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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s One-Week-Away Version (10.0)

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s One-Week-Away Version (10.0)

We’re 10 days away from Day 1 of the NFL draft, so it’s time to publish another mock.

Here are my previous 2023 mocks.

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.

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.

In determining team needs, I’ve consulted Andrew Erickson’s excellent free agency and draft breakdown. For player insight, I’ve perused Matthew Jones’ unrivaled scouting reports.

A note: My early mocks include lots of analysis, but I no longer have time to editorialize the way I’d want, so this piece is pretty much picks plus assorted notes. If you want something with more substance, check out all our other mock drafts.

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Note: 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.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

2023 NFL Mock Draft

Warning: I’ve gotten a little experimental in the top 12 of this mock — although I’m pleased with how this turned out.

1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)

Capitulation complete. Young is now -1200 to go No. 1 overall (at DraftKings). I can no longer mock QB C.J. Stroud here — especially since he seems to be losing steam across the board.

2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)

Lance Zierlein is more plugged into the Texans than anyone else in the national media. He nailed both of the Texans’ first-round picks last year. And in Zierlein’s most recent mock, he had the Texans taking EDGE Tyree Wilson at No. 2 and skipping QB C.J. Stroud.

Here are a couple items I’m taking from that.

  1. Anderson isn’t the locked-in No. 1 defender, and it’s possible that the Texans prefer Wilson.
  2. The Texans aren’t sold on a passer after QB Bryce Young, and as a result the “best available player” on their board is probably a defender — and they might consider taking that player instead of a quarterback.

I’m buying both points — especially the idea that the Texans could take a defender at No. 2 and then hope/try to get a quarterback with their No. 12 pick, either via a trade-up scenario or a player-falling-down-the-board situation.

And I can see how Wilson might be the higher-rated player on some teams’ boards relative to Anderson. While Anderson has the higher floor, Wilson might have the higher ceiling thanks to his athletic profile.

But Anderson still goes ahead of Wilson in 92% of the recent sharp mocks I’ve surveyed.

Wilson is intriguing, and I’ll have no fears in slotting him here if the market moves in that direction — but for now I gotta go with Anderson, who is a +200 favorite to go No. 2 (at FanDuel).

3. Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)

Maybe a team will trade up to No. 3, but increasingly it seems like the Cardinals might be stuck with this pick. Remember: Quarterbacks are regularly mocked too high. If the Texans — who need a quarterback — opt not to take one at No. 2, then that could be a sign that the NFL values the passers less than anticipated, as was the case last year.

Plus, I don’t project trades in mocks: The draft is already hard enough to predict, and I don’t like compounding chaos with randomness.

So let’s say that EDGE Will Anderson is off the board and the Cardinals are stuck with this pick. In that case, Wilson is a compelling pick, although I think that DT Jalen Carter and CB Christian Gonzalez would be in play.

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

Levis is now favored ahead of QB Anthony Richardson in the head-to-head market (-250 vs. +200 at DraftKings) as reports have circulated that the Colts prefer Levis and see him as more of a pro-ready prospect.

He’s a +150 favorite to go No. 4 (at BetMGM).

5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter (DT – Georgia)

I’ve been highly resistant to mocking Carter to the Seahawks because of the excellent analysis of Rob Staton.

But I’m giving Carter to the Seahawks in this iteration for a couple reasons.

  1. I want to try it out and see how it feels and how it impacts the rest of the board.
  2. Staton is sharp — but a lot of plugged-in reporters think Carter-to-the-Seahawks is likely. In Peter King’s most recent “Football Morning in America,” he writes this: “It’s become almost a cliché, how many team officials think the Seahawks will take Carter with the fifth overall pick.”

The Seahawks are notoriously hard to mock, but 40% of my sharp index has Carter to the Seahawks, and it makes sense: Carter is a top-three talent, and the Seahawks could use help on the defensive line.

They could take a quarterback here — but they didn’t last year when they had way more uncertainty at the position. If the Seahawks were really thinking about a quarterback at No. 5, I doubt they would’ve re-signed Drew Lock to be their backup.

What Andy Dalton was to the Saints last year, Lock is to the Seahawks this year: The sign that the team isn’t thinking about quarterback in Round 1.

I can easily see myself moving off Carter-to-Seahawks in my next mock, but for now I’m slotting him here.

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

It’s common for mockers to give the Lions CB Devon Witherspoon, who is a -165 favorite to be the No. 1 corner (at Caesars). And that makes sense for a few reasons.

  1. The Lions have a need at the position after trading away CB Jeff Okudah.
  2. Witherspoon was a man-heavy corner in college, so he fits the scheme.
  3. He’s a tenacious player, which is likely to appeal to kneecap-biting HC Dan Campbell.

But in my opinion Gonzalez should be the first corner selected given his experience (three years starting), 2022 production (four interceptions), size (6-1, 197 pounds), athleticism (4.38-second 40-yard dash), age (turns 21 in June) and recruitment pedigree (four stars).

Gonzalez looks like the kind of corner the NFL prioritizes: He’s long, fast and physical. With his blend of characteristics, he has the potential to be the next Patrick Surtain or maybe even Jalen Ramsey.

Gonzalez played in a zone scheme in college — but we still think he can be an NFL press-man cover corner. (Check out his FantasyPros scouting report.)

I like Witherspoon … but he’s older, smaller, slower and less pedigreed than Gonzalez.

There’s a decent chance that I eventually pivot to Witherspoon — but the sharp index still leans toward Gonzalez, so I’m sticking with him as the No. 1 corner for now.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

HC Josh McDaniels indicated at the annual NFL meetings that the Raiders are likely to “take the best football player” (per NFL Media), and they also need all sorts of help at corner, so Witherspoon is a natural fit.

Could the Raiders take a quarterback? Yes.

But McDaniels needs to start winning this season or he’s unlikely to be with the team in 2024, and using a first-round pick on a player to sit on the bench behind QB Jimmy Garoppolo — while likely a good long-term move — is unlikely to result in more 2023 victories. Plus, I doubt Garoppolo would’ve reunited with McDaniels if he were under the impression that he could be Trey Lanced in Las Vegas.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)

I increasingly believe that Robinson — universally regarded as one of the true top-tier talents in this class — will go higher than he’s commonly mocked. He’s comparable as a prospect to the running backs who have gone in the top 10 over the past decade, and Falcons HC Arthur Smith feels like the kind of guy who would prioritize the position given the success he had as the Titans offensive coordinator with RB Derrick Henry.

Plus, after acquiring CB Jeff Okudah from the Lions, the Falcons seem less likely to take a cornerback.

9. Chicago Bears: Paris Johnson (OT – Ohio State)

If EDGE Tyree Wilson or DT Jalen Carter don’t fall to No. 9, the Bears could trade back with maybe the Titans or Texans — more on that soon — but they could also stay put and take an offensive tackle to help protect QB Justin Fields.

In this situation, I’ll go with Johnson, who is more of a traditional choice relative to the short-armed OL Peter Skoronksi.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)

I believe the Eagles want DT Jalen Carter, but if he doesn’t fall down the board — and if the Eagles don’t trade with the Titans or Texans or someone else (again, more on that soon) — then I could see them drafting Carter’s teammate and reuniting him with former Georgia Bulldogs DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean.

The Eagles love investing in the trenches, and Smith feels like the kind of high-floor/high-ceiling player they’d snag.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

If QBs Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud fall down the board, it’s not hard to imagine the Titans and/or the Texans trading up for them, but they might not need to do so, and even if they do trade up a lot of these team/player matches could still hit.

The Titans go with a quarterback in 52% of sharp mocks — and they’ve been linked to Richardson way more than to Stroud.

12. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

The Texans get their quarterback. I could see them trading up to Nos. 8-10 to get Stroud, but that might not be necessary because the teams with those picks aren’t likely to draft a passer, and the teams after them seem settled enough at the position.

Given the recent (negative) buzz around Stroud, I can see him falling down outside the top 10 and going as the No. 4 quarterback in the class. It happened to his Ohio State predecessor, QB Justin Fields.

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

The Jets need offensive line help: LT Duane Brown turns 38 years old this year, OTs George Fant and Cedric Ogbuehi are free agents and OLs Mekhi Becton (knee) and Alijah Vera-Tucker (triceps) suffered season-ending injuries in 2022.

A lunch pail player with a hardhat name, Skoronski has the versatility to play tackle and guard and the nastiness to be an above-average starter.

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

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.

15. Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)

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

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deonte Banks (CB – Maryland)

18. Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey (DT – Pittsburgh)

The Lions pass on DT Jalen Carter at No. 6 but still get a potential difference maker at the position. A physical marvel, Kancey might be Aaron Donald 2.0.

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

20. Seattle Seahawks: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)

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

After his excellent combine, Smith-Njigba is -240 to be the No. 1 wide receiver selected (at BetRivers).

22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)

A couple thoughts on this pick.

  1. Even with the recent signing of Odell Beckham, the Ravens need help at the position.
  2. I now have Flowers as the No. 2 wide receiver, but he’s in a tight tier with WRs Jordan Addison and Quentin Johnston.

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

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch (S – Alabama)

The Jaguars are a hard team to project, but they could use help in the secondary, Branch has some positional versatility and he’s likely to go in Round 1.

25. New York Giants: Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)

Long gone are the days when Johnston was a chalk pick to the Texans at No. 12. He’s no longer a Round 1 lock.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)

I still have Mayer marginally ahead of TE Dalton Kincaid as the No. 1 player at the position. He’s higher in the sharp index, and I think the Cowboys will see a little bit of young Jason Witten in Mayer’s well-rounded game.

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

Nothing the Bills do would surprise me. They’re hard to mock.

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

29. New Orleans: Will McDonald (EDGE – Iowa State)

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Anton Harrison (OT – Oklahoma)

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.

More Mock NFL Drafts

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

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