2023 Mock Draft - Not Way Too Early, Just Early

  1. Houston Texans - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
    My Top QB for the 2023 class, Stroud is 6'3", 215 lbs, and can really move but not necessarily a dual threat QB by any means, much more of a pocket passer. He struggled as a redshirt freshman in 2021 in his first 2-3 games of action where I had written him off as a serious NFL QB after his second game just due to how poor some of his ball placement was and how erratic he seemed to be despite putting up decent numbers. Well that changed, and it changed quickly. C.J. Stroud is who folks thought Justin Fields was. After their BYE week in week 4, Stroud had 6 games out of 9 starts where he had 0 turnover-worthy plays, a stark departure from his 5 in his first 3 games. He also had 17 big-time throws in that same span and at least 1 in every game. I expect him to improve upon those numbers in 2022. The best part about Stroud was how quickly he got the ball out and how well he did at staying in rhythm and not taking sacks of scrambling out of structure. Unlike Fields, he will operate an NFL offense with efficiency.
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (via Jacksonville) - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
    Everything said above about Stroud in terms of positives could also be said about Young. He runs the offense within structure and is efficient with the ball in his hands and just a very steady leader at the QB position. Young could win the Heisman this year and still fall in the draft, because reaching 200 lbs may be a bit of a challenge for him and he may not be 6 feet tall. He is not on Kyler Murray's level in terms of how thick, accurate, strong and dynamic of a runner Kyler was. Expect him to be the most polarizing player at the top of next year's draft.
  3. Atlanta Falcons - Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama
    The best defensive prospect in my lifetime and of the past 10-20 years. I would honestly not doubt him going #1 overall even if Stroud and Young do everything perfectly, he is that good. He might become the college career tackles for a loss record holder before he can legally go buy a light beer from the local Tuscaloosa bar. Insane. Goes without saying everything about him is freaky, from his athleticism to his work ethic to his leadership.
  4. Seattle Seahawks - Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina
    The most efficient passer in college football right now and an ideal size and strength when compared to his peers in this QB class. I think Pete Carroll and his sports psychology staff will really resonate with McCall and his mentality, a humble but confident young passer who has taken Coastal Carolina to heights it has never reached before. If McCall has another big season and he does it without Isaiah Likely and Jaivon Heiligh, he will be in the conversation for a first round pick.
  5. Chicago Bears - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
    The best WR of the past 5 years not named Ja'Marr Chase. If you have any doubts here, go flip on the 2022 Rose Bowl highlights against Utah. Listed at 6' and 200 lbs, so very close to true alpha size, and has all of the elite advanced metrics you could ask for. Expect a historic season from JSN as he looks to build upon that Rose Bowl performance nd command a >30% target share in an incredibly efficient offense with one of the best QBs in CFB. 2000 yards and 15 TDs would not surprise me and he should be the Biletnikoff winner and in the Heisman chase.
  6. Carolina Panthers - Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
    The top OT right now, I expect a nice progression for Skoronski this year who should be among the most technically sound OTs in this class. He may not be Rashawn Slater, but many will comp him to Slater and Slater's NFL success will help fuel Skoronski up draft boards.
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Philadelphia via New Orleans) - Paris Johnson Jr, OL, Ohio State
    Former 5-star and top OT of his HS class, he moves from RG to his natural LT position. If he balls out at LT, then the positional versatility and recruiting pedigree will make him a top pick.
  8. Detroit Lions - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
    The top 2023 CB as of right now, but Cam Smith could catch him. Ideal size and physicality at the outside CB position and just a great all around player on the Georgia defense. He's got the recruiting pedigree, the early on-field production for an elite, championship winning defense. A better version of Kaiir Elam is the simplest way I have found to describe him so far.
  9. New York Giants - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
    The best pass rusher from Georgia and he plays on the interior. He's getting a lot of top-10 hype and rightfully so based upon his production. A lot will depend on his athletic testing.
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers - Walter Rouse, OL, Stanford
    This is a player who isn't on radars right now, but Rouse is an engineering student at Stanford, so you know he's got a unique brain and intelligence level for the NFL. He pairs that with great length and a 6'6" 320 lb frame that has almost all good weight on it. With that size and how lean he is, I expect him to test quite well athletically and to post a great year with Tanner McKee at QB.
  11. New York Jets - Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
    Potentially the most gifted defensive player in this draft after Will Anderson Jr, Simpson will be on Bruce Feldman's freaks list this fall. He is productive, disruptive and can cover. He's not much smaller than Will Anderson Jr, just an inch shorter and 10 lbs lighter, but he has almost the same level of athleticism but has incredible positional versatility, playing >200 snaps each in the slot and the box and >100 on the EDGE DL. He posted a 88.8 pass rush grade on the EDGE and managed 251 coverage snaps (most from the slot CB position) and didn't give up a single TD in 2021 despite being targeted 30 times. Best comp right now is a better coverage LB version of Micah Parsons without the off-field red flags.
  12. Jacksonville Jaguars (Philadelphia Eagles) - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
    The top HS recruit of 2020 and a very well rounded and early producer for that Clemson defense. Easily a top talent even despite his injury in 2021. Worst case scenario is he falls to the top of second round, but he is a proven talent with size, length and athleticism already validated since HS.
  13. Arizona Cardinals - Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
    The Caridnals need a WR badly after losing Christian Kirk, Deandre Hopkins getting paid big-time and then suspended and aging, and an expiring Hollywood Brown contract. Downs was one of two WRs in the FBS Power-5 last year to command a >40% target share. Commanding that usage in a P5 offense as a true sophomore is very rare. He is going to run sub 4.4 and jump well, and while I was nervous mocking him here due to size concerns I feel much better after how highly Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, and Jahan Dotson went this year. Even if his production falls off this year due to losing Sam Howell, he will still be a top pick due to just how special his true sophomore season usage was.
  14. Tennessee Titans - Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virginia
    Wicks has all the markings of an alpha WR profile for the NFL. 6'1" 205 and elite true sophomore production. 85% of his catches went for a 1D or TD last year. He is coming from a Virginia offense that inflates volume receiving metrics but that is balanced out by the surrounding competition and targets. The Cavaliers had their top 2 TEs get drafted in 2022 and will have a WR and TE get drafted in 2023 (other than Wicks), not to mention their QB Brennan Armstrong will be drafted din 2023. Wicks ran an insane 3.5 YPRR in 2021, and I think everyone is sleeping on him in their current "way too early" mock drafts in favor of guys like Quentin Johnston and Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus (which doesn't make sense to me).
  15. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers) - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
    This is one of those "luxury" picks, but Bijan is one of the best all around RBs to come out and some people's top RB prospect of the decade. Miami has a rebuilt OL and can use the 2023 off-season to put the final touches on the OL. That along with a good year from Tua puts the Dolphins 1 elite RB away from "not having any holes".
  16. New England Patriots - Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
    The best service academy prospect in the modern era. If Bill can draft Cole Strange in the first round, he'd probably trade up for Andre Carter II in the top-10. A former WR out of HS who kept growing and put on weight to become a 6'6" 250 lb OLB with some of the most legit bend I've seen. He was close to leading the country in pressures and sacks last year, look for him to do that again this year as he continues to add muscle to his immature frame. Tons of potential and another Bruce Feldman "freak" most likely.
  17. Las Vegas Raiders - Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia
    Projection here, but he is a tough nosed OT who will bully you in the run game. Recent drafts have shown the NFL is high on guys who can bully in the run game and improve their pass pro. A former #2 overall OT recruit out of HS, he is another first round potential Georgia Bulldog.
  18. Miami Dolphins - Walker Parks, OL, Clemson
    Parks posted 99th percentile strength and upper body explosion numbers in HS while weighing 275 lbs. With another 25-35 lbs of good weight on his frame and legit athleticism, I expect Parks to be a top OT in 2022 and to be highly sought after come draft time.
  19. Baltimore Ravens - Rakim Jarrett, WR, Maryland
    Cloning isn't possible, but Rakim Jarret is even better than a DJ Moore clone. I expect a breakout season from Jarrett with the only thing eating into his production becoming among the top-5 in CFB is possibly competition from Dontay Demus.
  20. Minnesota Vikings - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
    Everyone has known about this golden domer for 2 years and for 2 years he has been tabbed as a first round pick. The prototype and the complete TE who could play in any era. He may not have the elite receiving upside of a Travis Kelce or Kyle Pitts, but he has the highest floor of any non-Will Anderson Jr player in this draft. A top-15 TE day 1 his rookie season.
  21. Dallas Cowboys - Antonio Johnson, S/CB, Texas A&M
    Expect Johnson to gain hype throughout the season and get lumped into this Kyle Hamilton, Isaiah Simmons sort of hype range. Unusually tall and long and solid in coverage off ball while being extremely physical and giving good run support. Jerry loves his Texas players, and this guy has defensive star written all over him.
  22. Indianapolis Colts - Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
    There are few teams that covet length more than the Colts, and Gervon Dexter fits the billing. A great recruit and productive and disruptive interior defender for Florida in the SEC.
  23. Kansas City Chiefs - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
    Cam Smith will compete for CB1 and will be tabbed as the best man cover CB in the 2023 draft with some of the best ball production and ball skills.
  24. Washington Commanders - Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
    He would have been Safety 2 potentially in the 2022 class, contingent upon athletic testing. He is the leader of what will be a very good Alabama defense competing for a national championship.
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
    The tope HS recruit of the class of 2019, even above Kayvon Thibodeaux. I think he may be Bruce Feldman's #1 "freak" this year. He actually has some bend, but is small for the position.
  26. Cincinnati Bengals - Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
    A rare LSU to Alabama transfer, Ricks has the pedigree, length and ball production skills to launch himself back into the top CB discussion after a year of being removed from the discussion.
  27. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) - Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn
    2023 will be considered a banner RB year. Bigsby has had a lot of hype on him since HS and has produced well as a workhorse in the SEC. After missing out on Breece Hall in 20221 (allegedly), the Texans get their bell-cow here.
  28. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
    Once again weight concerns seem to not be a thing anymore so as such Addison is almost certainly a first round lock barring a terrible season or injury. Considering the lac of receiving talent at USC, I expect Addison to command a nice target share and put up numbers. I am curious about his athletic testing and true size.
  29. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) - B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
    Potentially too low for Ojulari as he was one of the top EDGE rushers in the SEC this past year. In HS he had a nearly 43" vertical at 222 lbs. An explosive EDGE, but run defense and elite level stats are missing currently from his profile in addition to being undersized.
  30. Buffalo Bills - Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State
    The most "fun to watch" OL in the draft. Might be a guard at the next level, but boy is he THICK and nasty. The best production of this OT class while playing LT, however his height and length are concerns for the NFL level. I hope Buffalo does not draft him, for the Jets sake.
  31. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
    He is what people think Drake London is.
  32. Los Angeles Chargers - Jaheim Bell, TE/WR/RB, South Carolina
    Bell is like if you put Deebo Samuel into Evan Engram's body and athleticism. He will be a cheat code and the most unique offensive weapon in CFB in 2022. He breaks tackles and creates explosive plays at an insane rate on a somewhat limited sample size from 2021, but if that production is scalable.. Watch out. Legit better pro prospect than Deebo if he wasn't a "tweener" size that could ultimately tank his stock outside of the top 50 picks.

Bonus All-Name team addition: Demon Clowney, EDGE, Ole Miss, cousin of Jadeveon Clowney

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