2023 NFL Mock Draft: Where do QBs land in our initial projections?
The Super Bowl is behind us, free agency is imminent, and the NFL draft is on the horizon. It's time to mock.
Below, theScore's David P. Woods and Dane Belbeck project how the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft could shake out.
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
There's a very real chance the Bears don't make the first overall pick when the draft begins on April 27. Seven of the first 10 teams selecting could be considered to have a need for a quarterback, so the phone is likely already ringing off the hook in Ryan Poles' office. Heck, the Bears could even decide they aren't entirely sold on Justin Fields' development as a passer (remember: this regime didn't draft Fields) and look to trade him for a bounty of picks with which to build around a new passer selected at No. 1. But if no team is willing to pay the steep price it'll cost to move up, and if the Bears are truly as committed to Fields as they say they are, the pick will come down to either Anderson or Jalen Carter. The highly decorated Alabama edge rusher has some Von Miller to his game and is the selection here. He makes terrorizing QBs look easy.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Texans opt to trust one of the more polarizing draft prospects in recent memory with the selection of the diminutive Young out of Alabama. Based on tape and talent, there's no question the 2021 Heisman winner is the best quarterback in the draft - with two standout seasons as the Crimson Tide starter cementing his case. The knock is his lack of size, with his listed measurements of 6-foot-1, 194 pounds up for great debate. Despite the questionable stature, Young's an absolute tactician from the pocket, rarely taking a big hit and constantly working through his progressions with ease. Houston will bank on that continuing at the next level.
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The easiest pick of the draft. The Cardinals will select whichever one of Anderson and Carter remains on the board. If it's Carter, Arizona gets an absolute game-wrecker on the defensive line who should immediately shore up a defense that ranked second-last in points allowed last season.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud assuaged concerns about his mobility with a dynamite performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff, making plays outside of structure in a way he rarely did in his two years as starter in Columbus. A size advantage over Young could give Stroud a real shot at being the first quarterback off the board in April, but here, the Colts are thrilled when he falls into their laps at No. 4.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Russell Wilson trade nets the Seahawks a premium selection here, and they're thrilled to use it on an edge rusher with the freakish physical traits general manager John Schneider covets.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Lions say they're content with Jared Goff as their starter, but they know they have a young roster ready to compete not just for a playoff spot, but perhaps for a deep playoff run. More importantly, they know the dearth of elite teams in the NFC means they aren't likely to select this high in the draft again for at least a few years. The time to take a quarterback is now. Richardson is a raw, high-upside, dual-threat selection, and the Lions have been hot on his trail, sending scouts to five Florida games last season. With Goff in the fold, Richardson can redshirt as a rookie.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Levis is far from a clean prospect, but if you squint, you can see high-end quarterback traits. The Raiders can't compete in their division without improved quarterback play and need to take a home-run swing. They could look to pair Levis with a veteran quarterback signing like Jimmy Garoppolo, allowing the rookie ample time to develop.
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
The Falcons' pass rush has been abysmal for years. Murphy alone won't change that, but he can be a big part of a revamped defensive front. He compares favorably to last year's first overall pick, Travon Walker.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
New Panthers head coach Frank Reich suffered through a rotating door of subpar veteran quarterbacks in Indianapolis and would surely love to spend this pick on a passer. Unfortunately for him, there are no trades in this mock draft, and the top four passing prospects are already off the board. The best all-around running back prospect since Christian McCaffrey is a nice consolation prize.
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Joey Porter Jr. and Christian Gonzalez may have more remarkable physical characteristics, but Witherspoon is an absolute menace in the secondary. The Illinois star was a first-team All-American last season with 14 pass breakups and three interceptions. Witherspoon plays much bigger than his 6-foot, 180-pound frame and frequently shocks people with game-changing hits from the back end. A versatile corner who can play in multiple looks will fit in seamlessly with a dominant Eagles defense.
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Left tackle Taylor Lewan said he expects to be cut by the Titans this offseason after missing 30 games over the last three years. The Titans don't have an identity if they aren't mauling teams in the rushing attack. It's time to replenish in the trenches.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Most offensive players in this draft can say they were a huge part of their school's offense during their collegiate career. Mayer can legitimately say he was the Notre Dame offense during his time in South Bend. He had 67 catches for 809 yards and nine touchdowns last season. That's 37 catches, 448 yards and six touchdowns more than the next closest player on the Fighting Irish. Mayer's production came despite being double-teamed on virtually every single play. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder dominates in both the passing game and rushing attack, using his physical frame to outmuscle defenders in both situations. He'll instantly become a favorite target for Young in the Texans' rebuild.
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Jets need a quarterback, but none of the top options are likely to fall to them here. They know it, and everyone else knows it - all the buzz has linked the Jets to veteran options. Whether it's Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Garoppolo, or a lesser name, it'd be prudent to use this pick to bolster the O-line.
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Patriots lost J.C. Jackson in free agency a year ago, and Jonathan Jones could depart their secondary this year. New England needs to replenish its depth at the position. Smith is a man coverage specialist who's spoken openly about his desire to join a scheme like the Patriots'.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
Whether it's Rodgers or Jordan Love throwing the ball for the Packers next season, it's probably a safe bet they look at Musgrave often. The Oregon State standout is flying under the radar due to an injury-shrouded final season with the Beavers, but expect the hype to build at the combine. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder possesses 4.5 speed, and his yards-after-catch potential will have Green Bay eager to add him to the mix.
O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
Torrence transferred to Florida from Louisiana before the 2022 season and thrived in his lone Power 5 campaign. The 6-foot-5, 347-pounder is a physical menace on the interior and should instantly become a favorite of Ron Rivera with his powerful style.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Put one on the board for nostalgia as the Steelers dip into the Porter family. The son of the franchise's former star linebacker brings the family nastiness to the field from his spot as a shutdown corner. The younger Porter is blessed with incredibly long arms for his 6-foot-2, 194-pound frame and was a three-year starter at Penn State.
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Nick Saban deployed Branch all over the field at Alabama, and he brings a level of intelligence and intensity that should be a hit with Dan Campbell. The Lions need help all over the defense after a season in which they allowed over 25 points per contest, and the 6-foot, 193-pounder's versatility helps solve a number of problems in Detroit. Branch is particularly adept as a slot corner who can create havoc in various blitz packages.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Whoever starts at quarterback for the Bucs next season will need an upgrade in protection, and Jones brings great physicality to the tackle position. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder is already a dominant run-blocker but is very raw in pass protection with less than 20 career starts to his name. There might be some growing pains, but Jones possesses everything one would want in a franchise tackle.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Assuming the Seahawks commit their quarterbacking future to Geno Smith, it makes sense to bolster their arsenal and lessen their reliance on Tyler Lockett, who'll turn 31 early in the 2023 campaign. Smith-Njigba missed almost all of the 2022 season due to injury but was among the top receivers in the country as a sophomore in 2021.
*Miami Dolphins forfeit 1st-round selection (No. 21) as punishment for multiple violations of the NFL's anti-tampering policy.
Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Keenan Allen is a cut candidate and Mike Williams can't stay healthy. A lack of a consistent deep threat neutered the Chargers' offensive attack in 2022, resulting in a 6.9-yard average depth of target for the big-armed Justin Herbert - third-lowest among 40 qualifying quarterbacks. Hyatt is every bit a burner.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Ravens simply can't count on Rashod Bateman staying healthy, and the depth chart is completely barren behind him. Johnston is a YAC monster who'll slot in to the Ravens' scheme with ease.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
He might not be the first corner off the board this year, but Ringo has all the skills needed to be the best defensive back in this draft. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder possesses elite size and uses that physicality to dominate the opposition's receivers. The Vikings were 22nd in the league last year in passer rating allowed, something Ringo should help with from Day 1.
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Another outrageous athlete from Georgia's back-to-back title-winning squad lands in Jacksonville. Washington is arguably the best blocking tight end in the class and physically dominates using his 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame. While he's raw in the passing game, Washington's size and excellent hands make him a major threat who could instantly become one of Trevor Lawrence's favorite targets.
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez's stock skyrocketed after transferring from Colorado to Oregon, where he recorded four interceptions in 12 games last season. The 6-foot-2, 201-pound corner possesses ideal size and has shown he's more than willing to be a stopper in the run game as well. The Giants would be over the moon if he's available at No. 25.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Smith is an elite athlete off the edge who could form an outrageously talented pass-rushing duo opposite Micah Parsons. The Georgia standout missed the final stretch of the Bulldogs' second straight national title run due to a torn pectoral but totaled 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 38 career games. The knock on Smith is he's undersized at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, but the game-breaking potential off the edge is more than enough for him to fly off the board at No. 26.
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Aside from Stefon Diggs, no one in the Bills' receiving corps scares defenses, which proved to be a bigger issue this season than anticipated. Gabe Davis ain't it. Addison's production dropped off at USC in 2022, but his playmaking at Pitt helped propel Kenny Pickett into the first round last year.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
If Bengals fans are unfamiliar with Kincaid's work, simply check his stat line from Utah's incredible regular-season win over USC last season. The talented tight end was double-teamed virtually all game and still managed an absurd 16 catches for a whopping 234 yards. Stopping Joe Burrow and the offense has been hard enough, but adding Kincaid should make it borderline impossible in 2023.
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Bresee is a versatile lineman who can move around and cause havoc using his lengthy 6-foot-5, 290-pound frame. The Clemson standout battled knee issues throughout his career with the Tigers but was a highly productive player when on the field. While Bresee feasts on maximum effort, he's an underrated pass-rusher who can disrupt the quarterback with a variety of moves.
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Van Ness moved all around the Iowa defensive line over his 26 games but never actually started a contest for the Hawkeyes. At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, the 21-year-old is an absolute load for the opposition to handle, and he uses physicality and a high motor to get to the quarterback. He's far from a finished product, but the Eagles' success at defensive line development could turn him into a very successful player.
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The departure of Tyreek Hill didn't stop Patrick Mahomes from leading the NFL in passing and winning MVP, but the Chiefs know their best shot at maintaining dominance is to continue fortifying the offense. Flowers might be a bit of a reach in Round 1 given his struggles with drops, but the severe lack of quality receivers in this year's free-agent class will push rookies up the board.
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