2023 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Next Year's Top Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2022

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Next Year's Top Prospects

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The 2022 NFL draft isn't even in the books yet, but it's never too early to start looking ahead to 2023. NFL teams do it, as future draft opportunities and expected draft capital will influence their decisions now.

    Did your favorite team pass on a quarterback in Round 1 this year? That might be because prospects like Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Alabama's Bryce Young are viewed by some teams as safer and/or better pro prospects and worth the wait.

    Here, you'll find a way-too-early mock draft for 2023 with predictions and picks for the entire first round. We'll use the latest over/unders for regular-season win totals from DraftKings Sportsbook as the basis for our draft order and dive into some of the biggest college players who will be draft-eligible next year.

    We'll also take a closer look at some of the top potential pairings and the logic behind them being early Day 1 picks.

2023 Round 1 Mock Draft

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    JASON DECROW/Associated Press

    1. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

    2. Atlanta Falcons: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

    3. New York Jets: Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

    4. Carolina Panthers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

    5. Seattle Seahawks: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

    6. Detroit Lions: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

    7. Chicago Bears: Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan

    8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh

    9. New York Giants: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

    10. Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

    11. Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

    12. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

    13. New England Patriots: Akeem Dent, S, Florida State

    14. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

    15. Las Vegas Raiders: BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU

    16. Minnesota Vikings: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

    17. Miami Dolphins: Derick Hall, DE, Auburn

    18. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Dontay Demus, WR, Maryland

    19. Arizona Cardinals: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

    20. Indianapolis Colts: Robert Scott Jr., OT, Florida State

    21. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

    22. Tennessee Titans: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

    23. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco): Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

    24. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

    25. Los Angeles Chargers: Tony Grimes, CB, North Carolina

    26. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

    27. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Mississippi

    28. Kansas City Chiefs: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

    29. Detroit Lions (from Rams): Henry To'oto'o, LB, Alabama

    30. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas

    31. Buffalo Bills: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

    32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh

1. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    There will likely be a lot of debate about whether Stroud or Young is the best signal-caller heading into the 2023 draft. Recency bias could vault Stroud ahead of Young over the next 12 months.

    We've already seen Young win the Heisman and have an all-time great collegiate campaign. He's no longer the new story. Stroud should have the opportunity to build on his 2021 numbers, especially with top receiving threat Jaxon Smith-Njigba and three offensive line starters returning.

    The chances of Young winning another Heisman are slim—Archie Griffin remains the only two-time winner—and if Stroud is able to snag the award, he'll have all the momentum heading into the predraft process.

    And it's not as if Stroud was unimpressive in 2021. He finished with 4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

    The Houston Texans didn't take a quarterback early in this year's draft and will get their guy in 2023. Davis Mills has flashed potential, but Stroud has a much higher ceiling. This will be the pick that returns Houston to relevance in the AFC South.

2. Atlanta Falcons: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    While Young won't be the fresh face or hot new story next offseason, his resume already places him near the top of draft boards. He helped take Alabama to the College Football Playoff championship game and finished 2021 with 4,872 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

    One former Crimson Tide star believes that Stroud's encore will just as impressive if not more so.

    "He's going to continue to get better. He's going to continue to grow under Coach Saban and under their offensive guys," Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said in mid-April, per Tony Tsoukalas of FanNation. "He knows what it feels like to win the big game. He knows what it feels like to lose. I know he's going to take all of that and put it in a ball and roll it."

    Picking between Stroud and Young—both traditional pocket passers—will be difficult. If either of them can deliver a national title, it could be the deciding factor.

    The Atlanta Falcons just used a third-round pick on Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, but unless he really surprises as a rookie, it shouldn't prevent them from taking Young. The Arizona Cardinals dumped 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen to draft Kyler Murray first overall in 2019, and the decision to grab Young with Ridder on the roster should be just as easy.

3. New York Jets: Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    It's too early to guarantee that Alabama's Will Anderson will be the first non-quarterback off the board next spring. However, edge-rushers tend to go early—just look at how things unfolded on Thursday—and Anderson is shaping up to be a great one.

    The 6'4", 243-pound sack artist had a phenomenal campaign with the Crimson Tide in 2021. He finished with 101 total tackles, 17.5 sacks, 33.5 tackles for loss and three passes defended. Anderson is a complete player and can disrupt opposing running and passing plans alike.

    With another strong season, Anderson's value could rocket past those of the top quarterbacks and force even a quarterback-needy team to target him at No. 1—similar to Myles Garrett in the 2017 draft. Some executives already believe that Anderson is the top guy.

    "Yeah, he's No. 1, no doubt," one AFC exec told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer in January.

    If Anderson is on the board at No. 3, it will be an easy pick for the New York Jets. They just added pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson II in the first round and will look to pair him with veteran Carl Lawson—who suffered a torn Achilles before the 2021 season. However, Anderson is a generational talent, and New York will find room for him in the pass-rushing rotation.  


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