2023 NFL Draft: Latest First Round Mock

2023 NFL Draft: Latest First Round Mock

This article is part of our NFL Draft series.

2023 NFL Draft: McKechnie First Round Mock 1.0

The 2023 NFL Draft is just days away and I thought I'd join in on the fun and take a stab at a first-round mock. For more draft content, my colleague Mario Puig has been pumping out articles left and right to get you ready for Thursday night and beyond. Check out his latest three-round mock and his dynasty-focused pre-draft Top 75.

If betting on the draft is more your thing, RotoWire has updated NFL Draft props to let you find the best values across different sportsbooks.

1.) Carolina Panthers

The Pick: Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama

This one seems sewn up. Tracking how the first pick was going to shake out has been fun -- remember when the Bears had the No.1 pick? Remember when C.J. Stroud was the odds-on favorite? -- but now anything other than Young to the Panthers would be a major upset.

The only other parallel I can draw is the 2018 class when Sam Darnold was a lock to go to the Browns up until about 24 hours before the draft when it leaked that Baker Mayfield was the pick.

2.) Houston Texans

The Pick: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

I think Houston leaving the first round without a quarterback would be a colossal lapse in judgment that undoes a lot of the positive momentum the franchise built by hiring DeMeco Ryans as head coach. I also can't get on board with Will Levis being the pick for them at 1.2 like the odds currently suggest. We don't have a lot of reason to give Houston the benefit of the doubt but come on. Levis? When Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud are out there? 

If Houston's really going to kick the can down the road on QB with the second pick, Anderson has to be the guy. He's a game-wrecker and the best edge rusher in the class. Houston has a lot of needs and getting the edge shored up will be a good start.

3.) Atlanta Falcons (via trade)

Atlanta receives: No. 3 overall in 2023

Arizona receives: No. 8, No. 44 in 2023

The Pick:  Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida

Desmond Ridder is not a franchise quarterback and Taylor Heinicke is... well, he's Taylor Heinicke. The Falcons have otherwise had a very strong offseason and drafting a first-round quarterback would put the cherry on top. Arizona has made no bones about its first-round pick being open for business and with QB-needy Indianapolis looming at No.4 overall, Atlanta would be wise to go for it here if they are indeed in the market for a QB. Edge is also a need and the Falcons could stand pat and take one at eight, but I'm saying that Atlanta swings for the fences and moves up for a QB.

4.) Indianapolis Colts

The Pick: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky

It's up for debate as to whether Indianapolis should take Levis over Stroud if the board falls this way, but all the rumors suggest that Levis is Indy's guy if he's there. Levis is flawed -- he's over-aged to be this raw -- but he is big, athletic, and strong-armed. Quarterback is a need and whether or not I think Levis is the correct pick, he's still the likely pick in this scenario.

5.) Seattle Seahawks

The Pick: Jalen Carter, Defensive Line, Georgia

C.J. Stroud would have to be a serious consideration here if he's available given that Seattle could get out from under the Geno Smith contract after this season (albeit with a decent dead cap hit). Still, Seattle proved last year it can win with Smith and bolstering the roster around him is a smart play. Carter is a difference-maker on the defensive interior and, in my opinion, would be a better pick here than Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson

6.) Detroit Lions

The Pick: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback, Oregon

There was some belief that the Lions were in on a Darius Slay reunion this offseason before he ultimately opted to remain in Philly. The Lions should still be in the market for a corner and luckily for them, this is a great year to be in that market especially when so many quarterbacks will go off the board before they're up at 1.6. Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois is another option and would be a fine selection, but Gonzalez has more verified tools athletically (4.38 40, 41.5 inch vertical) and has a more conventional frame to stick on the outside as a boundary corner.

7.) Las Vegas Raiders

The Pick: C.J. Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State

Jimmy G is a fine enough stopgap option for the Raiders and he is a little pricey for this cash-strapped organization to be overly eager to take on the dead cap before 2025. Still, he's not the long-term answer and if Stroud falls this far, he has to be a serious consideration. 

Personally, I think this would be a great spot for Anthony Richardson as he'd get a little more time to develop whereas Stroud is more Sunday-ready. It's also worth mentioning that Garoppolo hasn't been the picture of durability so maybe Stroud would be the chance to prove he's The Guy before too long anyway.

8.) Arizona Cardinals (via Atlanta)

The Pick: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Arizona has a lot of needs and Devon Witherspoon would be an asset to a cornerback group that's in desperate need of a difference-maker, but edge is more pressing and Murphy fits that need. Maybe it's a surprise to see Murphy ahead of Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson, but Murphy is absolutely worthy of a Top 10 selection given his production, age, and physical traits. And it also wouldn't shock me to see Wilson slide a bit more than most are projecting.

9.) Chicago Bears

The Pick: Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback, Illinois

Maybe Kyler Gordon will develop into a viable starter in time but he was overexposed last season as the Bears' leader in snaps in the secondary. Witherspoon, obviously a local product out of Illinois, is a plug-and-play option. He doesn't have overly standout athletic traits but Witherspoon is a crafty cover man that racked up 14 pass breakups in his senior season with the Illini. 

10.) Philadelphia Eagles

The Pick: Paris Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State

There are so many ways Philadelphia can go at 10, and any way you slice it, this will be a "luxury pick" considering that the Eagles are among the best teams in the league with very few holes to fill and yet have a Top 10 pick thanks to a trade with the Saints last year. Bijan Robinson has been a trendy player to mock to Philly here and that would certainly be fun for us in the fantasy community, but I think going after offensive line would make some sense too. Yes, Philly has the best offensive line in football, but you can never have enough depth there and Lane Johnson is playing on a one-year deal at age 33. Paris Johnson is arguably the best tackle prospect in this class this would be a "rich getting richer" type of pick for Philadelphia.

11.) Tennessee Titans

The Pick: Broderick Jones, Offensive Tackle, Georgia

If Tennessee can't move up into the top five, it could definitely trade back into the 20s and get some additional ammo. Sticking at 11 would be less than ideal for a team with this roster construction but that's just how the chips may fall this time around. 

Offensive line is a huge need for the Titans nonetheless after Taylor Lewan's retirement, and it wasn't a particularly good unit even when he was on the field. Jones would be the best tackle available in this scenario -- yes, better than Peter Skoronski -- and would give them an anchor on the left side for years to come. This will go better than the Isaiah Wilson experiment. I think.

12.) San Francisco 49ers (via trade with HOU)

49ers receive: Pick Nos. 12 and 65 in 2023

Texans receive: Trey Lance and SF's 2024 Second Round Pick

The Pick: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern

Time to shake things up a bit. My colleague, Mario Puig, put something similar in his recent three-round mock and it makes plenty of sense. The 49ers are clearly looking to recoup some draft capital and move on from Trey Lance in the process, while Houston is still quarterback-needy in this situation and the compensation makes sense on both sides. Ryans is familiar with Lance from his time in San Francisco, too. 

As for the pick, San Francisco is similar to Philly in that they don't have a ton of glaring needs and can use this pick to bolster the right tackle spot opposite Trent Williams following Mike McGlinchey's departure this offseason. 

13.) Green Bay Packers (via NYJ)

The Pick: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Now that Aaron Rodgers is gone, the Packers can finally take a receiver in the first round. 

I'm not sure that any receiver in this class is worth a Top 20 pick but if there is one, it's JSN. He'd fit nicely as the top slot option after Allen Lazard's departure and give Jordan Love a nice young trio of receivers to work with. 

14.) New England Patriots

The Pick: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

This is a tricky spot to mock for New England because a trade down would make plenty of sense, and the board doesn't align very well with their current needs. Still, Smith would be the best player available and would give the Patriots an even more ferocious pass rush to go with Matthew Judon and the ascending Josh Uche

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15.) New York Jets (Via Green Bay)

The Pick: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Provided that the Aaron Rodgers trade is all but done by the time the Jets are on the clock Thursday (it might not be official until Friday), the Jets can go best player available at 15 and Wilson fits that bill. Offensive tackle is the other position to watch for Gang Green here.

16.) Washington Commanders

The Pick: Deonte Banks, Cornerback, Maryland

Banks was a riser in the pre-draft process with an unbelievable showing at the combine that demonstrated standout athletic traits.

Washington claimed Cameron Dantzler off waivers this offseason but that's not enough to say it's set at corner. Adding Banks would bring serious speed to this secondary and the fact that Washington's front seven is so lively will only help Banks' learning curve as quarterbacks might not have the time to sit back in the pocket and pick on the rookie.

17.) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pick: Joey Porter Jr., Cornerback, Penn State

This is almost too perfect, right? Aside from Porter's obvious ties to the franchise, he's a Top 20 player in this class and fits a need at corner. Patrick Peterson is not going to play forever and the rest of the corner personnel is not particularly inspiring in Pittsburgh. Offensive line is another possibility at 17, but that can be addressed at the top of the second round (Darnell Wright at 32, anyone?). Pittsburgh would be wise to capitalize on the top-end CB talent available with its first pick.

18.) Detroit Lions

The Pick: Michael Mayer, Tight End, Notre Dame

The Jameson Williams suspension shouldn't alter Detroit's draft plans too much and tight end remains a need after the team jettisoned former first-rounder T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota last season. Dalton Kincaid has been the trendy tight end prospect to be drafted first, but Mayer is the better and more complete player. 

Mayer may not have crushed the combine as many, including myself, had expected, but he didn't tank it, either. And at the end of the day, you can cut on the tape and see Mayer as a pretty easy evaluation. He just looks different out there compared to other tight ends in this class. And his production at ND backs it up; he carried the Irish passing attack from the time he was a true freshman onward and backed up his five-star billing from recruiting services. 

19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Pick: Brian Branch, Safety, Alabama

This might be the lowest Tampa Bay picks for a little while as a rebuild is starting. If this team was in win-now mode, Bijan Robinson would be a no-brainer. The Bucs' safety group is thin at best and Branch is easily the top prospect at the position in this class. 

20.) Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Trade)

Seattle receives: Nos. 24 and 88 overall in 2023

Jacksonville receives: No. 20 overall in 2023

The Pick: Lukas Van Ness, Defensive Line, Iowa

With the way the board shook out, Seattle looks to get some more draft ammo without losing too much ground in the first round while Jacksonville can move up and get their guy.

Van Ness is an interesting prospect in that he wasn't a starter at Iowa, and yet his production over the last two years was better than Nolan Smith's in four years when it comes to sacks, and he nearly equaled Smith's career TFL numbers as well. The Iowa product is scheme versatile and a solid athlete. The offensive skill group is set in Jacksonville and the line is good enough; now Jacksonville can build a bully on defense.

21.)  Los Angeles Chargers

The Pick: Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas

It'd be very tempting for the Chargers to go receiver here with only one off the board in this scenario. But getting a player like Robinson may be to much to pass up. Austin Ekeler clearly doesn't plan on being in LA forever given this offseason and the Chargers have tried to get him a good complementary counterpart in recent classes only to miss horribly. Adding Robinson would give LA a supercharged backfield for this year and a future star once Ekeler goes elsewhere. 

I can only imagine the meltdowns on fantasy football and regular football Twitter alike if this happens. And so I'm willing it into existence.

22.) Baltimore Ravens

The Pick: Emmanuel Forbes, Cornerback, Mississippi State

Marcus Peters playing as much as he did last season showed that Baltimore made a bad bet on banking that he'd return to his pre-injury form and the team ultimately paid for it. With Peters gone in free agency, there isn't an obvious answer at corner opposite Marlon Humphrey. Luckily for the Ravens, this is a great corner class and Forbes still being there at 22 would be a major windfall.

What Forbes lacks in size (6-0, 166) he more than makes up for in athleticism (4.35 40) and coverage ability. Forbes was a serious playmaker in the SEC at Mississippi State with 14 picks (six for TD) and 35 pass breakups over three seasons. He will need to bulk up but speed and production like Forbes' portend well for his transition to the NFL.

23.) Minnesota Vikings

The Pick: Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, USC

I'm not buying that the Vikings are in the market for a quarterback in the first round this year, so Hendon Hooker will have to wait a little longer. Receiver is a more pressing issue for a team that could be nearing the end of its competitive window and Addison would be the best available one in this scenario.

The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner was impressive from his freshman season onward and developed into a force. It's also encouraging that he cut down on his drops from 21 in two seasons at Pitt to just two this past year at USC. K.J. Osborn is not a legitimate No.2 option in an NFL receiving corps and putting Addison alongside Justin Jefferson will make it even tougher for Kirk Cousins to fail. He probably still will, but you see what I'm getting at.

24.) Seattle Seahawks (via Jacksonville)

The Pick: O'Cyrus Torrence, Guard, Florida

This isn't a great class in terms of interior offensive line talent, but Torrence is the best of a thin crop and can be a plug-and-play option for the Seahawks. Torrence was a four-year starter with three of those years spent at Louisiana before following coach Billy Napier to Florida and showing that he could hang with SEC competition. 

25.) New York Giants

The Pick: Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College

I like what the Giants are building but it seems that they have a receiver room loaded with No.2/No.3 types and still lack a true WR1. Perhaps the additions of Darren Waller along with Parris Campbell will be enough for the Giants to look in another direction (secondary) with this pick. However, I see them being interested in a pass catcher if the board falls this way. There'd also be an argument for TCU's Quentin Johnston and adding his big, physical skill set out wide, but Flowers would be my pick. The BC product carried an otherwise anemic passing game for four seasons at Chestnut Hill while playing a varied role that saw him line up all over the formation. 

26.) Dallas Cowboys

The Pick: Darnell Washington, Tight End, Georgia

Dalton Schultz's departure signals a need at tight end, and while I think Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot could form an admirable TE rotation in Big D, it'd be hard to pass up on a talent like Washington if he's available. Washington is only scratching the surface of what he can be as a pass catcher with just 44 career receptions at UGA, though he sustained an impressive 10.7 YPT mark over his three seasons. And unlike most rookie tight ends, Washington looks like he'll be an asset as a blocker right away.

A player that big that can move like that -- and move people like that -- is not something that comes along every draft class. 

27.) Buffalo Bills

The Pick: Mazi Smith, Defensive Interior, Michigan

The last memory we have of the Bills from this past season was them getting pushed around by an undermanned Cincinnati offensive line in a tough loss. You can't pride yourself on being the tough, physical team that can handle the elements and have that happen. Smith can help to that end right away. The Michigan product is squat and powerful at 6-3 and 323 pounds with ridiculous strength that he can leverage with his frame. Here's a snippet on Smith from Bruce Feldman's Freaks List article this past summer.

Even more remarkable: The Wolverines also do a workout on their combo-twist machine, which is designed to show a player's ability to rotate an opponent but also their ability to resist being rotated in the trenches. Smith had the machine completely tapped out. There was only enough room for 300 pounds on each side of the machine for a 600-pound max.

Yeah, that'll play.

28.) Tennessee Titans (Via Trade)

Cincinnati receives: Nos. 41 (2nd) and 72 (3rd) in 2023

Tennessee receives: Nos. 28 and 163 (5th) in 2023

The Pick: Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee

Ryan Tannehill is nearing the end of his run in Tennessee and while I think it's too early to give up on Malik Willis, the Titans seem to disagree based on their coaching decisions at quarterback late last season. I don't think Hooker is quite worthy of being a first-rounder given the age (25) and late-season ACL injury that puts his availability for the start of camp in jeopardy. Maybe I'm taking the bait, but there seems to be a strong sense around the league that Hooker will be a late first-round target. 

I can't quite figure out the direction the Titans are going in right now, but I'm not sure they do either. They're a year removed from being the No.1 seed in the AFC and yet it feels like the cliff is rapidly approaching. Getting a quarterback for the future would help set the course. 

29.) New Orleans Saints

The Pick: Bryan Bresee, Defensive Interior, Clemson

Production doesn't tell the full story for Bresee. His nine sacks and 15.0 TFL in 26 career games won't floor you. It has to be acknowledged that his 2022 season was coming off an ACL tear and he also played most of this season with a heavy heart

When he's on, Bresee is a powerful, heavy-handed disruptor that can line up across the defensive line. He might be best suited to line up as the bookend to Cameron Jordan at defensive end. 

30.) Philadelphia Eagles

The Pick: Jahmyr Gibbs, Running Back, Alabama

While Bijan Robinson at 10 might be too rich, Gibbs at 30 is the sweet spot if Philly wants to address running back early. The Eagles would still be getting a Top 2 back in this class, and there's some argument that he's more the 1B to Robinson's 1A billing. 

Rashaad Penny can handle the between-the-tackles work for however long he stays healthy while Gibbs can be the change-of-pace slasher that is also a staple on passing downs. How do you shop for a team that already has everything? A luxury pick like this would make plenty of sense.

31.) Kansas City Chiefs

The Pick: Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leaving might mean that the Chiefs may be looking for a more slot-oriented receiver prospect. If Johnston is still on the board though, he'd be hard to pass up. Johnston is still a bit raw and the long speed didn't check out to the degree many had hoped at his pro day (4.5 40) but he is the closest thing to a true X receiver in this class and Patrick Mahomes could probably find some use for him.

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John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
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