Now that the regular season is over, you know what time it is! Playoffs? No, it's mock draft season! Right now only picks 1-18 are established, while the rest will be decided once the playoffs are over, so for now I'll be using my playoff predictions (2023 NFL Playoff Predictions - Cat Scratch Reader) to determine the order for picks 19-32. So without any further ado, here is my first mock draft of the postseason:
2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Bears- Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
Considering the Bears are in the rare position where they have a QB, but also have the #1 pick, they're going to try like crazy to trade down here. However, that may be easier said than done, since only 5 times in the history of the NFL has the #1 pick ever been traded, with it only happening twice in the 2000s. While I'm sure the Bears will have several offers for this pick, I doubt they would get any that are truly worth the value of the #1 pick, so I could see them instead staying put and taking the best player available. Anderson is widely regarded as the best defensive player in this class, and considering the Bears traded away their best pass-rushers in Mack and Quinn, this pick fills a huge need for them.
2. Texans- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
While the Texans have a lot of needs that they could address, they simply cannot afford to pass up on a franchise QB here. Mills has been solid for them, and hasn't had much talent to work with, but he seems better suited as a very reliable back-up, so it would make sense for them to use this pick on the best QB in the class to finally replace Watson. Opinions vary on who the QB1 of this class is, but early rumors indicate that the Texans seem to like Young.
3. (Trade from Cardinals to Panthers)- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Similar to the Bears, the Cardinals already have their franchise QB, so they could also look to trade down with this pick, especially since the best player at their biggest position of need (Edge) is already off the board.
The Panthers need a QB, plain and simple. We've tried signing a Free Agent QB in Bridgewater and that failed miserably, and then we tried trading for former 1st round QBs in Darnold and Mayfield, which also failed miserably. There's only one option we haven't tried, and that's drafting one in the 1st round. Unfortunately for us, the best ones will almost definitely be gone by our pick, so we'll probably have to trade-up for the one we want. So if Tepper was willing to be involved in the Watson sweepstakes just to get a franchise QB, I have to believe that he'll do whatever it takes to get one here. It wouldn't even surprise me if he forced a trade for the #1 pick, but considering that type of trade could cripple our team for years to come, it would be smarter to instead wait to see which QBs fall out of the top 2 picks. Assuming the Texans go with Young, we could capitalize on Stroud's fall by trading up above the Colts and Seahawks here. Whether you think it's worth it or not, this type of trade would cost us at least a couple 1st round picks and change.
4. Colts- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
They Colts have needed a franchise QB ever since Luck retired, and considering they'll be rolling with a new HC next year, pairing him with a 1st round QB makes sense. With his arm strength and mobility, Levis would be a great fit for the Colts' offense, especially since he could sit and develop behind Ryan for a year.
5. Seahawks- Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
This is one of the picks that the Seahawks received from the Broncos in the Wilson trade.
The Seahawks are likely to re-sign Geno Smith, so QB isn't a huge need for them, and it's not like any of the top ones are available to them here anyway. While you can never rule out a trade-down with the Seahawks, it's not every day that you make the playoffs yet also get a top 5 pick, and there aren't any amazing prospects here that teams would be dying to trade up for. So if they keep this pick, it would make sense for them to use it on the best defensive player available to fix their terrible defense. Carter should be a good fit for them since the Seahawks have had success with players with "makeup concerns" like Carter supposedly has, and it helps that he's viewed as the most talented defensive player in this class.
6. Lions- Bryan Breese, DL, Clemson
This is one of the picks that the Lions received from the Rams in the Stafford trade.
The Lions are in almost the exact same situation as the Seahawks, in that they have a solid starting QB in Goff, have a top 10 pick despite being a playoff contender, and have a terrible defense. So it would make sense that the Lions would use this pick on the same position as the Seahawks, since they desperately need as much help as they can get on defense, and they especially need help in the middle of their D-line.
7. Raiders- Pete Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Raiders are very likely to move on from Carr, but that doesn't mean they have to use this pick on a QB. Due to his connection with McDaniels, I think Brady will sign with the Raiders instead of retiring or returning to the Bucs. With that in mind, the Raiders have to do everything in their power to build a contender around Brady, and that starts with fixing their O-line, similar to how the Bucs trading up for Wirfs helped them win a ring with Brady. While the biggest needs for the Raiders definitely reside on defense, unfortunately for them the best defensive players have already been taken, so instead of reaching for one here, they should get the best O-lineman in this class to protect Brady.
8. Falcons- Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
The Falcons have tried and failed to find a franchise edge-rusher for as long as I can remember, and considering their defense still sucks, getting the next best edge-rusher here makes sense for them.
9. (Trade from Panthers to Cardinals)- Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
Considering the Cardinals let their best pass-rusher in Chandler Jones leave in Free Agency last year, and their next best one in Watt just retired, they desperately need to use this pick on the next best edge-rusher.
10. Eagles- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
This is one of the picks that the Saints sent to the Eagles as part of their trade-up last year. Since the Saints don't have a 1st round pick, and aren't likely to gain one due to a Payton trade (I think he'll wait a year for the Chargers or Cowboys position to open up), they're in a tough spot when it comes to getting a new QB. However, they're lucky that the Raiders have to cut or trade Carr before his money becomes guaranteed shortly after the Super Bowl, so I think the interest will be mutual due to their HC being the one who drafted Carr when he was with the Raiders.
It's kind of crazy that the Eagles have the #1 seed in the NFC yet are also getting a top 10 pick thanks to the Saints. I could see them trading down here since their GM loves to make draft-day trades, however it would be hard for them to pass up on arguably the best CB in the class when Bradberry is a Free Agent and Slay isn't getting any younger.
11. (Trade from Titans to Lions)- Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State
The Titans have a decent amount of needs, and since they generally love to take a page out of Belichick's book by trading down, I could see them doing so here.
The Lions showed last year that they'll be aggressive in trying to turn their team into a contender by trading up from the 32nd pick all the way to 12, so after they barely missed out on the playoffs this year, I could see them trading up again. Considering their secondary is arguably their biggest weakness, and the best CB is already off the board, they may feel the need to trade up for the next best one.
12. Texans- Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
This is the pick that the Browns sent to the Texans as part of their trade for Watson.
If the Texans want their next franchise QB to succeed, they have to get him some more weapons, so drafting the best WR in the class here makes sense for them.
13. Jets- Paris Johnson Jr, OL, Ohio State
Similar to the Raiders, the Jets will almost certainly be looking for a new QB this offseason, but I think their answer will also be found in Free Agency. Jimmy G would be a perfect fit for them due to his familiarity with their OC, and he can provide stability while Wilson either develops, or is eventually traded. With this pick, it would make sense to get some more protection for their new QB by drafting the next best O-lineman.
14. Patriots- Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Patriots' 3 biggest needs are arguably OT, WR, and CB. Considering the two best OTs and CBs have already been taken, it would make sense to use this pick on the next best WR to try and develop Jones into a true franchise QB.
15. Packers- Brian Branch, S, Alabama
I think Rodgers will retire after this season to avoid any conflict with the Packers wanting to start Love, but either way his decision won't really affect how they draft. The Packers could certainly use some more help at WR and OT, but unfortunately for them the best ones have already been taken. However, considering their GM loves to draft defensive players in the 1st round, I could see him doing so again here. The Packers currently only have one safety under contract next year in Savage, and they declined his 5th year-option, so it's safe to say that getting the best safety in the class here would fill a huge need.
16. Commanders- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
While the Commanders have several QBs on their team that are capable of being solid starters, none of them appear to be franchise QB material. So, just like it's been in years past, their biggest need is almost definitely a QB. Assuming that Rivera and Hurney survive this offseason, I could see them comparing Richardson to the franchise QB that they drafted for Carolina in Newton. In this scenario, they could sit Richardson for a year and let him develop behind Wentz, Heinicke, or maybe even Howell.
17. Steelers- Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Steelers desperately need to get Pickett an O-line, so it would make sense for them to get the next best O-lineman here.
18. (Trade from Lions to Titans)- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Even though the Titans just used a 1st round pick on a receiver, that was simply to replace Brown, so I imagine that they would want to get another weapon to make their offense more dynamic. Considering how much their offense relies on their TEs, getting arguably the best TE in the class here makes sense for them.
19. Buccaneers- Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M
Even though I don't think Brady will return to the Bucs, I doubt they'll use this pick on a QB, since there simply aren't any good ones available here. So instead I think they'll roll with Trask, and maybe sign a Free Agent QB like Mayfield to compete with him. Considering several of their starting CBs and safeties are heading to Free Agency, getting a versatile DB like Johnson here makes sense for them.
20. (Trade from Seahawks to Cowboys)- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
The Seahawks have a long history of trading down in the 1st round, and since they stayed put with their top 5 pick, I could see them following that tradition here instead.
Jerry Jones thinks that his team is a Super Bowl contender in any given year, so he won't accept anything less than a ring when they inevitably choke in the playoffs again. With that in mind, I could see him trading up here as an aggressive move to finally turn his team into a true contender. While they don't have many pressing needs, all of the Cowboys' best LBs are either injury-prone or Free Agents, so getting the best LB in the class makes sense for them, especially since it would allow them to make Parsons a full-time pass-rusher.
21. Dolphins (Forfeited)
This is the pick that was taken away from the Dolphins due to their owner's tampering with Brady and Payton. Even though the Dolphins don't have a 1st round pick this year, I'm predicting that they'll trade several future 1st rounders for Lamar Jackson. It's quite obvious that the Dolphins' owner doesn't believe in Tua, as seen by his interest in Watson and Brady, and considering Tua's contract is expiring soon, now is the time to make a deicison on him. So similar to how they traded away a lot to get Hill and Chubb, I could see them doing the same here to get their franchise QB.
This trade also makes sense for the Ravens, since it seems very likely that Jackson will not be re-signed. The Ravens don't want to give Jackson a guaranteed contract, and since Jackson doesn't have an agent, I don't see them compromising anytime soon. This means the Ravens will probably franchise-tag Jackson, and if they can't come to a long-term agreemnt, will trade him for as much as they can. The Ravens will most likely get Tua in this deal, and will re-sign Huntley, and they'll hope that this can work out for them similar to how the Wilson trade worked for the Seahawks.
22. Giants- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The Giants are a surprise playoff contender this year, and the main reason for that is Daboll's incredible work with Daniel Jones, meaning that they don't really have to worry about getting a QB now. While they still will have to franchise-tag or re-sign Jones, doing so will allow them to finally lock down the most important position in football, and will open up opportunities for what positions they can address in the draft. With all that being said, this pick should definitely be a WR, since if they ever want Jones to develop into a true franchise QB, they absolutely must surround him with some more weapons.
23. Chargers- Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
Nose tackles don't often go in the 1st round, but the Chargers desperately need someone in the middle of their D-line to help stop the run, and Ika has rare speed and athleticism that also makes him a solid pass-rusher.
24. (Trade from Ravens to Eagles)- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Similar to the Seahawks, the Ravens love to trade down, and since a lot of the best players in this draft have already been taken, I could see them doing so here.
Yes, I know that this is early for an RB, especially when the Eagles' run game has been doing so well, but there are several reasons why this makes sense. The first is that Robinson is seen as a Barkley-esque talent, so he could very well end up being the BPA available here, and the Eagles don't have many pressing needs so they could afford a luxury pick like this. The second is that the Eagles' haven't had a true RB1 in a long time, since they refuse to make Sanders their featured back, and they can't expect Hurts to be their sole source of rushing yards. The final reason is that Sanders will be a Free Agent after this year, so instead of paying him big money, they can just replace him with a cheaper, younger, better talent. Could they have waited at their original pick to get him? Perhaps, but their GM loves to make trades during the draft, and he may not want to risk a team like the Broncos or Bills taking him.
25. Jaguars- Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
Considering the Jaguars love drafting players from Florida, and have a huge need in the middle of their D-line, this pick makes sense for them.
26. (Trade from Cowboys to Seahawks)- Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Even with their top 5 pick being used on one of the best D-linemen in this class, the Seahawks' defense would still be a long way from returning to their Legion of Boom glory. The next step would be for them to draft the next best LB to fill the void left by Wagner's departure.
27. Bengals- Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Bengals' CBs were roasted in the Super Bowl last year, and they've done little to help them since, so getting the next best one here should help their chances of getting back to the big game.
28. Broncos- Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
This is the pick that the 49ers sent to the Dolphins as part of their trade-up for Lance, which the Dolphins then sent to the Broncos for Chubb.
Even though the Broncos have some talented OTs, their O-line as a whole has struggled to protect Wilson, so perhaps getting the next best O-lineman here will help their mediocre offense.
29. (Trade from Vikings to Saints)- Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
The Vikings traded out of the 1st round last year, and I could see them doing so again here since the best players for their positions of need (CB, D-line) have already been taken.
The Saints' trade-up last year shows that they foolishly believe that they can build a contender after Payton's retirement, and since they're running it back with Allen, I could see them making the same mistake in this year's draft by trading into the 1st round. The Saints did just use a 1st round pick on a WR in last year's draft, but considering he is the only legitimate receiver on his team, while Thomas is a threat to be cut or traded, whoever their new QB is next year could use another weapon. Also, supposedly one of the reasons why we drafted Terrance Marshall was because we heard the Saints wanted him, so perhaps the Saints will be interested in another WR from LSU.
30. Bills- O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
If the Bills once again fail to make it to the Super Bowl, it will likely be due to the fact that they overly on Allen to be their sole source of offense. For years, fans and analysts have wanted the Bills to get Allen a legitimate RB1 to help take the pressure off of him, but they have refused to do anything more than rely on a committee of mediocre RBs. I doubt they will stop that trend anytime soon, but there's more than one way to fix their lack of a run-game. The problem with their run-game is that they have a mediocre interior O-line that can't create yardage for their RBs, blocking for mediocre RBs that can't create their own yardage, so if they refuse to upgrade their RB room, perhaps they'll focus on their interior O-line. Torrence is widely considered to be the best OG in this class due to his elite run-blocking ability, so he would be a perfect fit for the Bills here.
31. (Trade from Eagles to Ravens)- Josh Downs, WR, UNC
Even though the Ravens are a run-first team, they still need more receiving weapons to make their offense more balanced, so getting a fast, slot WR like Downs here to help replace the loss of Brown makes sense for them.
32. Chiefs- Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame
Even though the Chiefs drafted a solid pass-rusher in Karlaftis, Clark is expected to be cap-casuality while Dunlap is headed to Free Agency, so drafting the next best edge-rusher here makes sense for them.