2023 NFL Mock Draft: Post-combine edition
theScore's Dan Wilkins and Dane Belbeck project how the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft could unfold following last week's scouting combine.
MOCK TRADE: Colts move up from No. 4 in deal with Bears
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Colts make their move from No. 4 to No. 1 and grab the elite passer from Ohio State. Stroud blew everyone away at the combine with his passing ability, a performance that caused NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah to deem it "one of the best throwing sessions I've seen at the combine." Stroud instantly should mesh with new coach Shane Steichen's offensive plan to make the Colts a contender in the AFC South.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Bryce Young will continue to face questions about his size, even after topping the 200-pound mark at the combine, but nobody is doubting the talent. He'd be the consensus No. 1 quarterback in this class if his Alabama tape was the only consideration. But the Texans should be happy to take a chance on his play translating to the next level. The potential payoff is just too great to pass up.
MOCK TRADE: Panthers move up from No. 9 in deal with Cardinals
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Nobody left a bigger impression than Richardson at the combine last weekend. The Florida quarterback turned in a stunning performance in athletic testing, highlighted by his blazing 4.43 40-yard dash. That was enough to see the Panthers move up to No. 3 to grab the uber-talented passer. Plenty of his game film leaves a lot to be desired, but new coach Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown will take a chance on Richardson's elite physical traits.
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
An early run on quarterbacks creates a dream scenario for the Bears: coming away with the No. 1 defensive player in the draft after trading back to stockpile picks. Anderson has the potential to be one of the NFL's next great pass-rushers.
Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
With Geno Smith locked up on a long-term deal, the Seahawks opt to address the defense and grab Carter out of Georgia. Carter was forced to leave the combine to fly back to Athens and meet with police over charges for his role in a street racing incident that resulted in the death of a teammate and staff member in January. Legal issues aside, Carter is arguably the best prospect in the draft and will be great value if he's available at No. 5.
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
A quarterback should be a consideration here for the Lions, but there's also no need to force it if their top-ranked passers have already been selected. Running it back with Jared Goff and using their draft capital to bolster a weak defense is a pretty good option, too. Witherspoon would team up with 2020 first-rounder Jeff Okudah to give Detroit a supremely talented young cornerback duo.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
With Derek Carr gone, the Raiders turn to Levis to keep them competitive in the AFC West. Levis is another quarterback who brings impressive physical traits to the position with plenty of questionable game film. That won't bother Josh McDaniels, as the Raiders make a bet that the head coach can tutor the Kentucky passer into a star.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Falcons take advantage of the early run on quarterbacks by scooping up a high-end pass-rush talent that should probably be a top-five pick. Wilson didn't participate in combine drills, but his weigh-in was all he needed to turn heads. The Texas Tech standout's 86-inch wingspan will be a handful for opposing offensive tackles.
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez has the chance to be the best corner from this draft thanks to his high-end speed and length at the position. The Oregon standout blazed to a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and looked very comfortable in ball drills. The Cardinals need a top corner to combat in-division receivers such as Cooper Kupp, DK Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel, and Gonzalez has the talent to be that player.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Having a top-10 pick coming off a Super Bowl appearance is just unfair. While the Eagles are one of the last teams who would reach to fill a spot, this is one of those situations where the need and value meet. Porter, the son of former Steelers pass-rusher Joey Porter, is a talented cover man who'd provide an immediate upgrade to the back end of Philly's defense.
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Titans needing an offensive tackle is arguably the worst-kept secret in NFL draft circles. Tennessee will opt for potential with the Ohio State star and bring him aboard at No. 11. With ideal size and length, Johnson could become a high-end tackle in the AFC with the right amount of polish.
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
A franchise cornerback and a top edge rusher would be a great way for the Texans to kickstart the rebuild. Murphy would join 2022 first-rounder Derek Stingley as another blue-chip talent for a Houston defense that needs plenty.
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Skoronski might be the most pro-ready tackle in the draft and should step into a big role immediately for the Jets. While he doesn't flash the high-end potential at the position of Johnson, he's a sure-fire starter that can be relied upon to protect his quarterback - whomever that ends up being in 2023.
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The Patriots don't have an immediate need on the edge, with Matthew Judon and Josh Uche combining to provide a dynamic pass-rush tandem, but Uche is heading into a contract year. Bill Belichick could get out in front of that future need by adding Van Ness, who also has the versatility to rush from the interior.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Whether it's Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love throwing the passes for the Packers next season, there's a safe bet Mayer will be catching a lot of them. The Notre Dame star carried the entire Fighting Irish offense last season, catching 31.7% of the team's passes, registering 30% of the team's receiving yards, and catching nine of the program's 25 touchdowns.
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
Branch, the top safety in this draft, can either line up deep or as a slot corner. The Commanders could use some help at both spots, so this could be a strong move to bolster their defensive backfield.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
If the Steelers believe Kenny Pickett is their future quarterback, they need to do all they can to surround him with quality protection and weapons. That leads them to Jones at No. 17 -- an absolute beast of an offensive tackle prospect from Georgia. Jones is as physical as anybody in the draft and should fit in perfectly in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.
Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
The Lions shouldn't hesitate to double up on defensive studs if they end up passing on a quarterback in the first round. White lining up opposite Aidan Hutchinson would provide a tremendous foundation up front.
O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
The Buccaneers need help across the offensive line, and the 6-foot-5, 347-pound Torrence immediately brings size and strength to the interior. The former Louisiana star performed well in his lone season of Power 5 football at Florida last season and should immediately bring stability to Tampa Bay's offensive line.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Few teams love athletic upside as much as the Seahawks, and few players have as much of it as Smith. The Georgia standout, who should be flying up draft boards after a spectacular combine performance, would provide some much-needed juice off the edge.
*Miami Dolphins forfeit 1st-round selection (No. 21) as punishment for multiple violations of the NFL's anti-tampering policy.
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco insisted last week the team won't be cutting Keenan Allen, but even if he's still on board, insurance is needed at the receiver position. Despite playing on middling teams during his time at Boston College, Flowers popped off the screen on a weekly basis. He's not the biggest target at 5-10, 172 pounds, but Flowers' quickness and ball skills make him a nightmare to guard.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
We've been expecting the Ravens to swing big on a receiver for years now. It's possible they disappoint us again, but we're going to choose to believe until that time comes. Smith-Njigba would likely be coming off the board much higher than this were it not for a 2022 season almost entirely lost to injury.
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Put Banks near the top of the list among players to shine at the combine. The Maryland standout turned in the third-fastest 40-yard dash among defensive backs at 4.35 seconds. He topped that off with a 42-inch vertical leap and an eye-opening 11-foot-4 mark in the broad jump. That performance is more than enough to convince the Vikings at No. 23.
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The Jaguars' defense is set on the edge with Travon Walker and Josh Allen. Adding an interior pass-rusher like Bresee would help that unit take the next step as Jacksonville sets its sights on contention.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Giants' wide receiving core is among the league's worst, with only 13 touchdown catches between them and nobody topping the 800-yard mark. Enter Johnston, the star wideout from TCU's improbable run to the CFP title game. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder cleared 40 inches in the vertical leap and will give New York a new WR1 heading into the 2023 season.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Receiver will be an option here, but let's assume, just for fun, that the longstanding interest in Odell Beckham Jr. leads to a deal this offseason. That would allow the Cowboys to turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball atop the draft. Ringo could be a steal this late in the first round.
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Addison was underwhelming at the combine, posting a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 34-inch vertical leap before exiting early with a back injury. That sees the former Pitt and USC star drop out of the top 25 in this mock. Fortunately for Addison, that fall turns out to be a blessing as he ends up with the Bills and Josh Allen. If he can replicate his college game tape performance in Buffalo, Addison could be one of the draft's biggest steals.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Joe Mixon appears to be on the way out in Cincinnati. The Bengals take advantage of running back position value by landing Robinson, one of the best players in this draft, toward the end of the first round.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Saints got their new quarterback Monday after signing Derek Carr and immediately get him a new weapon in Kincaid. Simply watch his absurd 16-catch, 234-yard performance against USC this season to see what he's capable of at the tight end position. Kincaid would immediately step in alongside Chris Olave to give Carr a pair of talented young pass-catchers to work with.
Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The Eagles love to build through the trenches. Kancey will face size questions as he transitions to the next level, but Philly can afford to take a swing on some big-time pass-rush potential with Jordan Davis there to do the heavy lifting in the run game.
Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor
Receiver will be a popular pick for the Chiefs in this spot, but the run defense needs some love, too. Opposing offensive lines would have their hands full with the Baylor standout lined up next to Chris Jones.
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