Way Too Early 2023 Mock Draft


Samuel Fung, Staff Writer

I was about to put away draft content for the season, but no, everyone is releasing a 2023 mock draft. People love to put out some names to watch for the next year’s class, so I thought I would give it a shot. This is going to age very well I am sure.

*Draft order decided by Super Bowl odds from FanDuel.


1. The Texans select Will Anderson, DE, Alabama

Will Anderson posted 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss in 2021. Both were the outright best numbers in these categories in the nation. Anderson has the athleticism to drop into coverage, but is a superb run defender and pass rusher. The Texans need absolutely everything on their roster, the weakest in football. He should be the consensus number one defensive lineman in the class come next April, and will definitely be better than Rasheem Green.

2. The Falcons select Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The college football world saw some nice production from Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba trumped them all. He finished third in the nation for receiving yards with 1,606, 347 of which came in a thrilling Rose Bowl performance against Utah. This time around, the Falcons do not skip on the Ohio State receiver in favor of anyone else.

3. The Jets select Paris Johnson, T, Ohio State

I do not think Bryce Young and CJ Stroud will fall out of the top five. One of them will go in the top three come next draft, but the Jets will not need them due to Zach Wilson. They could use another receiver, with George Fant a free agent after this season. Paris Johnson is massive, but it also turns out he is a stout pass protector and run blocker. He will be a great left tackle at the next level.

4. The Lions select Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Bryce Young excelled in his first full year as a starter in 2021. He passed for over 4800 yards and 47 touchdowns and helped lead Alabama back to the National Championship Game, though his team fell short at the final hurdle to Georgia. It does not take away from his amazing sophomore season, which got him the Heisman Trophy. He showcased amazing accuracy and intelligence on the field, and would be an immediate upgrade over Jared Goff.

5. The Seahawks select CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Stroud, like Young, had a great season, though not nearly good enough to get into the College Football Playoff. He did finish strong with a six-touchdown performance in the Rose Bowl, with three going to Smith-Njigba in the comeback victory. Stroud is a strong-armed, accurate quarterback who should lead Ohio State at least to the College Football Playoff this time around. And, he would be an immediate upgrade over Drew Lock, unless Lock balls out.

6. The Jaguars select Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Carter has not seen extraordinary production, but showed lots of flashes with Travon Walker and Jordan Davis as his teammates on the defensive line. He had his share in Georgia’s historically great defensive performance in 2021, leading to a national title. He has the build to be a force in the heart of a team’s defensive line. Imagine reuniting him with Travon Walker in Jacksonville. It would be a deadly duo already sharing chemistry from their past.

7. The Bears select Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

I was surprised how little attention Justin Fields was given in the recent draft, with aged-25 rookie Velus Jones the only new receiver taken. Darnell Mooney needs a counterpart, so enter Kayshon Boutte, just another product of the receiver factory that is LSU. Boutte has had to deal with lackluster quarterback play, but still has done pretty well, with nine receiving touchdowns in 2021. Justin Fields would like to have this elusive weapon to work with.

8. The Panthers select Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh

Without him, the Pitt Panthers do not succeed as much as they do. Jordan Addison caught 17 touchdown passes, which tied for top in the nation alongside Western Kentucky’s Jerreth Sterns. Addison is slender, but has strong reliable hands. If Kenny Pickett and the Panthers could rely on him, so should the Carolina Panthers, as he could be a quite solid replacement for Robby Anderson. 

9. The Giants select Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Daniel Jones is, at the moment, a pending free agent next offseason. The Giants may find someone in the class too good to pass on. Enter Will Levis. Levis is a solid athlete with a rocket arm, scrambling ability, and sky-high potential. We will have to see what happens in the fall with his best offensive linemen and receiver gone, but expect Levis to still be solid.

10. The Steelers select Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

The Steelers are set to lose Cam Sutton, a key starter in the secondary. Even if he stays, Kelee Ringo is going to be an upgrade. His pick-six in the National Title Game sealed a huge victory and epitomized his lockdown abilities. Ringo barely got targeted, which is a good thing, and thus did not need to produce that much. The Steelers would love having him in their secondary, which will not be good enough just doing the job.

11. The Commanders select Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

By now, people know Penei Sewell, but now his brother Noah takes the spotlight. He plays just like his big brother, but the big difference is that he is a linebacker. He is a great tackler and overall is very productive. Should the Commanders have to say goodbye to Cole Holcomb, Swell can come in and add a physical identity to a talented defense.

12. The Eagles select Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Bijan Robinson is a talented player who not only runs like a truck, but can catch passes out of the backfield. He was by far the best offensive player on a unit that disappointed mightily, falling to 4-6 and seeing no one get drafted. Robinson is going to bring a change to that. The Eagles have yet to renew Miles Sanders, so in the scenario they will not, Robinson can step up and make an instant impact.

13. The Patriots select Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Bryan Bresee will add stoutness to a run defense and produce a little in pass rush, as he has done at Clemson. Teams like the Patriots, who are set to lose key depth on the defensive line in the coming offseason, should have their eyes on Bresee and others. For now, I believe Bresee is the best defensive tackle behind Jalen Carter in this class.

14. The Raiders select Peter Skoronski, T, Northwestern

Peter Skoronski has the talent to be a Day 1 starter on the offensive line on either side. He is basically Rashawn Slater’s successor. He, in this scenario, fixes the Raiders’ only real weakness, at right tackle, with Kolton Miller manning one side of the line already. He and Skoronski probably would be a strong duo of pass protectors.

15. The Dolphins select BJ Ojulari, DE, LSU

Like his brother Azeez, BJ Ojulari has been productive and dominant on his respective team’s defense. This Ojulari plays for LSU, and he produced a decent seven sacks in 2021. Ojulari would add dynamo to a front seven in need, which could be the potential state of Miami if they lose pieces like Andrew Van Ginkel this offseason. He will solidify the front seven, which is the weakest part of their defense.

16. The Vikings select Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Vikings do not seem destined to keep Irv Smith around long term after his mediocre production and injuries. Michael Mayer will be the ideal replacement for Kyle Rudolph. He is a complete tight end who has been a reliable option for the likes of Jack Coan and Ian Book. He should only get better in 2022, and his blocking ability makes him extra valuable.

17. The Eagles select Malachi Moore, S, Alabama

I really thought the Eagles were trading up for Kyle Hamilton, but I guess they believed in Anthony Harris being the strong safety Hamilton would have been. Now, they can draft a guy who can really play free safety. Malachi Moore is built to be a solid free safety and is built like a cornerback. It won’t hurt for the Eagles to have their own Minkah Fitzpatrick.

18. The Titans select Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

Josh Downs was the shining light on a Sam Howell-led UNC offense that suffered regression, mainly due to both top running backs and then-top receiver Dyami Brown getting drafted. Downs put up over 1,000 yards and helped UNC to a bowl game. In an offense where the top receiver is coming off an ACL tear and the second guy is an unproven version of AJ Brown, Downs will be important for the Titans’ future, when Malik Willis inevitably leads the way.

19. The Cardinals select Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

After transferring from LSU to rival Alabama, Eli Ricks is inevitably going to be good in 2022. Ricks was good as a freshman, but like Derek Stingley, was impacted by a lack of game time as a sophomore. Nonetheless, like Stingley, there is upside there that a team in need of corners like Arizona should bank on, considering the current room is Marco Wilson and Jeff Gladney (and Byron Murphy in the slot).

20. The Colts select Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami

The Colts are still searching for their answer at quarterback and have a ton of choices this year, including a rocket-armed man named Tyler Van Dyke. He took over for D’Eriq King and played very well, with few mistakes. Van Dyke is a little raw, but sitting behind Matt Ryan for one season will help his development. With such a stacked team, GM Chris Ballard is able to spend a pick like this on their future.

21. The Ravens select Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

The trading away of Marquise Brown will hurt this season. However, the Ravens should have a chance to get a new receiver in 2023. Marvin Mims, a fellow Sooner alum, is as electrifying as his predecessor. Being undersized is only a small obstacle for him, as he made Oklahoma’s offense that much better. He will be a beast in the slot, and he and Rashod Bateman could be a deadly duo speed-wise.

22. The Bengals select Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

It is tough to project where the biggest hole on the Bengals’ roster will be. I believe they could get better at linebacker. Trent Simpson is a rangy cover linebacker who has the upside to be an upgrade over the current group. He is scheme versatile, so Zac Taylor can do anything with him because he will fit in anything.

23. The Texans select Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame

Brandon Joseph is going to be a monster at Notre Dame, but was pretty good at Northwestern, and that is why he is a part of the Fighting Irish today. The Texans have Jalen Pitre, but he is best utilized as a defensive weapon until someone else comes in as a partner and moves him to free safety. Joseph is likely going to be the man to do that.

24. The Cowboys select Zion Nelson, T, Miami

The Cowboys’ future on the offensive line has grown progressively bleaker with Tyron Smith’s aging and La’el Collins’ release. The Cowboys need someone who can play either tackle position for the long-term future. Nelson showed flashes of his talent in 2021, but was largely inconsistent, which was a factor in his decision to return to school. If he can perform well week in and week out, he will be a guaranteed first-round pick.

25. The Seahawks select Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

I believe that, based on his body build, Myles Murphy can slide inside on pass rush downs and play as a defensive tackle. The Seahawks will need that in some time, especially now that LJ Collier is a bust and he, as well as Shelby Harris, are on expiring contracts. Murphy can come in and play the sort of role Jeffrey Simmons plays in the 3-4.

26. The Dolphins select Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

The Dolphins’ only real hole is at center, and the best guy who can fix it is probably Van Pran. He has started for Georgia at center over the past few years, including last year, where he won a national title. He is a strong, solid athlete who would be the final piece to this high-powered Dolphins offense.

27. The Chargers select Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DT, Kansas State

Here is another guy to keep an eye out for in the Big 12. Anudike burst onto the scene in 2021, posting 11 sacks for the Kansas State Wildcats and spearheading them to a bowl game win over LSU. Anudike could be a huge riser, and teams like the Chargers, whose most glaring weakness is their interior pass rush rotation, should keep tabs on him, as he could be a solid replacement for draft bust Jerry Tillery.

28. The Packers select Arik Gilbert, TE, Georgia

Robert Tonyan has had some injury problems recently, and is reaching age thirty. In other words, the Packers have to set themselves up for the future. Arik Gilbert has had some injury concerns, but will be productive when on the field as a vertical weapon. In a team that lacks a super-good receiver, Gilbert could help alleviate the loss of Davante Adams over time.

29. The Lions select Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

The son of a linebacker, Porter Jr. has been absolutely lockdown for Penn State. He is a talented cover man who could slide in and start right away. Jeff Okudah has struggled with injury whilst Mike Hughes and Amani Oruwariye are on expiring deals. Porter can come in and fill gaps throughout a rebuilding Lions secondary.

30. The Chiefs select Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia

You simply cannot have too many pass rushers in today’s NFL. The Chiefs will need to take a shot on Smith, a light-weight pass rusher who weighs just 235 pounds but was amongst the best players on a stacked Georgia defense. The Chiefs will not be hurt by adding additional pass rushers now that they are facing three elite quarterbacks twice a year each, plus more depending on their schedule.

31. The Buccaneers select Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

Cam Smith has done well for himself as the new lead cornerback at South Carolina. He is a physical presence in the secondary. He is great at reading receivers’ moves, which can all be explained by the fact he is majoring in psychology at school. Speaking of major, the Buccaneers have a major priority for next year’s offseason: renewing Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean. If one goes, a guy like Smith will be on the Bucs’ radar.

32. The Bills select Jordan Battle. S, Alabama

Yes, based on many bettors, the Bills are the Super Bowl favorites this season. They have few pressing needs now, but tons are coming soon. Especially at safety, where Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer could be gone by 2024. Jordan Battle can come in and fill at least one void. He could have been a Day 2 pick in 2022 but opted to return to school. 


Here are some other names to watch, names that just missed out on this preliminary first round.

  • Spencer Rattler: Tipped to go at the top of the 2022 draft this time last year, Rattler, then the starter at Oklahoma, got benched and then fell off a cliff. He entered the transfer portal and went to South Carolina, where a fresh start could benefit both him and the school. He has some high upside, but we will have to see what will happen.
  • Jahmyr Gibbs: The former Georgia Tech star running back transferred to the Crimson Tide after putting up 1,000 all-purpose yards. Gibbs is practically set, and it will take some really bad circumstances to drive him completely out of first-round consideration.
  • Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus: Both receivers have starred for Maryland, catching passes from Tua Tagovailoa’s brother, Taulia. Demus is an older player who is entering his fifth season after injury-plagued his 2021 season, whilst Jarrett is entering his junior year. Both guys are set to be a deadly duo in the Big Ten.
  • Jarrett Patterson: Patterson was hyped for Day 2 but went back to school. The Notre Dame guard is currently hyped for Day 2 also, but is also a candidate for the first round.
  • Jaxson Kirkland: Kirkland opted out of the 2022 draft after needing surgery. He was considered a Day 2 pick with some first-round talent back then, and has some of that consideration now that he is in this 2023 class.

There are tons of potential for this to be wrong. Players could see their stock fall, and heck, some of these guys, like Jordan Battle did in 2022, will opt to go back to school in 2023.