The 2023 NFL Draft, which will be held from April 27-29, is an Arizona Cardinals trade out from quarterbacks being taken with the first four picks. In this thought exercise, Las Vegas gets aggressive to trade into that spot and selects its quarterback of the future.
The draft order below is now the official order based on team records and tiebreakers. There are only 31 picks as a result of the Dolphins' pick being forfeited due to tampering violations.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
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From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 1
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • Sr • 6'4" / 229 lbs
Carolina controls its own fate after moving up from No. 9 overall. The Panthers really like Will Levis, and he fits the mold of a Frank Reich quarterback. I am not saying with certainty that he will be the No. 1 overall selection, but I think it would be naïve to ignore the possibility. In 2018, everyone thought the Browns were leaning towards Sam Darnold or Josh Allen until they took Baker Mayfield.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 204 lbs
Houston would obviously love a quarterback with some size, but a 6-foot-4 Bryce Young would not be available at No. 2 overall. I think the Texans will favor a quarterback who is accurate, makes good decisions and has mobility.
Mock Trade from Arizona Cardinals
Round 1 - Pick 3
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
Las Vegas trades up to take the third quarterback off the board. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency but probably do not view him as the long-term answer. A 2024 first-round pick goes back to Arizona as part of the trade.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Florida • Soph • 6'4" / 244 lbs
If Indianapolis does not become more aggressive, then the possibility exists that the Colts could be left with their fourth option at the quarterback position. Or, they could get their top quarterback. No one knows how they view the position.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 5
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 253 lbs
I generally believe that it is in Seattle's best interest to take a quarterback to develop, but the four best options are off the board. Instead, the Seahawks take the draft's safest edge rusher to continue building a defensive front that just added Dre'mont Jones in free agency.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • Sr • 6'6" / 271 lbs
It is difficult to envision Detroit passing on Jalen Carter, but the reality is that no one knows where he is likely to be taken considering his situation. In this scenario, we consider that teams may be a bit more cautious towards selecting him. As a result, Detroit stays put and picks an edge rusher to line up opposite Aidan Hutchinson.
Mock Trade from Las Vegas Raiders
Round 1 - Pick 7
Oregon • Soph • 6'1" / 197 lbs
Arizona just needs to add young talent to its roster, and it could go in a number of directions from offensive line to defensive line to the secondary. In this scenario, the Cardinals take a cornerback with the best combination of athletic traits.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Lukas Van Ness EDGE
Iowa • Soph • 6'5" / 272 lbs
Lukas Van Ness is a powerful player who showed his athletic potential at the NFL Combine. Arnold Ebiketie and Van Ness is a pass-rush duo that the NFC South franchise can build around.
From Carolina Panthers
Round 1 - Pick 9
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'3" / 314 lbs
There is a lot going on in Jalen Carter's world, so it is difficult to say where he is going to be picked. The talent suggests that he could be long gone by now. The Bears traded back and could still theoretically take the player they initially wanted at No. 1 overall.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 10
Myles Murphy DL
Clemson • Jr • 6'5" / 268 lbs
Philadelphia stays put at No. 10 overall and follows through on its proclivity to draft linemen. Myles Murphy's tape was better in 2021, but this is a player with a high ceiling.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Northwestern • Jr • 6'4" / 313 lbs
Tennessee signed Andre Dillard in free agency to play left tackle. Now, it brings in Peter Skoronski to provide more sustainability to that unit. Skoronski could play right tackle, but he could also be a really special interior player.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 12
Bryan Bresee DL
Clemson • Soph • 6'6" / 298 lbs
Bryan Bresee tested like a great interior defender at the NFL Combine, but his film did not match. When he shared all that he had been dealing with physically and mentally, it made sense as to why he may not have been playing at 100%. Houston gets a potentially great player at an important position.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
Will New York have to part with No. 13 overall in the Aaron Rodgers deal? Will the Jets trust Mekhi Becton and Max Mitchell to man the corners next fall? It sounds unlikely after the murmurings of the last few offseasons. Broderick Jones is another young player to bring in and develop.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'5" / 249 lbs
New England made a splash a few offseasons ago by signing tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Smith has been traded and Henry is entering the final year of his deal. The Patriots have favored two tight-end sets in the past, and Michael Mayer makes that possible.
Mock Trade from Green Bay Packers
Round 1 - Pick 15
Ohio State • Jr • 6'6" / 313 lbs
Tampa Bay saw the possibility of Washington and Pittsburgh taking an offensive tackle, so the Buccaneers move up slightly to add a new left tackle to replace Donovan Smith.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 193 lbs
It is unclear how Washington views its offensive line after the offseason additions of Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates. Cornerback remains a big need for the franchise, and Joey Porter Jr. answers that call.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Tennessee • Sr • 6'5" / 333 lbs
A run on left tackles has occurred, but Pittsburgh could stand to upgrade both positions. Darnell Wright has proven to be an athletic player who has shown improvement since last year. He upgrades the protection for Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Illinois • Jr • 6'0" / 181 lbs
Detroit has signed Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley this offseason, but neither has been much more than a journeyman in their respective careers. The Lions need stability in that unit, and Devon Witherspoon already has history with safety Kerby Joseph.
Mock Trade from Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 1 - Pick 19
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Green Bay was able to move back, picking up an additional third-round selection in the process, and still add a player who will upgrade the secondary. Brian Branch is a smart, instinctual player who should transition seamlessly to the Packers.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 196 lbs
Seattle added pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. with its first pick, and now it addresses the pass-catching group. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been sold as a below-average athlete who was little more than a role player. Last I checked, there is value in a polished route runner capable of getting himself open. He can be a great compliment to DK Metcalf.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Texas • Jr • 5'11" / 215 lbs
Los Angeles has given Austin Ekeler permission to seek a trade. It sounds as though the two parties are destined for a divorce, leaving the Chargers without a suitable option at the position.
Round 1 - Pick 22
TCU • Jr • 6'3" / 208 lbs
Baltimore needs wide receiver help, but not just any wide receiver. Rashod Bateman is more of an underneath pass-catcher capable of creating opportunities for himself. The Ravens need a big, fast boundary option to keep defenses honest. Quentin Johnston has the athletic profile to meet that expectation.
Round 1 - Pick 23
USC • Jr • 5'11" / 173 lbs
Minnesota has made the decision to move on from Adam Thielen. The Vikings need someone to compliment Justin Jefferson in the passing game, and Jordan Addison can be that player long-term.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Cam Smith CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 180 lbs
Tyson Campbell played well last season, but they need more from that position. Cam Smith is a bit volatile in the eyes of talent evaluators, but Smith was much improved this season. He is capable of handling the transition to the NFL with ease.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Deonte Banks CB
Maryland • Jr • 6'0" / 197 lbs
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale adds a lengthy man coverage cornerback to his defense. Deonte Banks is a bit rough around the edges, but I could understand a team getting excited by the potential.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Utah • Sr • 6'4" / 246 lbs
With Dalton Schultz likely moving on in free agency, Dallas needs a new pass-catcher for Dak Prescott. Dalton Kincaid is not the blocker that Schultz has developed into, but there is no reason to think Kincaid could not also grow in that category.
Round 1 - Pick 27
O'Cyrus Torrence IOL
Florida • Jr • 6'5" / 330 lbs
Buffalo's offensive line has been a disappointment. It signed Connor McGovern in free agency, but needs viable long-term options along the interior. O'Cyrus Torrence is a powerful player who upgrades the floor of that unit.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Georgia • Jr • 6'7" / 264 lbs
Whether it is this offseason or next, Cincinnati can not afford to keep Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja'Marr Chase. By adding Darnell Washington, the Bengals replace Hayden Hurst and add another specialized blocker to a line that should be improved with Orlando Brown Jr.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 29
Syracuse • Jr • 6'5" / 318 lbs
New Orleans' interior offensive line is a concern. It may not make a change this year because of the contracts among that group, but the on-field justifies it. Matthew Bergeron could hold up at tackle, in my opinion, but some in the league project a move to guard.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Pittsburgh • Jr • 6'1" / 281 lbs
Philadelphia invests in its offensive and defensive lines. They already lost Javon Hargrave and could also lose Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, so there is a need at the position. The Eagles are able to absorb that loss with the retention of Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, and the addition of Calijah Kancey, who is more of a pass-rusher.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Nolan Smith EDGE
Georgia • Sr • 6'2" / 238 lbs
I believe that Smith is likely to go higher than this in the actual draft, but it is difficult finding a landing spot because he is a bit more scheme-specific. Smith is a bit undersized but an athletic, quick-twitched pass-rusher.