For non-playoff clubs, the sequence is established, and this special edition is only eligible to the top 18 overall picks. The Broncos, Rams, Saints, and Browns are the outliers, having all given up future first-round selections in trades.
The Colts were trounced by the Texans in Week 18, while the Bears were humiliated by the Vikings, giving Chicago (3-14) the first pick instead of Houston (3-13-1).
Here are Sporting News’ projections for the top 18 choices, barring any hypothetical trades:
NFL Mock Draft 2023
1. EDGE and the Chicago Bears’ Will Anderson Jr. (6-4, 235 lbs.)
The Bears, who will choose first overall for the first time since 1947, shouldn’t have to worry about quarterbacks because to big-armed Justin Fields’ passing and running ability. A team attempting to pass the Texans for a specific franchise quarterback moving down for greater first-down selection authority would be in a fantastic scenario. If the Bears opt to stay, they should look for a reliable defensive player.
Signing this important pass defender and aggressive all-around playmaker was a great option. On the second level, Anderson would wave goodbye to Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn before replacing them with a rejuvenated Khalil Mack.
2. Bryce Young, quarterback for the Houston Texans from Alabama (6-0, 194 lbs.)
After determining that neither Davis Mills nor Kyle Allen are viable options, the Texans must make a quarterback selection quickly. They must first pick between Young and C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, despite the fact that their favourite quarterback is no longer assured. Based on his personal traits and track record of success, Young, who comes from a lineage that includes NFL players Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Mac Jones, would offer the perfect blend of passing skill with minimal bust factor.
3. Georgia Defensive Tackle Arizona Cardinals Jalen Carter (6-3, 310 lbs.)
The Cardinals have an easy choice to make here, with J.J. Watt’s retirement and Zach Allen’s upcoming free agency. Carter is a powerful, disruptive force designed to make numerous plays in the NFL as a conventional 3-4 end. He has comparable pass-rush ability and promise as Watt.
4. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State quarterback, Indianapolis Colts (6-3, 215 lbs)
The penalty for the Colts’ horrible quarterback issue with Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and Sam Ehlinger during the previous truncated season under Frank Reich was to play so badly that they could no longer re-use proven quarterbacks. Stroud, a good pocket passer with the required accuracy and intangibles to succeed, might be brought in as Andrew Luck’s long-term franchise replacement.
5. Clemson’s Myles Murphy, EDGE; Seattle Seahawks (from the Broncos) (6-5, 275 pounds)
The Seattle Seahawks should think about utilising their higher first-round choice to bolster their defensive front seven. Murphy combines exceptional explosiveness and instincts in Pete Carroll’s offensive scheme to maintain his pass-rush productivity.
6. Kelee Ringo, Georgia cornerback, Detroit Lions (from Rams) (6-0, 205 lbs.)
While the Lions were unable to locate additional outside alternatives, Jeff Okudah, a first-round selection in 2020, improved his covering performance. Ringo has the desired attitude since he exploits his size to play forcefully and fiercely.
Jordan Addison, wide receiver with the Las Vegas Raiders (6-0, 175 pounds)
The Raiders may need more field-stretching speed and quickness after the catch to help Davante Adams outside, and Addison provides both. He’d also be a prized additional playmaker in free agency if Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady reunited.
8. Isiah Foskey, Notre Dame, Atlanta Falcons, EDGE (6-4, 257 lbs)
The Falcons need to spend in boosting their 3-4 pass rush, and Foskey’s powerful, explosive, and technically sound style of play may help. He has the potential to become a better all-around player for the NFL as he continues to grow as a run defender.
9. Will Levis, a Carolina Panthers quarterback from Kentucky (6-3, 232 lbs.)
The Panthers need to solve their quarterback situation after going from Baker Mayfield to P.J. Walker and then back to Sam Darnold in a run-heavy style. Levis is a great pocket passer with the arm strength, accuracy, and quick release required to thrive in the right situation.
Cam Smith, cornerback, South Carolina Saints, Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints) (6-0, 188 pounds)
Given that James Bradberry is approaching his 30th season and Darius Slay has just turned 32, the Eagles utilise their first of two draught picks to invest in the future. Smith might grow into a shutdown cover guy in a year or two, giving them a younger replacement option.
11. Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. (6-6, 310 lbs.)
Taylor Lewan, a 31-year-old left tackle, has missed two of the previous three seasons due to major knee injuries. Dennis Daley, a fill-in, is available for hire. As time passes, the Titans want to persuade Johnson to collaborate with fellow former Buckeye Nicholas Petit-Frere.
12. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Houston Texans (formerly of the Cleveland Browns) (6-0, 197 pounds)
The Texans’ new franchise quarterback must be teamed with an excellent pass-catcher. Smith-Njigba would be the best choice when Addison is ruled out. With his speed, agility, and route-running ability, he might be a valuable prospect for the Buckeyes, joining Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
Trenton Simpson, Clemson linebacker; New York Jets (6-3, 225 lbs)
On the second level, the Jets could use Simpson, a scrappy, fast on-ball player, to complement Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley. Given the typical limitations of incoming free agents Kwon Alexander and Quincy Williams, Robert Saleh may be able to employ him effectively against the run and pass.
TCU wide receiver Quinton Johnston now plays for the New England Patriots (6-4, 215 pounds)
Because Jakobi Meyers and other wide receivers are ready to hit the open market, and DeVante Parker’s health has been questionable in the lead-up to his age-30 season, the Patriots must make another push to sign a real No. 1 wide receiver to replace Mac Jones. Johnston is a size-speed talent in the mould of Mike Evans and Mike Williams. He also has great hands and route knowledge.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame tight end; Green Bay Packers (6-4, 251 pounds)
Mayer, a matchup nightmare, can easily fit in with fellow wideout big-play rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. The Packers may have a unique athletic target in Robert Tonyan, who is about to become a free agency, to aid Aaron Rodgers in opening up the centre of the field in place of Randall Cobb.
Clemson’s Bryan Bresee, DT 16. Commanders of Washington (6-5, 300 lbs.)
Since Daron Payne will soon become a free agent, the Commanders should look for a replacement for Jonathan Allen, who will assist Chase Young and Montez Sweat up front. With good technique and fast feet, Bresee can aid with the inside pass rush and halt runs.
17. Northwestern, Pittsburgh Steelers OT Peter Skoronski (6-4, 315 lbs.)
Dan Moore Jr. has been one of the league’s most fragile left tackles, especially in pass protection. Skoronksi, with his superb agility and quickness on the edge, can fill the Steelers’ long-term need for a rock in front of Kenny Pickett’s blind side.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech, Detroit Lions (6-6), and 275 pounds.
Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions’ second-round pick in 2022, could use a rangy bookend. Wilson, who is fast and flexible for a player his size, can play a number of impact positions around the front seven.
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