although this is a good year at the position: I can see as many as seven corners going in Round 1, and almost any of them could be the first one selected.

Right now, I lean toward Porter, but I’m sure my opinion will change a lot on some of these corners by the time of the draft.

Pick via New Orleans Saints


11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)

If you asked me to make up the name for a fictional character in a story — a unanimous All-American offensive lineman to be drafted by Titans HC Mike Vrabel — I doubt I could come up with a better one than “Peter Skoronski.”

That dude just sounds like someone destined to play right tackle at an above-average level for eight-plus years.

Peter Skoronski: Prospect Profile


12. Houston Texans: Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)

Johnston is the No. 1 wide receiver selected in the supermajority of early mocks I’ve surveyed, which makes sense: He’s the only receiver likely to be drafted in Round 1 with prototypical size (6-4, 212 pounds), and he had the production last year (60-1,069-6 receiving) to justify his draft hype.

The Texans desperately need a pass catcher to pair with QB Bryce Young.

Quentin Johnston: Prospect Profile
Pick via Cleveland Browns


13. New York Jets: Paris Johnson (OT – Ohio State)

Johnson might be my favorite all-around player in this class. He has the size (6-6, 310 pounds) to play on the interior, and the athleticism to man the perimeter. He has great positional versatility, given his 13 starts at right guard as a sophomore and 13 starts at left tackle as a junior.

He has the production: Last year he allowed only two sacks in what proved to be an All-American campaign.

And he has the pedigree: As a recruit, he earned five stars from every major scouting service and was a consensus top-two offensive tackle in his class.

With Johnson, the Jets could have an offensive line that plays with real nastiness.

Paris Johnson: Prospect Profile


14. New England Patriots: Broderick Jones (OT – Georgia)

Like Paris Johnson, Jones entered college with five stars and was widely regarded as a top-two offensive tackle in his recruitment class. After redshirting his first year and opening his second season as a rotational player, Jones closed out his freshman campaign with four starts at left tackle, and then as a sophomore he made 15 more starts on the blindside — and didn’t allow a single sack all season.

The Patriots could desperately use help on the offensive line, given that OTs Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon are free agents in 2023, as is LT Trent Brown in 2024.

Broderick Jones: Prospect Profile


15. Green Bay Packers: Isaiah Foskey (EDGE – Notre Dame)

The Packers could use more bodies at edge: Rashan Gary is recovering from a season-ending knee injury, Preston Smith turns 31 years old in 2023 and Kingsley Enagbare will be just a sophomore fifth-rounder next season.

A 2022 All-American with the versatility to rush the passer off the perimeter, maintain his gap against the run and drop back in coverage as an off-ball backer, Foskey has a decent chance to be the No. 4 edge in the class after the top triumvirate of Will Anderson, Tyree Wilson and Myles Murphy.

Isaiah Foskey: Prospect Profile


16. Washington Commanders: Christian Gonzalez (CB – Oregon)

HC Ron Rivera is a defense-focused team builder, and the defensive front seven is strong, but after CB Kendall Fuller the secondary is thin.

A three-year starter, Gonzalez has a strong profile with his size (6-1, 201 pounds), age (turns 21 in June) and pedigree (four stars). Widely overlooked before the season, he broke out in 2022 with a four-interception campaign and now is a strong candidate for Round 1 after seeing his draft stock skyrocket.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kelee Ringo (CB – Georgia)

The Steelers have maybe 10 cornerbacks on their roster — which means they’re desperate at the position. Ringo could step in as a Week 1 starter.

A two-year starter, Ringo was the No. 1 cornerback for Georgia’s defense and has all the trappings of a future NFL shutdown cover man: Elite size (6-2, 205 pounds), youth (turns 21 in June) and recruitment pedigree (five stars).


18. Detroit Lions: Cam Smith (CB – South Carolina)

The Lions need help at cornerback: 2020 No. 3 pick Jeff Okudah has not lived up to expectations, and Amani Oruwariye, Mike Hughes and Will Harris are 2023 free agents.

In Smith, the Lions get a ball-hawking corner (six career interceptions) with three years of SEC experience.


19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

That’s right. Four straight cornerbacks.

This class is strong at the position, pass defenders are at a premium in the NFL and many teams in this part of the draft need help at the position. For the Buccaneers, CBs Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are slated for free agency this offseason.

Witherspoon is a 2022 All-American and four-year contributor who plays bigger than his size (180 pounds).


20. Seattle Seahawks: O’Cyrus Torrence (OL – Florida)

The Seahawks could go in any number of directions in Round 1, especially since they have two picks (the first which is No. 5), but I like the idea of them continuing to invest in and rebuild the offensive line after finding two bookend starters in last year’s draft with LT Charles Cross and RT Abraham Lucas.

C Austin Blythe is a free agent, and LG Damien Lewis and RG Gabe Jackson are slated for free agency after the 2023 season, so they can justifiably invest draft capital to bolster the interior of their line.

A 2022 All-American with four years as a starter, a delightful mean streak and elite size (6-5, 347 pounds), Torrence would be a backbone-fortifying complement to the team’s Air Raid-style tackles.

O’Cyrus Torrence: Prospect Profile


21. Los Angeles Chargers: Anton Harrison (OT – Oklahoma)

It’s popular for draftniks to mock the Chargers with a pass catcher at No. 21, but Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer are all under contract for the next two seasons. They could definitely use a field-stretching speedster — but they’re already invested about as much as they can be at the position.

So I’ll go with OT Anton Harrison, who has three years of experience, youth (just turned 21) and recruitment pedigree (four stars). He ideally will be an upgrade on OTs Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton.

Anton Harrison: Prospect Profile


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

Over the past four years, the Ravens have drafted four wide receivers with top-100 picks (Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman) — and yet they still need help at the position.

As a 19-year-old true sophomore, Addison won the 2021 Fred Biletnikoff Award as the top pass catcher in college with 100-1,593-17 receiving in 14 games. He should be a Week 1 starter.

Jordan Addison: Prospect Profile


23. Minnesota Vikings: Antonio Johnson (CB – Texas A&M)

Nos. 1-2 CBs Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan are 2023 free agents — and they could both use upgrades anyway.

Johnson has the length (6-3) and SEC experience to be starting corner early in his career.


24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Clark Phillips (CB – Utah)

Last year, the Jaguars were No. 30 in defensive pass DVOA (19.7%): They could use significant help in the secondary.

Although he’s undersized (5-10, 183 pounds), Phillips is a playmaker with nine career interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. A three-year Pac-12 starter, Phillips earned a unanimous All-American selection in his final season and could be a solid perimeter cover man.


25. New York Giants: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)

Smith-Njigba’s draft stock has tanked since summer due to a hamstring injury that derailed his junior season.

But that’s nonsense. It’s not as if he played poorly in 2022. He just hardly played. When we last saw him healthy — in 2021 — he was the No. 1 pass catcher (95-1,606-9 receiving) in an Ohio State offense that also had Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Marvin Harrison Jr.

Smith-Njigba offers tremendous value at No. 25 to the Giants, who last year had a top-three wide receiver cohort of Darius Slayton, Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins.

Contrarian is the mock draft that doesn’t have a wide receiver going to the Giants in Round 1.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Prospect Profile


26. Dallas Cowboys: Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)

Since 2010, Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones has taken five off-ball linebackers in the first two rounds of the draft.

Clearly, the Cowboys have no issues investing in the position, where they could be thin in 2023 given that Parsons now plays primarily at edge and Vander Esch and Anthony Barr are both slated for free agency.

A three-year contributor and two-year starter, Simpson might be the best off-ball linebacker in a weak class for the position.


27. Buffalo Bills: Brian Branch (S – Alabama)

In 2021, the Bills were No. 2 in defensive dropback success rate (41.9%). In 2022 — with an injured safety unit — the Bills dropped to No. 18 (45.7%).

FS Micah Hyde (neck, IR) suffered a season-ending injury in 2022 and turns 33 next season. SS Jordan Poyer is a 2023 free agent. No. 3 S Damar Hamlin (cardiac arrest) will probably resume his playing career, but that’s not a certainty.

The Bills could use another player at the position, and Branch is literally the only safety I’ve seen slotted into Round 1 of any mock. Playing the “star” role in the Alabama secondary last year, Branch has the skill set to line up in the box against tight ends, in the slot against wide receivers and deep downfield as a traditional free safety.


28. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)

In back-to-back seasons, Mayer was one of the best tight ends in college football.

  • 2021 (12 games): 71-840-7 receiving
  • 2022 (12 games): 67-809-9 receiving

A 2022 All-American, Mayer has the size (6-5, 251 pounds) to play inline and the pass-catching chops to line up in the slot.

In 2023, Bengals TE Hayden Hurst will be a free agent and turn 30 years old. Mayer would be a strong replacement.

Michael Mayer: Prospect Profile


29. Denver Broncos: Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)

The Broncos have a lot of needs, and we’ve reached the point in the mock where it’s more important to have a guy included than to get the player-team fit just right, although there’s a reasonable chance they could go with an edge: They need someone to replace Bradley Chubb, whom they traded away in November for this pick.

Van Ness could be the replacement. Over the past six months — and really since just December — Van Ness has transformed from an unknown to a mock draft up-and-comer.

With his size (6-5, 275 pounds), Van Ness can contribute as both a run defender and pass rusher on the perimeter.

Lukas Van Ness: Prospect Profile
Pick via San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins


30. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalin Hyatt (WR – Tennessee)

Former No. 1 WR Tyreek Hill is long gone. WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman and Justin Watson are 2023 free agents. To date, WRs Marquez Valdes-Scantling (42-687-2 receiving) and Skyy Moore (22-250-0 receiving) have disappointed in their first year with the Chiefs.

QB Patrick Mahomes deserves a playmaking wide receiver, and that’s what Hyatt is. After doing little for his first two years in college, Hyatt broke out last year as a junior with a Biletnikoff-winning campaign.

  • 2020 (8 games): 20-276-2 receiving
  • 2021 (9 games): 21-226-2 receiving
  • 2022 (12 games): 67-1,267-15 receiving

This pick is almost too perfect to happen in reality.

Jalin Hyatt: Prospect Profile


31. Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)

No team needs to draft a running back in Round 1 — but Robinson needs to be included in my mock, and the Eagles could let RBs Miles Sanders and Boston Scott both walk in free agency this offseason. The idea of Robinson playing with QB Jalen Hurts in the Eagles’ run-friendly offense is an intriguing one, and there’s an outside chance that they could talk themselves into selecting Robinson with their first pick at No. 10.

A unanimous All-American this past season, Robinson has been viewed as the No. 1 back of the 2023 draft class ever since he entered college — and he didn’t disappoint in his three years at Texas.

  • 2020 (9 games): 86-703-4 rushing | 15-196-2 receiving
  • 2021 (10 games): 195-1,127-11 rushing | 26-295-4 receiving
  • 2022 (12 games): 258-1,580-18 rushing | 19-314-2 receiving

Whenever sportsbooks post odds for No. 1 running back drafted, I’ll probably put some money on Robinson — because whatever the odds are they will almost certainly still be too long.

Bijan Robinson: Prospect Profile


Players on the Borderline of Rounds 1-2

Here are players I considered for inclusion in my mock draft. I expect this list to get shorter the closer we get to the draft.

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Tight End

Offensive Tackle

Edge Defender

Defensive Tackle

Off-Ball Linebacker

Cornerback

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