NFL Draft 2023: Top Prospects and 1st-Round Mock Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 30, 2022

NFL Draft 2023: Top Prospects and 1st-Round Mock Predictions

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Over the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL draft, only one quarterback was selected. And that didn't happen until the No. 20 overall pick, when the Pittsburgh Steelers took Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett.

    Things might go a bit differently for the quarterbacks in the 2023 draft. There should be more than one QB who gets taken in the first round, and it wouldn't be surprising if at least one is selected much earlier than Pickett was on Thursday night.

    The 2023 NFL draft may be a year away, but the top players in that class have already started to emerge in recent years. It will feature Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who won last year's Heisman Trophy, as well as Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, who was a Heisman finalist, and plenty of other exciting young players.

    So here's an early mock for the first round of the 2023 draft. The order is set by the inverse of DraftKings Sportsbook's odds for each team to win the Super Bowl in the 2022 season.

2023 1st-Round Mock Draft

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

    2. Detroit Lions: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

    3. New York Jets: Will Anderson Jr., DE/LB, Alabama

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

    5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

    6. Carolina Panthers: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

    7. New York Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh

    8. Chicago Bears: Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan

    9. Seattle Seahawks: Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh

    10. Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

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

    12. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

    13. Minnesota Vikings: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

    14. New England Patriots: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

    15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dontay Demus, WR, Maryland

    16. Las Vegas Raiders: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

    17. Miami Dolphins: Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia

    18. Tennessee Titans: Derick Hall, DE, Auburn

    19. Arizona Cardinals: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

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

    21. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama

    22. Cincinnati Bengals: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

    23. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

    24. Dallas Cowboys: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

    25. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos): Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss

    26. Los Angeles Chargers: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

    27. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

    28. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Henry To’oto’o, LB, Alabama

    29. Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

    30. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas

    31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brennan Armstrong, QB, Virginia

    32. Buffalo Bills: BJ Ojulari, DE, LSU

Young vs. Stroud Could Be Decision to Make at No. 1

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    If a team such as the Texans or Lions ends up with the No. 1 overall pick in 2023, then a quarterback will likely have a high chance of coming off the board. And if that's the case, then that team may have a tough decision to make—Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud?

    Of course, the 2022 season hasn't been played, and that could change things. But both Young and Stroud are impressive QB prospects who have a ton of potential and may develop into elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Young passed for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, and he should put up more impressive numbers this year. Meanwhile, Stroud threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions and should also be in a position to have more success.

    Depending on how the NFL draft order shakes out, there's a good possibility that Young and Stroud will be the first two players selected. But at the least, these two talented QBs should both come off the board in the top 10, assuming that their stock doesn't somehow fall over the next year.

Anderson Should Be Top Defensive Prospect Available

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Another player who should be taken early in the 2023 NFL draft is Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. And if he continues to be a dominant force for the Crimson Tide's defense this year, then there will likely be a lot of NFL teams interested in landing him next April.

    Anderson has continually improved over his two seasons at Alabama. In 2020, he had 52 tackles and seven sacks. Then, he recorded 102 tackles and 17.5 sacks last year. If he builds off that in 2022, he could be in store for a huge season that may even earn him Heisman consideration.

    "I think this year is gonna be something special," Anderson said while discussing the Crimson Tide's defense after their spring game earlier this month, per Charlie Potter of

    If the team that ends up with the No. 1 pick already has its franchise quarterback in place, don't be surprised if Anderson is the first player to come off the board in the 2023 draft. He's shown elite potential in the college ranks and could become a top-tier pass rusher in the NFL in the years to come.

Smith-Njigba's Stock Should Continue to Rise Through 2022

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Jaxon Smith-Njigba broke out during his sophomore season with Ohio State in 2021, with the majority of his production coming in the second half. Over the Buckeyes' final five games, he compiled 958 yards and six touchdowns, exceeding the 100-yard mark in each of those contests.

    Smith-Njigba's most impressive performance came in Ohio State's Rose Bowl win over Utah. With star receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave electing not to play while preparing for the 2022 NFL draft, Smith-Njigba capitalized on the increased opportunities, notching 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

    It's unlikely that Smith-Njigba puts up those types of numbers throughout all of 2022, but it's clear what he's capable of when he's Stroud's No. 1 receiving option in the Buckeyes' offense. So it should be exciting to watch these two hook up for big plays routinely throughout the upcoming season.

    Because of that, Smith-Njigba could solidify himself as the top wide receiver in the 2023 NFL draft class. And he has the potential to keep raising his stock, potentially making himself a top-five pick next year.