What a difference a year makes.
After debating how many quarterbacks could go in the first round (shoutout to Kenny Pickett for being the only one), we're now debating how many quarterbacks could go No. 1 overall. And depending on who you ask, you could receive three different answers: Alabama's , Ohio State's or Kentucky's . That in itself is a huge reason to get excited for the 2023 NFL Draft.
With these heralded quarterback prospects should come chaos at the top of the draft, especially with the Justin Fields?! (Just kidding. Unless...) Teams will absolutely be willing to give up a ton of draft capital to jump the QB-needy Texans and get the future of their franchise.. Do they stay? Do they trade back? Do they trade
With this being my first mock draft of 2023, we're going to keep it simple: no trades. As we go through the process, though, expect some team shifting as we delve into different scenarios before ultimately trying to figure out how night one of the event will go in late April. After all, that's the ultimate goal: to predict which prospects these franchises will take.
One more note: There will only be 31 first-round picks this year because the Dolphins were stripped of their selection due to tampering.
Now let's get started!
For more extensive draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. (Check out the latest episode below.)
Round 1 - Pick 1
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'3" / 300 lbs
GM Ryan Poles said earlier this week that the Bears would have to be "absolutely blown away" to take a quarterback No. 1 overall. In my opinion, that's a smoke screen as Chicago tries to persuade as many QB-needy teams as possible to move up. Ultimately, the Bears likely trade back, but with the draft still three-plus months away -- plus the fact that multiple potential suitors have to hire new head coaches -- let's keep them at No. 1 for now. They can't go wrong with Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr., but Carter's ability to dominate from the interior makes him the top selection.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 194 lbs
The Texans should absolutely be nervous about a team jumping them for a quarterback, but in this mock they get their guy. And that guy is Bryce Young, whose poise, vision and accuracy outweigh his historically small stature (relative to successful NFL quarterbacks). Some teams may be scared away by Young's lack of size, but his skillset warrants being the first quarterback taken.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 243 lbs
It doesn't matter who the new GM and HC are come draft time: getting Will Anderson Jr. at No. 3 is a steal. He'll immediately upgrade a defense that just lost future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt to retirement.
Round 1 - Pick 4
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 218 lbs
The Colts have swung and missed (and missed again, and missed once more) at quarterback since Andrew Luck shockingly retired right before the 2019 season. After trying their luck with veterans via free agency, they're now picking high enough in the draft where it would be surprising if they didn't select a signal-caller. C.J. Stroud showed in the College Football Playoff semifinals that he's not just a pocket passer, beating the nation's best defense with his legs time and time again as he firmly established himself in the QB1 conversation.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 5
Myles Murphy DL
Clemson • Jr • 6'5" / 275 lbs
The Seahawks need to beef up their defensive front, and the best defensive prospect available at this point is Myles Murphy. His size (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) and athleticism will make him a disruptor wherever he lines up.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 6
Kelee Ringo CB
Georgia • Soph • 6'2" / 210 lbs
The Lions defense played much better the second half of the season, but it still needs more upgrades if it's going to become a consistent contender in the NFC North. Kelee Ringo's size, length and speed overshadow his lackluster interception total (four the past two seasons), although he did combined for 15 pass breakups in that span.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Ohio State • Jr • 6'6" / 310 lbs
With the Raiders reportedly exploring trade options for Derek Carr -- and releasing him if none come to fruition -- a new QB will be under center in Las Vegas in 2023. My guess is it's a veteran, since the Raiders have the offensive skill players to compete in the AFC. With that in mind, Las Vegas adds protection for its future signal-caller in the form of Paris Johnson Jr., who was dominant at left tackle for the Buckeyes this season after moving over from right guard.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • Sr • 6'6" / 275 lbs
The Falcons ranked last in the NFL in sack percentage in 2022 (3.61%), which was actually better than their performance in 2021 (3.03%). Simply put, they need an alpha edge rusher to make plays in the backfield. Tyree Wilson, who racked up a combined 27.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks the past two seasons at Texas Tech, can be that player.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • Sr • 6'3" / 232 lbs
The Panthers need a franchise quarterback in the worst way, and they'll fall in love with Will Levis' traits. Despite a frustrating season due to a porous offensive line, lackluster skill players and him being banged up, Levis has the skill set to to become a really good NFL quarterback.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 10
Penn State • Jr • 6'2" / 194 lbs
With James Bradberry set to become a free agent, the Eagles will likely be looking for a younger, cheaper alternative. They find it with Joey Porter Jr., a long cornerback with NFL pedigree.
Round 1 - Pick 11
USC • Jr • 6'0" / 175 lbs
The Titans have shown they're not willing to pay top dollar at wide receiver (see: A.J. Brown), and while they took Treylon Burks 18th overall last April, they still need more firepower in the passing game. Jordan Addison's pristine route-running and ability to gain consistent separation will complement Burks' style well.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 12
TCU • Jr • 6'4" / 215 lbs
Pairing Quentin Johnston, potentially the No. 1 wide receiver in this class, with Bryce Young would immediately provide this offense with some firepower, especially with running back Dameon Pierce coming off an impressive rookie campaign. Not only would opposing defensive backs have to keep up with Johnston, but they'd have to deal with his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame with the ball in the air.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Northwestern • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
If there was one team most likely to go after a veteran quarterback, I'd pick the Jets. I mean, the owner just said that was the "missing piece" and that he'd "absolutely" pay up for one. With that in mind, whomever the Jets sign needs to be protected, and with Mekhi Becton's injury history, getting a top offensive line prospect would be smart. Peter Skoronski's measurables are nothing to write home about, but he's versatile and technically sound. He'll get the job done at a high level.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Georgia • Soph • 6'4" / 310 lbs
The Patriots could stand to bolster the offensive tackle spot with Isaiah Wynn set to become a free agent and veteran Trent Brown coming off a disappointing campaign. And even if Broderick Jones doesn't start right away, he'll add quality depth before establishing himself as a force up front. He has all the tools to succeed; he just needs to refine them.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 265 lbs
Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, doesn't matter. Whoever is under center for Green Bay in 2023 would benefit from Michael Mayer's blocking prowess, reliable hands and ability to get open in the biggest of moments. He'd be an immediate upgrade over impending free agent Robert Tonyan.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Cam Smith CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'0" / 188 lbs
The Commanders have a formidable front -- especially with Chase Young being back -- and linebacker Jamin Davis made significant strides in his second season. What the stout defense doesn't have, however, is a shutdown corner. Kendall Fuller is a nice player, but he's not going to consistently contain the likes of CeeDee Lamb and A.J. Brown. Cam Smith could develop into that type of cover guy, as his length and instincts will translate well to the next level.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'5" / 315 lbs
As long as T.J. Watt is healthy, the Steelers defense will be just fine. Anton Harrison will help ensure Kenny Pickett stays clean in the pocket, Najee Harris has holes to run through, and George Pickens has time to get open.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Bryan Bresee DL
Clemson • Soph • 6'5" / 305 lbs
The No. 1 high school player in the country a few years ago didn't have his best season in 2022, but the Clemson product still has everything you want in a formidable interior disruptor. Having Bryan Bresee and Aidan Hutchinson along the line will alleviate pressure on the second two levels of the defense.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Florida • Soph • 6'4" / 232 lbs
Geno Smith deserves to be re-signed as the Seahawks starting quarterback for 2023. But after that? Who knows. So, the Seahawks use the second of their first-round picks to select Anthony Richardson, the super athletic yet very raw product out of Florida. He'll need to sit for at least a year, but if he can develop some consistency as a passer, his physical ability will make him a difficult dual-threat to defend.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 200 lbs
It's looking more and more like the Giants and Daniel Jones are going to agree to some sort of extension. To truly know if he's the franchise quarterback, they have to surround him with high-caliber skill players. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who may have been the consensus No. 1 wide receiver if he didn't get hurt, fits the bill.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Texas • Jr • 6'0" / 220 lbs
While still productive, J. K. Dobbins just doesn't look right after all of his knee issues. If the Ravens retain Lamar Jackson and draft Bijan Robinson, they'll form a duo that no defense is going to have an easy time containing.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Florida • Jr • 6'5" / 347 lbs
When you have Justin Herbert and are in a division with Maxx Crosby and Chris Jones, having quality offensive linemen is imperative. O'Cyrus Torrence was a standout at Florida after transferring from Louisiana, and there's good reason to believe he'll continue to improve at the NFL level.
Round 1 - Pick 26
LSU • Jr • 6'0" / 205 lbs
Boutte is an interesting prospect. He dominated in 2020, was limited to six games in 2021 due to injuries and then endured a slow start this past season. He ended up finishing relatively strong but decided to return to LSU for another season ... that is until he changed his mind and declared for the draft weeks later. Regardless of his roller coaster of a college career, Boutte flashed his potential as an after-the-catch playmaker with a penchant for finding the end zone (14 touchdowns in first 16 career games). Without a clear No. 2 wide receiver, Dallas could certainly use someone like him.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Oregon • Soph • 6'2" / 201 lbs
Christian Gonzalez was a decent prospect at Colorado, but his lack of playmaking ability was a tad concerning. Gonzalez put those concerns to rest this past season at Oregon, when he recorded a team-high four interceptions to go along with seven pass breakups. The Bengals could plug in Gonzalez for impending free agent Eli Apple and not miss a beat.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Illinois • Jr • 6'0" / 180 lbs
Devon Witherspoon, coming from one of the best defenses in all of college football, will bring a tenacity and physicality that Minnesota could use in the secondary, especially with Patrick Peterson set to become a free agent.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 29
Drew Sanders EDGE
Arkansas • Jr • 6'5" / 233 lbs
A quiet two seasons at Alabama from Drew Sanders gave way to a first-team All-American campaign with the Razorbacks. Lining up all over the field, Sanders stuffed the stat sheet with 103 tackles (13.5 for a loss), 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. He'll update a solid Broncos defense that traded away Bradley Chubb.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Brian Branch CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 193 lbs
Jordan Poyer will be 32 by the start of next season, so if the Bills wanted to let him walk in free agency, Brian Branch would be a viable replacement. Not the most heralded on the Alabama defense, Branch did a little bit of everything for the Crimson Tide.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Syracuse • Jr • 6'5" / 322 lbs
After failing to reach a long-term deal last summer, the Chiefs franchised tagged Orlando Brown Jr.. If they're not willing to make him the league's highest-paid offensive tackle, they could look to replace him with the versatile and experienced Matthew Bergeron.