As the prospect-evaluation period winds down, it's time for me to take a second crack at projecting Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri). Trades will obviously be a major element of the real thing later this month, but just like in my first mock, I'm keeping everyone in their current draft slots.
NOTE: The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.
My esteemed colleague Bucky Brooks recently expressed a common sentiment in draft circles: From the outside looking in, the Panthers' decision feels like a coin flip between Young and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud. Today, the coin lands in favor of the best quarterback in this year's class, at least in my humble opinion.
There's been recent discussion that Houston might look to draft a non-quarterback at No. 2 overall. While that could be true, I think the Texans should indeed use this pick to grab their new face of the franchise at the game's most important position.
The consensus is that the Cardinals are very open to trading down out of this spot. If they don't, here's a bit of a surprise, with the Texas Tech product becoming the first defensive player selected. New GM Monti Ossenfort eschews the "safer" edge pick (Will Anderson Jr.) for Wilson, whose stock is truly on the rise.
The top-rated edge rusher on many boards is warmly welcomed to the Emerald City -- and pointed straight at the QBs of the NFC West.
Character concerns aside, the raw talent is undeniable. And the culture that the Lions have built in a short time under GM Brad Holmes and HC Dan Campbell makes Detroit a perfect landing spot for the former Bulldog.
Johnson is smart, versatile and athletic. He steps right in as the Raiders' right tackle.
He's not the biggest, but he may be the fiercest CB prospect in the draft. His tape shows a steady progression in his career, and his impactful play will be valued by the Falcons, even after the recent acquisition of Jeff Okudah, who could depart Atlanta after one season if the team doesn't pick up his fifth-year option prior to the May 1 deadline.
With the Bears putting their full faith in QB Justin Fields, it's up to GM Ryan Pace to continue surrounding him with talent. The local big-time prospect out of Northwestern fits the bill, whether he lines up at tackle or guard.
The Eagles never skimp on acquiring players who can affect opposing quarterbacks. Van Ness is a forceful piece to add to Philly's D-line stable.
We've heard plenty of talk about the Titans potentially moving up in the draft. Here, they hang tight and land the gifted Gator QB. Best of all, he can develop behind current starter Ryan Tannehill.
After grabbing C.J. Stroud at No. 2, the Texans nab JSN here, allowing the former Buckeyes to continue growing together.
With GM Joe Douglas selecting the hulking right tackle out of Tennessee, versatile star Alijah Vera-Tucker's able to permanently move back inside. This roster, which came so close to producing a playoff bid in 2022, just keeps getting better.
Smooth, easy mover who flows effortlessly alongside receivers. Gonzalez helps shore up the back end of the Patriots' defense.
Tough, physical, gritty -- these are adjectives DC Jack Del Rio loves. Porter joins a defense that has the makings of a very good unit.
Alex Highsmith just enjoyed a breakout year for the Steelers with 14.5 sacks, but he's in the final year of his rookie deal. Edge rushers are the motor that drives Pittsburgh's defense.
I have to believe the best running back in this year's class will be considered multiple times in the first half of Round 1. He makes it to the Lions at No. 18 here, giving the Motor City two of the top five overall prospects on my colleague Daniel Jeremiah's big board.
Not only can he fly, but he makes plays on the ball, too. He could pair nicely with last year's rookie sensation, Tariq Woolen, giving the Seahawks two true ballhawks on the perimeter.
The Chargers have a gifted quarterback in Justin Herbert who can push the ball downfield with every throw. Addison will help him do just that.
Eric DeCosta recently told us all that Baltimore could very well select a QB in this year's draft. I'm taking the general manager at his word, as the Ravens hedge their bets with the uncertainty surrounding Lamar Jackson. If the team does not go QB here, a big receiver like TCU’s Quentin Johnston would be a nice addition.
The Vikings select the quick interior lineman and hope that he develops into a disruptor like Hall of Fame DT John Randle. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores will help the Pitt product.
"Help Daniel Jones!" scream the Big Blue faithful. GM Joe Schoen listens, and HC Brian Daboll applauds.
The alarm bells rang after Branch ran an underwhelming 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. But the Bills see a stud on tape who makes plays from multiple positions. He's in line to fortify what could be the last run of "The Hyde and Poyer Show" in Buffalo.
Yes, he weighs around 170 pounds. That is a concern. But he takes the ball away (14 interceptions at Mississippi State, including an NCAA-record six pick-sixes) and is a more-than-willing tackler. Forbes fits in well with DC Lou Anarumo's philosophy and scheme.
The ultra-athletic Smith immediately becomes part of the DT rotation in New Orleans.