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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Jones (7.0)

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Jones (7.0)

Below, you’ll find the first mock draft I’ve tried since the beginning of free agency. Several picks have been changed based on each team’s additions and losses; read on to find out how your team’s draft plans may have changed in the past few weeks. As always, feedback is welcome, and I can be reached on Twitter @draftexaminer. Be sure to check back soon for more draft content!

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

1. Carolina Panthers – C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

I don’t think the Panthers traded up to first overall unless they were planning on drafting one of the two consensus top quarterbacks at the time. Stroud is a better fit for the type of quarterback Frank Reich has looked for, and he can give them a passer with Philip Rivers-level accuracy.

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

Again, this is a pick where nothing has changed. I see Nick Caserio, a Belichick disciple, and DeMeco Ryans, a former Alabama player himself, racing to the podium to take Bryce Young second overall, hoping his pocket movement, accuracy, and touch give them a Drew Brees-type franchise passer.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr. (DE – Alabama)

If the Cardinals stay at No. 3, it looks very likely that they’ll draft Anderson, in my view the best prospect in the draft. Having lost Zach Allen and J.J. Watt, he’ll give them a foundational piece for a defensive front that has relatively few established threats at this point.

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

Shane Steichen is known for his willingness to adapt his scheme to his talent, but I’d be surprised to see Anthony Richardson go ahead of Will Levis at this point. Both are risks to some extent, but I see Levis as the safer of the two, and he could give Steichen a prospect with the upside of Justin Herbert, his quarterback for the Chargers.

5. Seattle Seahawks – Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

With the possibility of getting out of Geno Smith‘s contract after one year, maybe the Seahawks look long term and follow the blueprint which has allowed other first-round quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes to succeed.

6. Detroit Lions – Christian Gonzalez (CB – Oregon)

This is perhaps less likely than it was before free agency, with the Lions having signed Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, but the former can play in the slot, while the latter is only on a one-year contract. Gonzalez is the safest cornerback prospect in a loaded class.

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

I’ve been leaning toward Johnson here for some time, but with Jimmy Garoppolo officially in the fold, it looks likely that this won’t be one of the top quarterbacks, even if one of them were to fall this far, which, in this instance, they didn’t. Johnson Jr. has inside/outside versatility.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Myles Murphy (DE – Clemson)

I like the idea of drafting a pass rusher here, as the Falcons don’t really have a go-to guy on the edge (Lorenzo Carter, Kaden Elliss, and Arnold Ebiketie are currently their top three rushers). Cornerback is another possibility, as Casey Hayward will turn 34 in September.

9. Chicago Bears – Jalen Carter (DL – Georgia)

Before his legal problems and disappointing pro day, Carter was considered one of two likely first-overall picks, so being able to land him here would be a good value. The Bears only signed Andrew Billings for one year, so they’re hardly committed to him long term at this point.

10. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyree Wilson (DE – Texas Tech)

This could be a trade-down spot, as the Eagles have several attractive options here. Having brought back Darius Slay and James Bradberry, maybe they’d look at a gifted pass rusher, as Brandon Graham is near the end of his career and Josh Sweat has dealt with injury problems throughout his career.

11. Tennessee Titans – Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)

Having signed Andre Dillard to a three-year, $29 million deal to man the blind side, I don’t really see the value in going with an offensive lineman here. With Derrick Henry rumored to be available, maybe they could ship him to a contender and immediately land another feature back to carry the load.

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

Given that the Texans have Robert Woods and John Metchie III on the roster, two receivers who can play out of the slot, I think it’s more likely they’d lean toward a bigger receiver like Johnston as a replacement for Brandin Cooks on the outside, giving Bryce Young a go-to option.

13. New York Jets – Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)

Having seemingly missed on Mekhi Becton, an upside-based prospect with rare tools, maybe the Jets would prefer to play it safe this time around, going for one of the most polished prospects in the class in Skoronski, even if his arms aren’t quite as long as teams generally look for in a left tackle.

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

This could really be any of the top players available, but having signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, I tend to think it may not be a wide receiver, especially since both Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zay Flowers may project as slot guys. Cornerback or edge rusher are also decent possibilities here.

15. Green Bay Packers – Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)

I may have had this pick in almost every mock draft, as I love the fit here. The Packers need more weapons but have two promising second-year receivers on the roster, so maybe they’d draft a reliable tight end who can help them establish a smashmouth identity on the ground as well.

16. Washington Commanders – Brian Branch (DB – Alabama)

Drafting Alabama defenders is a favored move for Washington, and it has helped them land multiple foundational pieces up front, so perhaps they would look at someone like Branch to shore up the backend. He projects as a plug-and-play starter who can execute a variety of assignments.

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17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Joey Porter Jr. (CB – Penn State)

Last year, the Steelers stayed local with Kenny Pickett, and perhaps the Joey Porter connection would push them toward his son with this pick. They signed Patrick Peterson to serve as a veteran stopgap in free agency, but they could still use a foundational long-term piece in the secondary.

18. Detroit Lions – Bryan Bresee (DL – Clemson)

Bresee’s stock has been slipping, but it seems to be mostly due to other players impressing during the pre-draft process. The Lions could use help up front, and I think an interior lineman makes more sense than an edge defender here, given their investments in Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal last year.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jalin Hyatt (WR – Tennessee)

This might come as a surprise given the availability of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but Hyatt may have less overlap with Chris Godwin and would represent a much more dynamic option than Russell Gage, who averaged just 8.4 yards per catch last season. An edge defender could work too.

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

Smith’s incredible pre-draft workouts have likely launched him into the first round, and he seems like an excellent fit for the “Leo” role in Pete Carroll’s defense. They could also look at a cornerback like Deonte Banks here, but Seattle tends not to draft corners until the second day.

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)

Smith-Njigba could be the perfect long-term replacement for Keenan Allen, and he is capable of playing alongside him for the foreseeable future as well. It’s possible the Chargers could also consider either a tight end like Dalton Kincaid, or a defender to shore up what was the 21st-ranked defense last year.

22. Baltimore Ravens – Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

Ravens cornerbacks are often slightly bigger than this, but Witherspoon is perhaps the best pure cover cornerback in the class. He likely won’t last this long on draft day, so if he falls, it would be easy to imagine Eric DeCosta being happy to land one of the most impactful defenders in the class.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Jordan Addison (WR – USC)

Having lost Adam Thielen, perhaps the Vikings would like to draft an upgrade at their second receiver spot behind Justin Jefferson, where the likes of Jalen Nailor and K.J. Osborn are projected to be competing for targets. Signing Marcus Davenport and Byron Murphy eases the pressure to draft a defender.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Deonte Banks (CB – Maryland)

Tyson Campbell has worked out well for the Jaguars, but they could still use an upgrade at the other corner spot opposite him, with Darious Williams currently penciled in as the other starter now that Shaquill Griffin was released. Banks is much bigger and brings desirable physicality.

25. New York Giants – Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)

This comes close to qualifying as a “race to the podium” pick, with Flowers’ ability to gain quick separation providing Daniel Jones with a versatile target in the passing game. He seems to fit the type of receiver the Giants have been accumulating recently, so perhaps they want another.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Calijah Kancey (DL – Pittsburgh)

The acquisition of Brandin Cooks allows Dallas to shift their focus toward other positions, such as the interior defensive line. The Cowboys ranked 22nd in run defense last year, and Kancey is the type of disruptive penetrator who can wreak havoc in opposing backfields.

27. Buffalo Bills – O’Cyrus Torrence (OG – Florida)

Connor McGovern and Ryan Bates are closer to serviceable players on the interior, and getting a big, smart blocker who can step right in at one of the guard positions and offer consistent play on both rushing and passing downs would give the Bills one of the final pieces they need to win a championship.

28. Cincinnati Bengals – Dalton Kincaid (TE – Utah)

Irv Smith Jr. was signed to replace Hayden Hurst, but that shouldn’t prevent Cincinnati from drafting a young stud here. It’s not too late for Cameron Taylor-Britt to turn things around at cornerback opposite Chidobe Awuzie, but the Bengals could also consider drafting a replacement.

29. New Orleans Saints – Lukas Van Ness (DE – Iowa)

Van Ness could have gone as high as the top 12 picks, so it’d be hard for the Saints to pass on him here. Cameron Jordan will turn 34 in July, while 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner may be entering a make-or-break year. Carl Granderson has played well, so this could end up being a deep rotation.

30. Philadelphia Eagles – Jahmyr Gibbs (RB – Alabama)

This might be somewhat of a luxury, as the Eagles signed Rashaad Penny to help fill the void left when Miles Sanders left Philadelphia to sign with the Panthers, but pairing Gibbs with Jalen Hurts would give the run-heavy Eagles an outstanding backfield, presenting defenses with a constant big-play threat.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Dawand Jones (OT – Ohio State)

Andy Reid typically likes building through the trenches, so perhaps he’d opt to get a long-term right tackle to serve as a bookend opposite Jawaan Taylor. Both Dawand Jones and Darnell Wright would make sense. An edge defender or maybe cornerback could work too, given the top receivers being off the board.

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