The 2023 NFL Combine is in the rearview mirror. Several players saw their draft stock rise, while others saw theirs drop. Meanwhile, the franchise tag deadline was on Tuesday. Six players, including Lamar Jackson and three running backs, received the franchise tag.
NFL Free Agency starts next week, and the trade rumor mill is hotter than ever. Let’s see how the NFL Combine and the rumor mill impact my third mock draft of the year. This mock draft will include seven hypothetical first-round trades, including two within the first three picks.
There are only 31 first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Miami Dolphins had to forfeit their first-round pick after an investigation revealed they violated league policies.
More NFL Mock Drafts
- Matthew Freedman’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0)
- Kent Weyrauch’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0)
- Matthew Jones’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0)
- Andrew Erickson’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0)
- Mike Fanelli’s Mock Drafts w/ Trades (1.0 | 2.0)
- John Supowitz’s Mock Drafts (1.0 | 2.0)
2023 NFL Mock Draft w/Trades: Mike Fanelli (3.0)
Be sure to check out my previous mock draft too.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Indianapolis Colts receive picks 1, 102. Chicago Bears receive picks 4, 35, 2024 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick.
1) Indianapolis Colts (via Bears): Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)
Anyone with money on Anthony Richardson being the first overall pick loves seeing this selection. The Florida quarterback had an outstanding performance at the combine and has a legit chance to be the first overall pick. Indianapolis needs a quarterback more than any other team in the NFL. New head coach Shane Steichen had success with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. Richardson might need a year on the bench, but he has the potential to turn into the next Hurts.
2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)
Christmas came early for the Texans as Bryce Young falls right into their lap. While reportedly the team will kick the tires on Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency, that won’t stop Houston from drafting their franchise quarterback. Furthermore, the Texans can hold onto their plethora of draft capital and still get arguably the best quarterback in the draft class.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Carolina Panthers receive pick 3. Arizona Cardinals receive picks 9, 39, 93, 2024 first and fourth-round picks.
3) Carolina Panthers (via Cardinals): C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)
Arizona has their quarterback but a roster full of needs. They are a prime trade spot for a team that wants to move up for a quarterback. Carolina has struggled at the quarterback position since Cam Newton‘s best years. Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold didn’t pan out. Meanwhile, Frank Reich lost his job in Indianapolis after trying to replace Andrew Luck with veterans. Reich doesn’t make the same mistake this time, forcing the team to trade up for C.J. Stroud.
4) Chicago Bears (via Colts): Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE – Alabama)
The Bears could trade back again with another quarterback-needy team. Seattle and Detroit are picking next and could draft a quarterback. However, Chicago can’t pass on Will Anderson Jr. The edge rusher would have been the No. 1 overall pick last year. He will also be the first non-quarterback drafted this year after totaling 27.5 sacks over the past two seasons at Alabama.
5) Seattle Seahawks (via Denver): Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)
Yes, I know the Seahawks just signed Geno Smith to a three-year contract. However, the structure of his contract won’t keep the team from drafting a quarterback if the opportunity presents itself. Head coach Pete Carroll mentioned how the team needs to take advantage of this pick since they rarely have a top-five selection. Will Levis didn’t have the same level of performance at the combine as Richardson and Stroud. Yet, he will be a top-seven pick.
6) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles): Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)
Last year Aidan Hutchinson led the Lions with 9.5 sacks. Meanwhile, James Houston was a sixth-round pick and had eight sacks, the second-most on the team. While both players have a bright future, that shouldn’t stop Detroit from adding an edge rusher early in the draft. Nolan Smith’s 10-yard split of 1.52 seconds was the fastest among edge rushers at the NFL Combine. He has put himself in the mix to go in the top 10.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr. (OT – Ohio State)
The Raiders will try to add a veteran quarterback this offseason after Tom Brady retired. Aaron Rodgers and Garoppolo have been the two most talked about quarterbacks for Las Vegas. However, Garoppolo is currently the frontrunner. Assuming the team fixes their quarterback hole in free agency, they can focus on the offensive line and defense during the draft.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)
While everyone wants the Falcons to send this pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a specific quarterback, Atlanta has high hopes for Desmond Ridder. More importantly, the team’s defense has been awful for years. They struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, totaling zero sacks in nearly half of their games last season. Meanwhile, Tyree Wilson had 14 sacks over the past two years at Texas Tech and has a massive wingspan.
9) Arizona Cardinals (via Panthers): Jalen Carter (DL – Georgia)
Jalen Carter’s draft stock has slipped following his arrest surrounding a crash that killed a teammate and recruiting staff member. The defensive lineman got charged with two misdemeanors, and his arraignment hearing is on April 18. While the incident is serious, Carter’s draft stock shouldn’t slip too much unless things take a turn for the worse. After trading back and adding more draft capital, Arizona can take a chance on the talented defensive linemen.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans): Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)
Yes, the Eagles don’t use first-round picks on running backs, especially with plenty of offensive and defensive linemen on the board. However, Miles Sanders is a free agent this offseason, and Kenneth Gainwell isn’t capable of being a lead back. More importantly, Philadelphia was so close to winning the Super Bowl last year. Adding Bijan Robinson’s elite skill set to the team’s already dominant offense could be the missing piece at another Super Bowl run.
11) Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski (OL – Northwestern)
The Titans have been busy the past week, releasing several veteran players. One of those players was left tackle Taylor Lewan. Meanwhile, Tennessee has several other offensive linemen hitting the open market, including Nate Davis and Dennis Daley. Peter Skoronski can play either tackle or guard spot, giving the team options moving forward on the offensive line.
12) Houston Texans (via Cleveland): Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)
Now that the Texans have their new franchise quarterback, it’s time to put pieces around him. Nico Collins has flashed potential over the first two years of his career, while John Metchie III missed his rookie season with Leukemia. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks is likely on his way out the door, and the team needs a new No. 1 wide receiver. Jaxon Smith-Njigba dominated at the NFL Combine. Short of running an awful 40-yard dash at his pro day, the former Buckeye will be the first wide receiver drafted in April.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Green Bay Packers receive pick 13, conditional 2025 first-round pick. New York Jets receive Aaron Rodgers.
13) Green Bay Packers (via Jets): Christian Gonzalez (CB – Oregon)
Since I’m putting his trade in the mock draft, you can all but guarantee Rodgers will retire or return to Green Bay. However, let’s break down the trade compensation. The Packers would get the conditional 2025 first-round pick if Rodgers plays for the Jets in 2024 and meets certain statistic marks, including passing touchdowns and wins. This conditional pick protects New York in case the future Hall of Famer retires after the 2023 season, or his production falls off a cliff. Meanwhile, Green Bay can earn up to two first-round picks for the former franchise quarterback.
It’s been no secret that the Jets are all in on Rodgers. New York has been public about adding a veteran quarterback this offseason after Zach Wilson struggled last year. Meanwhile, the Packers struggled in the secondary last year after an impressive performance in 2021. Furthermore, Rasul Douglas could move to safety, creating an even bigger need at cornerback. Christian Gonzalez had an impressive performance at the NFL Combine, including a 4.38 40-yard dash time.
14) New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)
The Patriots have a massive need at wide receiver. Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor are free agents, while DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne could be cap casualties. Even if all four were back next year, the team needs to upgrade the wide receiver unit. However, New England has been awful at drafting first-round wide receivers. So instead, they turn their attention to the defense. Jonathan Jones is a free agent, and the team didn’t use the franchise tag. While they spent a pair of mid-round picks at cornerback last year, the Patriots need a legit No. 1.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive pick 15. Green Bay Packers receive picks 19, 82.
15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Packers): Broderick Jones (OT – Georgia)
While the Buccaneers are rebuilding, that doesn’t mean they can’t be aggressive during draft night. They recently released long-time left tackle, Donovan Smith. The team could kick Tristan Wirfs over to the left side and start Luke Goedeke to right tackle. However, they would be better off spending a third-round pick to move ahead of a couple of offensive tackle-needy teams to secure Broderick Jones.
16) Washington Commanders: Darnell Washington (TE – Georgia)
Washington won’t draft a quarterback this year, as they will give Sam Howell a chance to earn the starting role next season. The best thing they can do for the young quarterback is to give him more weapons. The Commanders have done their homework on the tight end position and spoke with Darnell Washington at the NFL Combine. Logan Thomas had a disappointing 2022 season and could be a cap casualty this offseason. Meanwhile, Washington can move like a wide receiver and still block like an offensive tackle.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr. (CB – Penn State)
This pick seems inevitable. Joey Porter Jr.’s father spent most of his career with the Steelers. More importantly, Pittsburgh needs help in the secondary. Cameron Sutton is a free agent this offseason, while Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are heading into the final year of their contracts. Porter Jr. has many similarities to Sauce Gardner in his size and speed. If the former Penn State star is even close to the same player Gardner was as a rookie, the Steelers will get a steal with this pick.
18) Detroit Lions: Deonte Banks (CB – Maryland)
The run continues with this pick, as four of the past six selections have been a cornerback. Deonte Banks was one of the biggest winners at the NFL Combine, finishing top three among cornerbacks in the 40-yard dash (4.35 seconds), broad jump (136 inches) and vertical jump (42 inches). Meanwhile, the Lions need help in the secondary, with Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes being free agents next week. Furthermore, the team has a decision to make on Jeff Okudah‘s fifth-year option this offseason.
19) Green Bay Packers (via Buccaneers): Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)
Green Bay has turned the page to Jordan Love in this mock draft. Last year they spent a trio of draft picks at wide receiver. This year the Packers address the tight end position. Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis are free agents next week. Michael Mayer will give Love a big body weapon in the middle of the field. More importantly, Green Bay can build a young, exciting offense around Love with Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Mayer.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
New Orleans Saints receive picks 20, 195. Seattle Seahawks receive picks 29, 71.
20) New Orleans Saints (via Seahawks): Jordan Addison (WR – USC)
After signing Derek Carr to a four-year contract earlier this week, the Saints are out of the quarterback hunt. While last year’s first-round pick Chris Olave had an outstanding rookie season, the team needs more help at wide receiver. Michael Thomas‘ future with the team is up in the air. Even if he returns next season, New Orleans can’t count on him, given his injury history. The Saints trade ahead of several wide receiver-needy teams to secure the USC star.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)
The Chargers don’t have many needs on paper. However, you can never have too many good edge rushers. Myles Murphy had 36 tackles for a loss and 18.5 sacks in his three years at Clemson. Meanwhile, Khalil Mack could be a cap casualty, while Kyle Van Noy is a free agent next week.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Kelee Ringo (CB – Georgia)
While everyone has focused on the team’s quarterback situation, the Ravens have other needs this offseason. A wide receiver would be ideal, but the Saints stole their target. Instead, Baltimore turns their attention to the secondary. Marcus Peters and multiple other cornerbacks are free agents this offseason. Kelee Ringo ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last week, the fifth-fastest time at the cornerback position.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Kansas City Chiefs receive pick 23. Minnesota Vikings receive picks 31, 95, 122.
23) Kansas City Chiefs (via Vikings): Darnell Wright (OT – Tennessee)
Many expected the Chiefs to use the franchise tag on left tackle Orlando Brown for a second year. However, the team decided to let the veteran left tackle test the open market. Meanwhile, right tackle Andrew Wylie is a free agent, while Lucas Niang is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Kansas City has 12 picks this year, making it easy to send Minnesota a pair to move ahead of a few offensive tackle-needy teams.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalton Kincaid (TE – Utah)
Jacksonville placed the franchise tag on Evan Engram after his career year in 2022. While the two sides are working towards a long-term deal, nothing is done until it’s finished. Even if the Jaguars sign Engram to a long-term deal, Doug Pederson’s offense is built around the tight end position. Pairing Dalton Kincaid with Engram would make Trevor Lawrence‘s receiving core more versatile.
25) New York Giants: Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)
While wide receiver is the most public need for the Giants, the team also has a hole at the linebacker position. The team has multiple upcoming free agents at linebacker. More importantly, New York can upgrade at linebacker through the draft. Trenton Simpson ran a blazing 4.43 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Furthermore, he had 165 tackles and 13 sacks in his college career.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Arizona Cardinals receive pick 26. Dallas Cowboys receive pick 96, DeAndre Hopkins.
26) Arizona Cardinals (via Cowboys): O’Cyrus Torrence (iOL – Florida)
DeAndre Hopkins has been at the center of trade rumors over the last several weeks. However, Dallas has become a popular landing spot recently. Pairing the star with CeeDee Lamb will give Dak Prescott an excellent set of wide receivers. Last year, the Cardinals made a similar deal to acquire Marquise Brown from the Ravens. Meanwhile, Arizona continues its rebuilding project by acquiring more draft capital. The team has several offensive linemen hitting the free agent market next week, including four starters. The first thing the Cardinals need to do during their rebuild is to improve their offensive line.
27) Buffalo Bills: Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)
Last year Buffalo’s passing attack regressed after the team lost Emmanuel Sanders. Gabe Davis was hit-or-miss as a starter opposite Stefon Diggs. Furthermore, Davis is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Bills might have trouble re-signing the young receiver next offseason. Even if he returns for the long haul, the team needs to improve their depth at the position.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Dawand Jones (OT – Ohio State)
While Joe Mixon‘s future with the team is in doubt, that doesn’t mean the Bengals have to use their first-round pick on his replacement. Instead, expect the team to focus on the offensive line. The offensive line needs work despite spending millions in free agency last year. La’el Collins suffered a torn ACL last season and could be a cap casualty this offseason. Meanwhile, Jonah Williams is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
29) Seattle Seahawks (via Saints, Denver, Miami, San Francisco): Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)
Seattle got their quarterback of the future earlier in this mock draft. Now it’s time to add the defense. The Seahawks had 45 sacks last season, the seventh-most in the NFL. Darrell Taylor and Uchenna Nwosu each had 9.5 sacks last year. However, both are entering the final year of their contracts. Furthermore, you can never have too many good pass rushers. Lukas Van Ness is a raw prospect but has tremendous upside after totaling 13 sacks over the past two years.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Brain Branch (DB – Alabama)
The Eagles made a luxury pick with their earlier first-round selection. Now it’s time to focus on fixing a hole on defense. Philadelphia has several members of the secondary hitting the open market next week, including starters James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Given the team’s salary cap situation, the Eagles will likely need replacements for both this offseason. Brian Branch’s 4.58 40-yard dash time will hurt his draft stock. However, he is the perfect fit for Philadelphia with this pick.
31) Minnesota Vikings (via Chiefs): Hendon Hooker (QB – Tennessee)
We close out this mock draft with a surprise pick. Hendon Hooker was a potential first-round pick before tearing his ACL late last season. While he hasn’t been able to participate in the on-the-field work at the Combine, the former Tennessee quarterback has reportedly done well in the interview process. More importantly, Hooker will reportedly be ready for Week 1. However, he won’t need to be in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins‘ contract is up after the 2023 season, and the Vikings need to find his long-term replacement.