2023 NFL Mock Draft Odds, Picks: Quarterback Chaos at Top of Board
In a special collaboration with Action Network, you’ll find the debut version of Nick Guarisco’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft below.
Guarisco (@FantasyLawGuy on Twitter) ranked in the top six in mock draft accuracy from 2019-2021 at NFL Mock Draft Database, which grades the accuracy of mock drafts industry-wide, including longtime draft analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper.
In his second Action Network NFL mock draft, Guarisco moved one of the top-four quarterbacks out of the top 10 and created potential betting value at the top of the board in terms of defensive players.
Check out Guarisco’s selections for all 32 NFL teams below.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
Click on a team for further analysis of Nick Guarisco’s NFL Mock Draft.
|1||Panthers||Bryce Young, QB, Alabama|
|2||Texans||Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama|
|3||Cardinals||Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech|
|4||Colts||Will Levis, QB, Kentucky|
|5||Seahawks||Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida|
|6||Lions||Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois|
|7||Raiders||C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State|
|8||Falcons||Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia|
|9||Bears||Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern|
|10||Eagles||Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia|
|11||Titans||Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State|
|12||Texans||Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon|
|13||Jets||Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia|
|14||Patriots||Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State|
|15||Packers||Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa|
|16||Commanders||Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas|
|17||Steelers||Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State|
|18||Lions||Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson|
|19||Buccaneers||Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee|
|20||Seahawks||Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College|
|21||Chargers||Jordan Addison, WR, USC|
|22||Ravens||Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland|
|23||Vikings||Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State|
|24||Jaguars||Brian Branch, S, Alabama|
|25||Giants||John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota|
|26||Cowboys||Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame|
|27||Bills||Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson|
|28||Bengals||Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah|
|29||Saints||Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech|
|30||Eagles||Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma|
|31||Chiefs||Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU|
|*The Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick.|
2023 NFL Draft Predictions
1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Short List: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud
Team Needs: QB, WR, DE
The Panthers basically sent their entire staff to the pro days of Stroud and Young, dining privately with both. Panthers offensive coordinator Josh McCown’s effusive praise for Stroud on an Underdog video was also worth considering. There, McCown called Stroud his favorite QB in the class prior to taking the Carolina job.
However, the tide drastically shifted in a span of days when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that he heard the Panthers are taking Young, not Stroud. Adam Schefter followed suit, as did seemingly every national and local beat writer.
At first, I presumed the changing of the guard was a masterfully crafted smokescreen. After all, the fact that the Texans love Young and considered him to be head and shoulders above all other QBs is the NFL Draft’s worst-kept secret. Therefore, in theory, Carolina could use its perceived interest in Young as leverage to force Houston to cough up a draft pick to swap picks and move up.
Shortly after the Bears-Panthers trade was announced, Schefter reported that Carolina could look to trade back to No. 2. I was suspicious; the leak seemed so large that it had to be intentional. For these reasons, I thought for several days that this was a brilliant hand of poker, with Carolina holding the cards and wanting Houston to call its bluff.
Despite the fact that Young is now a -1200 betting favorite to be the No. 1 pick, a small part of me still buys the narrative. We have seen examples of massive shifts 24 hours prior to drafts recently: the 2021 NBA Draft (Jabari Smith to Paolo Banchero), 2021 NFL Draft (Mac Jones to Trey Lance) and 2018 NFL Draft (Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield).
Ultimately, however, it’s past time to concede and mock accordingly.
TL;DR: Contrarian opinions are fun to theorize, but Young is a -1200 betting favorite for a reason.
2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Short List: Bryce Young, Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Will Levis
Team Needs: QB, WR, DE, C, LB
Much to Houston’s dismay, it appears the Panthers have gone through the draft process and decided Young is their guy. The question now is do the Texans take a quarterback they don’t love or the best player available (BPA)?
The best guesses for who Houston has atop its draft board (excluding Young) are Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson. Upgrading the pass rush is a major need, with few established players signed beyond next season at the position.
The connection that GM Nick Caserio may have with Alabama head coach Nick Saban is worth noting here. One argument in favor of the Texans not taking a quarterback here is that defensive-minded head coach DeMeco Ryans may want a player to build his defense around. The Texans clearly gave Ryans a long leash, so if the team does not love a quarterback, it may be more patient than fans want or expect.
The Texans select again at No. 12, so it’s also possible the Texans take a defender here and a quarterback then. In fact, the team can even move up from No. 12 to take a signal caller closer to the top five. The problem here: Teams do not typically “wait” on franchise quarterbacks, and evidence suggests the Texans do not have a clear QB2, or at least whoever is QB2 is not worth selecting at No. 2.
NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein, the most reliable and connected Texans source, has stated Houston may not be comfortable with C.J. Stroud, seeing as he shares the same agency as Deshaun Watson. He mocked Will Levis to the Texans in his last mock draft (at No. 12). This is relevant not only because it had the Texans passing on Stroud, but also because Zierlein was the only expert mocker who had both of the Texans picks correct last April (Derek Stingley and Kenyon Green).
The fact that the Texans are trying to trade down strongly indicates they do not love a quarterback enough to select him here. If they pass on a QB, I’d assume the front office is relatively comfortable with being patient at the position and punting QB altogether. Whether ownership steps in and demands a first-round QB remains to be seen.
TL;DR: The Texans wanted Young, but now they must pivot. The fact this pick is “for sale” does not exactly speak of confidence in who their QB2 is. If Houston can’t trade back, evidence suggests the team will be patient at QB, giving Ryans a building block at a major position of need.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Short List: Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Christian Gonzalez … Trade Down: Christian Gonzalez, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones
Team Needs: Defensive line (D-line), interior offensive line (iOL), Cornerback
This feels like a trade-down scenario for two reasons. The Cardinals sit in a sweet spot for QB-needy teams (Colts, Raiders, Titans) to move up, and they have a plethora of needs and could use the extra picks in its rebuild.
Perhaps Arizona’s greatest need is on the defensive line. The team lost its best three linemen (DE Markus Golden, DTs J.J. Watt and Zach Allen) on a defense that already struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. New head coach Jonathan Gannon comes from an Eagles team that prioritized a strong pass rush, which was evidenced by the fact the 2022 Eagles were the first team in NFL history to have four players with at least 10 sacks.
If Arizona successfully trades down, I see it targeting either an offensive lineman or a cornerback. The Cardinals’ offensive-line starters made 44-of-85 possible starts (32nd) last season and lost several iOL bodies, all of whom made starts at either LG or C. Josh Jones is a FA in 2024. Prioritizing Kyler Murray’s health is paramount considering the three-year trend of him starting the season spry and either fading or getting hurt down the stretch.
The Cardinals have met with OTs Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones and Darnell Wright, all of whom are projected to be selected between picks 9-19. Yet, the Cardinals currently have No. 3.
Cornerback is a glaring need and has been for years. A trade-down scenario where the Cardinals move back to target cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon should not surprise.
Hayden Winks prudently pointed out that Gonzalez played far more zone-coverage snaps than Witherspoon last season. The Cardinals ranked 26th in man-coverage snap rate in 2022, which makes me think Arizona would prioritize Gonzalez.
TL;DR: D-line (Anderson or Wilson) is unquestionably a critical need, but so is extra draft capital. Therefore, a trade-down scenario where the Cardinals move back a few spots to target Wilson, Gonzalez or an OT like Johnson or Jones could be the preferred play.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Short List: Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud
Team Needs: QB, CB, LB
The Colts have had months to decide among C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. I could see any of them being the pick.
Stroud seems to fit the mold of what GM Chris Ballard wants in a quarterback, based on history and quotes he’s given to the press when asked about what he looks for at the position. On the other hand, the betting favorite for this pick is Levis, who the NFL seems to like more than media and fans, chalking up his poor 2022 season to playing through injuries and a weak supporting cast.
We also know the Colts are one of the two AFC South teams who subscribe to S2 cognition test results, and Levis scored highly on that test. That being said, the Colts may select Richardson based on new coach Shane Steichen.
The former Eagles offensive coordinator played a role in developing Jalen Hurts as a passer, which would be the hope for Richardson, who has the potential to be a lethal, dual-threat QB. Although Richardson is a massive gamble for a first-year head coach, Steichen may have a comfort level here that few other coaches would. It helps that owner Jim Irsay may also want to swing for the fences.
The team has met with all three prospects multiple times.
TL;DR: The Colts are likely to select a quarterback. Whether it’s Stroud, Richardson or Levis, I will not be even slightly surprised. At this point, however, I have it as Levis > Richardson > Stroud. Admittedly, this changes daily.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Short List: Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Jalen Carter, Devon Witherspoon, Anthony Richardson
Team Needs: Defensive line, iOL, WR
Seattle is in a nice spot to select an impact defensive lineman. It’s certainly possible, if not probable, that either Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson is available at No. 5.
There have also been rumors about Seattle taking advantage of this early selection to take a quarterback, but 71-year-old Pete Carroll may have a stronger urgency to win now in a weak NFC with the help of immediate contributions from two first-round picks.
I consider all the selfies with this year’s quarterback class to be a smokescreen in an effort to get other teams to jump in front of them, allowing a premier defender to slide. NFL.com’s Peter Schrager believes Anthony Richardson is high on Seattle’s board.
We should not expect the Seahawks to be finished addressing the defensive line. I believe the team would prefer a pass rusher, but defensive tackle Jalen Carter could be in play. Despite his character concerns, some teams see Carter as the best player in this draft class. Carroll has not been afraid to take risks in the early rounds in the past, spending several picks on players with off-field issues.
Finally, I have heard that Seattle loves CB Devon Witherspoon, so it should be noted that there’s an outside shot that he is the pick. Witherspoon being the pick would likely be due to Anderson and Wilson being off the board, in combination with Seattle not being comfortable with Carter.
TL;DR: The Seahawks are likely to address their defensive line and select either Anderson, Wilson or Carter. There’s an outside shot for Witherspoon. I’m not fully buying quarterback here, but if Seattle does go in that direction, I would expect it to be Richardson.
6. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Short List: Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson, Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, C.J. Stroud, Jalen Carter
Team Needs: D-line, CB, OG
There’s a strong case for the Lions to select a quarterback. Jared Goff’s future with the team is uncertain after this season, which forces them to make a long-term QB decision next offseason anyway. Why not answer that question here while holding the sixth overall pick?
Considering Goff’s limited ceiling and the massive advantage of having a good quarterback on a rookie contract, one can see why QB must be, at minimum, strongly considered despite the team’s public backing of Goff.
Detroit surprisingly did not use a top-30 visit on a high-end quarterback, though. Is that a smokescreen or genuine disinterest in addressing the position? I’m not sure, but Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud are sleepers here.
Despite these reasons, the Lions may use this pick on a defender given the struggles over the years on that side of the ball, coupled with the fact that the offense progressed significantly last season. The recent signings of DBs Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson may move the needle toward a pass rusher, but the right one has to be available.
I vehemently disagree with the notion that the recent additions at defensive back preclude the Lions from selecting their favorite cornerback in the draft, either here or at No. 18.
TL;DR: A strong argument can be made for a quarterback, but the expectation should be that the Lions go defense with this pick, particularly a player who impacts pass defense. My best guess at the top-three defenders on the Lions’ board: Will Anderson Jr., Tyree Wilson and Devon Witherspoon.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Short List: Will Levis, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Tyree Wilson, Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Peter Skoronski
Team Needs: QB, DT, CB, O-line
Signing Jimmy Garoppolo should not prevent the Raiders from taking a quarterback at No. 7. Rather, the move should encourage it. He’s the perfect bridge quarterback due to his familiarity with Josh McDaniels, and also because he’ll likely inevitably gets hurt.
There seemed to be some buzz at the NFL Combine about Will Levis being a good fit for McDaniels’ offense due to his intelligence and experience with a complicated playbook (like McDaniels’). McDaniels has also spoken of toughness being desired at the position. This is a strength of Levis.
The Raiders have done due diligence on all of the top quarterback prospects. They have met with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Levis at least twice apiece. Thus, it’s relatively safe to assume the Raiders are at least in the market for a QB.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Short List: C.J. Stroud, Nolan Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Bijan Robinson, Myles Murphy
Team Needs: QB, DE, WR, CB
Nolan Smith is a high-character, local product who can hold his own in run defense, which are three things that the Falcons like and look for. On the other hand, GM Terry Fontenot comes from New Orleans, where the Saints placed emphasis on size and length for defensive linemen. This would seemingly make Lukas Van Ness a better fit from this perspective.
No matter how you slice it, both have to be considered strong options for this pick, all things considered.
RB Bijan Robinson is a wildcard here. In his annual conference call with the media, Daniel Jeremiah mentioned that most teams consider Robinson an elite prospect, and he alluded to him potentially going in the top 10. Positional value was put aside when this regime took Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick two years ago. It would make sense for the Falcons to trade down into the teens, as they should still be able to secure Robinson, a cornerback or a pass rusher.
9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Short List: Jalen Carter, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones, Darnell Wright, Peter Skoronski, Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith
Team Needs: D-line, OT, CB
The Bears moved back to No. 9 and added DJ Moore. Thus, it seems unlikely now that Chicago will take a WR.
Even though the Bears return all five starters and brought in guard Nate Davis, the offensive line is a major consideration. A lot of the team’s struggles on the O-line last season were due to injuries (the starting unit made 63 of 85 possible starts) and Fields’ propensity to hold on to the ball too long.
An offensive tackle could provide aid and solidify the unit. Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones and Darnell Wright are absolutely options to play right tackle. Perhaps the team could even trade back into the teens and still grab one.
It’s worth mentioning that Johnson went to OSU and that Fields has vouched for him. I’m ranking Skoronski last of the four because the Bears seem to prioritize arm length at the position.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Short List: Jalen Carter, Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith, Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon
Team Needs: LB, DT, iOL, CB
The Eagles have major needs at defensive tackle (losing Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph, and N’damukong Suh, with stellar DT Fletcher Cox a free agent in 2024) and linebacker (with both starters White and Edwards having departed). In any case, the value is not there at DT or LB unless the team wishes to take DT Jalen Carter despite his major character-related red flags.
Yet, a strong argument can be made for Carter here, even beyond the “top-10 assurance” that his agent has received. First, the Eagles could consider this pick more as a luxury seeing as they pick at 31 as well, so in theory they could be more likely to take a risk for a potential All-Pro.
Secondly, Carter could grow into an NFL player under the tutelage of veterans like DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham before taking over as “the guy” next season. DT Jordan Davis was Carter’s teammate at UGA and could serve as a mentor to him.
Third, even putting aside the need at DT, the Eagles have historically prioritized building through the trenches anyway. For these reasons, I do consider the Eagles a team that is likely to end any Carter slide.
11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Short List: Trade Up: C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis … Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones, Darnell Wright
Team Needs: WR, O-line, QB, CB, LB
The Titans could be a sleeper team to make an aggressive trade up for a quarterback. It may not be a coincidence that the team has reportedly been listening to offers about RB Derrick Henry and DT Jeffery Simmons, who could be parts of a package deal.
The Titans were also rumored to be one of the teams looking to trade up with Chicago when the Bears had the first pick. The team could pull the trigger if Stroud, Richardson or Levis slide.
Assuming the team stays put, addressing the offensive line appears likely. The Titans’ starting offensive linemen made only 57 of 85 possible starts (27th), and the unit lost starters LT Taylor Lewan, RG Nate Davis and C Ben Jones in free agency.
All of Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones and Darnell Wright should be seen as strong possibilities. I would favor Skoronski and Johnson.
12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Short List: Will Levis, Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith, Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Team Needs: QB, DE, WR, C, LB
Yes, the Texans drafted Derek Stingley with the third pick in last year’s draft. Nevertheless, CBs Steven Nelson, Desmond King, and Tavierre Thomas are free agents in 2024. At defensive end, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Rasheem Green and Mario Addison are no longer with the team. In addition, Jonathan Greenard, Jerry Hughes, and Chase Winovich are free agents next offseason.
This leaves a wide array of options at either position, whether it’s Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon at CB, or Lukas Van Ness or Nolan Smith at EDGE.
GM Nick Caserio comes from New England, so I would bet he has Witherspoon rated higher than Gonzalez. For the same reasons, I believe the Texans prefer Van Ness over Smith.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Short List: Nolan Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson Jr.
Team Needs: OT, D-line
The Jets’ starting offensive line made only 60 of 85 possible starts (26th) last season, a metric that doesn’t even include Mekhi Becton, who would sadly be risky to rely upon.
Moreover, starting C Connor McGovern and RT George Fant are free agents this offseason, while LT Duane Brown is a free agent next offseason. No. 13 may be a nice spot to take one of the top four offensive line prospects (Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones and Darnell Wright).
Based on GM Joe Douglas’s first-round history, it appears that he is a “RAS” believer, or at least requires high-end athleticism. In addition, a tendency toward drafting team captains early has been demonstrated by Jets beat writer Michael Nania.
Considering Skoronski is the only team captain of the bunch and the other three tackles are supreme athletes with great measurables, these two possible clues are not exactly helpful.
Nevertheless, I believe the Jets would prefer team-captain Skoronski (to play RT) and the athletic but raw Jones if given the choice. Jones could play RT if needed this year and/or develop under the tutelage of Brown before taking over at LT next season.
14. New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Short List: Devon Witherspoon, Peter Skoronski, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Broderick Jones, Zay Flowers, Joey Porter Jr., Jordan Addison
Team Needs: WR, CB, OT, TE
Wide receiver has to be considered the team’s weakest position. Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor have departed, while Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker are set to be free agents next offseason, as are TEs Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki. That leaves only JuJu Smith-Schuster and Tyquan Thornton as pass catchers signed through 2024.
It’s no surprise that the Pats have spent several resources evaluating the top WRs in this draft class thoroughly; specifically, the team has visited with Jaxon Smith-Njigba and has also used Top 30 visits on Jordan Addison and Zay Flowers.
I believe the Patriots would rank those receivers as followed: JSN > Flowers > Addison, with a tier break between Flowers and Addison. It is worth mentioning that the Patriots have not prioritized the WR position high in the draft, and Bill Belichick does not have a successful history when he does.
For this reason, drafting an offensive tackle may be wiser and certainly more “on-brand” for Belichick. RT Isaiah Wynn is a free agent. LT Trent Brown is a free agent in 2024. LG Michael Onwenu is too. It’s unclear whether Calvin Anderson, Riley Reiff, or Conor McDermott are viewed as long-term starters, though one may start at RT this season.
None of the team’s CBs are studs, and the team must replace the enormous shoes of S Devin McCourty, who retired. S Kyle Duggar is a free agent in 2024, as well. All of this makes a bump-and-run cornerback like Joey Porter Jr. even more valuable.
TL;DR: It’s difficult to ignore the talent deficiencies at wide receiver, putting Smith-Njigba and Flowers firmly on the radar. Offensive tackle and cornerback are the other weak spots. At OT, I’m guessing Belichick likes Peter Skoronski and Broderick Jones. At CB, I would bet on Devon Witherspoon, and to a lesser extent, Joey Porter Jr.
15. Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
Short List: Christian Gonzalez, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Lukas Van Ness, Myles Murphy, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones, Darnell Wright, Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks … Trade Down: Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, Jalin Hyatt
Team Needs: TE, S, WR, DE
Losing defensive veterans like DT Jarran Reed, DT Dean Lowry and S Adrian Amos is tough on defense, but the Packers likely planned for this seeing as they drafted DT Devonte Wyatt with the second of their two first-round picks last April. Both of those first-rounders last year were spent on defense, which makes me lean offense with this pick, regardless of whether Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love is the quarterback.
The cupboard is bare for Green Bay at TE, making Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer possibilities. The preference depends on how much the Packers prioritize athleticism and receiving ability or traditional in-line blocking. Prioritizing traits, the Packers are a “RAS” team that tends to draft players who hit certain athletic and testing thresholds.
One of several counterarguments for drafting a TE as high as No. 15 is the fact that WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba fits the athletic thresholds that Green Bay tends to follow and would be a seemingly perfect complement to WR Christian Watson. Accordingly, I consider JSN a strong possibility here if he’s available.
The Packers may have to stick true to the board, however, which may yield a defender as the BPA. Amos is gone and Darnell Savage, whose play has declined, is entering the last year of his rookie contract, so safety is an option. The class’ top safety, Brian Branch, does not meet the athletic thresholds that the Packers tend to prioritize, but cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez, Deonte Banks, and Joey Porter Jr. certainly do.
Another defensive option is taking an athletic pass rusher who checks all the Packers’ measurables boxes, such as Lukas Van Ness or Myles Murphy, seeing as Rashan Gary is coming off a torn ACL and entering a contract year, while Preston Smith had a down year in 2022.
16. Washington Commanders: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Short List: Bijan Robinson, Deonte Banks, Joey Porter Jr., Paris Johnson Jr., Darnell Wright, Broderick Jones, Dalton Kincaid
Team Needs: QB, CB, OT, TE
Cornerback was probably Washington’s weakest imperfect spot defensively, and it would not be surprising to see the Commanders select Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks. Banks is a local product, and the team has met with Porter twice.
However, I believe the team will want to go offense with this pick if the board allows, because that’s where the team struggled last season — and also due to the hiring of OC Eric Bieniemy.
Bieniemy already brought in one of his former players, RT Andrew Wylie, to upgrade the offensive line. This O-line lacks stars but has possess depth. The Commanders spent a top-30 visit on Darnell Wright.
I also propose Washington as a dark horse for RB Bijan Robinson for several reasons: We have an established history of GM Martin Mayhew drafting RBs relatively high; we know HC Ron Rivera is old school with running backs; we know the Commanders need an identity for new Bieniemy’s offense, and that identity is clearly not going to be their quarterback for now; and, we know Rivera has soured on Antonio Gibson, whose contract expires next offseason).
If Robinson is not available, perhaps Washington trades down and targets TE Dalton Kincaid, who Bieniemy could see as his up-and-coming Travis Kelce.
It looks like the plan at QB is to roll with Jacoby Brissett and Sam Howell this season.
TL;DR: I believe Plan A is Bijan Robinson, while Plan B is a cornerback like Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks, or an offensive tackle like Paris Johnson Jr., Darnell Wright or Broderick Jones. Plan C could be Dalton Kincaid.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Short List: Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones, Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks, Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith, Anton Harrison, Emmanuel Forbes, Myles Murphy, Darnell Wright
Team Needs: OT, CB, DE
Long-term solutions are still needed at CB, making Joey Porter Jr. an especially attractive option if available. Given the family ties to the Steelers, I have a hard time believing Pittsburgh passes on him. Pittsburgh has met with quite a few defensive back prospects who could go around this pick, which is especially important because of Pittsburgh’s tendency to have met privately with its eventual first-round pick. Here, the Steelers have met with CB Deonte Banks, Joey Porter Jr. and Emmanuel Forbes twice a piece.
The Steelers have also met with several offensive linemen, to the point where I strongly believe that Pittsburgh is focusing heavily on cornerback and offensive tackle for its first two picks (it’s worth noting that the Steelers have the 32nd pick, as well).
The offense was abysmal last season, and the team will want to do whatever it takes to put QB Kenny Pickett in a position to succeed. Again, the Steelers have already visited with several O-line prospects, including OT Paris Johnson Jr., OG Peter Skoronski OT Broderick Jones, OT Anton Harrison, OT Dawand Jones, C John Michael Schmitz and OG O’Cyrus Torrence.
Upgrading the pass rush also seems necessary, as the Steelers’ defensive strategy last season seemed to revolve around T.J. Watt, evidenced by the tragic demise of the defense when Watt missed games last season. Some Watt injury insurance could be worth purchasing, making Lukas Van Ness, Myles Murphy and Nolan Smith options.
TL;DR: Offensive tackle and cornerback – Banks and Porter Jr. – seem like the best bets here, with defensive end coming in third.
18. Detroit Lions: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
Short List: Myles Murphy, Deonte Banks, Joey Porter Jr., Calijah Kancey, O’Cyrus Torrence
Team Needs: D-line, CB, OG, TE
If Detroit takes a cornerback at No. 6, I’m guessing this pick will be either a pass rusher or an offensive guard. If Detroit does not take a cornerback with its first pick, I’m guessing this pick will be CB Deonte Banks.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee
Short List: Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Darnell Wright, Broderick Jones, Nolan Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Anton Harrison
Team Needs: QB, O-line, CB, S, LB
Tampa Bay had major O-line issues last season, which was predictable considering the turnover in the unit before the season even began. Injuries did not help; the team’s starting five linemen to begin the season made only 55 of 90 possible starts (30th). Then the Bucs traded RG Shaq Mason, while LT Donovan Smith is a free agent.
I’m not even sure the Bucs have a true left tackle on their roster right now. For these reasons, an offensive tackle like Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Darnell Wright or Broderick Jones should be a favorite for this pick.
The Buccaneers would be hard-pressed to pass on a pass rusher like Nolan Smith and Lukas Van Ness, especially considering Shaq Barrett’s health. The secondary, though, badly needs bodies because the contracts of CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Dee Delaney and safeties Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal all expired. As a result, there is not much behind Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis at CB.
At safety, S Ryan Neal was added, but he’s only on a one-year deal, and S Antonie Winfield Jr. is also a free agent in 2024. Additionally, the Bucs were this close to drafting S Lewis Cine in Round 1 last year (they were on the phone with him and told him he was going to be the pick before they traded it away, and yes, I’m still bitter for having mocked Cine to the Bucs in Round 1 last April).
Of course, we cannot simply ignore the roster’s greatest deficiency: quarterback. We should not rule out a maneuver to grab a falling Will Levis. Even Hendon Hooker could be an option, but probably in Round 2.
TL;DR: Major holes exist along the offensive line and throughout the secondary. The left tackle vacancy should supersede the lack of certainty in the defensive back room beyond 2024. Consequently, the Bucs should be hoping that one of Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, Darnell Wright or Broderick Jones is available.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Short List: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Myles Murphy, John Michael-Schmitz
Team Needs: D-line, iOL, WR
For this pick, I’m working under the assumption that the Seahawks draft a defensive lineman at No. 5. From what I understand, the only non-defensive lineman who the Seahawks would take at No. 5 is CB Devon Witherspoon, who they apparently love. The fact that the team is even considering a cornerback that high may speak to its desire to add to the position. I’m not ruling out Deonte Banks or Joey Porter Jr. here.
Offensively, there is a need at wide receiver behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is an excellent fit here in the slot, forming a prolific trio. A strong case can be made for Jordan Addison, as well.
Moreover, I loved the argument that Josh Norris made in his first mock draft, connecting the dots between the fact that the Seahawks have not signed anyone to fill the shoes of Marquise Goodwin. He notes that Flowers fits the mold of some receivers that the Seahawks have drafted in the past. I think No. 20 might be Flowers’ ceiling, though.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Short List: Bijan Robinson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Myles Murphy
Team Needs: DT, LG, CB, RB, WR
This could be Bijan Robinson’s floor due to the team’s situation with Austin Ekeler. The Chargers also had quite a few injuries to wide receivers last season, which was one aspect that held Justin Herbert back. The Chargers would probably prefer Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but there are coaching staff ties to WR Jordan Addison.
Specifically, Chargers WR coach Chris Beatty recruited and coached Addison at Pittsburgh. Further, Hayden Winks also noted that Addison actually de-committed from Maryland to follow Beatty to Pitt. These are the kinds of connections that sometimes move the needle. Zay Flowers is another great option here.
Finally, the left guard spot is open after Matt Feiler departed in free agency. Though it is worth noting that the Chargers’ run blocking was weak by many metrics, it’s hard to imagine the team takes an offensive lineman in Round 1 for the third consecutive year.
The Chargers have not prioritized its run defense in years, so a defensive tackle could help in run support. My hesitation here, however, is that I’m not sure the Chargers won’t try to address this in later rounds.
There are also some secondary concerns after S Nasir Adderley retired, CB J.C. Jackson got benched for poor play, and CB Michael Davis is a free agent in 2024. Consequently, this is another team that may be in on Deonte Banks or Joey Porter Jr.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Short List: Joey Porter Jr., Deonte Banks, Nolan Smith, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Myles Murphy, Emmanuel Forbes, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston
Team Needs: CB, WR, DE, OG
Three positions that Baltimore should be targeting with this pick are cornerbacks, wide receivers, and pass rushers.
The primary focus should be on CB. There’s nothing reliable behind Marlon Humphrey now, and Baltimore has an extensive history of prioritizing the cornerback position. Yet, the team has not selected a CB in Rounds 1-2 since taking Humphrey. Baltimore was very close to signing CB Darius Slay, and the Ravens have a type: they prefer long, quick and physical cornerbacks who press receivers (although DC Macdonald incorporated zone coverage more often last season).
Nevertheless, the Ravens would love to get their claws on Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks. Perhaps Emmanuel Forbes becomes an option if those two are taken.
At edge, Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul are free agents who remain unsigned, leaving little behind Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh.
On offense, OC Todd Monken was hired to open up the offense and improve the passing game. Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison or Zay Flowers could help.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Short List: Deonte Banks, Joey Porter Jr., Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, John Michael-Schmitz
Team Needs: WR, CB, DE
With Adam Thielen released, the lack of wide receiver depth behind Justin Jefferson is glaring. Making matters worse is the fact K.J. Osborn is a free agent in 2024. The Vikings could prioritize outside receivers like Quentin Johnston or Zay Flowers, considering Jefferson’s prowess in the slot.
If the Vikings cannot find a wide receiver they love in Round 1, they lost CBs Chandon Sullivan, Patrick Peterson and Cam Dantzler within the last year. The team signed Byron Murphy, but the jury is still out on CB Andrew Booth and S Lewis Cine, each of whom only appeared in two games. Perhaps the recent investments at DB in last year’s draft will encourage a wide receiver in Round 1.
Minnesota is not set up for success at DE after this season seeing as Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, and D.J. Wonnum all are free agents in 2024. This is worth noting in the unlikely event that a pass rusher like Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith or Myles Murphy slides.
Finally, it must be mentioned that Kirk Cousins is entering the last year of his contract, theoretically making Minnesota a dark horse for an early-round quarterback. However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t see Will Levis or Hendon Hooker as fits here for a variety of reasons.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Short List: Myles Murphy, Deonte Banks, Joey Porter Jr., Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, Brian Branch, Keion White
Team Needs: CB, O-line, DE
RT Jawaan Taylor departed, which means Walker Little may move into a starting position. Regardless of which position that is, the starting offensive line needs an upgrade or two.
I think tight end could be in play because this pick should fall within the range for Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid. Moreover, HC Doug Pederson has an extended history of prioritizing the position. TE Evan Engram is only signed through this season.
Although the Jaguars selected Travon Walker first overall in last year’s draft, there are reasons to add to the defensive line again. DEs Dawuane Smoot and Arden Key are free agents, while Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson are entering the final year of their contracts. Further, ESPN’s Jordan Reid reported that the Jaguars have done extensive homework on defensive line prospects, noting that 16 of 30 private visits have been with D-linemen.
I believe the team would love for DE Myles Murphy to slide here. In fact, I see this pick as Murphy’s floor. Murphy has been training in Jacksonville, and the Jaguars have met privately with him.
Reinforcements are also needed at cornerback behind starters Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell, and the Jaguars could benefit from bringing in a versatile defensive back like S Brian Branch. I do not foresee CBs Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks lasting until this pick.
25. New York Giants: John Michael-Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Short List: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Emmanuel Forbes, Brian Branch, Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, John Michael-Schmitz, Jalin Hyatt
Team Needs: WR, CB, iOL, S, DE
The Giants re-signed Darius Slayton and added Parris Campbell to the receiver room devoid of playmakers. The team also added receiving TE Darren Waller. New York could still be in the market to add receivers. Quentin Johnston and Zay Flowers lined up outside far more often than Jordan Addison and Jalin Hyatt, per Anthony Amico, so they should be prioritized.
Center and left guard can be improved. Particularly, the Giants have no true centers on the roster, and Daniel Jones was seen taking snaps from LG Ben Bredeson. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Tony Pauline reported that the Giants’ interest in center John Michael-Schmitz is legitimate.
Defensively, cornerback is certainly a concern. Last year, many draft pundits pointed to the importance of quality CB play in Wink Martindale’s defense. The Giants were unable to draft Sauce Gardner, lost Fabian Moreau in free agency and may also lose Adoree Jackson, Nick McCloud and Darnay Holmes in free agency next offseason.
The Giants lost S Julian Love in free agency, and both starters Xavier McKinney and Bobby McCain have expiring contracts next offseason. Overall, the Giants’ secondary is a mess after this season. Accordingly, a CB like Emmanuel Forbes or safety like Brian Branch must be in play.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Short List: Trade Up: Bijan Robinson … Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, Quentin Johnston, Jalin Hyatt, Emmanuel Forbes, Will McDonald, Mazi Smith, Darnell Washington
Team Needs: TE, DT, CB, LG
The trade for Brandin Cooks seemingly erases the immediate need for a wide receiver, but a solid tight end to replace Dalton Schultz could help the pass catchers. Both Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid make sense, though Dallas has not used a top-30 visit on either. This is notable because Dallas historically meets with its first-round picks.
Interestingly, despite the addition of Cooks, Dallas has used top-30 visits on WRs Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers and Jalin Hyatt (multiple times).
Mike McCarthy has spoken praise for his defense recently. He also mentioned that he wants to get back to running the ball more often. For these reasons, I’m inclined to believe this pick will be on the offensive side of the ball.
It should surprise no one if the Cowboys double down on offensive linemen in back-to-back years, as RTs Terence Steele and Tyron Smith are free agents in 2024, and RG Zack Martin turns 33 this season.
If the team chooses to add to the defense, then DT or CB are probably the best spots to address. I could see the team being interested in Calijah Kancey or Mazi Smith, though the team has not met with either. It’s worth noting that Dallas has met with CB Emmanuel Forbes twice, including a private visit. Cowboys CBs Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis are free agents in 2024.
27. Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Short List: Trade Up: Bijan Robinson … Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Drew Sanders, Jack Campbell, Bryan Bresee, Mazi Smith, O’Cyrus Torrence, Jalin Hyatt, Darnell Washington
Team Needs: DT, WR, LB
Although the offense struggled after Josh Allen’s midseason injury, smart money should be on the Bills taking a defender with this pick. Particularly, the front seven needs some patchwork. All four defensive tackles that receive significant snaps — Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle and DaQuan Jones — are free agents in 2024, leaving the DT position barren after this season.
LB Tremaine Edmunds departed to Chicago, and the Bills have been linked to LB Jack Campbell because of ties relating to training with Luke Kuechly. Campbell also best fits the athletic profile of linebackers Buffalo has recently drafted.
Offensively, WR Gabriel Davis failed to make the leap that some expected last season, and his contract expires next offseason. Therefore, the Bills could be open to drafting a wide receiver here. Buffalo has depth pieces, but they’re all role players. If something were to happen to Stefon Diggs, this pass-catching corps would be in trouble.
The Bills have also been linked to DeAndre Hopkins, signaling an upgrade is desired. In addition, the Bills have visited with Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison on separate occasions. The Bills have also met with Jalin Hyatt privately. TE Darnell Washington also met with the Bills twice.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Short List: Bijan Robinson, Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, Emmanuel Forbes, Calijah Kancey, Bryan Bresee, Anton Harrison, Darnell Washington, Jahmyr Gibbs
Team Needs: TE, S, RT, CB, RB
Tight end will be popularly mocked here because Hayden Hurst departed in free agency and Mitchell Wilcox is also a free agent, while Devin Asiasi is in 2024. The team recently added Irv Smith Jr., but bodies are needed at the position for this year and especially beyond.
It does not look as though the team is bringing back CB Eli Apple, and Chodibe Awuzie is a free agent in 2024. Meanwhile, at safety, the Bengals lost starters Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates II in free agency. The Bengals foresaw this and drafted S Dax Hill in Round 1 last year, but Hill has not proved worthy of starting just yet, and there’s little behind him.
The board may line up better for a cornerback. Emmanuel Forbes is a name that comes to mind as a fit.
Cincinnati continues to work on its offensive line, most recently paying big money to OT Orlando Brown to play left tackle. Unfortunately, OT Jonah Williams has requested a trade as a result. Further, RT La’el Collins may or may not be on the team by the time the draft ends.
Consequently, right tackle may well be unmanned. Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison, or Dawand Jones could solidify the unit.
Cincinnati could also look toward the future and bring in a defensive tackle, seeing as stud DT D.J. Reader and Josh Tupou are in the final year of their deals. This is notable because there could be several DT options selected near this pick, including Calijah Kancey and Bryan Bresee.
Finally, it must be noted that Joe Mixon’s legal issues jeopardize his spot on the team.
29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco via Miami and Denver): Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
Short List: Myles Murphy, Keion White, Bryan Bresee, Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Hendon Hooker
Team Needs: DT, DE, OG
Going into this offseason, the Saints had only one defensive lineman who played 100+ snaps last season signed through 2024: DE Payton Turner. Five key contributors departed in free agency, while DE Cam Jordan, DE Carl Granderson and DT Malcolm Roach are free agents next offseason.
Prospects like Bryan Bresee, Calijah Kancey, Keion White, Mazi Smith and Adetomiwa Adebawore could fill the need. Kancey will be popularly mocked here, though it is worth noting that his arm length would not meet historic trends. The Saints have prioritized size and length along the D-line, so I believe the Saints will be higher on Adetomiwa Adebawore than most teams.
Saints beat writer Nick Underhill does a great job tracking athletic thresholds of Saints draft picks, and DE Keion White fits the criteria for what the Saints look for in terms of length and athleticism along the D-Line. At 285 pounds, White is also big enough to play DT as needed. Further, I do not think the Saints will care about White’s biggest drawback, his age (24), compared to other teams.
Arguments can be made for selecting an offensive guard because LG Andrus Peat is consistently inadequate and RG Cesar Ruiz has one year remaining on his contract. A similar case can be made for wide receiver due to the uncertainty of Michael Thomas, who was still not 100% healthy as of March 28.
There’s buzz here about Hendon Hooker, but I’m skeptical. He’s already 25 years old with medical concerns. He’s coming off a torn ACL, and had some sort of heart issue two years ago, an issue he blamed on medication. Most notably, the Saints’ signing of Derek Carr speaks to a win-now approach.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Short List: Bryan Bresee, Emmanuel Forbes, Anton Harrison, Keion White, Will McDonald, Dawand Jones, Mazi Smith
Team Needs: LB, DT, S, iOL
See the analysis on No. 10 for more details on the Eagles, who are looking to improve in the trenches.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Short List: Darnell Wright, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston, Anton Harrison, Keion White, Dawand Jones, Felix Anudike-Ozumah, Will McDonald
Team Needs: OT, WR, S, DT
The Chiefs believe that they have found their solution at left tackle in Jawaan Taylor. However, the vacancy at right tackle still remains, not to mention the fact that Taylor was a right tackle in Jacksonville, so OTs Dawand Jones or Anton Harrison are strong possibilities here.
If the Chiefs have high expectations for WRs Skyler Moore and Kadarius Toney, they certainly didn’t show it last year. Mahomes can clearly excel without a great wide receiver, but more capable bodies are needed after three key departures and just Richie James coming in.
The team will study WRs Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers and Jalin Hyatt for this pick. GM Brett Veach has demonstrated his preference for yards-after-catch ability among his WRs, making Johnston particularly appealing here.
The defensive line could be beefed up considering that stud DT Chris Jones and DE Michael Danna have expiring contracts next offseason. Contrary to the popular mocking of DE Will McDonald here, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo historically prefers size along the D-line, while Veach prefers younger prospects. McDonald is about 235 pounds and will be a 24-year-old rookie. It’s possible, but not probable.
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