2023 NFL DRAFT: MOCK DRAFT 2.0 by Emmanuel

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Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

This mock draft is my opinion on who SHOULD NFL teams select at the given draft slot. On Thursday, my final mock draft will on based on rumors and speculations more than my own opinion, although I wish I could be in a lot of the draft war rooms to pound the table for everyone on this mock draft’s selections for each team:

  1. Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young, @_bryce_young, Alabama. My unquestioned QB#1 with his elite combination of arm talent, accuracy, playmaking, processing, and poise from the pocket. Forget the size concerns, I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the Panthers to the playoffs starting his first year.
  2. Houston Texans: DT Jalen Carter, @breadmanjalen, Georgia. The top player in the draft, regardless of the off-the-field concerns. I do get that DeMeco Ryans wants his “Nick Bosa” and may lean more toward Tyree Wilson or Will Anderson Jr., but I feel that this draft is really deep with EDGE rushers on Day 2, there is only one Jalen Carter in this draft, the best player by far the class of 2023. 
  3. Arizona Cardinals:  DE Tyree Wilson, @tyreewilson77, Texas Tech. A defender who exponentially got better from 2021 to his 2022 season, Wilson gives me Michael Strahan-type vibes whenever I see him play. Super strong at the point of attack, with rare length, and good athleticism, can be a dominant pass rusher from the edge and inside on passing downs. The sky is the limit for him.
  4. Indianapolis Colts: QB C.J. Stroud, @CJ7STROUDOhio State. I really don’t understand what is not to like about Stroud… Overcomes childhood adversity, being an overlooked QB recruit from California, becomes a two-year starter and two-time Heisman trophy finalist for one of the top three programs in the nation, almost beats two-time National Champion Georgia on a big stage with his strong arm, sniper-like accuracy, and surprising elusiveness versus the #1 defense in the nation… and yet we evaluate him based on the fact he didn’t go to a famous high school versus one of his peers, and that he failed a cognitive test? Child, please. If the Colts pass on Stroud, I hope they remember when Peyton Manning threatened to decimate them if they didn’t take him in 1998.

    Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
  5. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Will Anderson jr, @will_anderson28, Alabama. Best defender available, and fits a huge need for a go-to pass-rusher as a true 3-4 OLB for their scheme. Has a high floor but a higher ceiling than the usual NFL-Ready prospect brings as he is that good already being disruptive without much of a pass rush arsenal. Just imagine when he will!
  6. Detroit Lions: CB Christian Gonzalez, @chrisgonzo28, Oregon. It’s really a toss-up between Gonzalez, the tall, big, fast, sticky modern-day CB, or Devon Witherspoon, the aggressive, feisty, sticky, CB who is a bit undersized but has really good ball skills. The latter may remind Lions DC Aaron Glenn of when he used to play in the NFL, but I think Gonzalez is the better long-term prospect for most schemes.
  7. Las Vegas Raiders: QB Anthony Richardson, @GVOaant, Florida. Who has a better upside in this draft than Richardson? I understand the love the Raiders may have for Jimmy Garoppolo, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter helps the Raiders back to the playoffs next season… but still can’t pass on Richardson here, a prospect who may not be ready to play right away in every scheme but, if developed properly, may contend to be the best play in the NFL. Yes, you read right.
  8. Atlanta Falcons: CB Devon Witherspoon, @DevonWitherspo1, Illinois. I believe Witherspoon is at least an insurance policy for the Falcons in case Jeff Okudah doesn’t work as a #2 CB opposite All-Pro A.J. Terrell. He brings a mix of Joe Haden and Tyrann Mathieu, and I believe he can literally play any position in the secondary with his skillset, including slot corner and both safety positions if needed. 
  9. Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright, @darnell_5232, Tennessee. The best tackle prospect in this draft, and could be one of the best right tackles in the NFL from his first game. He is super powerful in the running game and a patient pass protector who can anchor against the top pass rushers.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles: OL Peter SkoronskiNorthwestern. The best overall blocker in this draft would fit in so nicely as a Guard for the Eagles next to Jason Kelce and Cam Jurgens, and next to All-Pro RT Lane Johnson
  11. Tennessee Titans: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia. The most physically gifted offensive lineman in this draft, Jones is a bit raw as a blocker, but his athletic, gifts, mobility, and aggressive style of play remind me a lot of Tyron Smith when he came out of USC
  12. Houston Texans: QB Hendon Hooker,@henjook2, Tennessee. Just imagine if Hooker had finished his 2022 season fully healthy: probable Heisman winner and undisputed top-10 pick, regardless of the fact he will turn 26 in his rookie season. He would be a steal at 12 for the Texans. 
  13. Green Bay Packers: TE Dalton Kincaid, @_DaltonKincaid, Utah. The best way for the Packers to help QB Jordan Love take over as the starter for Aaron Rodgers is to provide him with an elite security blanket that can make plays at all three levels of the field, as well as being pretty decent to good blocker, where he is very underrated. It wouldn’t shock me if Kincaid is even selected in the top 10.
  14. New England Patriots: EDGE Lukas Van Ness, @lukas_vanness, Iowa. “Hercules” is available for ‘the Hood” aka coach Bill Belichick to mold into the next hybrid, versatile defensive lineman for the Patriots’ defense. He will be an impact run defender on day 1 until he develops the pass rush skills necessary to complement All-Pro EDGE Matthew Judon.

    Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (91) rushes the Iowa State quarterback during the first quarter Saturday September 10, 2022 at Kinnick Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinower5)
  15. New York Jets: OT Paris Johnson jr, @ParisJohnsonJr, Ohio State. A new left tackle to say welcome Aaron Rodgers to New York? Paris Johnson jr is definitely the prototype left tackle the Jets need to solidify that position for years to come.
  16. Washington Commanders: LB Nolan Smith, @SmithNoland2, Georgia. I believe Nolan Smith best fits as an off-the-ball SAM linebacker who can rush the passer on 3rd downs, and he would be the ideal defender to add to their budding front seven. 
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Bryan Bresee, @bryan_bresee, Clemson. What a tremendous young building block along the defensive line Bresee would be, similar to when the Steelers drafted Cam Heyward towards the end of Steelers great DE Aaron Smith‘s career. It would be a similar pass-the-torch type of move, and Bresee is just as adept to dominate against the run as he is against pass when he is fully healthy. A tremendously courageous kid for those who have followed his personal story.
  18. Detroit Lions: TE Michael Mayer, @MMayer1001, Notre Dame. Talk about biting off kneecaps! Mayer is exactly the type of TE who plays that way whenever he fights to catch the ball in a crowd or fights for blocking positioning, and puts defenders on the ground. He also reminds me of Lions HC Dan Campbell former Cowboys’ teammate: future HOF TE Jason Witten.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Anton Harrison, @Ayee_Tonn, Oklahoma. Love Anton Harrison! Love his size, strength, anchor at the point of attack, pass-protection skills, and mobility. This pick allows Tristan Wirfs to keep being dominant on the right side, instead of trying to be good on the left. Why fix what already works?
  20. Seattle Seahawks: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, @jaxon_smith1, Ohio State. Just imagine a receiving core at QB Geno Smith‘s disposal of D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and JSN!! OMG! Smith-Njigba is the best slot receiver to come out of a draft in years, with a game that blends guys like Cooper Kupp and Keenan Allen. I believe he will be mentioned among these players as early as the end of his rookie year, and he pretty much would do that with most teams in need of more receivers.
  21. Los Angeles Chargers: RB Bijan Robinson, @Bijan5Robinson, Texas. I believe Bijan is the rare RB worth a top 5 pick, but plays a position viewed as a 2nd round at best. For those NFL fans longing for an RB who was as good as LaDainian Tomlinson, this guy is the second coming with his combination of size, speed, balance, elusiveness, power, and pass-catching ability. He is also a home-run hitter that can tilt the outcome of games with big plays.
  22. Baltimore Ravens: CB Deonte Banks, @IamDeonteBanks_, Maryland. Prototypical sized corner with all the traits you are looking for, the aggressive style of play the Ravens love, the ball skills, and he brings a lot of uber-athleticism.  
  23. Minnesota Vikings: QB Will Levis, @will_levis, Kentucky. One of the more polarizing prospects in this draft, some say he could be drafted as high as #4 to the Colts, or even the favorite QB at #2 if the Texans don’t take a pass rusher, Levis to me profiles more to a Ryan Tannehill-type of player who will thrive in an offensive scheme that will rely more on the running game to set up his passing game, instead of trying to win the game through his arm. He is super athletic, but I hope he turns down the turnovers in the pros, similar to how Deshaun Watson was able to do it, but also protect himself from unnecessary hits that I have watched him get exposed to during his two years at Kentucky. But if this guy falls in the right situation like with the Vikings, don’t be shocked if he becomes a perennial Pro Bowl QB, especially after a few years of learning from Pro Bowl QB Kirk Cousins
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Darnell Washington, @_Dwfootball11, Georgia. Freak of nature TE who is an extra OT in the blocking schemes, and a huge target over the middle to complement Pro Bowl TE Evan Engram who works more as a flex TE. Would definitely help protect QB Trevor Lawrence.
  25. New York Giants: WR Zay Flowers, @ZayFlowers, Boston College. My favorite outlier prospect in this draft and my WR1, Flowers would give QB Daniel Jones a true #1 target from Day 1 that can create both out wide and in the slot
  26. Dallas Cowboys: OL Matthew Bergeron, @MatthewkBerger1Syracuse. Bonjour Jerry Jones! The best blocker you need to select is from the province of Quebec! Yes, I am super biased with this pick as a Quebecer, but I do believe Bergeron would fit the mold and a need in their offense. He does have similar traits to former starting G La’el Collins, who was a really good rookie LG before being an above-average/Pro Bowl-caliber RT for the Cowboys. Not many linemen in this draft possess Bergeron’s combination of size, athleticism, and strength at the point of attack.
    PHOTO : Radio-Canada / Pascal Ratthé . https://ici.radio-canada.ca/ohdio/premiere/emissions/en-direct/segments/entrevue/435122/football-joueur-camp-evaluation

     

  27. Buffalo Bills: G O’Cyrus Torrence, @78_KingBo, Florida. The best true guard in this draft, Torrence would bring a mauling presence in the Bills running game that needs to open more consistent lanes for runners other than All-Pro QB Josh Allen. He is also a pretty strong and efficient pass protector as well.
  28. Cincinnati Bengals: DT Calijah Kancey, @Ckancey8, Pitt. I wish more teams in the earlier portion of the first round would have a need for an interior defensive lineman because I really do believe that Kancey has a chance to be an impact player in the NFL despite his relatively small stature. He is an impact pass rusher inside who is stout enough to hold his own against powerful blockers.
  29. New Orleans Saints: DL Adetimowa Adebawore, @tomiwabawore, Northwestern. A sleeper first-round pick, if you look at Adebawore’s tape, you want this guy as your 3-technique defensive tackle that can also stop the run even as a 5-technique defense end in a 3-4 scheme. Super explosive and quick off the snap, has really powerful hands, disruptive in the backfield, he just needs to be fined tuned in some correctable things at the NFL level.
  30. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Joey Porter jr, @JoeyPorterJr, Penn State. I wish he would be available for my Steelers at pick #32, but I selfishly want Porter jr to be a 1st round pick, even if it’s with another team. But the player himself is a first-round CB in a scheme like the Eagle run who is zone heavy.
  31. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Will McDonald IV, @WILL_JUN1OR, Iowa State. A high-cut, highly skilled, fast, and polished pass rusher to replace the released Pro Bowl DE Frank Clark on a Super Bowl-winning team. He doesn’t need to be coached up as much as other available higher-upside pass-rushers and he would most likely produce quicker in this Chiefs defense.

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