Nic Rohloff’s Official 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Las Vegas Trades up, 4 QB’s Go In The Top 11 Picks
Welcome to the 2023 NFL Draft. The pre-draft process has been really fascinating this year, and we still don’t know how Thursday’s first round will shake out. What will the Texans do? Will C.J. Stroud really slide in the draft? Where do Anthony Richardson and Will Levis go? The quarterbacks have muddied the water when it comes to the 2023 NFL Draft. Don’t be mistaken, even though there are a million questions when it comes to the quarterbacks in this draft, the first round is loaded with talent across the board.
This is a draft where you can find defensive studs. This cornerback class is among some of the best in recent memory, and the defensive lineman in this draft are FREAKS. The question mark on wide receivers will come into play, and there isn’t a consensus number one guy. Nevertheless, we have a 2023 NFL Mock Draft to do. I correctly mocked eight picks for the 2022 NFL Draft, so let’s hope to keep that momentum going for 2023. For clarification, I have made these picks based on what I think is GOING to happen. Not what SHOULD happen. I included one trade for this year’s mock, which I did not do last year. Let’s get into it…
- Carolina Panthers (via Chicago) : Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Panthers made the blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears to move up eight spots in this year’s draft so they could select their next franchise quarterback. Bryce Young is undersized, but exceled at Alabama thanks to his accuracy, and ability to make plays out of the pocket. Young could be the best QB in the NFC South right from the start.
2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
I buy the rumor that the Texans don’t love any of the quarterbacks outside of Young, and will elect to go with the best defensive player in the draft. Even though Will Levis is the betting favorite to go second overall, I have the Texans grabbing their defensive anchor, hopefully, for the next 10+ years.
3. Las Vegas Raiders (via Arizona): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
I believe the Raiders trade up with the Cardinals to grab their quarterback of the future. The Raiders could easily get out of Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract after one season, so that isn’t stopping them from grabbing Stroud. The Raiders send picks #7, #70, #100 and their 2024 1st round pick to the Cardinals for #3 and #180. This selection provides insurance for head coach Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to see it out with ‘their guy.’
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Colts need their quarterback of the future. Chris Ballard’s job depends on this year’s draft selection. Both Levis and Anthony Richardson are projects. Executives believe Levis has the slight edge over Richardson. Levis also seems like a Chris Ballard type of quarterback. Will Levis get Ballard fired or extended? Flip a coin.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Carter has had some concerns during this pre-draft process. His arrest shortly after winning the national championship, and the fact he came to his pro day overweight and out of shape. With that all being said, you could argue Carter is the most talented player in this draft regardless of position. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks take best player available and hope Carter can transform that Seattle defense.
6. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Lions could go many ways with their first of two picks in the first round. I have them taking the freak-athlete that is Tyree Wilson. Wilson is my favorite defensive player in this draft, and I believe he will be the best overall player that comes from the 2023 NFL Draft. Pair that up with Aidan Hutchinson on the defensive-line, and opposing quarterbacks will be having nightmares.
7. Arizona Cardinals (via Las Vegas): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
It has been rumored that Kyler Murray wants the Cardinals to draft Paris Johnson Jr. Should they give into his demands? No, but it does make sense to grab the best pure offensive tackle in the draft to protect their franchise quarterback coming off an injury. The trade back from the 3rd pick allows them to gain future assets and take a position of need.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson is considered the safest pick in this year’s draft and could be an all-pro running back from the start. Robinson is also the betting favorite to go 8th overall. I buy what Vegas is selling, and Arthur Smith has a new weapon to deploy in the backfield to help Desmond Ridder. Robinson would compliment pass catchers Kyle Pitts and Drake London.
9. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Wright played right tackle for the Tennessee Volunteers during the 2022 season and improved his stock with an excellent season. The Bears have a massive hole to fill at the right tackle position, and Chicago needs to be able to protect Justin Fields so he can get the ball to his new weapon, D.J. Moore. Ryan Poles gets what he wants, an athletic offensive lineman to slide into the right tackle position.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans): Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
The Eagles have a massive hole to fill at right guard with Isaac Seumalo departing in NFL Free Agency. Skoronski is the most polished offensive lineman in this draft, but his short arms have scouts wondering if he will have to kick inside and play guard. He would shine at right guard for the Philadelphia Eagles.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
I believe Richardson could easily go top-10 when Thursday night comes around. The
Titans drafted Malik Willis last year, but he was an absolute disaster, and Ryan Tannehill could be moved via trade. New Titans general manager Ran Carthon drafts his franchise quarterback, and hopes he strikes gold with the boom-or-bust quarterback prospect out of Florida.
12. Houston Texans (via Cleveland): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
I could easily see the Texans going with Jaxon Smith-Njigba here, but I have them going with the best player available. Texans load up on defense with their first two picks in the draft, and get prepared for the 2024 NFL Draft. Witherspoon and Derick Stingley Jr. have the potential to be an elite secondary in Houston.
13. Green Bay Packers (via New York Jets): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Well, it finally happened. Aaron Rodgers is no longer a Green Bay Packer. The Packers need to help new quarterback Jordan Love, so they grab WR1 with pick 13. Smith-Njigba is a technician, and will create separation wherever he is lined up on the field. Should be a no-doubter to help Love get going in Green Bay.
14. New England Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The New England Patriots sprint to the podium to announce the selection of Gonzalez. New England needs help outside at the corner position especially with going against Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, and Tua six times a year. Gonzalez should slide to the outside allowing Jon Jones, Marcus Jones, and Jack Jones to be shifted around from play-to-play.
15. New York Jets (via Green Bay): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Aaron Rodgers is a New York Jet. The Jets will need to keep the 39-year-old upright if they want to see the best of him. Jones is the best offensive tackle on the board, and the Jets don’t think too long about this selection.
16. Washington Commanders: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Commanders are stuck in a tough position with this pick, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they elect to trade back. They get no callers and add another weapon to the offense to help Sam Howell, who is slotted to be the quarterback in 2023. Kincaid had 35 touchdowns in four full seasons of play at Utah.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Doesn’t this just feel right? The Steelers need to add more talent in their secondary, and they take the son of Steelers legend Joey Porter. Joey Porter Jr. is my favorite corner in this draft, and I view him as an outside corner that can really battle against lengthy wide receivers. Porter Jr. has lengthy arms, and uses that to his advantage in press and man-to-man coverage.
18. Detroit Lions: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer was one of the most productive tight ends in college football history, putting up career numbers of: 180 receptions, 2,099 yards, and 18 touchdowns in three full seasons. Detroit traded away T.J. Hockenson during the 2022 season, and they replace him with the Notre Dame tight end, ‘Baby Gronk.’
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have an interesting decision to make. Do they go full rebuild? Or do they continue to stockpile the best players they can and land a quarterback soon to replace Tom Brady? Here, they take the best player available in Nolan Smith. Smith is an uber-athletic EDGE who can fit into any defensive system. Smith ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and will be a beast from day one.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Seattle’s defense really struggled down the stretch of the season, and you saw them get exposed by the 49ers on wild card weekend. I had them adding Jalen Carter with their first pick in the draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them doubling down in the first round. Jalen Carter, Myles Murphy, and Dre’mont Jones would be quite the trio to lead the Seahawks defensive line.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The Chargers signed JC Jackson last year in NFL Free Agency, and they did not see any returns in year one. In a division with Patrick Mahomes, Davante Adams, and Jerry Jeudy, you need a surplus of cornerbacks. Banks is a freak athlete, who ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Chargers add more talent to their secondary in hopes of slowing down Patrick Mahomes and company.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
This feels like a no brainer if the draft shakes out like this on Thursday. The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. to help frustrated quarterback Lamar Jackson, but that is not enough. OBJ and Rashod Bateman playing on the outside, and Zay Flowers cooking in the slot is a good recipe for a difficult offense to defend.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Brian Branch is one of the most versatile players in the draft. He could play safety, outside corner, or a big-nickel cornerback. Either way, the Vikings will need to replace an aging Harrison Smith, and Branch will be a good heir to the long-time Viking.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
The Jacksonville Jaguars are so dang close to being among the top-tier teams in the AFC. The defense just needs to catch up to their offense. Forbes is a ball-hawking corner who scored six, yes six, defensive touchdowns throughout his career at Mississippi State. The Jaguars hope they strike gold with a CB1 late in the first round.
25. New York Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Daniel Jones got the bag this offseason, and the Giants need to continue to surround him with weapons if they want to see a return on investment. New York traded for tight end Darren Waller, and signed Paris Campbell. They still need more. Draft Addison who had a productive college career at Pittsburgh, before transferring to USC to finish up his collegiate career.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Kancey is a super-undersized defensive tackle. What he lacks in size, he makes up for it with his athleticism. The Cowboys have a need along the defensive line, and they take a shot with Kancey. Some have compared Kancey to Ed Oliver, and the Cowboys would be thrilled with adding this talent with pick number 26.
27. Buffalo Bills: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Gabe Davis was a massive letdown in the 2022 season, and one thing become clear, Josh Allen needs more weapons to compete with Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. Insert Quentin Johnston. Johnston posted a 34.8% contested catch rate despite being six-foot-two-inches, which is why I am low on the TCU wideout. The Bills take a shot to create a wide receiving corps of Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Quentin Johnston.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
This would just be unfair. Darnell Washington is a unicorn. Washington sits at six-foot-seven-inches and 272 pounds. Washington could work as a sixth blocker at times, or he could be a vertical threat in the middle of the field creating mismatches. The Bengals offense would be unfair if they add Washington, but the rich get richer.
29. New Orleans Saints (via San Francisco): Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
The New Orleans Saints lost David Onyemata, Kaden Elliss, and Marcus Davenport in this year’s NFL Free Agency period. New Orleans will need to replenish at the pass-rushing department, and Van Ness will help them do that alongside stopping the run. Not a flashy pick, but could be one of the most impactful first round selections.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
Javon Hargrave left Philadelphia in favor for San Francisco in free agency. The Eagles use their second first round pick to replenish their defensive line. Adebawore can play on the outside and the inside for the Eagles. Adebawore needs some polishing but could pay dividends in the next couple years.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
The final selection in the first round is Will McDonald IV. The Chiefs could go wide receiver, but the board dictates Kansas City looking elsewhere. McDonald could be part of the solution to replace Frank Clark, who is still a free agent. McDonald possesses a long & athletic frame, who could be a massive help at getting after Joe Burrow and Josh Allen in the playoffs.