We’re a little over eight hours from the start of Round 1 in the 2023 NFL draft, and ESPN’s Todd McShay just released his final mock draft.
With the Panthers set to be on the clock, here’s McShay’s final mock draft for 2023.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
One of the top pass rushers available, Smith would reunite with former Georgia teammates Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.
The Eagles are an interesting team at the back end of the top 10. I could see a trade back happening, maybe connected to Bijan Robinson. I could see them targeting an offensive lineman here. I could see a powerful edge rusher like Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness being in play, too. But I ultimately went with Smith, who has terrific speed and suddenness off the edge. He actually reminds me quite a bit of Haason Reddick, who turned in 16 sacks for Philadelphia last season. With the defensive line aging, Smith could have an immediate impact both as a pass-rusher and run defender.
30. Philadelphia Eagles Brian Branch, S/CB, Alabama
Branch is the Swiss Army Knife that could take a potentially average defensive unit to another level under Sean Desai.
Listed as a cornerback on some draft boards, Branch can flourish in the slot while being able to complement both Terrell Edmunds and Reed Blankenship if Philadelphia chooses to play with three safeties at times.
We went with an edge rusher at No. 10, and I think Philly could stay on defense with its second first-rounder. Adding a defensive tackle like Clemson’s Bryan Bresee or Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton fits with how the Eagles build their roster, but what about the versatility and diverse toolbox of Branch in the secondary? The Eagles lost C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps (but signed Terrell Edmunds), and they could benefit with someone like Branch who can play nickel or safety and help in coverage, against the run and even as a blitzer.