Folks, we finally made it. The 2023 NFL draft is here!
Throughout the entire process, we here at Vikings Wire have worked tirelessly to bring you the best Minnesota Vikings-specific NFL draft coverage. From all the mock drafts, scouting reports and player profiles, nobody in the market does it better than we do.
The first round is going to be a wild ride, as nobody really knows what’s going to happen more than any other year. This is my best guess on what is going to happen on Thursday night.
1. Carolina Panthers: Alabama QB Bryce Young
This has been a slam dunk for a few weeks. The Panthers are enamored with Young’s playmaking ability and rightfully so. He was tremendous at Alabama in elevating the lack of talent around him and was good when he did have talent. The frame concerns are real, especially with his height, but Young is an elite distributor that goes to one of the best situations for the number one pick in recent memory.
2. Houston Texans: Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson
We can debate about whether or not the Texans should take a quarterback here. They are a few years away from really contending and new head coach DeMeco Ryans is defensive minded and wanting to take a dominant player on the defensive line could make his defense tick.
Wilson is a player that can do just that for Ryans. He is a versatile athlete that can play both on the edge and kick inside. This is the Arik Armstead for his defense and he will be a versatile weapon for Ryans.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
This is where the chaos really begins. The Cardinals have been open about wanting to trade out here, but they don’t want to go too far down. They want a blue-chip player. With Jonathan Gannon taking over, he will control the defense, but finding a way to protect Kyler Murray is key. Johnson Jr. is a left tackle by trade, but
4. Indianapolis Colts: Kentucky QB Will Levis
It’s been out there for a while that the Colts love Levis. In fact, it’s been a running joke on The NFL Stock Exchange Podcast that Levis is an Indianapolis Colt. It’s weird to see him going before both C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson, but the ability to run the quick game with efficiency and the arm talent to make throws similar to Josh Allen will entice a team to take him early.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Georgia DT Jalen Carter
The Seahawks get to slam-dunk this pick as they get the best player in the draft along with filling a massive need on the interior. Carter is a really talented and explosive player on the interior that was the best player on the Georgia defense and they had Travon Walker go first overall last year.
6. Detroit Lions: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon
The Raiders are in need of help in multiple positions. They could go offensive line here, but I believe the one they covet went at number three overall to the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, they get a missile at cornerback in Witherspoon, who can be a true lockdown cornerback for the Raiders.
8. Minnesota Vikings (from Atlanta): Florida QB Anthony Richardson
This is somewhat of a shocker, but it really shouldn’t be. The Vikings need a quarterback of the future and the tea leaves are coming into focus. The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling has the Vikings trading up to 11 to take Anthony Richardson and he makes sense for what the Vikings are trying to do moving forward. He has every single tool you could ask for and with a year behind Kirk Cousins, Richardson will be afforded time to work on his mechanical consistencies.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Chicago): Tennessee OT Darnell Wright
Pittsburgh trades 17 and 49 to the Chicago Bears for pick 9
The Steelers have a need at offensive line and with a projected run going earlier than anticipated, they use their second pick in the second round to go up and get a player that fits well for them. Wright will thrive in Pittsburgh as a plug-and-play right tackle running inside zone with Najee Harris.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy
The Eagles have taken five positions in round one over the past 20 years.
- Offensive line
- Defensive tackle
- Edge rusher
- Wide receiver
They really don’t deviate much from those, and I don’t expect that to change. Murphy is a ridiculous athlete for a 6050 and 272 lbs player. The Eagles will salivate having him rotate in with Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat ahead of him.
11. Tennessee Titans: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
My top quarterback in the class somehow falls to 11 and it’s for not too dissimilar reasons to why Fields fell in the 2021 NFL draft. He is a technician of the highest level at the position. Stroud is an elite processor and a creator inside the pocket that has tremendous ball placement.
12. Houston Texans: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
By not taking a quarterback, the Texans get two players at the top of their position groups. They have John Metchie and Nico Collins in the room and adding Smith-Njigba to the room will give their future quarterback a shot to succeed early.
13. Green Bay Packers: Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
The Packers swapped picks with the Jets to have a better chance to get Smith-Njigba, but they get sniped by the Texans. They need a tight end and nobody can attack better in this class in a more diverse way than Kincaid. With some comparing him to Travis Kelce, Kincaid has a lot of ability as a pass catcher, something they need for Jordan Love.
14. New England Patriots: Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski
The Patriots love to build through the trenches and the draft history of Bill Belichick reflects that. Skoronski was really good at tackle for Northwestern, but a shift to guard might be in his best interest with his size profile.
15. New York Jets: Georgia OT Broderick Jones
The Jets finally have Aaron Rodgers in the building and they need to figure out how to protect him. There are multiple questions at offensive tackle and Jones would both help solidify that and could kick inside to guard if needed.
16. Washington Commanders: Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez
One of the first shockers on the board is Gonzalez falling. That happens with a run on both quarterback and offensive tackle. A player that thrive in any scheme, Gonzalez is at his best in off-man coverage and zone. For a team that is loaded on the defensive line, Gonzalez is a tremendous add for the Commanders.
17. Chicago Bears (from Pittsburgh): Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison
The Bears need a lot of talent, so trading down and getting an extra second-round pick is a great move for them. They still get a somewhat comparable and talented tackle in Harrison. A really good athlete, Harrison would position in at tackle on day one for the Bears to help their rebuild accellerate.
18. Detroit Lions: Maryland CB Deonte Banks
The Lions get Will Anderson at sixth overall and they fortify a cornerback room that, while it’s improved, still has long-term question marks. Banks is an excellent press-man cornerback who is a tremendous athlete.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness
The Buccaneers need help at edge rusher. With what Todd Bowles likes to do on defense, a player like Van Ness who has a lot of upside due to his power and size is the ideal pick for the Buccaneers.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.
If this was the Legion of Boom Seahawks, Porter Jr. might have been the pick at five. His length, physicality and athleticism all fit exactly what Carroll likes with his defensive backs. Pairing him with Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant would give the Seahawks a really good secondary.
Forefitted: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins forfeited this pick due to owner Stephen Ross tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
The Chargers need to find a way to continue utilizing Justin Herbert’s talent. They have receivers on the outside but nobody to win in the middle of the field. Mayer is a versatile tight end that can provide value as a blocker and can win in coverage on all three levels.
22. Baltimore Ravens: South Carolina CB Cam Smith
The Ravens addressed their need at wide receiver by signing Odell Beckham Jr. and they address cornerback with the loss of Marcus Peters. Smith is long and physical in coverage that will attack the football.
23. Atlanta Falcons (from Minnesota): Texas RB Bijan Robinson
The Falcons get a really nice return from the Vikings for the eighth overall pick and they end up with the player that they likely would have taken in Robinson. Arthur Smith loves to run the football and he will love the talent and versatility of Robinson.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alabama CB/S Brian Branch
This is one of the easiest picks in the draft. The Jaguars need playmakers on defense and Branch is one of the best. With the ability to play anywhere on the back seven, Branch will help that defense immediately.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (from New York Giants): Boston College WR Zay Flowers
Chiefs trade 31, 122 and 178 to the Giants for pick 25
The Chiefs lost Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason so they package a couple of picks to go and get the versatile Flowers. Some have compared Flowers to Antonio Brown due to his ability to attack all three levels of the field with explosiveness.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michigan DT Mazi Smith
The Cowboys would love to get Bijan Robinson here, but they get the most athletic nose tackle in sometime. Smith has the profile to grow as a pass rusher but you can’t teach his level of explosiveness.
27. Buffalo Bills: USC WR Jordan Addison
The Bills don’t have anyone who is really at separating on the inside and they get the best route runner for my money in this class in Addison. The Biletnikoff winner from 2021, Addison is incredibly savvy in the open field and understands how to manipulate leverage.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs
Robinson is the dream here, but with the uncertain future of Joe Mixon, they take Gibbs. Some in the league have him ranked as the top running back in the class and he plays a similar style to Alvin Kamara.
29. New Orleans Saints: Northwestern EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore
The Saints love bigger edge rushers and Adebawore is a player that can play both inside and outside. Having run a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 281 lbs, Adebawore is oozing with untapped potential that will thrive on a line with Cameron Jordan..
30. Houston Texans (from Philadelphia): Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker
Houston sends 33 and 104 to Philadelphia for 30 and 219
The Texans don’t have to pay much to get their quarterback turning their fourth-round pick into a seventh, which was originally theirs. Hooker has his issues with processing and his age (25) is a concern, but the intangibles and natural arm talent is appealing for a team.
31. New York Giants (from Kansas City): Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz
The Giants get some draft capital to take a player they were likely to take regardless at 25th overall. Schmitz is a player that would be able to come in and start right away with scheme versatility.