2023 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

1. (Trade from Bears to Panthers)- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Earlier in the offseason, there were some rumors that the Bears were considering keeping the #1 pick to draft a QB, and would then trade Fields. While this was never believable enough to be anything more than a typical offseason smokescreen, those rumors have officially been put to bed, since the Bears have told teams behind closed doors that Fields is not available, but that the #1 pick is "now for sale".

In my past two mock drafts, I considered both the possibility of the Bears keeping this pick, as well as them trading down with their most likely trade partner, the Colts. However, I would be remiss in my mock drafting duties if I did not at least consider the possibility of our team trading for this pick. According to Benjamin Allbright, Stroud is supposedly the "apple of our eye", so he wouldn't be surprised to see us trade all the way to the #1 pick to get him. While the Colts can offer the Bears a better package of draft positioning for their pick, we have something to offer that they can't: a franchise edge-rusher. Yes, I would also like to see Burns get to play in our new 3-4 defense, but it is kind of suspicious that we still have yet to extend him, and everyone knows that getting a franchise QB is worth whatever cost it takes. So, in this scenario, I'm predicting us to trade Burns, the 9th overall pick, and next year's 1st for the #1 pick.

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 next best QB in the class to finally replace Watson. Opinions vary on who that would be, but early rumors indicate that the Texans seem to like Young.

3. Cardinals- Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

Considering the Cardinals D-line has been decimated by Free Agent losses (Reddick and Jones) and retirements (Watt) in recent years, they're lucky that the QB-needy teams picking before them allow them to get the best D-lineman in the class here.

4. Colts- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Colts are obviously a huge threat to trade-up for a QB, but if they are content with any of the top 4, I could see them staying put, drafting the best one that falls to them, and then using the rest of their picks to build a team around him (specifically focusing on the O-line). While I do think that Levis fits their preferred type better than any other QB in this class, their hiring of Steichen does make me wonder whether Richardson could end up being their guy. Richardson's stock has been skyrocketing as of late, and is expected to rise even more after what should be an exceptional Combine performance. It also doesn't hurt that Richardson's arm could remind Steichen of his time with Herbert, while his mobility is comparable to the QB that just took Steichen to the Super Bowl in Hurts. Considering that Ryan and Foles are still under contract with them, whichever one doesn't retire could end up being a bridge QB while Richardson sits and develops.

5. Seahawks- Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

This is one of the picks that the Seahawks received from the Broncos in the Wilson trade.

The Seahawks desperately need to pick the best defensive player available here if they ever want to recreate their Legion of Boom, so getting the best edge-rusher in the class makes sense for them. While many, including myself, believe that Anderson is the best pass-rusher in this class, supposedly teams aren't that high on him due to his lack of any particularly elite traits. That combined with Wilson's stock rising due to his rare speed and athleticism could cause a team like the Seahawks to value his potential over Anderson's production, similar to how the Jaguars chose Walker over Hutchinson last year.

6. Lions- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

This is one of the picks that the Lions received from the Rams in the Stafford trade.

The Lions desperately need to fix their terrible defense, and they can start by addressing their secondary by getting the best CB in the class here. Gonzalez isn't seen by many as a top 10 talent, but supposedly teams in general don't see much elite talent in this draft, which could cause players like him to be drafted earlier than they otherwise should.

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. I originally predicted them to sign Brady in Free Agency, but his retirement threw a wrench in that plan. I still think Rodgers would be their best fit due to his familiarity with Adams, but supposedly they're not interested in trading for him. Instead, they're expected to look into signing Jimmy G due to his experience in McDaniels' system, and if they can agree on a reasonable deal, he could be their starting QB next year. They could still consider a QB like Levis here, but supposedly they prefer Richardson over him, so I could see them drafting a developmental player in the middle rounds instead. With this pick, one would think that they would address their terrible defense by getting Anderson, but they already have two highly compensated pass-rushers in Jones and Crosby, so perhaps they would get the best O-lineman in the class here instead to help protect Jimmy G.

8. Falcons- Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama

The Falcons have tried and failed to find a franchise edge-rusher for as long as I can remember, so they're very lucky that arguably the best edge-rusher in this class happens to fall to them here.

9. (Trade from Panthers to Bears)- Paris Johnson Jr, OL, Ohio State

This would arguably be the best trade scenario for the Bears, since even though they missed out on the top defensive prospects, they get a proven talent in Burns, and several 1st round picks. With this pick, since they've already addressed their D-line by adding Burns, it would make sense to address the other side of the ball by getting the next best O-lineman to help protect Fields. Johnson especially makes sense for them since he's versatile enough to play at OT or OG, and he has experience playing with Fields from their time at Ohio State.

10. (Trade from Eagles to Lions)- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

This is one of the picks that the Saints sent to the Eagles as part of their trade-up last year.

Like a kid with ADHD, the Eagles' GM simply can't sit still on draft day, so I could see them trading down once again.

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. Due to the fact that they genuinely believe in Goff as their starting QB, I don't think they're necessarily going to be looking to draft his replacement, which is why they went with a help-our-team-win-now pick in Gonzalez earlier instead of taking Levis then. But after, seeing Levis fall, they could feel the need to trade up ahead of QB-needy teams like the Titans and Commanders for their next franchise QB. This would allow them to get a high-upside talent who would be a great fit in their offense, and they can have him sit and develop behind Goff until he's ready.

11. Titans- Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Titans' O-line was already terrible even before their starting LT retired, so getting the next best OT here is a must for them.

12. Texans- Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

This is the pick that the Browns sent to the Texans as part of their trade for Watson.

In my previous mock drafts, I had the Texans drafting the best WR in the class here to help their next franchise QB succeed. However, the Texans did just hire a defensive-minded HC, and have a huge need on their D-line, so I could see them getting the next best edge-rusher here instead.

13. (Trade from Jets to Packers)- Brian Branch, S, Alabama

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the Jets would be trading this pick to the Packers. The Jets desperately need a new franchise QB to take advantage of their talented, ready-to-win-now team, and their front office has been qutie open about their desire to acquire a veteran QB. Supposedly their owner is willing to do whatever it takes to get a franchise QB like Rodgers on his team, so I could see them being open to trading this pick, a conditional pick next year, and maybe even one of their disgruntled WRs like Mims for him. This would then allow Wilson to sit and develop behind a Hall-of-Fame QB until he's hopefully ready to replace Rodgers in a few years. This trade also makes sense for the other parties involved, since the Packers could finally move on to Love, and Rodgers would be getting to play with his old OC, as well as with a bunch of receiving weapons.

The Packers could definitely consider getting the best WR in the class here, but they seem to like the current receiving talent on their team, and for whatever reason they refuse to use a 1st round pick on a WR. 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.

14. Patriots- Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Patriots' 3 biggest needs are arguably OT, WR, and CB. Considering the three best OTs have already been taken, this will pick would most likely be one of the other positions, and I gave the edge to WR since the Patriots have to surround Jones with more weapons if they ever want him to develop into a true franchise QB. Belichick has historically struggled at drafting and developing WRs, so perhaps a CB would be more likely for them here, but then again they're not often in a position to get the best WR in the class.

15. Packers- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Packers' best TEs are currently Free Agents, and considering how strapped for cash they are right now, it seems very unlikely that they would be able to sign anyone of value. So if they aren't able to re-sign Tonyan, getting the best TE in the class here to replace him makes sense for them.

16. Commanders- Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

The Commanders would love to get an O-lineman here to help protect whoever their starting QB ends up being next year, but unfortunately for them the best ones have already been taken. So instead of reaching for that position, they should instead address the other side of the ball. Their defense rarely ever plays up to their potential, and a lot of that has to due with their mediocre CBs, so getting the next CB here would be a smart move for them.

17. (Trade from Steelers to Jaguars)- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

The Steelers don't really have many huge needs, and can probably fill a decent amount of them in Free Agency, so I could see them trading down here to get more picks.

The Jaguars' offseason last year, in which they spent a record amount of money in Free Agency, and eventually traded for Calvin Ridley, shows that they're willing to be aggressive to build a contender around Lawrence, so I could see them trading up here. Considering they desperately need more CB help, especially in the slot, I could see them feeling the need to trade up for the best slot CB in the class after the three best DBs have already been taken.

18. (Trade from Lions to Eagles)- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Yes, I know that this is early for an RB, especially when the Eagles' run game practically carried them to the Super Bowl, 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 is headed to Free Agency, so instead of paying him big money, they can just replace him with a cheaper, younger, better talent.

19. Buccaneers- Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M

Even though Brady did just retire, 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 Drew Lock due to his familiarity with their new OC 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. Seahawks- Bryan Breese, DT, Clemson

Even with their first pick being used on one of the best edge-rushers 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 DT here to help fix their terrible run defense.

21. Dolphins (Forfeited)

This is the pick that was taken away from the Dolphins due to their owner's tampering with Brady and Payton.

22. Chargers- Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

The Chargers have plenty of talent at WR between Allen and Williams, but they've dealt with a lot of injuries at the position, and could use a better deep threat for Herbert. Lucky for them, Flowers is seen as one of the best vertical threats in this class, and supposedly could run in the 4.30s at the Combine.

23. (Trade from Ravens to Cowboys)- Drew Sanders, LB, Arkanas

The Ravens typically 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 again here.

Jerry Jones thinks that his team is a Super Bowl contender in any given year, so he can't be happy after his team choked in the playoffs to the 49ers for a second conescutive year. 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.

24. Vikings- Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

The Vikings defense was so bad last year that they made Daniel Jones look like a franchise QB in the playoffs against them, so they couldn't really go wrong with any defensive position here. But, considering they haven't had a true CB1 since they cut Xavier Rhodes, I'm giving the edge to CB.

25. (Trade from Jaguars to Steelers)- Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Considering the Steelers' LBs have been lacking talent in recent years, paired with the fact that their best ones are headed to Free Agency, getting the next best one here makes sense for them.

26. Giants- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Giants were 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.

27. (Trade from Cowboys to Ravens)- Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Even though the Ravens are a run-first team, they did just hire a new OC to improve their passing game, and need more receiving weapons to make their offense more balanced, so getting a deep threat like Hyatt here to help replace the loss of Brown makes sense for them.

28. Bills- O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

Once again, the Bills choked in the playoffs because they overly relied on Allen as their sole source of offense, and failed to provide him with a balanced rushing attack. 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.

29. Bengals- Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

While the Bengals could definitely use a true CB1, unfortunately for them the best ones have already been taken, and their defense normally plays well enough for them to win games anyway. What they need to do is go all-in on surrounding Burrow with the best talent possible, since he is the sole reason why they're consistently contenders. So considering their O-line's inability to stay healthy in the playoffs was a big reason why they didn't make it back to the Super Bowl, getting the next best O-lineman here makes sense for them.

30. Saints- Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

This is the pick that the 49ers sent to the Dolphins as part of their trade-up for Lance, who then traded it the Broncos for Chubb, who then traded it to the Saints for Payton.

The Saints could use this pick on a QB, but the best ones are far gone by this point, and I think they should be favored to sign Carr due to their HC being the one who drafted him with the Raiders. Considering that all of their DTs are Free Agents, paired with the fact that once again they're in salary cap hell, getting the next best DT would be smart for them.

31. (Trade from Eagles to Rams)- Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

Ironically, in my last mock draft I had the Eagles trading down with the Rams, so the Rams would end up owning this pick. While I'm still predicting the Rams to end up with this pick, this time it's for a different reason. As we all know, Ramsey is likely to be traded, and considering the Eagles' best CB is on the last year of his deal while their other starter is a Free Agent, I could see them trading this pick for Ramsey to maximize their Super Bowl window with Hurts. It also doesn't hurt that they tried and failed to trade to Ramsey back when he was on the Jaguars, so I could see them outbidding any other team interested in him.

While the Rams could certainly use some O-line help, unfortunately for them the best ones at the position are already off the board. However, edge-rusher is also a huge need for them, so they get lucky that a talent like Van Ness fell this far.

32. Chiefs- Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State

Even though the Chiefs drafted a solid pass-rusher in Karlaftis, Clark is expected to be a cap-casuality while Dunlap is headed to Free Agency, so drafting the next best edge-rusher here makes sense for them.

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