NFL draft predictions
Apr 27, 2023
Football season is one step closer, as the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway in a little over a week. The draft begins Thursday, April 27, and ends on Saturday, April 29. All three days of the event will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, at GEHA Field in Arrowhead Stadium.
Many mock drafts and experts continue to speculate who will go first overall. This year, there is no “guaranteed” first overall pick like in previous years with Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence and Myles Garrett. The first overall pick could be one of the 4 QBs projected to be a first round pick. At the midway point of the college football season many believed that Jalen Carter, defensive tackle from Georgia, was the clear cut first overall pick. Unfortunately for him, his stock has gone down due to problems off the field. With that being said, the most valuable position in all of sports is likely to sway the trajectory of the first few picks in this year’s draft.
#1: Carolina Panthers select Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
The Panthers have created the ideal environment for a rookie quarterback. Not only will the first pick in the 2023 draft be supported by an emerging offensive line, he will also have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL to learn from, a top defense and adequate weapons around him. C.J. Stroud may not offer the highest ceiling, but he can win Offensive Rookie of the Year in Carolina and be a top 12 quarterback who helps Carolina win multiple NFC South titles.
#2: Houston Texans select Alabama QB Bryce Young
The Texans have no reason to trade up for the first pick, as Stroud or Bryce Young have the potential of a quality franchise caliber quarterback. This may be Houston’s dream scenario. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has said Young is one of the smartest players in all of football, and the combination of leadership, quick processing ability and accuracy represents everything this franchise needs. Young is an ideal fit for offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s offense, and the Texans already have a strong offensive line in place to help protect Young.
#3: Indianapolis Colts (from ARI) select Kentucky QB Will Levis
The Colts can’t sit and hope their preferred quarterback prospect remains available with the fourth pick. Yes, the term “preferred” is appropriate since it became clear the organization wasn’t in love with Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud when it didn’t move to acquire the top pick. The Colts can make a simple swap with the Arizona Cardinals to land arguably the best prospect for their situation in Florida’s Anthony Richardson. However, he is considered the biggest project out of the four top QBs, and getting onto the field right away without mentorship from an NFL veteran could ultimately lead to the downfall of his career. Considering this, Will Levis is likely the safer pick.
#4: Arizona Cardinals (from IND) select Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
The smartest move for the Cardinals is to bait the Colts into swapping picks to add draft assets and still be in position to land arguably the best player in the class. Colts general manager Monti Ossenfort is aware of this, as the team has made it clear that the third pick is for sale. In this scenario, the most obvious deal is completed and the Cardinals gladly get everything they want. Now, they’ll have a defensive centerpiece in Alabama edge-defender Will Anderson Jr. Anderson would also help offset the offseason losses of J.J. Watt, Zach Allen and Markus Golden.
#5: Seattle Seahawks select Georgia DL Jalen Carter
On talent alone, Jalen Carter deserves to be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, a series of off field issues and a concerning effort at Georgia’s Pro Day raised red flags. Fortunately for Carter, the Seahawks aren’t afraid of risk. Carter is exactly what they are missing on the defensive line and he will be one of the biggest reasons why Seattle’s defense would turn around in 2023.
#6: Detroit Lions (from LAR) select Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez
The Lions fielded a bottom three pass defense last season, and general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell don’t want to experience that again. This offseason, the organization has already signed defensive backs Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. They then traded the third overall pick from the 2020 draft, Jeff Okudah, to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round draft pick. Why stop there? The Lions have a chance to overhaul and upgrade the unit by also adding the class’ top cornerback prospect in Christian Gonzalez. He is a big body with the ideal size, length and athleticism. He’s explosive with the straight-line speed to run with any wide receiver.
#7: Las Vegas Raiders select Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon
During Josh McDaniels’ first season as head coach, the Raiders were caught in a half-transition. McDaniels tried to work with what was already in place, but the approach failed during a disappointing 6-11 campaign. As a result, Derek Carr is no longer the quarterback, and the team traded 2020 Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants. The Raiders have signed 24 free agents to reset the roster. Even so, the secondary still lacks a top tier corner, which Devon Witherspoon will be.
#8: Atlanta Falcons select Florida QB Anthony Richardson
Richardson is the reason the Falcons refused to give Lamar Jackson all that money. Many believe that Richardson, who struggled in certain games in his final year at Florida, should not be projected this high. But his Pro Day workout cannot be ignored. Richardson is so gifted, and he does not have to start right away. Time can be taken to develop someone with serious talent, and if you happen to have two quarterbacks worthy of starter status at the end of that development period, that is not a bad problem to have.
#9: Chicago Bears (from CAR) select Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski
The Bears know Peter Skoronski better than just about any NFL team. A local product who dominated at Northwestern, it really shouldn’t matter if he’s an offensive tackle or left guard. Chicago needs a great offensive lineman and Skoronski is arguably the best in this year’s class. Put him anywhere and Justin Fields will feel a lot safer in the pocket and have more time to throw to some of his newly acquired weapons.
#10: Philadelphia Eagles select Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness
The Eagles did an excellent job retaining the majority of their defensive talent this offseason. Although the unit is getting older, veterans Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay and James Bradberry are back. This quartet forms the foundation of leaders of the defense and will mentor the next generation, starting with the front four. Philadelphia began reinvesting in its defensive line when the organization chose defensive tackle Jordan Davis with the 13th pick in the 2022 Draft. Lukas Van Ness can offer a much needed youthful infusion at edge, and he will fit right in with the Eagles rotation.