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2023 NFL Draft: Ideal top two picks for every team

As we come down the final stretch of the prospect-evaluation period, each team is lining up its boards, thinking through every possible scenario and dreaming of how things could turn in its favor during the 2023 NFL Draft.

In this exercise, I make those dreams come true by distributing this class' top prospects among all 32 teams, giving each organization ideal picks in its first two draft slots.

I kept some semblance of realism in this process, assigning each player only once and making reasonable projections of where guys may be selected. In some instances, I mention when teams might have to trade up to acquire their favorite prospects.

Some excellent prospects are not listed below because five teams (the Jets, Lions, Seahawks, Steelers and Texans) own three top-50 selections. Consequently, the third premium pick for each of those squads could claim one of the high-profile names missing in this rundown, prospects like running back Jahymr Gibbs and tight end Darnell Washington.

Enough preamble. Let's get to it!


Round 1: No. 22 overall -- Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Round 3: No. 86 overall -- Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford

Though the Ravens just signed Odell Beckham Jr., Addison would be an excellent value pick at No. 22, slicing open zones with smooth movement and quickness in his routes. They don't have a second-round pick because of the Roquan Smith trade but need to find a potential starting outside corner like Kelly in the third.

Round 1: No. 27 overall -- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Round 2: No. 59 overall -- Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Simpson is an explosive player in the middle of the defense who would fill the gap left by departed former first-rounder Tremaine Edmunds. Rice could be a bargain if available outside the top 50, as his quickness off the line (1.49-second 10-yard split) and ability at the catch point (41-inch vertical) give him a chance to be a true No. 1 receiver in a year or two.

Round 1: No. 28 overall -- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Round 2: No. 60 overall -- Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

Joe Burrow would love to throw seam and red-zone passes to Mayer, who isn't the most athletic tight end in the draft but presents the best combination of blocking and receiving skills. Adding his talents to those of receivers Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd would spell trouble for opposing defenses. Brents has the height (6-foot-3) and length (34-inch arms) to match up with opponents' largest outside receivers.

Round 3: No. 74 overall: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss

Round 3: No. 98 overall: Byron Young, DT, Alabama 

Cleveland traded its first-round pick to Houston for Deshaun Watson and shipped its second-rounder to the Jets in the Elijah Moore deal. If none of the top defensive linemen fall to 74, the Browns can get value in Evans to create a lethal running game with Nick Chubb. Young can win a gap with quickness and play with leverage as a 3-technique, allowing him to contribute right away in the rotation. 

Round 3: No. 67 overall -- Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin

Round 3: No. 68 overall -- Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland

Trades for Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton cost the Broncos their first- and second-round picks. Benton is being projected to go in the second, but so was Dre'Mont Jones, who fell to Denver in the early third four years ago. The former Badger can play multiple spots in a three-man front. Bennett would contribute immediately for Denver because of his 4.3 speed and tenacity knocking away passes (24 in three years with the Terps).

Round 1: No. 2 overall -- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Round 1: No. 12 overall -- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

If the Panthers pass on Young with the first overall pick, his poise, leadership skills and playmaking ability should help the Texans franchise get on the right path. Houston received the No. 12 overall pick from Cleveland as part of the Deshaun Watson trade, using it to select Smith-Njigba. His reliable hands and quickness in space add to a potentially strong receiver group -- when Robert Woods and John Metchie III are healthy -- for the rookie quarterback. 

Round 1: No. 4 overall -- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Round 2: No. 35 overall -- Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Putting Richardson's skill set in the hands of new Colts head coach Shane Steichen could be scary for opponents. His excellent arm strength and foot quickness within and outside the pocket give him a chance to be special -- if he becomes more consistent with his ball placement. The big-bodied Ringo (6-2, 207 pounds), who reminds me of Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs, would fill a hole left by the departed Stephon Gilmore.

Round 1: No. 24 overall -- Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Round 2: No. 56 overall -- Gervon Dexter Sr., DT, Florida

Banks' combination of size (6-foot, 197 pounds) and speed (4.35 40 with 1.49 10-yard split) would undoubtedly help him man one side of the field, while Tyson Campbell handles outside duties across the way. Dexter adds size (6-6, 310 pounds) and much-needed athleticism (4.88 40, 7.5-second three-cone drill) to the Jaguars' interior defense.

Round 1: No. 31 overall -- Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Round 2: No. 63 overall -- Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina

Hyatt walks into a great situation, using his 4.40 speed (1.5 10-yard split) to create separation on crossers, deep overs and nine routes. Rush's 4.36 speed at 6-2, 198 pounds and physical play as a senior have made him a lock to come off the board in the top 75 selections, and the Chiefs need to build depth at corner. 

Round 1: No. 7 overall -- Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

Round 2: No. 38 overall -- Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

The Raiders gain depth on the edge with Wilson, who will take over for Chandler Jones at some point, using his superior length (35 5/8-inch arms) to push back tackles and force quarterbacks toward Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby. Las Vegas will likely have to move up into the first round for Hooker, but with Jimmy Garoppolo fresh off shoulder surgery and signing a team-friendly, three-year deal, it's likely head coach Josh McDaniels will try to grab a young passer with potential as a distributor in the pocket and the ability to break off big runs when the opportunity presents itself.

Round 1: No. 21 overall -- Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern

Round 2: No. 54 overall -- Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

One of the draft's biggest risers after the NFL Scouting Combine, Adebawore has shown elite athleticism (4.49 40 at 282 pounds) and possesses the length (33 7/8-inch arms) to play 5-technique for the Chargers despite measuring just 6-2. Downs' quickness from the slot supplements the Chargers' veteran receiver trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Josh Palmer.

Round 2: No. 51 overall -- Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

Round 3: No. 84 overall -- Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland

The team forfeited its first-round selection for violating league tampering rules. However, the Dolphins could still snag an agile, quick receiving tight end in LaPorta in the middle of Round 2. Duncan's athletic build makes him a swing-tackle candidate with upside as a starter if he can gain consistency in his anchor and intensity.

Round 1: No. 14 overall -- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Round 2: No. 46 overall -- Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

The Patriots allowed Damien Harris to leave in free agency and are now looking for a true dual-threat in the backfield. I'm not sure Robinson will be around when New England goes on the clock, but the Texas product is the real deal in terms of a home run hitter with the ball in his hands. Harrison likely won't be available at No. 46, but the Pats have traded up in the second round in five straight drafts. They could make it six to land a starting tackle.

Round 1: No. 13 overall -- Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern 

Round 2: No. 42 overall -- Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

Skoronski could stay at his left tackle spot if the Jets keep Mekhi Becton on the right side. They could also slide the rookie to guard or center if they believe second-year tackle Max Mitchell is part of their best five. Smith could go in the first round, but if he ends up in the second -- like Johnathan Hankins, Linval Joseph and Jordan Phillips -- he'd be a great addition next to a blossoming Quinnen Williams.

Round 1: No. 17 overall -- Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia 

Round 2: No. 32 overall -- Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Steelers haven't selected an offensive lineman in the first round since 2012 (David DeCastro) but need an upgrade at left tackle. Jones attacks his man on run and pass plays -- likely endearing himself to Pittsburgh coaches. With the early second-round pick coming from the Bears in the Chase Claypool trade, the Steelers can add the high-motor Bresee to play 5-technique, eventually becoming the team's go-to defender once Cam Heyward retires.

Round 1: No. 11 overall -- Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Round 2: No. 41 overall -- Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State

The Titans signed Andre Dillard to start at left tackle, so Johnson would likely slide in at guard, where he started in 2021 for the Buckeyes. His determination as a run blocker makes him a great fit inside, but he can also man either tackle spot depending on the play of Dillard and former Ohio State teammate Nicholas Petit-Frere. The team desperately requires more pass-rush depth, with Anudike-Uzomah presenting the traits to cause tackles fits while spelling veterans Harold Landry and Arden Key.


Round 1: No. 3 overall -- Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

Round 2: No. 34 overall -- Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis need a premier pass rusher up front. They would use the versatile Alabama product in various ways just as they did with talented Eagles edge players last year. Johnston's inconsistencies as a pass catcher may keep him on the board until the second round, and he must step up to make plays on the sideline and escape tacklers after the catch, especially if Arizona trades five-time Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins.

Round 1: No. 8 overall: Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa 

Round 2: No. 44 overall: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss 


Van Ness' length (34-inch arms) fits the prototype that new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen worked with in New Orleans, and the Iowa product also presents the agility (7.02 three-cone at 272 pounds) to be effective in multiple formations. Mingo is merciless using his strength downfield and has good speed for his size (4.46 40 at 220 pounds). In this scenario, Atlanta would likely find a slot receiver later in the draft to complement Mingo and 2022 first-rounder Drake London.

Round 1: No. 1 overall -- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Round 2: No. 39 overall -- Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State

Carolina may select Bryce Young for his leadership and playmaking skills or Anthony Richardson for his upside, but Stroud is the ideal fit based on the accurate pocket passers that new Panthers head coach Frank Reich has favored in the past. McDonald was miscast in Iowa State's defense at 5-technique but possesses the bend and length off the edge required in new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero's scheme. Plus, Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes are free agents after the coming season.

Round 1: No. 9 overall -- Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Round 2: No. 53 overall -- Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse

If Carter's stock falls due to his off-the-field issues, the Bears could jump at the chance to take him. His explosiveness off the snap and ability to chase down smaller ball-carriers give him a chance to be a game-changer at the next level. Bergeron has the strength and athleticism to play guard or tackle in the NFL. He'd be a bargain if still on the board at No. 53, a pick Chicago received from Baltimore in the Roquan Smith trade.

Round 1: No. 26 overall -- Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Round 2: No. 58 overall -- Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama

The diminutive but strong and quick Flowers and two-time Pro Bowler CeeDee Lamb would drive secondaries crazy by flipping inside and outside, depending on the formation. The Cowboys need depth on the offensive line, whether it's an underrated athlete like Steen as a backup or an interior presence in case second-year pro Tyler Smith needs to move outside again due to injuries.

Round 1: No. 6 overall -- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon 

Round 1: No. 18 overall -- Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh  


Trading Jeff Okudah to the Falcons put the Lions in the market for an athletic corner like Gonzalez. His athleticism (4.38 40, 41.5-inch vertical at 6-1, 197 pounds) is only surpassed by his excellent ball skills. Kancey lacks size (6-1, 281 pounds) and length (30 5/8-inch arms) but is effective attacking gaps and uses his quickness to win inside. His ability to beat tackles with effort and leverage outside may also earn points with Lions' coaches and scouts.

Round 1: No. 15 overall -- Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Round 2: No. 45 overall -- Brian Branch, S, Alabama

There's an argument for Michael Mayer here, but I'm not sure the Packers will pass up Kincaid's athleticism. If his back is fully healthy, they'll love his ability to stretch defenses vertically, avoid tacklers in space and contort his body to grab throws away from his frame. Branch is a secure tackler and possesses great instincts in the run game and coverage despite average athleticism, providing excellent value at No. 45.

Round 2: No. 36 overall -- Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame

Round 3: No. 69 overall -- D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan

The Rams' final payment to the Lions for Matthew Stafford comes due in the first round this year (No. 6 overall). I suspect Los Angeles will move down to get more Day 2 and early Day 3 selections to rebuild extremely thin depth charts at edge and cornerback. A power rusher with decent agility for his size like Foskey (6-5, 264 pounds) and a quick cover corner like Turner, who posted a combine-best 4.26 40, would be a good start.

Round 1: No. 23 overall -- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Round 3: No. 87 overall -- Kei'Trel Clark, CB, Louisville

Kirk Cousins is a free agent after this season, so the Vikings might decide to move up for the strong-armed, strong-willed Levis, then give him a year to hone his craft and learn from a veteran. The team sent its second-round pick to Detroit for tight end T.J. Hockenson, but finding a talented, feisty slot corner in Clark in Round 3 would be ideal. 

Round 1: No. 29 overall: Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

Round 2: No. 40 overall: Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

Murphy's size (6-5, 268 pounds, 33 3/4-inch arms) makes him the perfect Saints defensive end. Watch for general manager Mickey Loomis to once again move up if he covets those attributes. In this exercise, Spears stays in New Orleans after starring with the Green Wave, joining free-agent signee Jamaal Williams in the backfield for depth, especially if Alvin Kamara misses any time in 2023 due to his legal situation.

Round 1: No. 25 overall -- Cam Smith, DB, South Carolina

Round 2: No. 57 overall -- Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

Smith's physicality and speed (4.43 40 with 1.49 10-yard split) would allow him to step right onto the field for the Giants in the slot or outside. Tippmann's power and ability to hit second-level targets could make him a leading candidate for the team's open starting center position.

Round 1: No. 10 overall -- Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

Round 1: No. 30 overall -- Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

Smith is a bit undersized as an edge (6-2 1/4, 238 pounds), but his speed (4.39 40) and strong hands remind me of Haason Reddick when he came out of Temple. The Eagles would love to pair Smith and Reddick on their front. Mauch's versatility and nastiness as a blocker would allow him to compete for the starting right guard spot in Philly as a rookie and replace Andre Dillard as the backup left tackle.

Round 3: No. 99 overall -- Blake Freeland, OT, BYU

Round 3: No. 101 overall -- KJ Henry, Edge, Clemson

Freeland is still growing into his (near) 6-8 frame, so he'd start his career with the 49ers as a swing tackle unless he could compete for the starting RT job this summer. Henry has the power and speed to the outside to get into San Francisco's D-end rotation right out of the gate.

Round 1: No. 5 overall -- Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Round 1: No. 20 overall -- O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

Porter's athletic profile is not much different than that of Sauce Gardner, who went fourth overall last year. His 34-inch arm length and willingness to throw his body into the fray match the Seahawks' ideals at the position. Torrence would be a nice replacement for Gabe Jackson at right guard, as the Lousiana/Florida product also uses his powerful build to move the line of scrimmage.

Round 1: No. 19 overall -- Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Round 2: No. 50 overall -- Sydney Brown, S, Illinois

The release of Donovan Smith means Tristan Wirfs could move to the left tackle (where he lined up for a few games while at Iowa) and make room for a strong, agile right tackle like Wright. Brown measured 5-10 at the combine, but the success of Antoine Winfield Jr. means the Bucs won't shy away from a strong tackler with the athleticism to play over slot receivers.

Round 1: No. 16 overall -- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Round 2: No. 47 overall -- Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

The Commanders get impact players at two positions of need in this simulation. Witherspoon mixes it up with receivers in the slot and outside despite his slender build (5-11 1/2, 181 pounds), while Musgrave is an athletic target who can attack multiple levels of the defense. Washington would lean on these two young talents for the next few years.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter.

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