Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Eddie Brown

2023 NFL mock draft: First-round projections

Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson announced on Monday he will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2023 NFL draft.

Robinson isn't going to play in the Alamo Bowl against the Washington Huskies.

Neither of these developments are a surprise.

It's rare for top prospects to participate in a bowl game once they've decided to go pro these days, and the dynamic Robinson is certainly a top prospect.

Most of us who analyze the draft professionally have him as the top running back in the 2023 class, topping Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs, which means most of us would be surprised if he isn't the first tailback selected in late April.

The question is how high?

You'd be hard-pressed to find him outside of the top-20 overall prospects on most lists (and even inside the top-10 on a few).

The last running back to be drafted inside the top-20 was Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall in 2018.

Only four teams strike me as a possible match with Robinson currently picking inside the top 20 — Arizona (No. 5), Atlanta (No. 7), Carolina (No. 8) and Philadelphia (No. 9) — and they're all in the top-10 in this iteration of my mock.

If he slips past those four teams — the Cardinals, Falcons and Panthers have a bunch of pressing needs — someone is going to likely get a great value in the back-end of the first round.


This is an attempt at figuring out the best players available in this season's draft class, and which teams they'd match up well with considering the current draft order courtesy of The closer we get to draft day, the more I'll attempt to match what teams will actually do with their draft picks as opposed to what I believe they should do.

Last season, I tied for the most accurate NFL draft prognosticator in print, according to The Huddle Report. I was also tied for ninth overall (out of 158) for 2022. I'm fourth overall (out of 159) over the past five years.

The draft has become the Super Bowl of the NFL's second season — the NFL doesn't have an off-season — and a mock version of said draft is meant to educate, perhaps even entertain. At very least, it helps you pass the time.

Follow me on Twitter @UTEddieBrown so we can continue the conversation.

Here's an updated version of my 2023 NFL mock draft:


— 1. Houston (1-12-1) — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama, Jr.

Coming from the Patriots, general manager Nick Caserio never experienced what it was like to have the top overall pick, or need a quarterback really, but the position has to be at the top of his off-season list of priorities. Young has showcased an elite level skill set for two straight seasons, this year with fewer playmakers surrounding him. One of those playmakers was John Metchie, who missed his rookie season for the Texans while being treated for leukemia. Metchie caught 96 balls for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns his junior year at Alabama with Young under center. Of course, Young's size (6-foot, 195 pounds) will be debated, but barring a team trading up for one of the elite defenders, he is the odds-on favorite to be chosen with the first pick. Top needs: QB, WR, DL

— 2. Chicago (3-11) — Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama, Jr.

The questions around Justin Fields have subsided. There are shades of Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas and future Hall of Famer Von Miller in his pass-rush approach, but Anderson is equally adept at defending the run. I'd have no qualms with him going first overall. GM Ryan Poles wouldn't hesitate to take the explosive pass rusher after trading away Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn this year. Top needs: WR, DL, LB

— 3. Seattle from Denver (4-10) — Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia, Jr.

What if I told you the most talented player on a historically-great Bulldogs defense that saw five prospects selected in the first round wasn't even eligible for the draft after last season? Carter is a scheme-wrecker and can attack an offense from any position on the defensive line. The Seahawks run defense has been a glaring weakness and will need to be addressed if they plan on challenging the 49ers in the NFC West. GM John Schneider will have plenty of options available to him if the Broncos keep losing. Top needs: Edge, DT, QB

— 4. Detroit from L.A. Rams (4-10) — CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio St., Jr.

I won't besmirch Jared Goff too much here, he has had a fine season, but I'm still not convinced he's the long-term answer at quarterback for a promising young Lions team. Stroud's accuracy makes him an ideal "point guard" for an offense that will feature Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams and D'Andre Swift. Top needs: QB, LB, DB

— 5. Arizona (4-10) — Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern, Jr.

The Cardinals offensive line hasn't been great and Kelvin Beachum will be a free agent after this season. Skoronski took over for Rashawn Slater as a true freshman in 2020 and the offense didn't miss a beat. Some scouts may say his size better suits him to play guard, but they also said that about Slater. Top needs: OL, Edge, DB

— 6. Indianapolis (4-9-1) — Will Levis, QB, Kentucky, Sr.

GM Chris Ballard has tried to address the quarterback position through the trade market. There will be some options in free agency, but he'll likely have to draft one regardless. Levis' senior season has been a mixed bag compared to his impressive 2021 campaign, but he features the combination of arm talent, size (6-foot-3, 232 pounds) and mobility that usually sparks the imagination of an offensive coordinator. Top needs: QB, WR, CB

— 7. Atlanta (5-9) — Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson, Jr.

The Falcons simply can't pressure the quarterback. Murphy features very similar dimensions/traits to 2022 No. 1 overall draft pick Travon Walker. Top needs: Edge, WR, DB

— 8. Carolina (5-9) — Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas, Jr.

An attempt to trade for Deshaun Watson failed. Recycling Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield (recently released) has failed as well so the Panthers will once again be in the market for a signal-caller, but the board doesn't break right for that here. Few things are certain at this point, but I'm fairly positive the Doak Walker Award-winning Robinson will be the first running back off the board. This would be a prudent pick for the Panthers after trading Christian McCaffrey and with D'Onta Foreman facing free agency. Top needs: QB, OL, TE

— 9. Philadelphia from New Orleans (5-9) — Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson, So.

GM Howie Roseman added former All-Pros Quinn (via trade) and Ndamukong Suh as stop gaps on the defensive line. Bresee was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2020 recruiting class. He showed flashes of dominance as a true freshman in 2020, but only played 152 snaps in 2021 before tearing his ACL. He's bounced back in an impressive way and would pair nicely with Jordan Davis going forward. Top needs: DT, DB, Edge

— 10. Las Vegas (6-8) — Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech, Sr.

The Raiders are a darkhorse in a potential QB derby for this draft, but they are also perpetually looking to upgrade their defense. Wilson was one of nine players in the FBS to produce 60 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and six sacks before suffering a season-ending broken foot against Kansas. He's a physically gifted, ascending pass rusher who is explosive off the ball and powerful enough to make an immediate impact at the next level. His addition would make it difficult to double-team Maxx Crosby. Top needs: OL, DL, QB

— 11. Jacksonville (6-8) — Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU, Jr.

A trio of Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk and Johnston would help take Trevor Lawrence's development to the next level. Johnston does Deebo Samuel-like things, forcing missed tackles when he has the ball in his hands, but he's 6-foot-4, 215 pounds — Samuel is four inches shorter. Top needs: DL, CB, WR

— 12. Houston from Cleveland (6-8) — Jordan Addison, WR, USC, Jr.

The Texans have needs everywhere, but adding Addison to a young offensive core that includes Young, Metchie, Dameon Pierce and Nico Collins would form a solid foundation. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner is a silky smooth route runner and has the speed to challenge a defense at every level. Top needs: QB, WR, DL

— 13. Green Bay (6-8) — Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame, Jr.

The further we get outside of the top-10, the harder it will be to pass on Mayer. The Irish pipeline at tight end to the NFL continues to flourish. Mayer isn't as explosive as Kyle Pitts, but his receiving acumen, size (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) and toughness put him just a tick below Pitts as a prospect. Both Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis will be free agents. Top needs: DL, S, TE

— 14. Pittsburgh (6-8) — Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio St., Jr.

Uncharacteristically, the Steelers have had a problematic offensive line for a few years now. Johnson could very well end up in the top-10 depending on how the draft order shakes out. He was the nation's top-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the 2020 recruiting class and has thrived at both left tackle and right guard for the Buckeyes. Top needs: OT, DB, WR

— 15. Seattle (7-7) — Brian Branch, DB, Alabama, Jr.

The Seahawks knocked it out of the park twice by drafting corners Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant in April. Jamal Adams hasn't quite met the standards he set for himself in New York since being traded to the Pacific Northwest. Adams will be 28 next season and will be returning from a season-ending quad tear after suffering a season-ending torn labrum in 2021. Branch can play anywhere in the secondary and is one of the surest tacklers you will find in a defensive backfield. Top needs: DT, QB, S

— 16. New England (7-7) — Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina, Jr.

Jonathan Jones will be a free agent and is deserving of a raise, which usually means the Patriots will let him walk. Smith was Jaycee Horn's successor and maintained Horn's excellence for the Gamecocks. So much so, quarterbacks have essentially avoided him this season. Top needs: WR, OL, CB

— 17. N.Y. Jets (7-7) — Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia, So.

The Jets' best two offensive lineman (Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker) have been hurt and the rest are facing free agency after the season. Jones hasn't allowed a single sack this season. Top needs: QB, LB, OL

— 18. Detroit (7-7) — Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn St., Jr.

The son of former All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter would pair with former top-three pick Jeff Okudah and hopefully address a leaky pass defense for the Lions. Junior's athleticism and talent pops when you watch him, but he'll need to refine his technique and develop more consistency to pay off his potential — his aggressive nature is a gift and a curse. Top needs: QB, LB, DB

— 19. Tampa Bay (6-8) — Jared Verse, Edge, Florida St., Jr.

Most of the Buccaneers current defensive line is facing free agency once again. Verse, a transfer from FCS-level Albany, is a powerful pass rusher who lives in the opponent's backfield — he's among the nation's leaders with 14.5 tackles for loss. Top needs: QB, DL, DB

— 20. Tennessee (7-7) — Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon, So.

The Titans recently fired GM Jon Robinson, so I'll have to re-calibrate my approach once they find a long-term replacement, but the new hire will have to address a porous pass defense and the lack of offensive weapons. Gonzalez has the size (6-2, 200) and physical traits that make most scouts salivate, and the Colorado transfer has answered all questions regarding ball production (four interceptions). Top needs: OL, CB, WR

— 21. Washington (7-6-1) — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida, So.

Taylor Heinicke, Carson Wentz and Sam Howell won't prohibit the Commanders from seeking a quarterback. Especially one that might remind coach Ron Rivera of Cam Newton — not necessarily his fashion sense — his former MVP signal-caller in Carolina. Richardson is the wild card in this QB class. His range is anywhere from first overall pick — I expect scouts and coaches/coordinators to fall in love with his traits (i.e. ceiling) — to a Day 2 selection. Top needs: CB, OL, QB

— 22. L.A. Chargers (8-6) — Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon, So.

The Chargers still can't stop the run and GM Tom Telesco likes to collect linebackers. The younger brother of Penei — the No. 7 pick overall in 2021 — has a knack for finding the ball, and the ability to punish a ball-carrier at the point of attack. Top needs: DL, LB, OL

— 23. N.Y. Giants (8-5-1) — O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida, Jr.

The Giants' interior O-line is in desperate need of an upgrade. Torrence was an elite prospect at Louisiana, and he didn't miss a beat after transferring into the SEC. Top needs: WR, QB, OL

— 24. Baltimore (9-5) — Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia, So.

The Ravens biggest priority this off-season will be to extend Lamar Jackson and potentially add more weapons on offense so he doesn't have to break his back carrying the team going forward. Next in line might be replacing Marcus Peters if he walks in free agency. As a red-shirt sophomore, Ringo's size/speed combination is still developing, but he'll compete to be the first cornerback selected next year if he decides to leave school. Top needs: CB, WR, Edge

— 25. Denver from San Francisco (10-4) — Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame, Jr.

The Broncos will seek a replacement for Von Miller and Bradley Chubb this offseason. Foskey's versatile skill set, size and power would have likely made him a Day 2 selection had he entered the draft last season. He's worthy of a first round pick this time around. Top needs: OL, Edge, WR

— 26. Dallas (10-4) — Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah, Jr.

The Cowboys need more consistency at cornerback outside of Trevon Diggs and impressive rookie DaRon Bland. Phillips features a smaller frame, but his ability to mirror and match routes, plus his explosive athleticism and ball skills more than make for it. Top needs: DB, WR, OL

— 27. Cincinnati (10-4) — Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma, Jr.

Joe Burrow might actually match the brilliance of his final collegiate season in the NFL if the Bengals ever get this offensive line right. Harrison features the prototypical size and movement skills of starting left tackle in the NFL. He'll need to polish his technique (but he's already very good in pass protection) and buy-in to an NFL strength program in order to unlock the next level. Top needs: T, DB, DL

— 28. Kansas City (11-3) — Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia, Sr.

Chris Jones was sick and ineffective on Sunday and we saw how bad the Chiefs' pass rush is without him. The former five-star recruit is athletic enough to make plays from sideline to sideline. A refined approach to rushing the passer is needed to unlock his unlimited potential. It remains to be seen how his season-ending pectoral tear will affect his draft stock. Top needs: T, WR, DL

— 29. Minnesota (11-3) — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio St., Jr.

Adam Thielen will be 33 next season and the Vikings have a potential out in his contract after this season. The Buckeyes had two receivers drafted in the first 11 picks last April and Smith-Njigba out-produced both as a sophomore. An injury-riddled season has dampened his draft stock, but if he checks out during the draft process, he likely won't be available here. Top needs: DB, WR, OL

— 30. Buffalo (11-3) — Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M, Jr.

Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are aging gracefully, but aging nonetheless. Poyer is a free agent after this season with Hyde's contract expiring after the 2023 season. Johnson is a rangy, versatile impact tackler whose size (6-3,195) and athleticism will allow defensive coordinators to get creative. Top needs: WR, S, LB

— 31. Philadelphia (13-1) — Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama, Jr.

Miles Sanders is set to test free agency and could command a significant investment after his breakthrough 2022 season. Gibbs may be a cheaper upgrade. There's bell-cow, dual-threat potential here. He features electric speed with pass-catching ability and an advanced route tree. Top needs: DT, DB, Edge

— NOTE: The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.