You know you want it. It’s a 2023 NFL 2-round mock draft with trades!
I’ve projected a few trade that could happen in Round 1, affecting the second round in the process. It’s likely more trades happen in Round 2, but I’ve decided to limit it to trades in just the first round for the sake of this exercise.
Nonetheless, let’s take a fun look at how the 2023 NFL Draft could potentially play out.
1. Carolina Panthers (via Bears): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Recent momentum has been strong towards the Panthers taking Young at No. 1, and the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner certainly has a strong case to be the top pick. Carolina will take a QB; it’s just a matter of who.
2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Rumors are the Texans like Young and are hesitant to draft C.J. Stroud because he has the same representation as Deshaun Watson. I’m not sure if that anecdote should be enough for Houston to pass on a great QB, but if they do, Anderson would be the pick here.
3. Indianapolis Colts (via Cardinals, projected trade): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Colts give up picks No. 4, 35 and 79 for picks No. 3 and 66. They trade up for a player with a strong argument to be the best QB in the class, and they make sure no other team gets to jump them.
4. Arizona Cardinals (via Colts, projected trade)): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Arizona gets to pick up an early second-round pick and still have a solid selection in Round 3 by moving back one spot, and they get arguably the most fluid defensive back in the 2023 draft in Gonzalez.
5. Houston Texans (from Seahawks via Broncos, projected trade): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Texans use their second first-round pick to trade up for a QB, giving up picks No. 12, 33 and 161 for picks No. 5 and 123. Richardson has the highest ceiling of any QB in the 2023 draft, and Houston pounces on the opportunity to get two top-5 picks in this year’s class.
6. Detroit Lions (via Rams): Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
The risk with Carter is a big one, but there’s also a possibility he becomes the best overall defender in the 2023 draft class. The Lions have a need along their interior defensive line, and Carter is an explosive, game-breaking 3-technique who would form a scary inside-outside duo with Aidan Hutchinson up front.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Raiders have Jimmy Garoppolo now, but it’s clear at this stage that he’s a stopgap quarterback. Levis is a strong-armed prospect who would have the opportunity to develop under a proven veteran and work in a QB-friendly offense.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
If Wilson falls to Atlanta here, the Falcons would likely be doing cartwheels. He’s a toolsy prospect at a premier position with a very high ceiling at the NFL level: the perfect recipe for an easy top-10 pick.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Bears via Panthers, projected trade): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Steelers, surprised that Johnson fell out of the top 8, give up picks No. 17, 32 and 49 for Chicago’s picks No. 9, 61 and 64 in order to acquire the standout offensive tackle to protect Kenny Pickett for the long haul.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints): Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
It might seem bold for the Eagles to take an offensive lineman this early, but if any team values the offensive line, it’s Philadelphia. Skoronski would slide right in at right guard in the starting lineup.
11. Washington Commanders (via Titans, projected trade): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Surprised that Witherspoon fell out of the top 10, the Commanders acquire a potential star at a major need by giving up picks No. 16, 47 and 118 for Tennessee’s picks No. 11 and 72.
12. Seattle Seahawks (from Texans via Browns, projected trade): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy is one of the most explosive edge rushers in the class, and the physical prowess he brings is palpable. Seattle has a need for pass-rushing help, and trading back while still acquiring a top talent there would be a dream scenario for them.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets have a lot of pieces in place with an encouraging offense, but it might help to draft an offensive tackle to further boost their line. Jones is an athletic and tenacious blocker with the tools needed to be a high-end contributor for 10+ years.
14. New England Patriots: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Flowers as the first WR off the board may seem bold, but all accounts indicate the Patriots have significant interest in him. He’s an explosive weapon and a consistent separator who would serve as the reliable security blanket the offense currently lacks.
15. Green Bay Packers: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
A freak athlete with underrated chops against the run for a smaller edge rusher, Smith is an enticing prospect who could serve as an eventual replacement for 30-year-old Preston Smith.
16. Tennessee Titans (via Commanders, projected trade): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Whenever you can acquire an extra second-round pick and still land Smith-Njigba in Round 1, that’s a big win. He and Treylon Burks could be a nice tandem at wide receiver for the Titans going forward.
17. Chicago Bears (via Steelers, projected trade): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Bears move back, end up with three top-50 picks in total and acquire the best true right tackle in the 2023 draft. Wright is a mammoth of a blocker with tremendous anchor strength and sneaky good athleticism, especially for his size. He would start right away at a premium position that just so happens to arguably be Chicago’s biggest need.
18. Detroit Lions: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
After considering Witherspoon at No. 6, the Lions still end up with a top cornerback in the class in Porter here at No. 18. His length, physicality and intelligent should allow him to contribute quickly at the NFL level.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
An athletic freak with the tools needed to develop into a star in due time, Banks would give the Buccaneers a strong building block for their defense as they prepare for life without Tom Brady.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
Kancey doesn’t fit the size or length criteria the Seahawks have fallen in love with for numerous defenders, but he’s a rare athlete at defensive tackle with tape that’s as good as nearly anybody in this draft.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
In the short term, Addison gives Justin Herbert a killer trio at wide receiver to work with in 2023, and in the long run, he projects as a great fit alongside Mike Williams and a strong replacement for Keenan Allen down the road.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Play him as a 3-4 defensive end or have him rush in a stand-up edge role. It doesn’t matter; Van Ness is a gifted athlete who has a nice blend of size, speed and strength and could play almost anywhere along Baltimore’s defensive line.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Vikings have seen a lot of success investing heavily in talented wide receiver tandems, and with Adam Thielen gone, there’s a massive need for a strong WR2 opposite Justin Jefferson. Johnston is a tad raw but has the size, speed, strength and YAC ability needed to develop into a star if he can improve as a route runner.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Doug Pederson saw great success with tight end tandems like Zach Ertz-Trey Burton and Ertz-Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia. The Jaguars have Evan Engram on the franchise tag, but an Ertz-like prospect like Kincaid would give them an insane TE duo in 2023 and a potential star at the position should Engram become too expensive for them to keep.
25. New York Giants: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
Torrence is the best pure guard in this class, and his bulldozing style of run blocking would make him a stellar addition to the Giants’ offensive line and a favorite of Saquon Barkley’s.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
With Dalton Schultz gone, the Cowboys would be wise to consider drafting a tight end early, especially with this talented class at the position. Mayer is capable of playing out of the slot or as an in-line weapon, giving Dak Prescott a solid target to complement the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
27. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bijan’s fall ends in Buffalo, who has taken swing after swing at running back to no avail. He’s a rare talent whose positional value could see him fall farther than he has any business falling, and this pick would give the Bills a potential All-Pro out of the backfield.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Should the Bengals trade Jonah Williams, they’ll need to acquire a new right tackle somehow. If you’re an AFC North edge rusher, you’re going to absolutely dread lining up against either Jones or Orlando Brown twice a year.
29. New Orleans Saints (via 49ers): Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Marcus Davenport is gone, and Cameron Jordan won’t be playing forever. The Saints need some pass-rushing help, and McDonald is a twitchy, lengthy pass rusher with tremendous bend and proven production at the collegiate level.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (FL)
Seem high for Stevenson? He projects as a candidate to go higher than the consensus on him, as he’s a lengthy, quick and well-rounded cornerback who tackles well and has good route recognition abilities. He would be a nice addition to Philadelphia’s secondary as a long-term investment behind Darius Slay and James Bradberry, both of whom having just signed extensions but also being in their 30s to start the 2023 season.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan
The Chiefs seem to have two quality defensive linemen in place in Chris Jones and George Karlaftis, but they could use some addition invest along the interior opposite Jones. Smith is a gifted 1-tech with absurd power and impressive quickness for his size, and his technical deficiencies would be masked well on a talented Kansas City front.
32. Chicago Bears (from Steelers via themselves, projected trade): Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
Getting their own second-round pick is massive for the Bears, as it allows them to select the best 3-technique on the board. Adebawore has phenomenal quickness, length and raw power, and though his plan as a pass-rusher is still a work in progress, he has the upside to become the star 3-tech a Matt Eberflus defense needs.
33. Seattle Seahawks (via Texans, projected trade): Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
34. Arizona Cardinals: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
35. Arizona Cardinals (via Colts, projected trade): Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
36. Los Angeles Rams: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
37. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos): Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
38. Las Vegas Raiders: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
39. Carolina Panthers: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
40. New Orleans Saints: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
41. Tennessee Titans: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
42. New York Jets (via Browns): Brian Branch, S, Alabama
43. Green Bay Packers (via Jets, projected Aaron Rodgers trade): Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
44. Atlanta Falcons: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
45. Green Bay Packers: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
46. New England Patriots: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
47. Tennessee Titans (via Commanders, projected trade): Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
48. Detroit Lions: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
49. Chicago Bears (via Steelers, projected trade): John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
After acquiring their right tackle and 3-tech of the future, the Bears take advantage of arguably a top-25 talent falling into the middle of Round 2 due to positional value and age. Schmitz is a pro-ready center whose pad level, hand placement, body control, play strength and intelligence could make him an immediate contributor. His selection would also allow Chicago to free up even more cap space by cutting Cody Whitehair, giving them additional flexibility for 2024’s offseason and in the post-draft free agency market this year.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
51. Miami Dolphins: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
52. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Mauch, OG, North Dakota State
53. Chicago Bears (via Ravens): Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
The Bears wrap up their Day 2 selections by adding yet another player for their trenches. Hall is an explosive athlete who plays with a high motor and has very good length with nice raw power at the point of attack. A defensive line tandem of Hall and Adebawore is a very nice start to a unit that desperately needs an infusion of young talent.
54. Los Angeles Chargers: Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin
55. Detroit Lions (via Vikings): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
56. Jacksonville Jaguars: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
57. New York Giants: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
58. Dallas Cowboys: Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor
59. Buffalo Bills: Steve Avila, OG, TCU
60. Cincinnati Bengals: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
61. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Bears via Panthers via 49ers, projected trade): Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
62. Philadelphia Eagles: Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
63. Kansas City Chiefs: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
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