2023 NFL Mock Draft: Corners Fly off the Board
A trade for the number one overall pick, plus corners flying off the board early in this 2023 NFL mock draft.
With two head coaching vacancies being filled and Tom Brady announcing his retirement some big dominos have already started to fall for this offseason. Making this a good time for a 2023 NFL mock draft.
Without any further ado, let’s start at number one overall.
Any stats were found using PFF Premium Stats.
1. Mock Trade- Houston Texans: Bryce Young QB Alabama
With Justin Fields heading into year three and a lot of quarterback needy teams the bidding war for the number one pick could get exciting.
A swap between the first and second pick would make a lot of sense for both sides. As for the Texans it’d prevent another team from trading up ahead of them and taking the quarterback that they want. For the Bears it’d allow them to pick up additional draft picks while still having their choice of any non-quarterback I’m this class.
To kick off the DeMeco Ryans era in Houston the Texans select who many view as the best quarterback in this class and that is Bryce Young.
As a former top ranked quarterback in his class, Young has been a highly regarded prospect throughout this whole process and it’s easy to see why. His height may move him down some boards, but skillset wise he brings more to the table than any other quarterback in this class.
For starters, he’s what you want from an intangibles standpoint. He’s a leader as he was named a team captain at Alabama in each of his two seasons of starting. He’s also someone who’s not going to be phased by big games or big moments.
This was on display in the 2021 Iron Bowl. Trailing by seven with just over a minute and a half left, Young led an incredible 97 yard touchdown to send the game into overtime. This kind of poise in big moments is so valuable in a league where so many games are decided late.
Young has excellent accuracy to all levels of the field and he consistently places passes where they need to be. He also senses pressure well in the pocket, he does hang onto the ball too long at times, but he has a good sense of when/where pressure is coming and navigates the pocket to avoid it.
Another big selling point to his game is his ability to create outside of structure. This is a trait that is highly valued in today’s game and Young has time and time again shown his ability to scramble and find receivers downfield better than most you’re going to see out of a quarterback.
Ultimately, Young has more than proved he’s worthy of being the first quarterback off the board in April’s draft. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Texans trade up one spot to secure him.
2. Mock Trade- Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter DT Georgia
After trading back one spot in this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario the Bears have their pick of any non-quarterback in the class.
Carter would be an excellent building block for the Bears defense as he is considered the best player in this class by many analysts and for good reason.
Carter is dominant as both a run defender and pass rusher. He wins consistently at the line of scrimmage with power, quickness, and with his hands. His bull rush is an absolute nightmare to try to block as very few offensive linemen can consistently stop and there’s examples of him just outright bullying opposing linemen.
He also wins with quickness consistently both in pass rushes and against the run. There’s many examples of teams attempting to make reach blocks against him, which simply doesn’t work as it leaves way too much time for him to shoot through the gap and make a stop in the backfield.
Carter not only has the physical traits to dominate, but he’s very good from a technical perspective as he uses his hands very well. In pass rushes he utilizes swim and rip moves very effectively. In run defense, he understands how to use his hands effectively to be a two-gap defender, which is a very important skill for defensive linemen.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr. Edge Alabama
On a roster with a lot of holes, best player available is the best approach for the Cardinals. The good news for them is it’s highly likely at least one of Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. will be available.
They may also command a lot of trade interests from teams looking to move up for a quarterback if they want to go that route. In this 2023 NFL mock draft they come away with Will Anderson Jr.
Will Anderson Jr. has been one of the best defensive players in the past decade or so in college football. He’s the first two-time winner of the Nagurski Award since 1996, which is awarded to the best defensive player in college football.
He was completely unblockable over his career at Alabama. His quickness, burst, and get off the line are all elite. He can also win pass rushes with his technical ability as he uses his hands very well and he can just overpower offensive tackles at times.
Not only can Anderson consistently get to the quarterback, but he’s dominant as a run defender as well. He consistently wins leverage battles at the line of scrimmage blowing up run plays.
4. Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud QB Ohio State
The Colts are in a spot where they absolutely have to come away from the draft with a quarterback. They could very well trade up to number one if they like one of the quarterbacks enough, but I’m this scenario they stay at fourth overall and select C.J. Stroud.
Stroud does a lot of things well but his combination of mental ability and accuracy is what makes him worthy of a top five pick. The anticipation on some of the throws he makes is quite remarkable, it’s like he knows exactly what every player on the field is thinking.
On top of that, his accuracy is just absurd, he consistently places his passes well. At times, it even looks like he walked up to the receiver and handed them the ball.
Stroud’s performance against Georgia really helped his draft stock. Not only did he have a great performance against a great defense, but he showed an ability to deal with pressure and make plays out of structure, which is something that is he is often criticized for.
The biggest question mark for Stroud is how well he’ll translate to the NFL without the elite talent he has surrounding him. In the NFL the gap in talent between his supporting cast and the opposition will decrease quite a bit, so it’s difficult the project how well his game will translate to the NFL.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Devon Witherspoon CB Illinois
The biggest need for the Seahawks is pass rush. Thus, they could go with someone like Tyree Wilson here. However, I think there’s a strong case that Devon Witherspoon is the best player available in this spot.
Pairing Witherspoon with star rookie Tariq Woolen is very intriguing and is something they need to highly consider.
Witherspoon wasn’t looked at as a first round pick coming into the season, but he more than proved himself as he was phenomenal for Illinois this season. He was the second-highest graded corner in the country at 92.0.
He is the complete package as a corner. He has excellent instincts as he is phenomenal at reading where the ball is going and he has great closing speed to make breakups. This is backed up by the fact that he had 14 pass breakups last season, which was tied for third in the FBS.
He has a great skillset to play press man coverage. This was something he did at a very high level at Illinois as he has good physicality, plus the change of direction and speed to stick with receivers in man coverage. He often stayed in the receivers hip and looked like he was running the route for the receiver at times.
6. Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon
Right now it looks like the Lions are comfortable with Jared Goff at quarterback and will look to add to their defense with this pick. On a unit that finished last in total defense there’s a lot of position groups they could address and this 2023 NFL mock draft they add a corner.
Christian Gonzalez was a star in the Oregon defense this season after transferring from Colorado as he had four interceptions, including two against his former team.
He has all the traits to develop into an elite corner. He has the skillset to play press man coverage as at 6-foot-2, 201 pounds he has great size to go along with elite athleticism.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis QB Kentucky
With Derek Carr on the way out the Raiders need a quarterback. They could look to the veteran quarterback market, but in this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario they select Will Levis.
Levis had some struggles this past season at Kentucky, however he has the traits to develop into a starter in the NFL. He also performed much better in 2021 when he had a much more talent around him in the offense.
His talent is apparent as his arm talent is amongst the best in the class. He can air the ball out downfield, as well as throw with good velocity. He also has a good skillset as a runner as he is athletic and has the size at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds to run through contact.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson Edge Texas Tech
With the Falcons being in a spot where they desperately need edge rushers, at this point it looks most likely that’s where they’ll go with this pick. In this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario Tyree Wilson falls to them.
Wilson has rare tools as an edge rusher. At 6-foot-6, 275 pounds with remarkable power he projects to develop very well as a pass rusher.
Will Anderson Jr. has cemented himself as the top edge rusher in this class but Wilson looks likely to be the next edge rusher off the board and could go as high as fifth overall to the Seahawks.
9. Carolina Panthers: Anthony Richardson QB Florida
The options for the Panthers at quarterback next season are limited for the Panthers. They are a candidate to trade up, but in this scenario they stay at nine and select Anthony Richardson.
The Panthers hired Frank Reich in large part for his ability to develop quarterbacks, so drafting Richardson and developing him makes a lot of sense for them.
Richardson’s ceiling is higher than arguably than quarterback in this draft class. His combination of size, arm talent, and athleticism is rare. He also possesses phenomenal pocket presence, which I think is arguably the best of anyone in this class.
His inconsistencies in accuracy likely will prevent him from going ahead of players like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. However, I see him as a worthwhile gamble for a tea, in the top ten.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy Edge Clemson
On a stacked roster there’s no obvious position group for the Eagles to target with this tenth overall pick they have from the Saints. With Brandon Graham about to be 35 and a free agent adding to the edge group could be the route they take.
Murphy wouldn’t have to play a big role in the Eagles defense right away which would be good for him as he still needs to develop more as a pass rusher.
From a traits perspective he’s someone who is going to be coveted by NFL teams. At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds with an impressive blend of athleticism and power he has the tools to develop into a high level pass rusher.
11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski OT Northwestern
With a pretty big need at offensive tackle the Titans would be happy with taking Peter Skoronski if he falls to them.
Skoronski is the favorite to be the first offensive linemen off the board in this draft and for good reason as he was an absolute monster for Northwestern over the course of his career at Northwestern.
He excelled as both a run blocker and pass protector as he was a three year starter at left tackle and made an all-conference team every season. His last season was particularly dominant as he was the third highest graded tackle in the country and allowed just six pressures all season.
He has the versatility to play guard if he goes to a team with two good tackles already, but on the Titans I think he could be the starting left tackle as a rookie.
12. Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness Edge Iowa
With a rebuilding roster the Texans don’t really have a specific position group to target. Instead they just need to focus on adding talent to the roster and Lukas Van Ness is a very talented player.
From a physical perspective Van Ness has all the tools to develop into an elite edge rusher. At 6-foot-5, 269 pounds he has good size along with elite power, and has the versatility to play from the outside and inside along the defensive line.
He’s also someone whose athleticism is apparent when watching him. Some of his best plays come from utilizing his explosiveness and closing speed looping around on stunts, which is something he excels at and will be a skillset that can be utilized in the NFL.
13. New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr. OT Ohio State
With a pretty big need along the offensive line if the Jets don’t bring in a tackle in free agency that’ll likely be their preferred target in the draft. In this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario they land Paris Johnson Jr.
Johnson Jr. was the top offensive tackle in his class coming out of high school and it’s apparent why that was the case.
He is already a very good player and still has room to improve. With his combination of quickness and strength at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds he has a high ceiling.
He is also someone with guard flexibility if he goes to a team with two good tackles as he started at right guard at Ohio State in 2021 before moving to left tackle for 2022. For the Jets however I think he’d start at left tackle from day one.
14. New England Patriots: Brian Branch CB/S Alabama
There’s a lot of position groups the Patriots could look to target, but in this scenario they add a slot corner in Brian Branch.
Branch is one of the safest projections to at least be a good player in the NFL of any player in this draft.
He is a jack of all trades who any coach would love to have in their defense. He has great coverage skills playing primarily out of the slot.
The biggest selling point to his game translating to the NFL are his instincts. I’m the pass game he constantly puts himself in good positions to make plays on the ball. In the run game, he’s arguably the best of any DB in the draft.
With his instincts and closing speed he constantly makes plays in the run game. He’s also the best tackler in the entire draft as he missed just three tackles over his career at Alabama, which is incredible, especially for a DB who plays near the line of scrimmage like him.
15. Green Bay Packers: Quentin Johnston WR TCU
Regardless of whether Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers they could use more weapons in this offense.
Quentin Johnston standing at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds is a mismatch as he’s a threat to win jump balls anywhere on the field. He’s one of those guys who even if he’s covered he’s still open two feet above his head.
He also runs routes well for someone at his size as he’s always a threat to win vertically and does an excellent job of threatening going vertical and stopping suddenly on curl routes to create separation.
Johnston can also be a good after the catch receiver as he has some elusiveness with the ball in his hands and he’s very difficult to bring down with his size.
16. Washington Commanders: Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame
The Commanders are in a tough spot as they need a quarterback, but at 16th overall it’d be difficult to secure a quarterback in this draft without mortgaging too much of the future. Instead they add another weapon to this offense in Michael Mayer.
Mayer is a massive mismatch in the pass game. At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds he has great size which he leverages to his advantage well. He is phenomenal in contested catch situations which is a valuable skill for tight ends.
He’s someone who can simply get open consistently. You simply aren’t going to find many players who at his size can run routes as well and move as fluidly as him. Mayer also projects well to a complete tight end as he’s can block well, in addition to what he brings to the table as a pass catcher.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones OT Georgia
There’s a number of different position groups that the Steelers could look to target but offensive tackle is their biggest need. In this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario they add Broderick Jones.
Broderick Jones was highly recruited player as he was a five star in the 2020 class. He certainly has all the tools to develop into a high-level offensive tackle in the NFL.
At Georgia he is a very reliable presence on the offensive line. He may not have as many super dominant reps that you may see from other first round tackles, however he consistently just does his job. This season he allowed just nine pressures and no sacks, which is phenomenal.
18. Detroit Lions: Siaki Ika DI Baylor
As I mentioned with their sixth overall pick, defense will likely be the focus for the Lions draft. With Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston IV on the roster, adding an interior defender may be the ideal scenario for the Lions.
Siaki Ika projects well as a run stopper and a pass rusher. As a run defender he’s someone who can make the rest of the defense look better because of the attention he commands. His power and how well he uses his hands is something that shows up consistently and makes him project very well to the NFL.
I don’t necessarily think he has the ceiling of an elite pass rusher. However, with his combination of quickness and power he can rush the passer well in the NFL.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Calijah Kancey DI Pittsburgh
With Tom Brady retiring the Buccaneers are a candidate to make an aggressive move and trade up. However, in this 2023 NFL mock draft they fill a need along the interior defensive line.
Calijah Kancey is undersized at 6-foot-0, 280 pounds, however he was more dominant than any interior defensive linemen in this class in college aside from Jalen Carter.
Kancey simply lived in the backfield over his career at Pittsburgh. His pass rush grade of 92.4 was the best of any interior defensive linemen in the country this season.
It’s apparent why that was the case when watching him as his quickness is rare for defensive tackles. He also knows how to use his hands very well to win pass rushes.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith Edge Georgia
With Seattle finishing 26th in the league in total defense, doubling down on defense seems like the best approach for them in the first round. With the second of their two first rounders in this 2023 NFL mock draft they land Nolan Smith.
Smith was the number one overall recruit in the 2019 class. He didn’t necessarily live up to the sky-high expectations that come with that, however he was still a phenomenal player for Georgia.
At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds he’s a bit on the smaller end for edge rushers but he uses his explosiveness and quickness to wreak havoc in the backfield.
He’s someone who does play bigger than he actually is however. That shows up when he’s defending the run as he was dominant as a run defender over his career at Georgia.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers WR Boston College
On an offense that lacks a deep threat, the Chargers would be thrilled to add Zay Flowers.
With how highly coveted speed is in today’s game Zay Flowers will likely hear his name called on night one. Out of all the receivers I have watched Flowers certainly appears to be the fastest.
Flowers produced across four seasons for Boston College as he was the leader on the team in receiving yards in each of the last three seasons.
He not only can separate vertically with his speed but he also tracks the ball on deep balls. He’s someone who even when he doesn’t create too much separation downfield he’s still a threat to go up and make a great catch.
That speed not only helps him on deep routes but also short and intermediate routes. He provides a constant vertical threat which means DBs always have to make sure they’re not getting beat deep which allows him to win on other routes.
At the end of the day, speed kills and Zay Flowers certainly has speed, so I think there’s a lot of teams in the second half of the first round who need to consider what he can bring to their offense.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State
With Lamar Jackson needing more weapons to work with in this offense, adding a receiver is a priority for them this offseason.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba came into the season as projected top ten pick but fell down draft boards because of a hamstring injury. With the skillset he brings to the table however someone could be getting great value by drafting him.
The best way to sum up Smith-Njigba’s game is that he’s simply always open. One of the most important traits for route running is suddenness and he certainly has that. His ability to stop on a dime and change directions like it’s nothing is second to none in this class.
He has impressive body control and ability to come down with contested catches. In his first career game at OSU, he made a spectacular catch on a throw that was essentially a throwaway. On the play, he stretched out to get his hands on the football, and then contorted his body to somehow get a foot down inbounds for a TD.
He’s also dynamic with the ball in his hands. This YAC ability was on display in the Nebraska game last season. He hauled in a short pass, made one guy miss with a dynamic move in the open field, and then exploded down the sideline and outran the DBs to the endzone.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Joey Porter Jr. CB Penn State
The Vikings managed to win 13 games despite being second worst in the league in total defense. There’s many areas the Vikings could address but corner should be at or near the top of the list.
Porter Jr. has been a three year starter for the Nittany Lions. He was lockdown this season as he’s allowed more than 25 yards in just once in his 10 games played.
Teams largely have just avoided throwing at him which is a good testament to his coverage abilities. When he is targeted he’s showed good closing speed to make plays on the ball. This was on display in the Purdue game this year as he had a ridiculous five pass breakups in the game.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Smith CB South Carolina
With a young, talented roster the Jaguars are in a good spot headed into next season. As for this offseason, improving their secondary should be a priority.
Smith has a good track record of locking down receivers in the SEC. He finished the 2021 season with a PFF grade of 88.4, which was fourth amongst FBS corners.
He is very technically sound, especially for a college corner. He often finds himself in perfect position to make plays on the ball and he knows how to win at the catch point.
25. New York Giants: Jordan Addison WR USC
It’s no secret that the Giants need to improve at receiver and luckily for them in this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario Jordan Addison is still on the board.
Addison isn’t someone who necessarily blows you away from an athleticism standpoint as he has average size at 6-foot-0, 175 pounds and he has good, not great speed. He is however very good technically and as a route runner.
He’s also someone who can make tough catches as he adjusts to the ball well in the air. In his Biletnikoff winning season in 2021 he was quite effective on contested catches as he came down with 15 of his 27 targets in those situations.
With how complete of a receiver Jordan Addison is it’s hard to imagine someone won’t take him in the first round and very well could be the first receiver to come off the board.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Trenton Simpson LB Clemson
With Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr both being free agents, the Cowboys may need to look to the draft to add a linebacker.
Trenton Simpson brings a unique skillset to the table as a linebacker. His biggest contributions come as a pass rusher. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with long arms he can line up on the edge and take on offensive tackles and he’s done that quite a bit at Clemson and has had a lot of success.
He also has solid instincts in the run game, he’s a good tackler, and can contribute as a coverage defender as he even has experience lining up in the slot as he had 225 snaps in the slot last season. In today’s NFL versatility is more valued than it’s ever been, so Simpson’s skillset is going to be coveted.
27. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson RB Texas
With the Bills offense so reliant on Josh Allen, they could look to add a running back this offseason to help the run game.
Robinson brings a lot to table as a running back. His best trait is his elusiveness as he consistently makes tacklers miss. Few backs possess his ability to change directions even amongst running backs in the NFL.
He’s got good speed, in particular his ability to make a jump cut and beat defenders to the outside is unique. He also has exceptional vision as he makes excellent reads on where he needs to run, specifically when and where to make jump cuts, he commits to where he’s going and gets there quickly.
Drafting running backs in the first round is a criticized strategy in today’s NFL but Bijan Robinson is certainly talented enough to go first round and very well could go much higher than this if a team decides he’s too good to pass on.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: O’Cyrus Torrence G Florida
It’s no secret that the Bengals should be looking to improve their offensive line this offseason. For the second straight season offensive line issues were too much to overcome for them to win it all.
Cordell Volson started all 19 games at left guard for them after selecting him in the fourth round last draft. He improved enough throughout the year that he could go into next season as the starter, however ideally they upgrade from him.
Torrence is highly likely to be the first interior offensive linemen off the board in this class and for good reason. As a run blocker he projects very well to the NFL. He is very powerful and his movement ability allows him to make blocks that a lot of other guards can’t make.
He’s also very good protecting the passer as he didn’t allow a single sack over the course of his four year career at Florida and Louisiana, which is quite remarkable.
29. New Orleans Saints: Bryan Bresee DI Clemson
After the Sean Payton trade the Saints are now in control of this selection. There’s a lot of areas they could look to address but in this 2023 NFL mock draft I’m projecting them to add to their defensive line.
Bresee’s stock has dropped a bit after not producing quite as much as expected this season. However, it’s important to note that he was coming back from a torn ACL and was going through a lot in his personal life with the death of his sister.
Bresee was the number one overall recruit in his class in 2020 coming out of high school. It’s easy to see why that was the case as he has massive size at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds and impressive athleticism.
He can win in a variety of effective ways which is what you want to see out of a potential first round defensive lineman. He can win with power as his size and strength overwhelms offensive lineman. Plus, he can with quickness as he’s more athletic than most offensive lineman he goes up against.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Anton Harrison OT Oklahoma
With both Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie both being free agents this season, the Chiefs could find themselves needing to add a tackle in the draft. In this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario they select Anton Harrison.
Harrison has the skillset to come off the board in the first round. He has good balance and quickness to stay in front of speed rushes. He also utilizes his power well against bull rushes and as a run blocker.
With multiple tackle needy teams later in the first round, I think Harrison has a solid chance of hearing his name called on night one.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Downs WR North Carolina
Wide receiver certainly isn’t a need for the Eagles. However, with such a stacked roster they can afford to add another weapon to this offense just to make their passing attack even more difficult to stop.
Downs brings an intriguing skillset to the table. He is a good route runner simply because of how effortlessly he moves, not often do you see receivers in college with his quickness and ability to change directions. He also has shown an ability to win on a variety of different routes, which is excellent for his projection as a route runner.
He not only can win as a separator but he also can track and adjust to the ball well when it’s in the air. Oftentimes with shorter, slot receivers like him it’s assumed that he’ll need to create a lot of separation in order to win, but that’s not necessarily with him.
The fact UNC utilized him as a punt returner shows you how dynamic he can be in the open field with the ball in his hands as well. One particular play that stood out to me came against Virginia when he made about four different players miss on a punt return.