2023 NFL Mock Draft - V3.0 Craziest Rumors Edition
We're just under a month away from Kansas City hosting the 2023 NFL draft and with free agency mostly over and the same for Pro Day workouts, you're starting to hear what teams want to do (or at least what someone is saying they want to do) and where moves may be made come draft night.
In this edition, we explore the craziest things that a (mostly) reputable site will publish. Will Minnesota sign Lamar Jackson and trade Cousins and the two firsts for him? Would Baltimore even be interested? Will Kansas City trade up to get one of the top wide receivers? Who drafts Anthony Richardson and does another QB sneak into the first round?
CJ Stroud - QB - Ohio State - After Stroud's Pro Day it feels like this is a done deal with the Panthers sending about a dozen people including the head coach, GM, and the owners to watch Stroud throw balls against the air.
Previous Selection - Bryce Young - QB - Alabama
Bryce Young - QB - Alabama - With Stroud gone, the Texans are left with Young as the obvious choice unless they decide to go another direction, but why, they have the #12 pick as well and can get just about any position there. . .except QB.
Previous Selection - CJ Stroud - QB - Ohio State
Will Anderson Jr. - EDGE - Alabama - I haven't changed my mind about Tyree Wilson, but all the "tea leaves" suggest that the Cards will be taking Anderson at the third spot. Anderson's ability to transfer speed to power and his athleticism will get him through while he develops as a pass rusher.
Previous Selection - Tyree Wilson - EDGE - Texas Tech
Will Levis - QB - Kentucky - I admit it, I have no idea where to slot Levis, or Richardson, or Hendon Hooker. His Pro Day workout was better, he looked like he was throwing from a better base, and his arm lets him make throws when he's not completely set. He'll have to learn touch in the NFL a La John Elway.
Previous Selection - Anthony Richardson - QB - Florida
Anthony Richardson - QB - Florida - Do I think the Seahawks take Richardson here? Maybe, maybe not, but I do think that if Seattle is looking long-term, this is the pick, and hope he slides to the 20th pick. I think Pete Carroll is more interested in someone who can help him win another Super Bowl before he retires so Wilson or Jalen Carter makes more sense.
Previous Selection - Jalen Carter - IDL - Georgia
Jalen Carter - IDL - Georgia - The thought of being able to line Carter up next to Aidan Hutchinson makes me wonder about the possibilities for their defense so I can only imagine what the front office and fans think of it. I'm still high on Carter and feel that he's the clear-cut #1 interior player on defense, adding another defensive player later in the first round could completely change the face of the Lions' defense.
Previous Selection - Will Anderson Jr. - EDGE - Alabama
Christian Gonzalez - CB - Oregon - No one seems to know what direction the Raiders will go when they're on the clock, which makes sense, they have a lot of needs and with just a couple of exceptions, they'll have their pick of any position. I'm going with the CB position to give them a corner that can match up against the top-end receivers they'll face each week.
Previous Selection - Peter Skoronski - OT/G - Northwestern
Tyree Wilson - EDGE - Texas Tech - Despite my drafting Ohio State's Paris Johnson in the two previous mocks, having Wilson fall into Atlanta's lap like this is practically a sign. After finishing last in sacks in 2021, and next to last in 2022, the Falcons can line someone up that teams will have to plan to stop. I am a little, little, concerned that Wilson was unable to run during Tech's Pro Day but it sounds like it was a timing hiccup and not a setback that was the reason, he should be able to work out for individual teams leading up to the draft.
Previous Selection - Paris Johnson Jr. - OT - Ohio State
Broderick Jones - OT - Georgia - QB Justin Fields showed progress in 2022, but until he feels comfortable in the pocket and has some talent to throw to, his development is going to be stunted; as such this pick came down to either a protector or a receiver. I chose Broderick Jones because, despite his limited time starting, scouts are praising not only his potential but his level of play which one scout says is already at an All-Pro level.
Previous Selection - Miles Murphy - EDGE - Clemson
Nolan Smith - LB - Georgia - I can't know what the Eagles' front office is thinking, but I have to believe that their goal is to win another Super Bowl before their "cheap" talent is due some expensive raises. With that in mind, I nearly took Bijan Robinson, positional value be damned; instead, I went with Nolan Smith who can either take over the WLB spot or spell Hassan Reddick on the strong side.
Previous Selection - Smith
Paris Johnson Jr. - OT - Ohio State - Andre Dillard isn't the answer at LT for the Titans and I think they knew that when they signed him, however, Paris Johnson could well be the answer and it wouldn't surprise me if another Buckeye ended up on Mike Vrabel's Tennessee roster, either Johnson or WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Previous Selection - Jordan Addison - WR - Southern Cal
Jaxon Smith-Njigba - WR - Ohio State - With the trade of Brandin Cooks to Dallas late last month and the signing of TE Dalton Schultz the next day, it's clear that the Texans are rebuilding their offense and selecting a WR at this spot would be setting up whoever they select at #2 for long-term success. Resigning LT Laremy Tunsil will keep him protected and repairing the defense will have to wait for Day 2.
Previous Selection - Smith-Njigba
Peter Skoronski - OT/G - Northwestern - At first glance, it looks like the Jets are saddled with the leftovers of the 2023 offensive tackle class; strange though that we didn't view it that way when I had them selecting Broderick Jones even though in both instances they were the third OT taken. I like Skoronski here simply because if he can't hack it on the outside, the Jets have a real need for inside help and he should be able to transition there easily.
Previous Selection - Broderick Jones - OT - Georgia
Devon Witherspoon - CB - Illinois - With Christian Gonzalez gone to Las Vegas and none of the remaining EDGE players feeling like a fit for the Pats' 3-4 defense, it comes down to either corner or receiver and unless Belichick has been abducted and replaced with a copy, the Patriots are drafting the corner. Witherspoon is knocked for his slight stature but his attitude makes me think he'll be just fine.
Previous Selection - Christian Gonzalez - CB - Oregon
Lukas Van Ness - EDGE - Iowa - It's entirely possible that Van Ness is the player that makes the (somewhat) unexpected leap up draft boards and sets things to "Chaos Mode" on draft night. I'm not entirely sold on that happening mostly because it feels like he has development work to do before he hits his potential. On the other hand, NFL execs love potential, how else would you explain Anthony Richardson?
Previous Selection - Van Ness
Joey Porter Jr. - CB - Penn State - With TE and OT offering no value at this pick the Commanders are left with corner as the position of need that offers bang for the buck. I like Porter, watching his 2021 match-up against 2022 Offensive ROY Garrett Wilson was good tape. He forced throws to be low and in a place where the play was dead (knee on ground) as soon as it was caught. He was flagged twice, once for unnecessary roughness and once for PI when he got grabby. His size makes him a candidate for a safety position if corner proves to be too much.
Previous Selection - Will Levis - QB - Kentucky
Cam Smith - CB - South Carolina - Corner is such a need for the Steelers have corner listed as both a primary AND a secondary need for the 2023 draft. Smith was stuck behind Jaycee Horn and Isreal Mukuamu until 2021 but in his two years as a starter for the Gamecocks, he managed to earn All-SEC honors and a reputation as a lockdown corner. Smith's lateral agility and foot quickness are just "OK" but his willingness to play tough against the run will make him a lot of fans in the Steel City.
Previous Selection - Devon Witherspoon - CB - Illinois
Bryan Bresee - IDL - Clemson - This pick could just as easily be teammate Myles Murphy (EDGE) but I'm going with Bresee as another player who can line up inside and cause havoc right up the middle. Bresee does have a habit of taking plays off when they're going away from him, something I don't think Dan Campbell is going to be too pleased with, but when he's engaged and playing hard he's always around the ball.
Previous Selection - Bresee
Myles Murphy - EDGE - Clemson - I would be more concerned about Murphy's ability to transition from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 end if he didn't have the tools he does as well as the developmental history he has. Murphy may not make huge leaps as a player but during his time in Death Valley, he was consistently getting better as a pass rusher. If he's available at this spot in the draft, Murphy represents considerable value.
Previous Selection - Joey Porter Jr. - CB - Penn State
Zay Flowers - WR - Boston College - With no fits at either EDGE or IDL, depending, I suppose, on how high Seattle values someone like Iowa State's Will McDonald or Michigan's Mazi Smith, we turn to give Seattle another weapon on offense. Flowers possesses game-breaking speed and creates separation out of the break, if he was four inches taller and twenty-five pounds heavier, he would be a top 10 pick, maybe top 5.
Previous Selection - Flowers
Bijan Robinson - RB - Texas - On Draft night you'll hear certain somebodies talking about how they're surprised that TE Michael Mayer is still on the board and how this would be a great spot for the Chargers to "get value". Two things. First, look up the last fifteen TEs drafted first in their class, go ahead, I'll wait. *hums "Jeopardy" tune* Done? Good, was the first thought in your head "Ugh"? Yeah, me too. Second, no one in this draft represents more value here than Bijan Robinson who will be a huge part of the offense as soon as he signs.
Previous Selection - Robinson
Quentin Johnston - WR - TCU - I'm sticking with this pick mostly because of the upside that Johnston represents Vs the remaining WRs. Johnston is going to need to develop his route running and learn to play up to his size at the catch point, especially for contested balls. He may be frustrating to watch as a rookie, but I feel that he'll become a solid complementary receiver with the ability to stretch the field.
Previous Selection - Johnston
Jordan Addison - WR - Southern Cal - This selection depends on where the Vikes' decision makers see more value - receiver or cornerback. Personally, I think that Addison offers more value as a receiver who can play in the slot or outside against bigger corners. He has the ability to create separation from his breaks and is consistent with his run-up regardless of the route so he's not tipping his hand as to his direction.
Previous Selection - Jalin Hyatt - WR - Tennessee
Felix Anudike-Uzomah - EDGE - Kansas State - FAU doesn't feel to me like he'll end up as a 12-15 sack EDGE, what he does feel like is a player who allows JAX LBs Josh Allen and Travon Walker to step up their games and draw attention from them while also providing consistent pressure (if not actual sacks) in the passing game. All in all, a well-rounded EDGE who should be a consistent 8-10 sacks/year producer.
Previous Selection - Darnell Wright - OT - Tennessee
Jalin Hyatt - WR - Tennessee - While I can't say for certain that Hyatt will be able to step in and be a productive #1 receiver for Big Blue, I feel that he will give them a consistent vertical threat that it feels that they haven't had for a while. The coaching staff will need to develop his route tree and if they can they'll have someone special, if not, he can still be very dangerous if a team loses track of him.
Previous Selection - John Michael Schmitz - C - Minnesota
Michael Mayer - TE - Notre Dame - It's hard trying to figure out the direction Jerry and the 'Boys are going to go on Draft night, they always zig when you think they'll zag and take an off-the-board player when there's a great fit right there. If by some miracle Bijan Robinson is still available, he'll be wearing a star on his helmet, as it is, Mayer fills a void on the Cowboys' roster with the departure of Dalton Shultz to Houston. He's well-rounded and can absolutely be a relief valve-type receiver though his blocking can leave something to be desired.
Previous Selection - O'Cyrus Torrence - IOL - Florida
Adetomiwa Adebawore - IDL - Northwestern - With the top receivers gone and the interior linemen available of questionable fit I'm sticking with Adebawore as the selection here. He'll provide push inside with a quick first step and heavy-handed play against linemen. His motor runs hot but he should be better suited inside against shorter-armed guards. If the Bills are looking for a receiver, they might be better off looking for a trade back into the top half of the Second Round.
Previous Selection - Adebawore
Emmanuel Forbes - CB - Mississippi State - The same physical limitation concerns that evaluators have with Devon Witherspoon are present with Forbes, unfortunately, he doesn't have that bulldog mentality regarding tackling that 'Spoon does. Regardless, you pay corners to cover, not play the run. The FBS career "Pick 6" record holder Forbes will be a playmaker for whoever drafts him. He flips his hips and runs with receivers well and his speed lets him recover well.
Previous Selection - Cam Smith - CB - South Carolina
Dalton Kincaid - TE - Utah - The best thing the Saints could do here would be to trade down into the second round and maybe pick up an extra second or third-round pick this year or next as none of the players of need present value with the exception of Calijah Kancey or Darnell Wright. Kancey would be the smallest of the Saints DTs by a wide margin and Wright would be strictly a depth pick so Dalton Kincaid it is.
Previous Selection - Michael Mayer - TE - Notre Dame
Calijah Kancey - DT - Pittsburgh - If there's one team that can gamble on Kancey and make it work, it would be the Eagles. Mostly because they can put him in the middle next to Jordan Davis and with plenty of pass-rush help around him. He'll be compared to Aaron Donald ad nauseam which is to be expected, same school, same build, same position, if he can be two-thirds of the player Donald is he'll be in the Pro Bowl more often than not.
Previous Selection - Kancey
Will McDonald IV - EDGE - Iowa State - Personally I would like to see McDonald add about twenty-five pounds to his frame to allow him to hold up against the pounding he'll be taking on a play-to-play basis because right now he looks like a track guy they threw pads on. He'll have to grow into an every-down player but even if he only plays passing downs as a rookie, he feels like he'll make an impact.
Previous Selection - Felix Anudike-Uzomah - EDGE - Kansas State
Granted, some of these rumors are more along the line of "Huh, that's interesting" than "What are they thinking!?!" but still, there are a few eye-openers among the bunch. The Draft is getting closer so this is the last mock from me you'll see until Draft Day Eve, but rest assured things will get more interesting the closer we get.