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2023 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Defensive Line Dominates Top 20

The 2023 NFL Draft is about one month away. Several players have been on the rise since the NFL Combine while others have dropped after posting disappointing measurables.

We have a much better idea of where players will fall since our first mock draft. Plus, the Chicago Bears finally moved their No. 1 pick as the Carolina Panthers leaped into the top spot. Check out our latest NFL predictions for the 2023 NFL draft.

General manager Scott Fitterer of the Carolina Panthers - Justin Casterline/AFP
General manager Scott Fitterer of the Carolina Panthers - Justin Casterline/AFP

1. Carolina Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Since the Panthers acquired the top pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud has become the favorite to be the first player off of the board. NFL lines have Stroud at -250 to be the first player selected, compared to Bryce Young at +225. Stroud would be a perfect fit in Carolina. Coach Frank Reich has always fielded a tall, pro-style QB, which the 6-foot-3 Stroud meets. His pinpoint accuracy and consistency should keep Stroud at the top of the board. He has the chance to impress once again at Ohio State’s pro day on March 22.

2. Houston Texans: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

Young was viewed as the top quarterback of the class for most of the process. However, that changed following the combine and the Panthers acquiring the top pick. Despite Young answering size concerns by weighing in at 204 pounds at the combine, he will likely be the second signal-caller off of the board.

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

With uncertainty surrounding Jalen Carter, Will Anderson Jr. has emerged as the favorite to be the first defensive player selected (-300). The Arizona Cardinals desperately need help on the defensive line. Anderson has sky-high potential and can become a franchise cornerstone.

4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

Anthony Richardson was perhaps the biggest winner of the NFL Combine. He put on a clinic with a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, a 40½-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-9 broad jump. His vertical was the highest ever for a QB, and his broad jump was the best since 2003. There have been no questions about Richardson’s potential, just his consistency. However, these numbers have firmly put Richardson past Will Levis, and he is +350 to be the first overall pick.

5. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

The Seattle Seahawks have entertained the idea of taking a quarterback. Coach Pete Carroll even admitted the opportunity to take a QB is there. However, it is still unlikely. If Richardson falls here, the Seahawks could take the risk. If no one falls, taking a defensive end is a no-brainer. Tyree Wilson has a lengthy frame with great physicality. Seattle’s defensive line would be revamped with Wilson and newly acquired defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones.

6. Detroit Lions: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

The Detroit Lions hope to continue a great offseason in the draft. After signing cornerback Cameron Sutton and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the Lions will be looking for more help on defense. Detroit could go defensive line or cornerback with the No. 6 pick. Devon Witherspoon is the top cornerback in the class with great physicality and ball skills. The Lions’ secondary could dramatically improve with this pick alongside free-agent additions.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State

The Las Vegas Raiders signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year deal, which makes taking a quarterback unlikely. Instead, the Raiders can protect their new quarterback with a left tackle. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. is the top tackle of the class. He has the ideal frame for a left tackle with great athleticism.

 

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8. Atlanta Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

The Atlanta Falcons could go in several directions. They could take a defensive end, draft a sliding quarterback or shore up the secondary. Christian Gonzalez would be a nice pairing with A.J. Terrell. The former Oregon Duck has great range and ball skills. Atlanta’s defense would dramatically improve with two potential lockdown corners.

9. Chicago Bears: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia

Defensive tackle Carter has made NFL news for all of the wrong reasons over the last month. Initially, he was the favorite to be the first defensive player selected. Carter was charged with misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He did not participate in the NFL Combine and showed up overweight and out of shape to Georgia’s pro day. Carter is slipping, but a team will likely take the risk on the talented defensive tackle.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson

For most of the process, the Philadelphia Eagles were expected to take a cornerback. However, they re-signed James Bradberry and managed to hang on to Darius Slay. Instead, the Eagles can draft a defensive lineman after losing Javon Hargrave, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Myles Murphy would be a great value here and has the ability to play on the inside and outside. Murphy’s high-end athleticism would fit seamlessly into Philly’s D-line.

11. Tennessee Titans: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

Through the first 11 picks, this is one of the most obvious selections. The Tennessee Titans must take an offensive tackle. The O-line was a mess last season and they have made few upgrades thus far. Peter Skoronski excelled in pass protection at Northwestern. Tennessee could finally protect its quarterback’s blindside.

12. Houston Texans: EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

The Texans’ roster has a long way to go. The defensive line must be addressed, especially under coach DeMeco Ryans. Lukas Van Ness was another standout at the combine with a 4.58 40-yard dash. The Iowa product could need time to develop, but he has the potential to become a game-wrecker.

13. New York Jets: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

News on Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets is inevitable. At this point, it seems the two franchises are sorting through the terms of the deal. The Jets will likely avoid trading their first-round pick. New York can use the No. 13 pick to draft an offensive tackle. Broderick Jones could be the most athletic tackle in the class.

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

The New England Patriots re-signed Jonathan Jones but still lack a star cornerback. Joey Porter Jr. could become just that. He is excellent in man coverage with his ability to press. Plus, he has a good nose for the ball with a lengthy frame.

15. Green Bay Packers: WR Jaxon-Smith Njigba, Ohio State

Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba was one of the big winners of the combine. While he did not run the 40-yard dash, Smith-Njigba posted the fastest time of all prospects in the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill, which are key for slot wideouts. Many NFL picks have the Ohio State product as the first receiver off of the board (-125). The Green Bay Packers are entering the Jordan Love Era, and Smith-Njigba alongside Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs would be a formidable receiving corps.

16. Washington Commanders: QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Levis is the only first-round quarterback that is sliding. At one point, he was contending for the top spot. Now, Las Vegas odds have him at +3000 to be the first player selected. However, dropping this far would be a surprise. The Washington Commanders would be silly to pass on a quarterback prospect with this much potential. Levis has a solid frame and big arm paired with great mobility.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: S Brian Branch, Alabama

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be moving on from safety Terrell Edmunds. Brian Branch would be a nice addition to start alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick. Branch is versatile with the ability to play nickel, strong safety or up in the box as a linebacker.

18. Detroit Lions: DT Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

The Lions’ defensive overhaul will continue with the No. 18 pick. This time they can focus on the defensive line. Detroit can get a great three-technique pass rusher in Calijah Kancey. His 4.67 40-yard dash solidified his first-round stock, which was the fastest time for a defensive tackle since 2003.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a clear hole at left tackle after cutting Donovan Smith. Tennessee’s Darnell Wright can fill that hole as a day-one starter. There are some concerns about Wright’s weight, but his strength and punishing mentality in the run game are intriguing.

 

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20. Seattle Seahawks: DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Will the Seahawks take another defensive lineman with the No. 20 pick? If Bryan Bresee is here, it is quite likely. Bresee would bring a different skill-set compared to Dre’Mont Jones. The Clemson product is excellent at stuffing the run, and he also has pass-rush potential with great athleticism. The Seahawks’ defensive line could quickly turn menacing with Tyree Wilson, Jones and Bresee.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah

The Los Angeles Chargers re-signed tight end Donald Parham but is that enough? The Chargers made an effort to sign Dalton Schultz, who landed with the Texans. Los Angeles should look to add a security blanket for Justin Herbert. With the No. 21 pick, the Chargers should have their choice at tight end. Dalton Kincaid would be an excellent fit. He is the best receiving tight end in the class. Kincaid is not a great blocker, but Los Angeles has other tight ends they can utilize in the run game.

22. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jordan Addison, USC

It looks like Lamar Jackson will stay with the Baltimore Ravens. After placing a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, few teams have shown interest in the franchise QB. The Ravens need to give Jackson more receiving options. Jordan Addison would be a good value at No. 22. He has the ability to play on the outside or in the slot with good route-running and solid speed.

23. Minnesota Vikings: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

The Minnesota Vikings will likely target wide receiver or cornerback with this pick. Deonte Banks has climbed draft boards after an impressive combine, including a 4.35 40-yard dash. Banks also has a lengthy 6-foot-1 frame. He flashed the ability to lock down opposing receivers in man coverage. Banks could be a good replacement for Patrick Peterson, who signed with the Steelers.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State

As expected, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost Jawaan Taylor in free agency. His price tag was far too high, meaning the Jags need a new right tackle. Dawand Jones would be the best fit among the available tackles. He exclusively played right tackle at Ohio State. This would not be too big of a reach either, as Jones is climbing up draft boards due to his impressive mobility at 6-foot-8, 374 pounds.

 

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25. New York Giants: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Wide receiver Quentin Johnston has slid since the combine. The sportsbook has him at +250 to be the first wideout selected. Electing to not run the 40-yard dash at the combine did not help Johnston. If he posted an impressive time, the TCU product could be locked in as the top WR. The New York Giants would be a good fit, though. Quarterback Daniel Jones is there for the long haul, and the Giants are still searching for a No. 1 wide receiver.

26. Dallas Cowboys: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

Finding a wide receiver is no longer a dire need after the Dallas Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks. Plus, they solved their cornerback issue with the acquisition of Stephon Gilmore. After Schultz left in free agency, tight end could be the highest priority. MichaelMayer is a no-brainer if he’s available. He is a good blocker that would fit in Dallas’ run game. Mayer has exceptional hands and could become Dak Prescott’s new best friend.

27. Buffalo Bills: OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

The Buffalo Bills signed guard Connor McGovern. However, this offensive line is full of holes. If O’Cyrus Torrence is available at the No. 27 pick, the Bills should make the pick. Torrence is a fantastic run blocker, and Buffalo has made an effort to improve the run game over the last few seasons. The interior offensive line could dramatically improve with McGovern and Torrence.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

The Cincinnati Bengals made a big-time move by signing left tackle Orlando Brown. However, right tackle is still a concern. Jonah Williams requested a trade and refused to move to right tackle. La’el Collins was shaky at right tackle last season and could not stay healthy. Anton Harrison is an exceptional pass blocker with an ideal frame. However, he played left tackle at Oklahoma. Harrison could transition to the right side but it could take time.

29. New Orleans Saints: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

The New Orleans Saints can surround Derek Carr with great receiving options. Chris Olave has established himself as the top target, but the Saints could use some consistency elsewhere. Zay Flowers is a Swiss army knife that is special after the catch. New Orleans’ offense would have a lot of speed with Flowers, Alvin Kamara and Olave.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas

The Eagles must get quicker at linebacker. Plus, they lost T.J. Edwards in free agency. Drew Sanders is an intriguing option with his 6-foot-5 frame. Sanders does not have blazing speed but his range is exceptional. Plus, he has the ability to rush the passer.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

The Kansas City Chiefs could look for a right tackle at the No. 31 pick. However, in this scenario, ideal options would be off the board. Instead of reaching on a prospect, the Chiefs can upgrade their targets. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster departed for the Patriots. Jalin Hyatt’s game-breaking speed could be a perfect fit in Kansas City. The Chiefs would have another consistent vertical threat.

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