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Lance Zierlein 2023 NFL mock draft 2.1: Raiders go up for C.J. Stroud; Colts select Anthony Richardson

UPDATE: When we originally published Mock 2.0 on Tuesday morning, I had Atlanta trading the No. 8 overall pick to Baltimore in exchange for Lamar Jackson, with the Ravens subsequently selecting Kentucky QB Will Levis. But later on Tuesday, after Baltimore placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, NFL Network's Peter Schrager reported that Atlanta does not plan to pursue the former league MVP. So, in the wake of my colleague's reporting, I've tweaked this simulation a bit.

Without further ado, enjoy Mock 2.1!



The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine provided valuable information on this year's prospect pool. Which players boosted themselves into Round 1? Who fell out?

Fresh off my annual scouting trip to Indianapolis, here is my latest mock of the 2023 NFL Draft's first round.

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.

Pick
1
Will Anderson Jr.
Alabama · Edge · Junior

The quarterbacks put on a show at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, thus increasing the critical position's supply and inherently lowering the demand for the No. 1 pick. Add in the current uncertainty surrounding Jalen Carter, and Chicago ultimately stays put and grabs this draft's top edge rusher.

Pick
2
Bryce Young
Alabama · QB · Junior

Young is the quarterback with the best poise, fewest concerns and most "face of the franchise" personality. He'll fit in perfectly with the Texans.

Pick
3
C.J. Stroud
Ohio State · QB · Sophomore (RS)

PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS


The Raiders can either sit tight and hope they get their guy at No. 7 ... or look to aggressively move up and target the quarterback they want. In this exercise, Josh McDaniels and Co. jump into Arizona's draft slot to snag Stroud, who put on the best pure throwing display in Indy.

Pick
4
Anthony Richardson
Florida · QB · Sophomore (RS)

New Colts head coach Shane Steichen just helped the Eagles get to the Super Bowl with a quarterback (Jalen Hurts) who possesses similar traits to those of this athletic marvel. Richardson needs time to develop, but the Florida product has massive upside.

Pick
5
Seattle Seahawks
(via DEN)
Jalen Carter
Georgia · DT · Junior

GM John Schneider has acknowledged the Seahawks need to get better up front in order to stop the run. Following Carter's arrest last week, we'll obviously have to see how this situation plays out over the next couple months.

Pick
6
Detroit Lions
(via LAR)
Devon Witherspoon
Illinois · CB · Senior

The sixth overall pick would seem like a ripe trade-in spot to get the last of the "big four" quarterbacks, but Detroit sits tight and grabs the ballhawking cornerback out of Illinois.

Pick
7
Tyree Wilson
Texas Tech · Edge · Senior (RS)

PROJECTED TRADE WITH LAS VEGAS RAIDERS


The scenario would be a huge win for the Cardinals: adding valuable draft capital and one of the top edge defenders in the draft.

Pick
8
Myles Murphy
Clemson · Edge · Junior

As mentioned at the top of this file, I originally had Atlanta trading this pick to Baltimore in exchange for Lamar Jackson, with the Ravens subsequently selecting Kentucky QB Will Levis. But later on Tuesday, after Baltimore placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, NFL Network's Peter Schrager reported that Atlanta does not plan to pursue the former league MVP. So, in the wake of my colleague's reporting, I have the Falcons keeping the pick and nabbing a big, versatile edge defender who plays consistent football.

Pick
9
Will Levis
Kentucky · QB · Senior (RS)

In the initial version of this mock, after the top four quarterbacks flew off the board within the first eight picks, Carolina opted for Clemson edge Myles Murphy. But in light of what I discussed at the top of this file and in the Falcons blurb just above, the Panthers have a signal-caller fall right into their lap. The only question: Do they value the toolsy Kentucky gunslinger as a true "face of the franchise" type?

Pick
10
Christian Gonzalez
Oregon · CB · Junior

With such a loaded roster, Philadelphia is a challenging team to mock for. That said, cornerback is a need. Gonzalez has the size, speed and athleticism to match up against any flavor of wideout in the league.

Pick
11
Peter Skoronski
Northwestern · OT · Junior

I could see the Titans leaning toward a lineman with better length -- SEE: Paris Johnson Jr. or Broderick Jones -- but Skoronski's entering the league with the most polish.

Pick
12
Houston Texans
(via CLE)
Lukas Van Ness
Iowa · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Van Ness just crushed the combine. His physical components and play strength will likely remind DeMeco Ryans of the players he had on his excellent defense in San Francisco.

Pick
13
Broderick Jones
Georgia · OT · Sophomore (RS)

Jones gives the Jets an insurance policy for oft-injured left tackle Mekhi Becton. And if Becton stays healthy, Jones can swing over to play on the right side.

Pick
14
Darnell Wright
Tennessee · OT · Senior

This pick might surprise some, but Wright is a big tackle with heavy hands who gets guys blocked. He's smaller than Trent Brown, but offers a similar game.

Pick
15
Michael Mayer
Notre Dame · TE · Junior

I believe any of top three tight ends could end up in this spot, depending on how the Packers prioritize athleticism vs. blocking, but Mayer is a solid combination of traits right here.

Pick
16
Paris Johnson Jr.
Ohio State · OT · Junior

Washington has multiple needs along the offensive line, but this pick would allow the Commanders to move Sam Cosmi to guard and plug Johnson into an early starting role.

Pick
17
Deonte Banks
Maryland · CB · Junior (RS)

Banks obliterated the testing in Indy, pushing himself up the draft board. His scheme versatility gives the Steelers coverage flexibility.

Pick
18
Bijan Robinson
Texas · RB · Junior

Let's go! The talented Longhorn back combines power and wiggle -- and he can have a similar impact on an offense to what we saw this past season from Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas. Baller move here, Brad Holmes!

Pick
19
Joey Porter Jr.
Penn State · CB · Junior (RS)

Tampa Bay could very well lose Jamel Dean to free agency. Porter Jr. is a long-limbed press corner who can fit into the Buccaneers' scheme as an early starter.

Pick
20
Quentin Johnston
TCU · WR · Junior

After addressing the defensive line with their first pick of this exercise, the Seahawks add more size and speed to round out a talented receiver trio in Seattle.

Pick
21
Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State · WR · Junior

We all love Keenan Allen, but he turns 31 on the first day of this draft. Smith-Njigba's player profile is very similar to what Allen has offered during his successful Bolts tenure.

Pick
22
Zay Flowers
Boston College · WR · Senior

Whoever's at quarterback this coming season in Baltimore, the Ravens need a wideout who can get open and make challenging catches outside of his frame. Flowers fits the bill.

Pick
23
Keion White
Georgia Tech · Edge · Senior (RS)

White needs more game polish, but he's big, strong and athletic. If his NFL team can continue to develop his traits at defensive end, White has a high ceiling.

Pick
24
Calijah Kancey
Pittsburgh · DT · Junior (RS)

Jacksonville adds one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the draft. Kancey's an undersized -- but explosive -- interior lineman with rare mismatch quickness inside.

Pick
25
Dalton Kincaid
Utah · TE · Senior

This could be a fairly easy call, as Kincaid's sticky hands and high-volume capability allow the Giants to mix up their "11" and "12" personnel groupings more frequently.

Pick
26
Drew Sanders
Arkansas · LB · Junior

I'm sorry, did you say he played for Arkansas, looks like Leighton Vander Esch on the field and is a linebacker who can rush the passer? Feels like an automatic selection for Jerry Jones.

Pick
27
O'Cyrus Torrence
Florida · OG · Senior

The Bills need help on the defensive side of the ball, but guard is a position they may not pass up on in the first round if a body-mover like Torrence makes it to this spot.

Pick
28
Matthew Bergeron
Syracuse · OT · Senior

Bergeron is a better run blocker than pass protector at this stage in his development, but he's talented and gives the Bengals another option at either tackle spot.

Pick
29
New Orleans Saints
(via SF through MIA, DEN)
Mazi Smith
Michigan · DT · Junior (RS)

Smith only performed the bench press in Indianapolis, tossing up the bar 34 times -- the highest total for any defender at this year's combine. But that's just the beginning, as he'll blow the doors off of testing at his pro day. For a team in need of DT help, this is a slam-dunk pick.

Pick
30
Brian Branch
Alabama · DB · Junior

I could easily see explosive RB Jahmyr Gibbs being the pick here, but I'm going with an Alabama product from the other side of the ball. Branch is a very smart, very consistent player with the versatility to man multiple spots in the secondary.

Pick
31
Derick Hall
Auburn · Edge · Senior

In the wake of Frank Clark's release, Hall could become a coveted target here, allowing the Chiefs to pair the Auburn product with George Karlaftis as a young tandem able to crater the edges while Chris Jones wrecks shop inside.

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