NFL mock draft 2023: New projection for first round on draft week

We finally made it dear reader.

It is officially draft week.

In just a few short nights, the Carolina Panthers will officially be on the clock, and the months of breathless speculation will come to an end.

You know what else will come to an end?

Mock drafts.

But since we still have some time until the real thing, let’s kick off draft week with the SBNation Mock of Integrity. Four of our writers (Joseph Acosta, Mark Schofield, Ricky O’Donnell and James Dator) put on their general manager hats and worked their way through the draft. Here are the picks, with some reasoning from each “general manager.”

1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

GM: James Dator

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Young’s frame, particularly his lack of weight, is a very real concern. However, as we draw closer to the draft it’s becoming clear Young has a very real chance of becoming an elite franchise quarterback. He’s easily the best improviser who can produce out of structure. This buys Carolina time to solidify their receivers.

2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

The Texans can thank Lovie Smith for blowing their chance to draft their preferred QB, Bryce Young, by winning the last game of the regular season. It feels like Houston still has to go with a signal caller, and Stroud’s size, accuracy, and college production gives him a leg up on the other options. He feels like both a high-floor choice at QB and one that can still have a high ceiling if they put the right pieces around him.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

GM: Mark Schofield

There has been a lot of smoke the past few weeks about teams preferring Tyree Wilson as the top pass rusher in the draft class. Is that just pre-draft blustering, or is there actual truth to the idea? From where I sit, however, Anderson is EDGE1. If you stay and make a pick Arizona, don’t overthink this.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

GM: Joseph Acosta

Get off the QB carousel

5. Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

GM: James Dator

This pick is all gravy for Seattle. Going with Jalen Carter is tempting here, but I think EDGE is more of an impact position. Players like Wilson don’t come along often, and the Seahawks are too good to be allowed to get him. Win/win.

6. Detroit Lions: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

Carter was viewed as a consensus top-five pick in the draft before character concerns started popping up in the wake of his reckless driving charge. It’s hard to know how much stock to put into those off-field red flags without speaking to him, but I’ll just go by the tape, which shows the type of dominant force on the interior defensive line that doesn’t come around every year. Carter blows up plays routinely even if he doesn’t always finish them. The Lions’ front seven would suddenly look terrifying with him in the middle.

Texas Christian Horned Frogs v Georgia Bulldogs

Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

GM: Mark Schofield

Quarterback could be in play here for a number of different reasons, making Will Levis an option for the Raiders. But Las Vegas has needs beyond the quarterback spot, and wit Jimmy Garoppolo in place, they do not need to force a pick if there are other available options. Considering the Raiders have a glaring need on the defensive side of the football, Christian Gonzelez is a great fit for them.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

GM: Joseph Acosta

Baby Jaire Alexander and AJ Terrell is LOCKDOWN

9. Chicago Bears: Paris Johnson, Jr., OT, Ohio State

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

It’s all about building around quarterback Justin Fields for the Bears. Chicago added a true No. 1 wide receiver in D.J. Moore in their trade down from the No. 1 overall pick, and expect to get big production out of fellow pass catcher Chase Claypool this season. Now it’s about protecting their franchise QB. Johnson is a standout offensive line prospect who can play several positions. Expect the Bears to slot him in at right tackle if he’s the pick, but he can take over the left side if Braxton Jones doesn’t develop as hoped. Chicago will hope Johnson can both be the best player available, and fill the team’s biggest need.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

GM: James Dator

It’s pure BPA for the Eagles. Skoronski can play inside and out, giving them someone who can plug in right now — and potentially take over for Lane Johnson in the future. Sustained success is built with smart picks like this.

11. Tennessee Titans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

GM: Mark Schofield

As far as potential landing spots go, this could be a great one for Levis. He has experience coming from a “pro-style” offense and running the play-action game that we expect to be featured in Tennessee this season and beyond. The Titans offense under Tannehill has been at its best in the passing game working off of play-action, and Levis would make a smooth transition to such a system given the offenses he played in the past two seasons.

12. Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

GM: Joseph Acosta

Best years of football may be ahead of him, not a finished product right now. SF prioritized EDGE play too

13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

GM: James Dator

I’m working under the assumption that an Aaron Rodgers trade doesn’t happen. This team’s defense is solid, as are their skill positions. Now they just need to build protection, and Jones is a great pick here.

14. New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

GM: Mark Schofield

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I am a New England Patriots fan. I am manifesting right now. Let me manifest.

15. Green Bay Packers: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

Only four teams generated fewer sacks than the Packers last year. Green Bay needs to beef up the defensive line, and Murphy feels like a safe bet to do that even if he doesn’t have a superstar ceiling.

16. Washington Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

GM: Joseph Acosta

Long, athletic, fits their need on the outside and what they ask of their CBs

17. Pittsburgh Steelers, Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

GM: James Dator

The Steelers’ would have LOVED to get Joey Porter Jr. here, but Cam Smith is more than a consolation prize. Smith is long and instinctual, and the rough edges to his game can easily be filed down in Pittsburgh.

18. Detroit Lions: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

Detroit knows how it wants to play: getting after opponents with a ferocious pass rush. Smith gives Dan Campbell another weapon to unleash: while he’s a bit undersized, Smith has elite speed and agility to put pressure on the QB.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

GM: Mark Schofield

There are a few different directions the Buccaneers could go with this selection, and one of my favorite options for them is Nolan Smith, as the Georgia pass rusher is one of my favorite EDGE players in the draft. But with Smith just coming off the board with the previous pick, we go in a different direction. Tristian Wirfs is apparently making the move to left tackle, opening the door for Wright to slide into the right tackle slot.

20. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

GM: Joseph Acosta

Can play the slot, gives the offense some more juice

Miami Dolphins: Forfeited selection

GM: Tom Wambsgans

We did obtain a quote from GM Wambsgans: “There are no fine wines in prison.”

Thank you Tom.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

GM: James Dator

The Chargers already have some big-bodied receivers, but lack a slot YAC monster to round out their passing attack. Flowers offers a new element to the offense out of the gate, and has the ability to be an outside speedster after some time in the league.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

Johnston was getting top-10 hype early in the year for his combination of size and big-play potential. The Ravens need to stop ignoring their receiver corps, and this would be a nice talent infusion for Lamar Jackson if he’s around long-term.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU

Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

23. Minnesota Vikings: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

GM: Mark Schofield

There has been a lot of smoke around the idea of the Vikings adding at quarterback here, even some thought that Minnesota trades up to acquire a quarterback. But with only five picks at their disposal, giving up draft capital might be a price they are unwilling to pay. Which means with Hendon Hooker staring us in the face, he is an option. While I thought about Hooker here, CB is an issue for Minnesota, and Banks can provide a big boost to their secondary for 2023 and beyond.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, S/Ni/Everything, Alabama

GM: Joseph Acosta

OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD (manifesting)

25. New York Giants: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

GM: James Dator

A run on corners forces the Giants’ hand a little bit here. Leonard Williams is a free agent next season, and keeping the line sharp is a big priority. Bresee is good value here.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

The Cowboys desperately need a No. 2 WR behind CeeDee Lamb. Hyatt has great speed and just seems like a classic Cowboys pick.

27. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

GM: Mark Schofield

FINE I’LL GIVE PERHAPS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE DRAFT TO THE BUFFALO BILLS AND JUST BURY THE PATRIOTS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS BUT I DON’T HAVE TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT.

(Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’ll lower the volume now).

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

GM: Joseph Acosta

Boston College v Notre Dame

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Versatile TE who can be a plus in the run game while keeping Cincy on schedule in the passing game.

29. New Orleans Saints: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

GM: James Dator

There are some other pressing needs, but the Saints won’t be able to get Kincaid by their next pick looking at the top of the second round. He’s Kincaid a modern, pass-catching TE who is a major threat on offense, and brings another needed weapon with Michael Thomas being a question mark moving forward.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

GM: Ricky O’Donnell

Kancey has short arms, but he’s super fast for an interior defensive linemen. The Eagles would be a safe bet to find a way to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

GM: Mark Schofield

Adding Charles Omenihu in free agency to pair with George Karlaftis, their first-round pick a season ago, gives Kansas City a starting set of pass rushers. But in today’s NFL you can never have enough off the edge, and Ojulari is one of my favorite EDGE players in the class. With an explosive first step and the ability to dip and bend around the edge, he can be an impact player as a rookie for the Chiefs.

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