Josh Frey’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft (1.0)

The 2023 NFL Draft Order Is Set
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s officially 2023 NFL mock draft season, and so, this week brings the first of our full first-round mocks of the offseason. In this first one, keep in mind that there are no trades, and everyone will be picking in their original spot.

1. Chicago Bears: Georgia DT Jalen Carter

Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) looks on before the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Will Anderson is probably the most talented prospect in this draft class, but players that can wreak havoc from the interior of the defensive line remain a much harder breed to find. We watched Georgia defenders like Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, and Devonte Wyatt dominate headlines during the 2022 Draft process, but Jalen Carter may be the most talented out of them all. The Bears likely will trade this pick prior to the draft, but they should be ecstatic if they land Carter.

2. Houston Texans: QB Bryce Young

Nov 26, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) beats Auburn cornerback Jaylin Simpson (36) to the end zone for a touchdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

At some point, it’s probably best not to overthink a pick, especially this high in the draft. The Houston Texans are looking to make immediate big changes with new head coach DeMeco Ryans, and they need a new quarterback. There’s an argument to be made for C.J. Stroud, but in my mind, Bryce Young remains the most NFL-ready QB in this draft.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) celebrates after a defensive stop on fourth down in the second half the NCAA Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Cincinnati Bearcats 27-6. Cotton Bowl Cincinnati Bearcats Alabama Crimson Tide Ac 428

Honestly, the Arizona Cardinals are set up perfectly for their first draft pick. J.J. Watt obviously retired last month, but even if the Bears remain in front of them, Arizona is in a terrific spot to grab one of the top two defensive linemen in this class. With the Bears going Carter at No. 1, they get an absolute specimen in Will Anderson.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Kentucky QB Will Levis

Sep 3, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) looks to pass during the second quarter against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

If I were to make a big board (it will happen at some point), I don’t think Will Levis would rank anywhere near No. 4, but he tracks with the sort of quarterback that the Indianapolis Colts like: stocky build, strong arm, and can move around a little bit. A lot can change between now and April, but this seems like the most likely direction for the Colts at this point.

5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Clemson DT Bryan Bresee

Oct 22, 2022; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (11) celebrates sacking Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

This assumes that the Seahawks are fine with bringing Geno Smith back at quarterback, which, they probably should be after the season he just had for them. This is also a team that needs help in the interior of the defensive line, especially with Poona Ford set to hit free agency. Because of that, Bryan Bresee and his ability to disrupt both the pass and run from the interior seems like a logical choice if they don’t trade down.

6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson

Oct 23, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats offensive lineman Cooper Beebe (50) blocks Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive lineman Tyree Wilson (19) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions could need some serious help at linebacker this offseason, but this feels too early, especially considering they have another pick in this round. Instead, they get to pair last year’s No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson with another talented EDGE rusher in Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) shakes hands with Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) following the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Georgia beat Ohio State 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Peach Bowl Ohio State At Georgia

The Raiders are very clearly looking to move off Derek Carr at the quarterback spot, and with Tom Brady retiring, they don’t have a clear solution at the position right now. Enter C.J. Stroud, who would be my QB2 of this draft class.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy

Oct 8, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Myles Murphy (98) rushes against the Boston College Eagles during the second quarter at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons pass-rush simply was nonexistent in 2022, ranking last in pressure rate and 31st in total sacks ahead of only the Chicago Bears. I have my doubts that Myles Murphy fixes that all by himself, but he’s at least a step in the right direction with Grady Jarrett on the interior of the defensive line.

9. Carolina Panthers: Ohio State OT Paris Johnson

Team Buckeye offensive guard Paris Johnson Jr. (77) leaves the field following the Ohio State Buckeyes football spring game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Ohio State Football Spring Game

Anthony Richardson is a popular choice here, and for good reason. Currently, the Panthers have 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral and Jacob Eason on the roster for QBs. That’s it. However, in an attempt to read the tea leaves, general manager Scott Fitterer liked Corral enough to trade up and draft him, and Carolina just hired “QB whisperer” Frank Reich as their head coach. I wonder if this organization has faith that Corral can be a starter for them, and so, why not go get him one of the best offensive tackles in the draft?

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

Oct 8, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Christian Gonzalez (0) against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The rich continue to get richer. The Eagles are playing in the Super Bowl next weekend, and yet they still have a top 10 pick to play with. Because James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson are both set to hit free agency this offseason, it makes sense that the Eagles would use this luxury pick to get a cheap solution that can play multiple positions in the secondary.

Christian Gonzalez scouting report

11. Tennessee Titans: Georgia OT Broderick Jones

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

More than anything, the Tennessee Titans need to fix their offensive line this offseason. Taylor Lewan is entering free agency, and Broderick Jones spent the past two college football seasons being the left tackle for back-to-back national championship teams. He could very well be the immediate solution.

12. Houston Texans (via CLE): TCU WR Quentin Johnston

Vikings Draft Thermometer: WR Quentin Johnston
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs after a catch in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans already got their hopeful QB of the future earlier in the round, and now they give him a dynamic weapon to throw to in Quentin Johnston. It’s hard to imagine Brandin Cooks staying in Houston another season, and they need to fill that void at wide receiver.

Quentin Johnston scouting report

13. New York Jets: QB Anthony Richardson

Vikings Go QB in Sports Illustrated's Latest Mock Draft
Sep 10, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) throws the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are the latest team that really feel like they are “a quarterback away” from being a playoff contender. Zach Wilson hasn’t panned out the way that they hoped over his first two seasons, but they have oodles of young talent all over this roster. With Richardson falling this far, it feels like a good landing spot both for team need and to maximize a raw QB’s potential.

Anthony Richardson scouting report

14. New England Patriots: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Vikings Draft Thermometer: CB Joey Porter Jr.
Sep 18, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) hypes of the fans during the fourth quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Auburn 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s very likely that the Patriots will have to rebuild their secondary with guys like Devin McCourty, Jonathan Jones, and Jabrill Peppers all reaching the end of their contracts. They could also go safety with someone like Brian Branch or Antonio Johnson, but Joey Porter Jr. offers a very physically imposing skillset in the middle of the first round.

Joey Porter Jr. scouting report

15. Green Bay Packers: Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski

Oct 22, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Northwestern Wildcats offensive lineman Peter Skoronski (77) prepares to block Maryland Terrapins linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay (9) during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Some folks may clamor for a wide receiver here, but for whatever reason, the Packers simply don’t take wide receivers in the first round. In fact, they haven’t done so since 2002 when they took Javon Walker out of Florida State. So, Green Bay fills another need on the offensive side of the ball by grabbing offensive tackle Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern.

16. Washington Commanders: Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

Vikings Draft Thermometer: CB Devon Witherspoon
Nov 6, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) celebrates a win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the fourth quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Commanders might have looked to trade up after seeing Anthony Richardson fall out of the top 10, but without any trades in this mock draft, they opt to go get a lockdown cornerback to help rebuild their secondary.

Devon Witherspoon scouting report

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: USC WR Jordan Addison

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass against the Utah Utes in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett showed flashes of being a quality starting QB during his rookie season, and now, to make things a little easier on him, the Steelers go get the shifty wide receiver out of UCS, Jordan Addison.

Jordan Addison scouting report

18. Detroit Lions: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer (87) celebrates a touchdown during the Notre Dame vs. California NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Notre Dame Vs California

The Lions traded away T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings during the season, and part of me suspects that one of the reasons behind that was the fact that this tight end class is extremely deep. With no tight ends coming off the board so far, this selection of Michael Mayer feels like a pretty seamless fit for Detroit.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kelee Ringo has been dropping in some mock drafts recently, but I still like the idea of having a physical cornerback of Ringo’s stature that also possesses supreme athleticism. Tampa Bay could also be in a place where they need to replace both Jamal Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting. We’re again following the philosophy of “don’t overthink it” with this pick.

Kelee Ringo scouting report

20. Seattle Seahawks: Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness

Oct 29, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (91) reacts against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle needs to take pressure off their young secondary by bringing in fresh faces that can get after opposing quarterbacks. They’ve done that here by grabbing two of the more premiere names in the first 20 picks of the draft.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba fends off Utah cornerback Micah Bernard as he races to the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of the 2022 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. 2022-08-23-smith-njigba

Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn’t exactly get the chance to prove that he can be “the” guy during his final season at Ohio State, but he’s still a very talented player, and the Chargers have a need for more consistent wide receiver talent, especially as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams get older.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba scouting report

22. Baltimore Ravens: South Carolina CB Cam Smith

Sep 24, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Cam Smith (9) celebrates an interception against the Charlotte 49ers in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens defense has fallen out of the “elite” category in recent years, ranking in the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed during 2022. Baltimore gets their solution with long, athletic CB Cam Smith.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson LB Trenton Simpson

Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Trenton Simpson (22) reacts after an incomplete pass against the Boston College Eagles during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

It may be an unpopular opinion, but I still think that the Vikings biggest need this offseason lies in their linebacker position. They desperately need to inject speed into that group, and Trenton Simpson is the perfect prospect for that.

Trenton Simpson scouting report

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Utah CB Clark Phillips III

Vikings Draft Thermometer: CB Clark Phillips III
Nov 12, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes cornerback Clark Phillips III (1) warms up prior to a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville could use another cornerback, and while Clark Phillips may bring questions about whether he can play on the outside due to his small size, he is a very physical corner with big upside.

Clark Phillips III scouting report

25. New York Giants: Boston College WR Zay Flowers

Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) against the Syracuse Orange during the second quarter at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Slayton is entering free agency, and even if the Giants bring him back, they could still use a reliable receiver for Daniel Jones to throw to. Zay Flowers consistently was one of the best players in the ACC during his time with Boston College and should fill that role nicely.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Texas RB Bijan Robinson

Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) celebrates a touchdown during the annual Red River Showdown against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 8, 2022. Bijan4

Bijan Robinson is going to go somewhere in the first round of this draft, and the Dallas Cowboys would be a great fit for a workhorse back with Tony Pollard likely to get a lucrative contract in free agency. Say what you will about taking a running back in the first round, but Robinson will be a top-10 RB the second he steps onto an NFL field.

Bijan Robinson scouting report

27. Buffalo Bills: Florida IOL O’Cyrus Torrence

Feb 4, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; American offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence of Florida (56) looks to block National defensive lineman Karl Brooks of Bowling Green (13) during the second half of the Senior Bowl college football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills could be in the market for a running back here, but more importantly, they need help on their offensive line, particularly at guard. O’Cyrus Torrence is one of the best to fill that role, and perhaps he will help Buffalo’s running game improve as well.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Georgia TE Darnell Washington

Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) leaps over Oregon defensive back Bryan Addison (13) during the first half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff NCAA college football game between Oregon and Georgia in Atlanta, on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. News Joshua L Jones

The Bengals once again ran into offensive line trouble in the playoffs due to injury, but maybe they can fix that once and for all by drafting a de facto sixth offensive lineman in Georgia tight end Darnell Washington.

29. New Orleans Saints: Alabama S Brian Branch

Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Brian Branch (14) celebrates his interception against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

If nothing else, Brian Branch is a great value pick at this point in the draft. New Orleans has an aging secondary, particularly at safety with Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye both in their 30s going into the 2023 season.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Army EDGE Andre Carter II

Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) reacts after a play against the Navy Midshipmen during the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

The Chiefs have a knack for valuing highly athletic players in the draft, and they have a need for another pass rusher on their roster. Andre Carter is a bendy EDGE that can help Kansas City out in that department.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) runs the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Again, the Eagles can go just about anywhere they want with this pick. They have a loaded roster with depth all over the place. However, Miles Sanders is entering free agency this offseason, and perhaps the Eagles would opt to draft Jahmyr Gibbs rather than pay their veteran back.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.