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NFL Mock Draft 2023: Texans join 1-2-3 run on QBs; Eagles double up on D; Broncos, Packers add big playmakers

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The 2022 NFL season has reached the halfway point. Although half the league has designs on playing into playoffs, another half should start thinking more about how to improve their teams in 2023.

Coupled with the college football season turning the corner into its final month, that makes it an ideal time for a new Sporting News’ first-round mock draft. The order continues to be reshuffled with teams changing positions. The trade deadline also brought the Broncos back into the top 31 picks, while the Dolphins — who forfeited their original selection — are now off the clock.

Here’s projecting for now how the night of next April 27 in Kansas City might play out, with the draft order courtesy of Tankathon:

BIG BOARD: Ranking the top 50 players in 2023 NFL Draft

NFL Mock Draft 2023

1. Detroit Lions

  • C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 215 pounds)

The Lions have started to see the cracks in their bridge quarterback plan with Jared Goff and need to take the franchise passer at the top for the first time since Matthew Stafford in 2009. Stroud is a confident pocket passer who can make all the throws and can be the next Joe Burrow by way of Columbus. His athleticism is underrated and his big playmaking has been sharp. Some recent off play doesn’t change that fact.

2. Houston Texans

  • Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (6-0, 194 pounds)

The Texans have seen enough to know in two seasons that Davis Mills isn’t close to an answer as their franchise quarterback and it’s keeping them behind in their big rebuild post Deshaun Watson. They need a transcendent athletic passer to raise their overall upside. Young, with his pedigree, production and performance under Nick Saban, would go No. 1 in most other draft classes.

3. Carolina Panthers

  • Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232 pounds)

The Panthers need to break out of the Teddy Bridgewater-Sam Darnold-P.J. Walker-Baker Mayfield circle of heck, even if they’re tempted to go for more pass-rush pop to help Brian Burns. xLevis gets the ball out quickly and is confident in spreading the ball around. The Penn State transfer has done more than enough leading the Wildcats vs. a tough SEC schedule to stay in first-round consideration.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (6-4, 235 pounds)

Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan already have their franchise first-round QB in Kenny Pickett so they can be ecstatic about landing the best defensive player in the draft — and maybe best prospect overall here. Anderson can be a transcendent disruptor and all-around playmaker on the level of T.J. Watt, Putting him with Watt and Alex Highsmith in the same defense can be downright scary.

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5. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

With the trade for Calvin Ridley providing another receiving weapon for Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars can continue to improve the promising front seven of their defense after selecting linebackers Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd in the 2022 first round. Carter blows up plenty of plays in the backfield with his rare explosiveness. He would fit nicely up front with Foley Fatukasi and DaVon Hamilton.

6. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (6-5, 275 pounds)

The Raiders might be getting more uncomfortable with Derek Carr as their starting QB in the new offense with Davante Adams, but they likely should still focus on taking the best defensive player available to give Maxx Crosby some much needed help with Chandler Jones near the end. Murphy, not much of a dropoff from Anderson, is another explosive pass rusher who can also make big plays tracking down backs as a tackler.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6-0, 205 pounds)

The Buccaneers haven’t signed Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting beyond this season to keep supporting Carlton Davis. Ringo is an extremely athletic corner with nice size and shutdown potential outside.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)

  • Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame (6-4, 257 pounds)

Foskey has been active and disruptive as a defensive leader for the Fighting Irish.

9. Houston Texans (from Browns)

  • Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (6-5, 300 pounds)

Lovie Smith needs more pop for his defensive front, especially against the run. Bresee has become a well-rounded explosive player in his own right on the same front as Murphy.

10. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)

  • Jordan Addison, WR, USC (6-0, 175 pounds)

Whether the Seahawks stick with surprising Geno Smith or go in a different direction at QB, they should continue upgrading their receiving corps to support DK Metcalf given Tyler Lockett, 30, is facing a potential fade soon. At worst, Addison and Metcalf would roll together well on the outside with Lockett kicking it up in the slot again.

11. Arizona Cardinals

  • Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-6, 310 pounds)

The Cardinals still have D.J Humphries to hold down left tackle for a while but will need some more pop opposite him at right tackle to help Kyler Murray and the traditional running game. Johnson is a natural pass protector who can blossom into a nasty run blocker, too.

12. Chicago Bears

  • Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (6-4, 315 pounds)

The Bears have had exceptional run blocking this season but they struggle mightily to keep pocket pressure off Justin Fields. They can find a solution just down the road in Evanston. Skoronski can be a long-term sturdy pass-protecting tackle much like former Northwestern product Rashawn Slater is for the Chargers.

13. Green Bay Packers

  • Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-4, 251 pounds)

The Packers need some more receiving pop to help Aaron Rodgers and after drafting Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to offset the losses of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, they can follow through on their interest on a dynamic target at another position, especially with Robert Tonyan unsigned for 2023. 

14. Detroit Lions (from Rams)

  • Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (6-0, 188 pounds)

The Lions’ defense has plenty of holes vs. run and pass behind Aidan Hutchinson so best player on that side is a good bet with this other first-rounder. Smith’s size and speed give some promise to improve things greatly opposite Jeffrey Okudah, who is still finding his way as a cover man after early injury issues.

15. Indianapolis Colts

  • Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland (6-6, 320 pounds)

The Colts need to shore up their suddenly struggling offensive line with Dennis Kelly and Matt Pryor among their 2023 pending free agents up front. Duncan’s size, power and quickness make sense in their scheme.

16. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M (6-3, 195)

The Bengals have a big looming need at this position with Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell as pending 2023 free agents with the former unlikely to be re-signed at high cost. Johnson is an excellent cover man and also is a force in run support.

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17. New England Patriots

  • Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU (6-0, 196 pounds)

The Patriots need to improve their receiving corps with a dynamic playmaker for Mac Jones with Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers unsigned for next year. Boutte would be a no-brainer to raise the big-play output as the latest big-time LSU game-breaker.

18. Washington Commanders

  • Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (6-3, 225 pounds)

The Commanders are likely to see inside linebacker Cole Holcomb leave as a free agent to leave a void in the middle of their defense. Simpson would be an upgrade as a ferocious upfield player who also does plenty in coverage.

19. Denver Broncos (from 49ers through Dolphins)

  • Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6-0, 215 pounds)

The Broncos are back in the first round after the Bradley Chubb trade. This might seem like an odd pick but the player value is outstanding, especially considering Javonte Williams may need a long recovery time from his knee injuries and Melvin Gordon, Mike Boone and Latavius Murray are all unsigned beyond this season. Former Dolphin Chase Edmonds is just a guy. Robinson is a powerful, explosive hammer of a back who could carry the load should Williams need more time and form a terrific 1-2 punch with him when he can come back.

20. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (6-3, 250 pounds)

Kenneth Murray Jr. has been a bit disappointing and both Kyle Van Noy and Drue Tranquill are pending 2022 free agents. Sewell, brother of Lions offensive tackle Penei, would be the ideal all-around replacement cleanup against pass and run.

21. New York Giants

  • Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (6-4, 215 pounds)

Kenny Golladay was a disastrous signing as a size-speed outside potential No. 1 target, Kadarius Toney was traded and the also position has been ravaged by injuries to the point versatile rookie Wan’Dale Robinson is the only keeper in the offense. Johnson can solve that problem as the ideal complement for Robinson going forward for Brian Daboll.

22. New York Jets

  •  Gervon Dexter Sr., DT, Florida (6-6, 312 pounds)

The Jets will need to beef up their defensive interior more next to Quinnen Williams with Sheldon Rankins and Solomon Thomas unlikely to be re-signed in 2023. Dexter is rising during a strong all-around season with the Gators while showing some pass-rush pop.

23. Dallas Cowboys

  • Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (5-11, 200 pounds)

This would be such a Jerry Jones pick and you can bet he’ll watching if Robinson drops down into the late first round. As much Jones loves Ezekiel Elliott, he also is smart enough to realize he’s not worth keeping beyond 2023. On top of that, Tony Pollard may look to cash in elsewhere as a pending free agent. Either way, Gibbs has them covered in the committee with his patience, vision, speed and quickness that add up to flat-out rare gamebreaking skills.

24. Atlanta Falcons

  • Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (6-3, 235 pounds)

The Falcons need to keep working on upgrading their edge pass rush after drafting Arnold Ebiketie this year with veteran starer Lorenzo Carter being a 2023 pending free agent. Smith can be a very productive sack artist making the natural transition to their 3-4 scheme at outside linebacker.

25. Baltimore Ravens

  • Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (6-2, 198 pounds)

The Ravens will keep working on their secondary after adding Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton to shore up safety with aging, fading Marcus Peters unlikely to be re-signed. Although it would be odd to see him in a rival Ravens uniform, the son of the former Steelers star pass rusher has tremendous size and physicality for coverage and uses his reliable speed to make plays on the ball. 

26. Seattle Seahawks

  • Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama (6-2, 225 pounds)

Jordyn Brooks has been a tackling machine as a recent surprise first-rounder but he needs some help on the second level with ineffective Cody Barton going into free agency. To’oToo is the typical athletic and rangy 3-4 linebacker for Nick Saban.

27. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (6-4, 310 pounds)

Jones has been moving up boards with a strong season in front of Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs’ prolific running back. He is impressive with his pure physical power but also has the agility to lock down in pass protection. He’s an option for Patrick Mahomes should the team not re-sign Orlando Brown Jr.

28. Tennessee Titans

  • Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (5-10, 175 pounds)

The Titans need more wide receiver help after trading A.J. Brown and drafting Treylon Burks. Rookie Kyle Phillips flashed but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Downs can work the short-to-intermediate area better and also is very dangerous in open field after the catch.

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29. Minnesota Vikings

  • Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State (6-4, 251 pounds)

Like Jones, Verse has been a fast-rising young college player with off-the-chart dynamic play as he’s posted 4.5 sacks for the Seminoles. The Vikings have Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith but Verse can be a situational sensation at first before getting regular snaps replacing Smith soon.

30. Buffalo Bills

  • O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida (6-5, 347)

The Bills need to think ahead for youthful pop on their interior offensive line and Torrence would work nicely with a nice blend of physicality, power and agility to stand out inside.

31. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama (6-2, 196 pounds)

James Bradberry has been a strong cornerback pickup opposite Darius Slay but he might be too expensive to retain now as a pending 2023 free agent. That should put the Eagles on the market for a big-bodied, physical young corner.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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