NFL | Mar 28, 2023

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1

By Harry Bazley

2023 NFL Mock Draft

The biggest question on everyone's mind right now... Who will be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?

After the scouting combine gave us a closer look at the top talent in the 2023 draft class, rumours began stirring about players that rose and fell through the pick list. Alongside all the whispers, came a wave of trades that rippled through the NFL.

At this point, there's a gap in every roster in the league and today we'll be telling you our predictions for how each team will fill those spots with their first round picks. You can see how our list adds up when the draft begins on April 27th.

1. QB, CJ Stroud - Carolina Panthers

After trading away DJ Moore for the No.1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, I'm predicting the Panthers to select the top rated QB in the class - CJ Stroud. No surprises here.

The talented Buckeye will dive straight into Frank Reich’s playbook with Carolina expecting him to be the Week 1 starter.

2. QB, Bryce Young - Houston Texans

The addition of Bryce Young to the Houston team will bring in a skilled quarterback who possesses a strong character and the ability to make impressive plays even in unpredictable situations.

With offensive roots from San Francisco, the team relies on precision and timing, qualities that Young possesses and can contribute to the franchise's long-term success. Not to mention his 2021 Heisman-winning campaign isn't a bad attribute to have.

3. DE, Will Anderson Jr - Arizona Cardinals

The Seattle Seahawks will bolster their pass rush by acquiring the most dependable edge rusher in this year's draft class.

While the team generally prioritises specific attributes, such as those possessed by Tyree Wilson, it seems unlikely that they would overlook Anderson's exceptional abilities. This guy is seriously scary.

4. QB, Anthony Richardson - Indianapolis Colts

After shining at the 2023 NFL Combine, Anthony Richardson has earned a top 5 spot despite having a lacklustre collegiate career.

His poor passer rating and low completion percentage, was entirely overshadowed by a 4.43 40 yard dash and an impressive display of arm talent in the throwing portion of the combine.

Richardson has all the physical tools to become a franchise QB wherever he lands, he just needs a few years learning under a great coach and veteran QB, like Nick Foles.

5. DL, Jalen Carter- Seattle Seahawks

As the top-rated player in this year's draft class, you might have expected him to go higher than 5. But some off-field issues and a poor pro day slides Carter down the first round and eventually lands him in Seattle.

Many mock drafters have him below the top ten and some have avoided him altogether, but this guy's tape is undeniable and could bring back the Legion of Boom all by himself...

6. DE, Nolan Smith - Detroit Lions

After putting on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine, Nolan Smith backed up an impressive collegiate career and will pack a punch for any team lucky enough to draft him.

As the Lions offense exploded in almost every game last season, the defense allowed the fifth-most points per game. Aidan Hutchinson was making plays all alone last year, but I expect Detroit to bring in a solid tag-team partner for him this year.

7. CB, Christian Gonzales - Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders could opt to land one of the elite pass rushers in the draft line-up and perhaps they would consider a Myles Murphy or Lukas Van Ness here. However, Christian Gonzalez has insane athletic traits, so pairing him with A.J. Terrell shores up that aspect of the roster.

8. QB, Will Levis - Atlanta Falcons

It's likely that the big-armed passer could be gone already, but if not he'll likely land in Atlanta.

The Kentucky QB is a true gunslinger and great athlete, he'll fit in well with Arthur Smith's scheme, but he won't be blessed with the best weapons in the passing game.

9. DE, Tyree Wilson - Chicago Bears

With the Bears offense pretty much set, Chicago will look to land Tyree Wilson, a lengthy edge rusher that is only scratching the surface of his potential.

Wilson will likely get some strong consideration from Arizona at No. 3, but the Bears are thrilled he makes it here.

10. RB, BIjan Robinson - Philadelphia Eagles

With Miles Sanders making his way to Carolina, Philly are in need of a No.1 runner to lead the ground game that dominated the 2022/23 season.

I know we don't typically see RBs go early these days, but my money's on Robinson making the top 10 as the greatest RB of this class. Because if there's one thing that Nick Sirianni loves to do, it's run the ball.

Another scenario could be trading down for future picks and picking up a different RB, or just letting Boston Scott take the top spot next season.

11. OT, Peter Skoronski - Tennessee Titans

The Titans could go a number of different ways with their pick, including a QB, but with new GM Ran Carthon running things, expect the focus to be on improving the O-line this off season.

As a former running back, Carthon understands the importance of a great line, and the rest of us know just how bad the Titans' run game is. Skoronski will help pave the way for a good season in Tennessee.

12. WR, Jaxon Smith-Njigba - Houston Texans

With their second 1st round pick, I'm betting the Titans take the top WR in the class to give Bryce Young something to work with.

GM Nick Caserio may have snagged Robert Woods from the Titans, but Smith-Njigba should start as WR1 in Houston.

13. DE, Myles Murphy - New York Jets

A strong defense gets even stronger. The Jets are set inside with Quinnen Williams and Murphy should serve as a great addition to an already impressive pass rushing line.

There is an argument for Mekhi Becton, who is thought to be getting in shape this offseason, so the Jets could theoretically move forward with him instead, but Myles Murphy takes the spot for me here.

14. OT, Paris Johnson Jr - New England Patriots

The Patriots require a dynamic player on the perimeter, and they are counting on Paris Johnson Jr to become exactly that.

The offensive tackle performance was up and down in 2022, and this promising youngster from Ohio State is competent enough to begin playing right from the first day.

15. S, Brian Branch - Green Bay Packers

Brian Branch is a versatile prospect with strong instincts, who could take on a variety of roles within the Green Bay defense.

In the event that the coaching staff decides to entrust him with the task, he is capable of effectively communicating the defense to the rest of the team.

16. CB, Devon Witherspoon - Washington Commanders

To lessen the pressure on their first round pick, Washington has already bolstered its patchy offensive line with a few new additions.

As a result, the Commanders can now focus on addressing a different need in the secondary, potentially with a player possessing all the skills a starting NFL corner needs.

17. CB, Joey Porter Jr - Pittsburgh Steelers

It looks like Joey Porter Jr's legacy could begin where his father's did - at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although Patrick Peterson is not a sustainable choice, the Steelers have enlisted him for the new season and he'll be a hugely valuable asset for the rookie venturing into the league.

18. DL, Calijah Kancey - Detroit Lions

I think Detroit continues to bolster their lacklustre defense with pick number 18.

Calijah Kancey may be considered undersized, but his highlight reel speaks for itself. GM Brad Holmes will be hoping Kancey can pay off like his Aaron Donald pick during his time in LA. Kancey may not possess Donald's abilities, but the Lions will still be enhancing their pass rush with a player who can quickly penetrate gaps and disrupt the backfield.

19. OG, O'Cyrus Torrence - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After Shaq Mason was traded to Houston, Tampa Bay was left with a gap in their offensive line.

The acquisition of Baker Mayfield suggests that the team is committed to contending in the current season, yet the condition of the offensive line poses a significant worry so Torrence makes sense for their pick here.

20. CB, Deonte Banks - Seattle Seahawks

The Hawks need a corner that can keep up with this year's breakout star Tariq Woolen - lucky for Seattle, both can run a 4.3 or faster.

Banks possesses all the traits for a great DB, but he'll need some of Pete Carroll's wisdom and a few lessons from Woolen to make an impact in the big league early.

21. OT, Darnell Wright - Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles has chosen an offensive lineman in the first round for three years in a row.

While this may pose some financial challenges if they all perform well and earn a second contract, it's worth investing in the protection of Justin Herbert. After all, you can never have too much protection for your star quarterback.

22. WR, Zay Flowers - Baltimore Ravens

GM Eric DeCosta's recent statement about the Baltimore Ravens' need for improved wide receivers could not be more true. We all witnessed Lamar Jackson struggle to get rid of the ball to anyone other than Mark Andrews and honestly, he deserves more.

Fortunately, Zay Flower's could be the perfect addition alongside As Mark Andrews, who currently serves as the top receiving option.

23. WR, Jordan Addison - Minnesota Vikings

The departure of two-time Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen means that the Vikings will have to depend on T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn to divert attention from Justin Jefferson in the upcoming season.

If any team is capable of locking down Jefferson, the Vikings' current group of receivers will not be enough to compete into the postseason. However, if the Vikings were to acquire a YAC specialist like Jordan Addison, who can create havoc both short and deep, they would potentially possess the most electrifying unit of pass-catchers in the NFL.

24. DT, Bryan Bresee - Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville could use some help on their D-line with their secondary already being a highlight of their defensive scheme.

Bresee should be able to use his toughness in the interior to help unleash the Jags pass rushers off the edge and also disrupt the run game.

25. WR, Quentin Johnston - New York Giants

Now that QB Daniel Jones is secured for the long term, it's crucial to provide him with support on the perimeter.

Johnston, being a big target, is likely to integrate well into the Giants' physical offense. Additionally, since Julian Love has left in free agency, it might be wise to consider a defensive back such as Brian Branch for the team.

26. DE, Lukas Van Ness - Dallas Cowboys

Van Ness is expected to seamlessly integrate into the defensive strategy favoured by coordinator Dan Quinn, which involves applying pressure on quarterbacks.

Despite his background as a hockey player, where he received significantly more penalty minutes than he scored goals, Van Ness is determined and unyielding in his pursuit of the opposing team's quarterback.

27. TE, Dalton Kincaid - Buffalo Bills

The priority for Buffalo lies in the receiving abilities of their tight ends rather than their blocking skills. Dalton Kincaid, a smooth and agile athlete, excels at running precise routes and demonstrating a gentle touch to catch the ball and advance upfield promptly.

28. TE, Michael Mayer - Cincinnati Bengals

The best call here, is for Cincy to take the Northern Kentucky native to replace Hayden Hurst.

Michael Mayer is a big target in chain-moving situations, but is also able to positively impact the run game. We know Burrow favours his TE so Hurst' departure will need a replacement.

29. DE, Felix Anudike-Uzomah - New Orleans Saints

With Marcus Davenport's move to Minnesota, the Saints need a complement to their highly productive defensive end Cam Jordan.

Anudike-Uzomah fits the bill as he not only puts pressure on quarterbacks but also disrupts passing plays and causes turnovers. Could he follow in Jordan's footsteps and also become a seven-time Pro Bowler?

30. DT, Mazi Smith - Philadelphia Eagles

Although Fletcher Cox will return on a one-year contract, the Eagles still have a spot open on the line.

Javon Hargrave departed in free agency, and while Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph are still available on the market, I expect them to pick up an elite run stopper and pass rusher in Mazi Smith.

Jordan Davis is expected to take on a more significant role, but given that he lacked full-time play during his NFL rookie season and at Georgia, the addition of Smith may better address a need at defensive tackle.

31. OT, Dawand Jones - Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City is anticipated to shift Jawaan Taylor to the left side following his acquisition in free agency, with the aim of filling the vacancy left by Orlando Brown Jr. However, the departure of Andrew Wylie still necessitates a replacement on the right side.

Darian Kinnard or Lucas Niang could potentially fill the void, but in this particular situation, the team opts for Dawand Jones to hold down that side of the offensive line.