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2023 NFL Mock Draft: PJ Moran’s Three-Round Version (1.0)

2023 NFL Mock Draft: PJ Moran’s Three-Round Version (1.0)

With the NFL Draft one week away, my time has come to join the mock draft madness. Though I have spent the last few months crunching tape and drawing my own conclusions on these prospects, this exercise is more predictive in nature and I only inserted a few personal opinions into the Round 1 blurbs. Naturally, I don’t expect to hit on all or even any of these predicted trades, but mocks are more fun with trades included and there is at least realistic intention behind each of them. That’s enough of a preamble – let’s dive into 102 picks!

ROUND 1

1. Houston Texans (TRADE): Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)

HOUSTON receives: Pick 1, Pick 114

CAROLINA receives: Pick 2, Pick 33

Kicking it off with a trade projection, I know. For a while, I just had C.J. Stroud going to Carolina at 1 and Bryce Young going to Houston at 2, but I respect the betting markets enough to buy that Young being the prohibitive favorite to go first overall isn’t just smoke. Still, I don’t believe that Panthers’ brass suddenly just soured on Stroud, and it does sound like the Texans want to leave this draft with Young and only Young at QB.

2. Carolina Panthers (TRADE): C.J. Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

CAROLINA receives: Pick 2, Pick 33

HOUSTON receives: Pick 1, Pick 114

See above. However it plays out next Thursday night, I still expect Young and Stroud to be the top two picks.

3. Detroit Lions (TRADE): Will Anderson (EDGE – Alabama)

DETROIT receives: Pick 3

ARIZONA receives: Pick 6, Pick 48, 2024 Round 2

Another trade! Arizona currently sports one of the worst preseason depth charts that I can recall, so it would be malpractice for them to pick in this spot. Contrary to all buzz, I don’t expect a frenzy to jump the Colts for QB3. Multiple teams are tempted but they all get cold feet when push comes to shove and they need to part ways with a future first round pick(s). Detroit, only moving up three spots and with surplus draft capital this year, answers the call to land the hyperdrive motor of Will Anderson.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson (QB – Florida)

Traits, traits, traits. And more intangibles than given credit for. Slam dunk outcome for the Colts.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith (EDGE – Georgia)

Perhaps the first shocker of this mock draft, Nolan Smith rides the wave of his 4.39 40-yard dash and 41.5-inch vertical jump all the way to the fifth overall pick. This honestly doesn’t feel all that crazy to me. Aside from Smith’s infectious energy resonating with Pete Carroll, he’d be a run-stuffing EDGE on a Seahawks team that otherwise has multiple pass rush specialists at the position. I’m sure that Seattle, a team that deploys linebackers as much as anyone in the current NFL, would place a premium on his versatility too.

6. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE): Christian Gonzalez (CB – Oregon)

ARIZONA receives: Pick 6, Pick 48, 2024 Round 2

DETROIT receives: Pick 3

If trades were outlawed in this mock draft, I would have slotted Gonzalez to Arizona at Pick 3. Atop their depth chart at cornerback are currently Antonio Hamilton, Marco Wilson, Christian Matthew, and Rashad Fenton. Would you believe me if I told you that I made up none of those names? Also, bonus points for Gonzalez’s brother-in-law, David Blough, being on the roster.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame)

Ok, HERE is my real shot in the dark among the Top 10. Before you call me crazy, might I suggest that you view the Raiders’ recent NFL Draft history under Mark Davis’ ownership? Besides that, allow me to briefly explain. First, I just think Michael Mayer is largely getting overlooked by mock drafters and that he will go in the Top 20. At the organizational level, Dave Ziegler has a pretty odd approach to personnel. He just sold low on Darren Waller, and this is the same guy who gave out $87.5mil in combined contracts to Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in his one offseason as Director of Player Personnel for the Patriots. And Vegas’ head coach is the same guy who once banged the table for Tim Tebow in Round 1. If any team is going to do something really weird, it’s the Raiders and they have enough ammo across the rest of the Draft to do whatever they feel like at Pick 7.

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

ATLANTA DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR POSITIONAL VALUE. They are going to pick uber-talented, 21-and-under offensive weapons as long as Arthur Smith is running the show.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (TRADE): Paris Johnson Jr. (OT – Ohio State)

PITTSBURGH receives: Pick 9

CHICAGO receives: Pick 17, Pick 49

Ah, so you thought we were done with trades in the Top 10? The Steelers of late haven’t been particularly guarded with their intentions for Round 1 of the Draft, and in this cycle, Mike Tomlin & Co. have chosen the circuit of offensive tackles. It’s all about “Building a Pickett Fence” – the hilarious motto for this Steelers’ offseason – and my guess is that they’ll land on Paris Johnson Jr. as their guy.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Peter Skoronski (OT – Northwestern)

Shame on the rest of the NFL if they allow this outcome for the Eagles. Skoronski plays right guard as a rookie, slides over to right tackle once Lane Johnson retires, makes 9 All-Pro Teams over 13 years in Philly, then becomes a first-ballot Hall of Famer. You can’t convince me otherwise.

11. Tennessee Titans: Darnell Wright (OT – Tennessee)

The Titans keep Darnell Wright in-state, and Ran Carthon nabs his version of Trent Williams in Year 1 of his regime in Nashville.

12. Houston Texans: Tyree Wilson (EDGE – Texas Tech)

This is more of a slide for Tyree Wilson than regularly projected – and maybe I’m wrong – but it just feels odd to me to pencil in a soon-to-be 23-year-old from the Big 12, who skipped all athletic testing due to a nagging foot injury, into the Top 10 of the Draft without thinking twice about it. I keep thinking back to this time last year when all of the late action was on Jermaine Johnson going to the Jets at Pick 4. (He was taken at Pick 26.)

13. New York Jets: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio State)

Speaking of the Jets, they reunite JSN with Garrett Wilson and do what Green Bay never did for Aaron Rodgers by drafting a pass catcher in Round 1. (Ya know, assuming Rodgers does eventually join the Jets…)

14. New England Patriots: Jalen Carter (DT – Georgia)

Clearly, I am taking the over on Jalen Carter’s draft position. Teams are becoming more risk averse by the year in the NFL Draft, and Carter’s Pro Day performance in conjunction with his off-the-field decision-making and legal troubles could prove that bad of a combination. I don’t need to explain why New England would take the chance on Carter; he’s widely perceived as the most talented player in the Draft. Why would all teams between Picks 5-13 pass? Four of the eight teams’ GM/HC pairings are making their first Round 1 selections in their new roles, the narrative that Seattle is willing to take chances on players with character concerns might be outdated, Atlanta goes with another blue-chipper in Bijan Robinson instead, Pittsburgh trades up for a left tackle, Philadelphia opts against doubling down on Georgia DTs with Carter after taking Jordan Davis last year, and the Jets got recently burnt by a lottery pick with fitness issues (Mekhi Becton) and a lottery pick with maturity issues (Zach Wilson). Does that all add up enough? Maybe not…but I’m rolling with it!

15. Green Bay Packers: Deonte Banks (CB – Maryland)

Deonte Banks is going to be a high pick in this Draft. His tape rocks and his testing was that tremendous. It helps that Green Bay took a freakish defensive back from Maryland in Round 1 just four years ago. (Deonte Banks is a better prospect than Darnell Savage was then too.)

16. Minnesota Vikings (TRADE): Will Levis (QB – Kentucky)

MINNESOTA receives: Pick 16, Pick 47, Pick 118

WASHINGTON receives: Pick 23, 2024 Round 1

Whew, we had made it all of 7 picks without a trade in this exercise. I expect Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, a literal former Wall Street trader, to make Draft Day swaps as long as he’s running the Vikings. In this case, I have him leaning on the newer and more analytically inclined trade value charts that generally prioritize quantity over quality by sacrificing his 2024 Round 1 pick to move up for Levis – his QB of the future with experience in a McVay/O’Connell style of offense – and gain Washington’s Rounds 2 & 4 picks this year in the process. This would be a clever way for Minnesota, with only 5 total picks right now, to gain extra dart throws at the board this year. For Washington, this amounts to a win for them on the more traditional trade value charts, and deferring a bonus Round 1 pick by a year could be appealing to them with the ownership situation in limbo – plus an expected sweepstakes for DC’s own Caleb Williams.

17. Chicago Bears (TRADE): Lukas Van Ness (EDGE – Iowa)

CHICAGO receives: Pick 17, Pick 49

PITTSBURGH receives: Pick 9

The Bears trade down twice and still land Van Ness, a Chicago native and a player commonly found within the Top 10 of big boards.

18. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon (CB – Illinois)

This might be later than expected for Witherspoon, the current betting favorite to be the first cornerback off the board, but I could see him slipping as an undersized senior with questionable athleticism. Detroit would end that slide though and rush to the podium for the tough-as-nails CB.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Broderick Jones (OT – Georgia)

I think Jones has been a bit too overhyped during this process, but this would be a perfect landing spot for the young Bulldog. Tampa shouldn’t be all that competitive in 2023, so Jones could take his lumps as a rookie and then seemingly be better prepared for higher-leverage games come 2024.

20. Tennessee Titans (TRADE): Hendon Hooker (QB – Tennessee)

TENNESSEE receives: Pick 20

SEATTLE receives: Pick 41, 2024 Round 2, Caleb Farley, Malik Willis

With enough insiders sliding Hendon Hooker into Round 1 of mock drafts and anonymous quotes from NFL sources praising him, I’ll buy that he hears his name called on the first night of the Draft. It feels like you’re supposed to either think that Hooker is the next Jalen Hurts or that he belongs nowhere near an NFL field in the raging discourse over him, but personally, I think this would be fine. Admittedly, it’s a bit rich, but with Ryan Tannehill entering the final year of his contract with the Titans…I’d get it. For Seattle, they have the luxury of accepting future draft capital with the leadership of John Schneider and Pete Carroll set in stone, and they pick off a couple of out-of-favor players – like they did in the Russell Wilson trade – as Tennessee continues to shed all personnel with Jon Robinson’s fingerprints on it.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)

The Chargers need an infusion of speed on offense, and they get it in the form of my WR1. Tom Telesco goes with back-to-back picks from Boston College in Round 1.

22. Las Vegas Raiders (TRADE): Joey Porter Jr. (CB – Penn State)

LAS VEGAS receives: Pick 22

BALTIMORE receives: Pick 38, Pick 70, Pick 141

Even if they love a couple of players still on the board, I’d be shocked if the Ravens – with only 5 total draft picks – make a selection in this spot. The Raiders, conversely with 12 picks, pounce on Baltimore’s desire to trade back to select the long and scheme-versatile cornerback out of Penn State.

23. Washington Commanders (TRADE): Luke Musgrave (TE – Oregon State)

WASHINGTON receives: Pick 23, 2024 Round 1

MINNESOTA receives: Pick 16, Pick 47, Pick 118

For a team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2016, Washington actually doesn’t have too many roster holes. One of them is tight end though, where I’m sure Eric Bieniemy, upon leaving Travis Kelce, will want to do better than 32-year-old Logan Thomas – who Washington can save $5mil by releasing. Luke Musgrave is the forgotten man near the top of this tight end class, though I doubt Washington forgot about his 4.61 40-yard dash and 125″ broad jump.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quentin Johnston (WR – TCU)

Trent Baalke once took an EDGE with 9.5 career college sacks but an 85″ wingspan with the first overall pick. (Wait, that was last year?!) Quentin Johnston, with a 96th percentile wingspan for WRs at 82″, actually has the production to back up a selection here too. His YAC abilities would be a godsend for Trevor Lawrence in a receiving corps of Calvin Ridley/Zay Jones/Christian Kirk that otherwise can’t do anything with the ball in their hands.

25. New York Giants: Myles Murphy (EDGE – Clemson)

Even after landing a true three-down defensive end in Kayvon Thibodeaux last year, the search for another one opposite him is a low-key priority for the Giants. Azeez Ojulari is good, though he’s had difficulty staying healthy and Wink Martindale probably wants more depth at EDGE anyway. Myles Murphy isn’t the flashiest pass rusher but he has no-doubt NFL size and traits, proven production, and a 2002 birthdate.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Drew Sanders (LB – Arkansas)

It might feel like overkill to slot Dallas another LB/EDGE hybrid only two years removed from them landing one who’s quickly emerging as one of the best we’ve ever seen, but the Cowboys historically are successful at drafting the clear top players at their respective positions – and that’s Sanders in this LB class. I also have a tough time imagining Jerry Jones passing on a Razorback from Texas who resembles Sean Lee.

27. Buffalo Bills: Darnell Washington (TE – Georgia)

The Bills could use a weapon on offense that invokes fear in defenses when he has the ball in his hands, and they need assistance on the bookends of their offensive line. May I introduce this monster from Georgia who can do both?

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Bryan Bresee (DT – Clemson)

The Bengals are one of the better teams at cutting through the noise and bringing in good players via the Draft. In 2020, they landed Tee Higgins with the 33rd overall pick after a lackluster Pro Day dropped him to Round 2, and only three years later they could land another mega-talented Clemson Tiger who has no business falling this far in Bresee.

29. New Orleans Saints: Adetomiwa Adebawore (EDGE – Northwestern)

I’m not sure if Adebawore’s meteoric rise will actually culminate in a Round 1 selection, but he’s a better player than currently given credit for and he’d be an excellent fit at DE in Dennis Allen’s 4-3 base defense.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Emmanuel Forbes (CB – Mississippi State)

Philly famously hasn’t used a Round 1 pick on a DB since Lito Sheppard in 2002, but I think that trend is more circumstantial than tactical. GMs are going to get themselves in trouble for the next 10+ years by justifying picks on undersized WRs with DeVonta Smith‘s pro success, but strangely enough, comparing Forbes to Smith actually does make some sense even though he plays on the other side of the ball. Forbes also has bizarre length to go along with his string bean frame, and he was wildly productive at Mississippi State with 14 interceptions and 6 touchdowns across just three seasons.

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

It won’t surprise me if Kansas City trades up to land Harrison. This pairing feels among the most likely of the entire first round.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

ROUND 2

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jordan Addison (WR – USC)

33. Carolina Panthers (TRADE): Steve Avila (OG – TCU)

CAROLINA receives: Pick 2, Pick 33

HOUSTON receives: Pick 1, Pick 114

34. Arizona Cardinals: Brian Branch (S – Alabama)

35. Indianapolis Colts: Kelee Ringo (CB – Georgia)

36. Los Angeles Rams: Will McDonald IV (EDGE – Iowa State)

37. Seattle Seahawks: John Michael Schmitz (C – Minnesota)

38. Baltimore Ravens (TRADE): DJ Turner (CB – Michigan)

BALTIMORE receives: Pick 38, Pick 70, Pick 141

LAS VEGAS receives: Pick 22

39. Carolina Panthers: B.J. Ojulari (EDGE – LSU)

40. New Orleans Saints: Jalin Hyatt (WR – Tennessee)

41. Seattle Seahawks (TRADE): Jahmyr Gibbs (RB – Alabama)

SEATTLE receives: Pick 41, 2024 Round 2, Caleb Farley, Malik Willis

TENNESSEE receives: Pick 20

42. New York Jets: Calijah Kancey (DT – Pittsburgh)

43. New York Jets: Joe Tippmann (C – Wisconsin)

44. Atlanta Falcons: Derick Hall (EDGE – Auburn)

45. Green Bay Packers: Dalton Kincaid (TE – Utah)

46. New England Patriots: Cody Mauch (OG – North Dakota State)

47. Minnesota Vikings (TRADE): Keion White (EDGE – Georgia Tech)

MINNESOTA receives: Pick 16, Pick 47, Pick 118

WASHINGTON receives: Pick 23, 2024 Round 1

48. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE): Keanu Benton (DT – Wisconsin)

ARIZONA receives: Pick 6, Pick 48, 2024 Round 2

DETROIT receives: Pick 3

49. Chicago Bears (TRADE): Dawand Jones (OT – Ohio State)

CHICAGO receives: Pick 17, Pick 49

PITTSBURGH receives: Pick 9

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Felix Anudike-Uzomah (EDGE – Kansas State)

51. Miami Dolphins: Tucker Kraft (TE – South Dakota State)

52. Seattle Seahawks: Julius Brents (CB – Kansas State)

53. Chicago Bears: Tyrique Stevenson (CB – Miami)

54. Los Angeles Chargers: Zach Charbonnet (RB – UCLA)

55. Detroit Lions: O’Cyrus Torrence (OG – Florida)

56. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mazi Smith (DT – Michigan)

57. New York Giants: Cam Smith (CB – South Carolina)

58. Dallas Cowboys: Devon Achane (RB – Texas A&M)

59. Buffalo Bills: Jack Campbell (LB – Iowa)

60. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Laporta (TE – Iowa)

61. Chicago Bears: Gervon Dexter (DT – Florida)

62. Philadelphia Eagles: Tuli Tuipulotu (EDGE – USC)

63. Kansas City Chiefs: Isaiah McGuire (EDGE – Missouri)

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

ROUND 3

64. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Mingo (WR – Mississippi)

65. Houston Texans: Luke Wypler (C – Ohio State)

66. Arizona Cardinals: Cedric Tillman (WR – Tennessee)

67. Denver Broncos: Matthew Bergeron (OT – Syracuse)

68. Denver Broncos: Jammie Robinson (S – Florida State)

69. Los Angeles Rams: Zach Harrison (EDGE – Ohio State)

70. Baltimore Ravens (TRADE): Jaelyn Duncan (OT – Maryland)

BALTIMORE receives: Pick 38, Pick 70, Pick 141

LAS VEGAS receives: Pick 22

71. New Orleans Saints: Darius Rush (CB – South Carolina)

72. Tennessee Titans: Josh Downs (WR – North Carolina)

73. Houston Texans: Tyjae Spears (RB – Tulane)

74. Cleveland Browns: Trenton Simpson (LB – Clemson)

75. Atlanta Falcons: Sydney Brown (S – Illinois)

76. New England Patriots: Tyler Scott (WR – Cincinnati)

77. Los Angeles Rams: Israel Abanikanda (RB – Pittsburgh)

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

79. Indianapolis Colts: Wanya Morris (OT – Oklahoma)

80. Pittsburgh Steelers: Clark Phillips (CB – Utah)

81. Detroit Lions: Siaki Ika (DT – Baylor)

82. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Roschon Johnson (RB – Texas)

83. Seattle Seahawks: Daiyan Henley (LB – Washington State)

84. Miami Dolphins: Jaquelin Roy (DT – LSU)

85. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Battle (S – Alabama)

86. Baltimore Ravens: Cory Trice (CB – Purdue)

87. Minnesota Vikings: Terell Smith (CB – Minnesota)

88. Jacksonville Jaguars: YaYa Diaby (EDGE – Louisville)

89. New York Giants: Tank Bigsby (RB – Auburn)

90. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Steen (OT – Alabama)

91. Buffalo Bills: Zacch Pickens (DT – South Carolina)

92. Cincinnati Bengals: Antonio Johnson (S – Texas A&M)

93. Carolina Panthers: Zach Evans (RB – Mississippi)

94. Philadelphia Eagles: Marvin Mims (WR – Oklahoma)

95. Kansas City Chiefs: Rashee Rice (WR – SMU)

96. Arizona Cardinals: Kendre Miller (RB – TCU)

97. Washington Commanders: Jartavius Martin (CB – Illinois)

98. Cleveland Browns: Kyu Blu Kelly (CB – Stanford)

99. San Francisco 49ers: Blake Freeland (OT – BYU)

100. Las Vegas Raiders: Tanner McKee (QB – Stanford)

101. San Francisco 49ers: Davis Allen (TE – Clemson)

102. San Francisco 49ers: Ji’Ayir Brown (S – Penn State)


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