The regular season is officially over and the first 18 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft are set. With 17 games behind us, it is easy to see what a lot of NFL teams need. Here is an early mock draft ahead of the playoffs. (Not including trades.)
1) Chicago Bears
Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama: The Bears will be tempted to trade down here, but as long as they are picking number one, this should be the pick. Anderson is a blue chip pass rusher who could help overhaul a young defense.
2) Houston Texans
Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama: Ready for a few months of quarterback debates. This class is filled with talented, but flawed passers. Bryce Young stands out not only as a great player, but a locker room guy who could stabilize the Texans.
3) Arizona Cardinals
Jalen Carter, Interior Defender, Georgia: The Cardinals feel like a team without any real direction. They are best suited to draft top talent, which is exactly why Jalen Carter makes sense.
4) Indianapolis Colts
CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State: The Colts need to take the plunge and finally draft a signal caller to develop instead of depending on veterans every year. Stroud showed against Georgia the kind of player he can be at his best, and that is a franchise quarterback.
5) Seattle Seahawks (From Denver Broncos)
Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson: The Seahawks can keep building up a young, exciting defense with another athletic pass rusher.
6) Detroit Lions (From Los Angeles Rams)
Kelee Ringo, Cornerback, Georgia: The Lions can keep adding talent to their young defense. Ringo is a cornerback with shut down potential that could fit in perfectly across from Jeff Okudah.
7) Las Vegas Raiders
Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky: Will Levis has all the physical tools you want from a franchise quarterback- Big arm, great size, tough and athletic. It will just come down to the Raiders staff to develop him.
8) Atlanta Falcons
Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech: The Falcons defense has been rough for a while now. Wilson is exactly the type of athlete that thrives in the NFL and a talent the Falcons haven’t had on that side of the ball in a while.
9) Carolina Panthers
Michael Mayer, Tight End, Notre Dame: The Panthers are in a rough spot considering their quarterback needs, so they might as well add a top talent here. Michael Mayer is a blue chip tight end who could make the life of whoever their quarterback is easier.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (From New Orleans Saints)
Peter Skoronski, Offensive Lineman, Northwestern: The Eagles luck out here with the best offensive lineman in the class. Skoronski can come in and start at guard immediately (note that Isaac Seumalo is a free agent) and eventually take over at right tackle for Lane Johnson.
11) Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson, Tackle, Ohio State: The Titans know that winning means being strong up front. Johnson can play several spots on the line at a high level.
12) Houston Texans (From Cleveland Browns)
Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, USC: The Texans need to make sure their rookie quarterback has the weapons he needs to thrive. Jordan Addison is a do-it-all talent at wide receiver who can thrive on the outside or in the slot.
13) New York Jets
Brian Branch, Defensive Back, Alabama: The Jets are in a weird spot this offseason. The team is clearly talented but lacks a signal caller who can maximize that talent. They might be in the trade market for a veteran, but in the draft they can still add quality talent to their defense. Brian Branch is a versatile defender who can line up all over the place in Robert Saleh’s scheme.
14) New England Patriots
Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU: The Patriots could stand to add some explosive elements to a pretty flat offense. Quentin Johnston has the size and speed to thrive as an NFL receiver and could quickly become a favorite target for Mac Jones.
15) Green Bay Packers
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State: The Packers need to bite the bullet and finally use a premium pick on a wide receiver. They certainly have something in Christian Watson, but could also use a consistent target line Smith-Njigba in the middle of the field.
16) Washington Commanders
Joey Porter Jr, Cornerback, Penn State: Washington can keep building up the back end of a talented defense. Joey Porter has the size and athleticism to grow into a shutdown type cornerback.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
Cam Smith, Cornerback, South Carolina: The Steelers identity will always be their defense. Cam Smith is a long, strong cornerback who would bring needed physicality to the Steelers secondary.
18) Detroit Lions
Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida: The Lions have the talent and the staff necessary to develop Anthony Richardson. Richardson is an extremely talented quarterback who just needs patience and some good coaching, which are exactly what the Lions have.