The 2023 NFL Draft has gotten its seismic trade, with the Carolina Panthers moving from No. 9 overall all the way to the No. 1 spot in a trade with the Chicago Bears. The Frank Reich-led club can now pick whichever quarterback it chooses, and the Bears got an early draft-pick haul, plus the perpetually underrated D.J. Moore, who's somehow only 25 years old.
This makes things more clear, of course, but there's plenty of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to the quarterbacks. For this mock, I have the quarterback carousel as follows:
- Aaron Rodgers traded to the New York Jets
- Lamar Jackson traded to the Atlanta Falcons
- Jimmy Garoppolo signs with the Las Vegas Raiders
- Ryan Tannehill signs with Baltimore Ravens
Having laid out those destinations, I do need to add some caveats. On Wednesday, ESPN's Dianna Russini reported the Falcons will not be pursuing Lamar Jackson. I'm not intending to question Russini's reporting, but this from CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones is vital to remember:
When it comes to who’s in and who’s out on Lamar, know this: a team’s stance today may not be its stance in April, or post draft, or training camp. If Jackson lets the tag sit unsigned, plenty can happen over the coming months.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) March 7, 2023
One more note: There will only be 31 first-round picks this year because the Dolphins were stripped of their selection due to tampering.
Let's get to the picks!
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 1
Florida • 6'4" / 232 lbs
Reich coached the large and deceptively athletic Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and has assembled a star-studded cast of veteran assistant coaches, all of which creates a cushy landing spot for Richardson.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • 5'10" / 204 lbs
The Texans upgrade the quarterback position in a big way with Young, who has all the improvisational brilliance to succeed in today's NFL.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • 6'6" / 271 lbs
The Cardinals opt for Wilson's length and overall size over Will Anderson Jr. here at No. 3 overall. Wilson's a darn-good rusher too.
Round 1 - Pick 4
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • 6'3" / 218 lbs
Ideal scenario for the Colts. They don't have to trade up and can still land the highly polished Stroud at No. 4.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • 6'3" / 314 lbs
The Seahawks can't pass on Carter here, even with the off-field concerns. They have a dire need at defensive tackle.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 6
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • 6'4" / 229 lbs
Here's how I'd link Levis to the Lions: Detroit's GM Brad Holmes was with the Rams organization forever -- dating back to the St. Louis days -- before taking the job in the Motor City. Guess who he spent three years with in Los Angeles? Liam Coen. Who's Liam Coen? Levis' former offensive coordinator at Kentucky. [Michael Scott voice]: Boom. Roasted.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • 6'4" / 243 lbs
Does this fill the most immediate need on the Raiders roster? Absolutely not -- hello, Maxx Crosby -- but Anderson is too talented and was too productive in college for Las Vegas to pass on him here.
Mock Trade from Atlanta Falcons
Round 1 - Pick 8
TCU • 6'4" / 215 lbs
The Ravens move Jackson and start building around Tannehill, their bridge guy, in 2023. Johnston is a big, long, physical, YAC specialist with serious vertical ability. In the Lamar Jackson trade, the Ravens get this selection, 2024 first-round and second-round picks from Atlanta along with 2025 second-round and fourth-round picks.
From Carolina Panthers
Round 1 - Pick 9
Ohio State • 6'1" / 200 lbs
The Bears aren't playing around -- they're loading up on weapons for Fields entering Year 3, and rightfully so. After what will likely be a sub 4.40 40-yard dash at his pro Day, Smith-Njigba going top 10 won't be considered crazy.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 10
Nolan Smith EDGE
Georgia • 6'2" / 238 lbs
Smith proved his athletic brilliance at the combine who'll formulate an awesome duo with Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick in Philadelphia for years.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Georgia • 6'5" / 311 lbs
Jones is super strong and athletic with his best football in front of him. After his combine workout, he probably solidified himself as OT1 in this class.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 12
Northwestern • 6'4" / 313 lbs
After going blocker in Round 1 last year, the Texans do it again after selecting Young at No. 2 overall. Prudent selection.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Ohio State • 6'6" / 310 lbs
Johnson is a super-long, athletic blocker who feels very NFL ready at the left or right tackle spot.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Alabama • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Branch will get the thumbs up from Nick Saban to Bill Belichick, as the star defensive back was everywhere at Alabama during his illustrious career with the Crimson Tide.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Utah • 6'4" / 240 lbs
Kincaid is the most gifted pure receiving tight end in this class, and he'll be an immediate favorite target for Jordan Love.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Oregon • 6'2" / 201 lbs
The Commanders jump at this opportunity to get a star outside cornerback onto this roster.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Pittsburgh • 6'1" / 281 lbs
Kancey is the Javon Hargrave replacement the Steelers have missed for the past few seasons.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Deonte Banks CB
Maryland • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Another tall, highly talented cornerback to the Lions, a team that has so many fun young pieces.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Tennessee • 6'6" / 335 lbs
With this selection, the Buccaneers can flip Tristan Wirfs to left tackle and stay very good at the right tackle spot with the strong and advanced Wright.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Lukas Van Ness EDGE
Iowa • 6'5" / 275 lbs
Van Ness is another long, athletic specimen to improve the defensive front in Seattle.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Zay Flowers WR
Boston College • 5'9" / 182 lbs
Flowers didn't run in the 4.30s at the combine, but he still feels like a first-round pick. The Chargers add more weaponry for Justin Herbert.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Illinois • 6'0" / 180 lbs
Witherspoon fits what the Ravens want out of their cornerbacks. He's ultra-feisty with polished man-coverage skills.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Penn State • 6'2" / 194 lbs
Porter has offensive tackle arm length and plus man coverage ability. The Vikings again go to the secondary well early in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Oklahoma • 6'5" / 315 lbs
This pick is to better protect Trevor Lawrence and to fill in the spot likely vacated by impending free agent Jawaan Taylor.
Round 1 - Pick 25
O'Cyrus Torrence IOL
Florida • 6'5" / 347 lbs
Torrence is an NFL-ready guard the Giants can plug in immediately. He'll improve the run and pass game for the G-Men.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Drew Sanders LB
Arkansas • 6'5" / 234 lbs
The Cowboys could be extremely multiple with Sanders on the defense next to Micah Parsons. Sanders is a long, athletic off-ball/edge hybrid.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Rashee Rice WR
SMU • 6'2" / 203 lbs
The Bills opt with Rice over Jordan Addison because of size and explosiveness. Rice can win on the perimeter and after the catch. Plus he stars in combat-catch situations.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Texas • 5'11" / 215 lbs
This selection comes after the Bengals move Joe Mixon this offseason. Wouldn't be totally crazy. More firepower in Joe Burrow's offense.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jahmyr Gibbs RB
Alabama • 5'9" / 199 lbs
Shades of the 2021 NFL Draft, when Travis Etienne and Najee Harris went back-to-back late in the first round. Gibbs has Kamara-like explosiveness and receiving capabilities.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Northwestern • 6'2" / 280 lbs
The Eagles love building the trenches early in the draft and high-caliber athletes. Adebawore and Milton Williams on the same defensive line would represent loads of athleticism.
Round 1 - Pick 31
USC • 6'0" / 175 lbs
The Chiefs jump at the opportunity to add Addison to their offense, even after a disappointing combine.