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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Russell Brown’s Post-Free Agency Version (1.0)

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Russell Brown’s Post-Free Agency Version (1.0)

It’s my debut article here at FantasyPros, so it’s only fitting that I do a mock draft for the 2023 NFL Draft! With free agency starting to cool off, this is how I could see the first round playing out just over a month from now. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or in our FantasyPros Discord chat if you agree/disagree with this first round. In this mock draft, I give you a realistic outlook of each NFL team selecting in the first round, and I kept it simple without making any trades.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Russell Brown’s Post-Free Agency Version (1.0)

1. Carolina Panthers (via Chicago) — Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

The current betting favorite to be the first overall pick is Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. On the DraftKings Sportsbook App, Stroud is favored at -225, and he could very well be the Panthers’ top choice. However, there’s only one quarterback listed at 6-foot-4 or taller, and that’s Richardson. During the 17 years of Frank Reich being a coach in the NFL, he’s only had six starts from a quarterback that is under 6-foot-4, and it’s mostly been from the backup quarterback.

That stat is absolutely fascinating, and it’s an interesting way of viewing the first overall pick. From everything I’ve gathered up to this point, the Panthers have narrowed it down to Stroud or Richardson. Swinging big for a player such as Richardson is what a lot of teams do, and I expect the Panthers to do the same.

Richardson has a big arm and is able to sling the football a mile downfield with a simple flick of the wrist. He’s a lot further along with his ability to navigate the pocket than he’s given credit for. Add in his superb mobility while being built like a tight end, and there’s much to be desired. At times, he beats himself up in the middle of the game due to poor ball placement (see the Georgia game), but that shows me that Richardson is pushing himself to be the best. Teams should take notice of that, and they should love it.

Now, there are throws that Richardson misses because he doesn’t throw with a lot of touch or anticipation. He’ll rely heavily on his arm strength, but with a coach like Frank Reich, there’s got to be plenty of belief in the Panthers’ front office that they can turn Richardson into a superstar.

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

I’ve heard from more than one person that the Texans have circled in on Bryce Young from Alabama. Much of that is because they weren’t able to land a free agent quarterback such as Jimmy Garoppolo. While there will be plenty of questions surrounding the frame of Young, there’s no denying his talent.

Young is calm, cool and collected on the field. He plays quarterback like a point guard with his ability to maneuver in and around the pocket. He keeps defenses guessing if he’s going to drive the ball down the field with his legs or if he’s going to dish it out to an open target. Young has the ability to throw from different arm angles, but regardless of his frame, he’s displayed the desired toughness to take hits from defenders and get back up.

Young looks ready to handle the weight of an NFL franchise on his shoulders. He carries himself well while being able to drop throws into a bucket. In his college career, he completed 65.8% of his throws while posting 80 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. There’s far too much consistency with Young, and his potential is just as high as anyone else’s despite the limitations within his frame.

3. Arizona Cardinals — Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)

While it’s fun to predict trades a bunch of times, it’s not always realistic. The Cardinals need help on defense, and with a defensive-minded coach taking over, this pick just makes sense. On my board, Anderson is the best player in the draft, and there have been times during this draft process when it feels like he’s been overlooked.

Losing Chandler Jones two seasons ago, JJ Watt to retirement, and Zach Allen in free agency, the Cardinals need another pass rusher. Anderson comes in and is an immediate starter that should make an impact early on in his career.

Playing with a surprising amount of power, Anderson can easily drive offensive linemen back. He’s got the speed and burst to wreak havoc on the backfield but has also shown the ability to drop into coverage. While I wouldn’t want him to consistently drop in the mid-hook zone or have curl-to-flats responsibility, it’s a versatile piece to his game that often gets overlooked. Explosive off the snap, Anderson could emerge as the best defensive player from the 2023 NFL Draft. Look for him to be the top candidate for defensive rookie of the year.

4. Indianapolis Colts — C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

I know it’s rare for a quarterback like C.J. Stroud to have such a great throwing session at the NFL Scouting Combine and fall to the 4th overall pick. However, it does feel like a possibility. Everything Stroud did at the Combine was controlled and smooth. Looking like a true technician at quarterback, it feels like he could step in and play right away. But how much better does he get in the NFL?

On tape, Stroud doesn’t overly impress, but he is consistent as a pocket passer. Don’t let that fool you, though. When he has confidence, he has no problems tucking the ball and running it. Certainly, he can spin it, while most of his throws look easy. Sitting firmly at the top-1o of my Big Board for the 2023 NFL Draft, Stroud has the potential to be the first pick of the draft. That said, teams bet on upside, so I think he slips just a touch and goes to a great spot for him to play right away.

5. Seattle Seahawks — Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)

There’s not a tougher selection in the top 10 than the Seattle Seahawks. There’s so much uncertainty about what they could do with this pick. With how they’ve attacked free agency, it feels like they could be looking at an offensive lineman or a quarterback. But they’re such an interesting team that could truly go any route, and it would still make sense.

To me, drafting Will Levis from Kentucky makes sense. At the Senior Bowl, I had heard of Seahawks being linked to Levis, and I can’t get that thought out of my head. Even though the Seahawks saw some positives in the play from Geno Smith last season, you can still justify taking Levis. That’s even with the contract extension that Smith signed weeks ago. If there’s any regression from Smith, the Seahawks can opt out of his contract after this season, and he’d only count as $17.4 million against the cap.

This would lead them to turn to Levis. He’s a tough quarterback that has the desired mobility to extend plays in the NFL. Aside from that, he can fit passes into tight windows and push the ball downfield. Ball placement can get sporadic the further he pushes the ball down the field, and at times this stems from his mechanics being off. His upper body doesn’t always go in rhythm with his lower half, but the tools are there, and ultimately, that’s why Levis could be a top-10 pick in April.

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

For all the Lions fans who fill my mentions with the “Gonzalez isn’t a fit for Brad Holmes and the Lions” comments, please stop. The Lions have drafted two cornerbacks under Holmes, and they are Ifeatu Melifonwu from the 2021 NFL Draft and Chase Lucas from the 2022 NFL Draft. Neither player are the same, and that doesn’t justify passing on a cornerback in the first round.

Signing Emmanuel Moseley or Cam Sutton in free agency doesn’t justify it, either. Sutton signed a three-year deal with Detroit, but it’s essentially a two-year deal, as they can opt out and save significant cap space if it doesn’t work out. Meanwhile, Moseley is a very talented cornerback, but he’s coming off consecutive seasons with an injury. He’s on a one-year deal to prove himself, so drafting a cornerback should very well be in play for Detroit. In that case, they should draft the best one.

In the 2023 NFL Draft, Christian Gonzalez is the best cornerback for a variety of reasons. He’s a fluid athlete that’s got the ability to flip his hips and run in-stride with receivers. But he’s explosive and long, and that helps him consistently compete at the catch point. He punches through the hands of receivers and makes life difficult for the opposition. Adding Gonzalez isn’t a bad thing by any means, and it helps improve a position that’s been bad for quite some time.

7. Las Vegas Raiders — Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)

I tossed around the idea of an offensive lineman for the Raiders in this spot, but with Tyree Wilson available, he makes too much sense. The Raiders have a ton of draft capital and just need to draft good football players. Even by having Chandler Jones, there’s no depth behind him, and he just turned 33 years old. Meanwhile, the Raiders could opt out of Jones’ contract and save close to $18 million dollars in cap space.

By adding Wilson, the Raiders get a versatile defensive lineman that can align as a 7-technique or even slide inside to a 4i-technique. He’s got incredible length and a great blend of power and speed in his game. While he lacks explosiveness off the snap, he makes up for it due to his relentless motor and pursuit. The pairing of Wilson and Crosby could terrorize the AFC West for years to come.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)

This one is fun, but it also makes a lot of sense. While it’s not a great wide receiver class, you can make a case that the top three or four receivers have the potential to be really good. Even when they first step foot on an NFL field. That’s how it feels with Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the Atlanta Falcons.

He could be utilized in Arthur Smith’s offense as a pre-snap menace for his jet and orbit motion ability. Meanwhile, JSN would provide the Falcons with an offensive playmaker with the ability to run after the catch. Now there are plenty of health concerns on JSN due to his hamstring injury that cost him much of this last season. He got injured during the pre-season, the injury lingered, and then he got tackled awkwardly against Notre Dame during the early weeks of the season.

At the Scouting Combine, it was the best JSN had looked in quite some time. Even though he didn’t run the 40-yard dash, he posted a 3-cone drill time of 6.57 seconds (the best of any WR in the draft). That matches the fluidity we see on tape with his route-running prowess and shiftiness after the catch. The group of JSN with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Tyler Allgeir and Desmond Ridder sounds fun and promising.

9. Chicago Bears (via Carolina) — Jalen Carter (DL – Georgia)

Certainly, it’s going to be interesting to see where Jalen Carter lands in the 2023 NFL Draft. At the Scouting Combine, news broke that Carter was racing his car while being present in a car accident on January 15th, 2023. The accident took the lives of Georgia recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy and Georgia offensive lineman Devin Wilcox. When the news broke, Carter left the Combine and went back to Athens, Georgia, to cooperate with the police.

Since then, Carter has pled no contest and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine, 50 hours of community service and completion of a state-approved defensive driving course. Prior to pleading no contest, Carter had competed at the Georgia Pro Day since he couldn’t at the Scouting Combine due to the situation.

At his Pro Day, Carter checked in nine pounds heavier than he did at the Combine. Meanwhile, when watching him go through bag drills, he looked very sluggish, and there were reports that he was out of breath and cramping. Now, obviously, there’s been a lot on Carter’s plate for the last several weeks. That doesn’t make any of this right or wrong, but it could be part of the reason that his Pro Day performance was less than ideal.

On the field, Carter is as dominant as they come. He’s got a blend of power and speed, but he also showed rare athletic ability for a player of his size. There’s a chance that he goes in the top five of the 2023 NFL Draft like he was initially projected, but with how the last week or so has gone for him, it seems likely that he falls a little bit down the board. Some teams haven’t and won’t remove him from the top 10 of their draft board, and with the amount of homework they’ve done on him, it would be surprising if the Bears were one of those teams. They’ve swung for the fences all off-season, and I think they’ll do the same here with Carter being available.

10. Philadelphia Eagles — Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)

It was no secret that Miles Sanders was leaving Philadelphia. This allowed the Eagles to restructure contracts and bring back a bunch of their key defensive players. By doing so, this has kept the Eagles in position to have the luxury of selecting a running back in the first round. Sure, there’s a golden rule of “don’t draft running backs in the first round,” but when they’ve got the talent like Bijan Robinson — you draft them.

Robinson has easily been a top-three player on my big board since the end of the season. He’s got terrific lateral quickness and change of direction ability. In addition, he’s able to run through arm tackles while displaying great burst through the second level. Pairing Robinson with Jalen Hurts will give defenses fits in trying to stop the run, but it will also open up so much of the Eagles’ passing game. This pick is a no-brainer for the Eagles.

11. Tennessee Titans — Paris Johnson (OT – Ohio State)

It’s been an interesting off-season approach to the offensive line for the Titans. Before free agency, the team decided to release long-time left tackle, Taylor Lewan. During free agency, they lost starting guard Nate Davis to the Chicago Bears, but they countered the move by adding offensive lineman Andre Dillard. There’s a chance that Dillard was brought in to be a left tackle for the Titans, but he has some experience playing guard.

Either way, I think it would be wise for the Titans to add a tackle like Paris Johnson. He’s an athletic tackle that can absolutely move. It’s impressive seeing Johnson get out in space when pulling because he stands 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds. An experienced offensive tackle that has experience playing tackle and guard, the Titans can draft Johnson and use him wherever he’s needed. This allows them to experiment with Dillard and Johnson at guard and tackle. A move like this should bode well for the future of the Titans’ offensive line.

12. Houston Texans — Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)

There’s a chance that Myles Murphy is one of the most overlooked players in this year’s draft. Murphy can absolutely play with the best of them. With DeMeco Ryans being hired as the head coach, the focus on defense will absolutely be there. Despite the Texans adding Chase Winovich, Sheldon Rankins and Hassan Ridgeway, they should continue to add talent to their defensive line.

Murphy stands 6-foot-5 and 268 pounds with 33 3/4-inch arms. This allows him to translate speed-to-power with ease while playing with an outstanding motor. Many are disappointed with his team-leading 6.5 sack season in 2022, but I think it’s fine production for an edge rusher that still generated 21 hurries (per PFF) this past season. There’s plug-and-play ability by selecting Murphy, and the upside for him to be a double-digit sack production is through the roof.

13. New York Jets — Broderick Jones (OT – Georgia)

All signs are pointing to the Jets adding Aaron Rodgers. If they do, there’s a chance they don’t even have this pick. We’ll monitor that as it happens. For now, the Jets still have this pick and could look to add to their offensive line. Drafting Mekhi Becton out of Louisville in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft made sense. Unfortunately, he’s only played in 15 games in his career due to multiple injuries.

Still, in a position to fix their problems, the Jets add a talented pass protector in Broderick Jones. The Georgia tackle has only started 19 games in his career. But from the games we’ve seen, there are plenty of strengths to his game. He can get out to space while finishing his blocks by burying defenders into the dirt. His length helps him create constant separation and allows him to consistently lock out defenders. Hand placement can become sporadic, but overall his issues are coachable. There’s potential for Jones to be the best tackle from this class.

14. New England Patriots — Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)

I know this isn’t a very Patriot-like move, but it’s actually one that makes sense. The Patriots coached Flowers at the Shrine Bowl and got familiar with his skill set while he got familiar with the playbook. Impressing every step along the way, he even participated at the Scouting Combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds.

In free agency, the Patriots lost receiver Jakobi Meyers to the Raiders, so they signed receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. That move shouldn’t stop them from adding a player like Flowers. He’s got the speed and explosiveness to run vertically while also having the ability to run after the catch. His size will get questioned, but he added 13 pounds of muscle going into the Scouting Combine. This feels like the type of pick that would get questioned by everyone, but the Patriots would find a way to make it work.

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

As the Packers prepare to trade quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the Jets, they’ll turn the offense over to Jordan Love. It would be fitting that they move Rodgers and then finally add a first-round pass-catcher to their offense. Looking at the tight end position for the Packers, it’s slim pickings. Robert Tonyan entered free agency and went to the Bears, while Marcedes Lewis is sitting in free agency.

In this spot, the Packers select Mayer and get an immediate starter at tight end. Mayer is an underrated route runner who excels when running stick or out routes. He’s got a big frame that he uses to box out defenders when catching a jump ball in the red zone. Whether he’s used in-line or in the slot, Mayer is effective as a blocker and should provide an impact in the run game.

16. Washington Commanders — Joey Porter (CB – Penn State)

It’ll be interesting to see how the Commanders do with Sam Howell under center. There’s plenty of talent on this Commander’s roster, but they could add to that by just taking the best players available in the draft. In this situation, they do that here to help fix the future outlook of their cornerback position. Cornerback Kendall Fuller is set to become a free agent after this season, and Benjamin St-Juste has been mediocre.

The arm length of Joey Porter Jr. jumps off the screen when you put on the tape. It helps him to consistently be able to play through the catch point and it shows in the stat sheet with 10 pass breakups. Last season only allowed 12 receptions for 108 yards and no touchdowns. His size and fluidity help him to be in position at all times. As the future for the Commanders’ cornerback room could be turned unclear after this season, JPJ gives them assurance that the future is bright.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers — Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)

This would be somewhat shocking if Skoronski fell down the board, but it is possible. Most of that is because there could be thought of him being limited due to his size. That said, there’s much to be desired about his skill set because he’s the most consistent lineman in this draft. Playing with great patience, his feet are controlled, and his pad level remains low consistently.

Having only played tackle in college, there’s a chance he can translate to the NFL because he held his own in the Big Ten. Per PFF, Skoronski only allowed six total pressures in 2022, and that’s significantly better than the previous season. This would be a plug-and-play type pick for the Steelers as they need to continue to protect quarterback Kenny Pickett.

18. Detroit Lions — Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)

The violence that Nolan Smith plays with should intrigue the Lions’ coaching staff. He’s got the ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer. Every step is violent, and he’s willing to take on every blocker that gets in his way.

Last season, Smith only had three sacks, but his season was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle. However, at the Scouting Combine, he showed teams that he was back to full strength. After checking in at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds and posted a 41.5-inch vertical jump.

By adding Smith, the Lions get another player to add up front to generate pressure. When he’s not doing that, he will burst into the backfield to tackle running backs or blow-up blockers on split-zone to allow a teammate to mack a tackle. The trio of Hutchinson, Smith and Houston off-the-edge for Detroit has tremendous potential to be one of the top units in the league.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Darnell Wright (OT – Tennessee)

One of the most interesting teams in the offseason this year is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They lost Tom Brady to retirement and replaced him with quarterback Baker Mayfield. In addition to losing Brady, the team had to cut ties with long-time offensive tackle Donovan Smith. That tends to happen when your team is in absolute cap hell.

So with Smith gone, the Bucs are prepared to move offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs to the left side. By doing that, it opens the right tackle spot. In addition, this allows the Bucs the opportunity to draft a plug-and-play tackle. Wright is an NFL-ready tackle who plays mean and will look to maul the opposition. He’s vicious with his snatch-trap technique and has faster feet than given credit for.

20. Seattle Seahawks — Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)

I tossed around the idea of an offensive lineman in this spot, but I’m going to go with one of the top edge defenders on the board. Van Ness checked into the Scouting Combine at 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds. In addition to that, the former hockey player completed the three-cone drill in 7.02 seconds.

LVN has a terrific blend of speed and power in his game. His length and strong hands allow him to power his way through the opposition’s chest plate and into the backfield. By adding him to the Seahawks’ defensive front, it gives them a versatile chess piece that can stand up off the edge or play down inside in a 4i-technique to make plays.

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21. Los Angeles Chargers — Brian Branch (S – Alabama)

The sudden retirement from safety Nasir Adderly was a bit surprising. But that opens a hole at safety for the Chargers. In what looks to be somewhat of a shaky group of safeties after the Scouting Combine, it still feels like Brian Branch has secured the top spot.

He only ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds, but he plays much faster than that. With a defensive-minded head coach such as Brandon Staley, he’d be ecstatic to get his hands on him. Branch can play in a variety of spots from the nickel role, in the box or even over the top of the secondary with Cover 2 responsibilities.

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

Certainly, there’s a chance that Devon Witherspoon is already off the board by this point. However, the draft process for him has been less than ideal. Battling through a hamstring injury, Witherspoon hasn’t had the chance to test or show teams what he can do on the field. Now, the tape says he doesn’t really need to, but it’s still part of the process.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 181 pounds, Witherspoon is a physical corner that has quick feet and is willing to lay the hammer on the opposition. He’d fit the Ravens as an outside corner, but he does have experience playing in the slot. So even though the Ravens need help on the offensive side of the football, this just feels like a very “Raven-like” selection in the first round.

23. Minnesota Vikings — Quentin Johnston (WR – Texas Christian)

By letting Adam Thielen go, the Vikings could very well be indicating that they’re interested in a first-round receiver. Obviously, it could be JSN or Addison, but with Quentin Johnston available, there’s got to be some interest. Especially after he checked into the Combine at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds while posting a 41.5-inch vertical.

Most likely an ‘X’ receiver in the NFL, Johnston has the speed and burst to make plays after the catch. There are times that he can take a designed screen for a big gain or even to the house. I do have questions about his physical ability at times. When looking at some of the past receivers in the draft, you can see the “alpha dog” mentality on the field, but with Johnston, it seems to be lacking. Regardless, he’d compliment Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn well in an offense that also features TJ Hockenson and Dalvin Cook.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars — Mazi Smith (DT – Michigan) 

One of the more interesting teams to figure out is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Much of that is because the free agent signings they made a year ago actually panned out greatly. The pass-catchers they added helped quarterback Trevor Lawrence take a huge step forward as a passer. But when you look at this roster, there’s one glaring need that stands out to me, and it’s on the interior defensive line.

There’s limited depth on the interior, and it feels like they could use a versatile defender there. The player that seems like an ideal fit is Mazi Smith from Michigan. He checked into the Combine at 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds while putting up 34 reps in the bench press. Smith has a nice blend of power and speed while being able to execute a variety of pass-rush moves. He can win with his bullrush, push-pull or swim move. But he’s also got alignment versatility, and that would be beneficial for a defensive front that needs it.

25. New York Giants — Jordan Addison (WR – USC)

If the athletic testing from Scouting Combine would have been better for Addison, I don’t think we’re talking about him this far down the board. There’s still a chance that we don’t because Addison is one of the best route runners in the draft. He’s able to create separation with ease due to the fluidity in his routes and the violence he has when getting in and out of his breaks. But he’s available here and makes too much sense for New York.

With how the Giants’ roster has taken shape, they’ve started to put pieces around Daniel Jones, but a lot of these moves are in the short term. By drafting Addison, they can pair a pass catcher with Jones for the long term.

26. Dallas Cowboys — Anton Harrison (OT – Oklahoma)

In what was a surprising move, the Cowboys moved on from Ezekiel Elliot, but then a few days later, they traded for receiver Brandin Cooks. While there’s been plenty of speculation that the Cowboys were looking to add weapons to their offense, those weren’t the moves I had expected. That said, I think the Cowboys could continue to add to their offensive line.

With Anton Harrison being available, he seems like a no-brainer to play anywhere on the offensive line. Keep in mind that left tackle Tyron Smith is approaching the end of the road, and right tackle Terence Steele is set for free agency after this season. By adding Harrison, the Cowboys prepare for the future while he could make an impact as a rookie. The talented left tackle from Oklahoma has quick feet, great length and athletic ability for the position. He’s a strong finisher and would be a great asset in the run game for Dallas.

27. Buffalo Bills — Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Bills could look to add a pass-catcher or potentially an offensive lineman, they go defense here. It’s going to be hard to replace Tremaine Edmunds in the middle of that defense, but the Bills will do their best with Matt Milano and this selection.

Many believe that Simpson will go on day two of the 2023 NFL Draft, but I don’t think that will be the case. After running the 40-yard in 4.43 seconds at the Combine, it was an even better performance for Simpson at his Pro Day. He had posted a 40.5-inch vertical and finished the three-cone drill in 6.89 seconds. There’s plenty of fluidity and versatility within his game. The Bills could get creative with Simpson at linebacker and would have no real worries about his ability to cover due to his athleticism.

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

Losing Hayden Hurst in free agency opens up a need for a starting-caliber tight end in Cincinnati. There might not be a better pure-hands catcher in the draft than Kincaid. He finished his collegiate career with only one drop and looks like a perfect fit as a modern-day tight end in the NFL. Meanwhile, he’s coming off a career year where he posted 70 receptions for 890 yards and eight touchdowns.

Kincaid can align in the slot and run routes vertically, but he’s also a willing blocker when aligned in line. He’s battling through a small fracture in his back, but he’s expected to be ready by the start of the regular season. It makes sense for the Bengals to continue to add pass-catchers for quarterback Joe Burrow.

29. New Orleans Saints — Josh Downs (WR – North Carolina)

By adding quarterback Derek Carr to lead their offense, the Saints have a legitimate chance of winning the NFC South. They struck gold with the consistent playmaker Chris Olave, but they will need to consider adding more at wide receiver. In this scenario, four receivers are already off the board, so the Saints can’t hold off on taking one.

They get one of my favorite players in the draft with Josh Downs from North Carolina. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds, Downs is dynamite in a small package. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds, but he’s explosive after the catch. Meanwhile, he’s one of the best pure route runners in the draft. Much of this is due to the pacing that he runs his routes. Shades of Stefon Diggs in his game due to his route-running prowess gets him in the first-round conversation.

Specifically for the Saints, he takes over the slot as Jarvis Landry hits free agency. The trio of Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Josh Downs should lead to plenty of success for Derek Carr in his first year with New Orleans.

30. Philadelphia Eagles — O’Cyrus Torrence (OL – Florida)

Losing starting right guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Eagles will be in need of a starting guard. Enter a plug-and-play guard in O’cyrus Torrence from Florida. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds, Torrence has a massive frame and is able to maul any defender that crosses his path.

In his collegiate career, he’s never given up a sack, and at the Senior Bowl, he competed against all types of pass rushers. While there are times that speed rushes get the best of him, he’ll be placed between Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, and that should help him tremendously at the next level. This pick isn’t sexy, but it fits what the Eagles have continued to do, and that’s build in the trenches.

31. Kansas City Chiefs — Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)

Even with a strong Combine and Pro Day, it’s difficult to place Bryan Bresee in the first round. He fits a variety of teams and seems likely to be plug-and-played as a 3-technique for a team in the NFL. In this scenario, the 6-foot-5 and 298-pound defensive tackle is available in this spot and would be an ideal fit for the Chiefs. While they lost Kahlen Saunders in free agency, they did add defensive end Charles Omenihu from the 49ers. However, they could still use another interior defensive lineman.

Bresee is versatile enough to play just about anywhere on a defensive line. He fights pressure with pressure and is able to squeeze blocks down. Meanwhile, he can maintain control of his gaps due to his length and strong lower half. While the stat sheet isn’t loaded, his presence is often noticed on every offensive series. This pick gives the Chiefs an immediate starter on their defensive front.

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