A team without a need at quarterback drafting No. 1 overall is good for entertainment value. In most years, that team is able to turn the pick into multiple first-round choices in exchange for the right to move up and take the best quarterback available. While it may be too soon for Pittsburgh to take a quarterback themselves, it is faced with the decision to add Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. opposite T.J. Watt or trade down for additional draft capital. In today's thought exercise, we explore that scenario and many others with a new mock draft.
The draft order below was determined using SportsLine's Super Bowl odds, but in reverse order. These are your team's betting odds of winning a Lombardi Trophy this season. Miami's selection at No. 23 overall was forfeited.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 1
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 253 lbs
There was a real temptation to take a quarterback No. 1 overall despite selecting Kenny Pickett in the first-round last year. However, there is not a slam-dunk quarterback prospect in this class, so it felt too soon to move on from Pickett. Instead, the Steelers take the top-overall prospect in Anderson. It is also a prime destination for one team to trade up and take one of those quarterbacks.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 204 lbs
Despite the presence of Davis Mills, Houston opts to make a change at quarterback. Young is a bit of a risk because he is a physical outlier at the position. However, he has such a good feel for the game and the physical prerequisites are less important in today's game.
Round 1 - Pick 3
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
Detroit could save more than $20 million towards the salary cap while potentially upgrading the quarterback position by releasing Jared Goff and drafting Stroud. The franchise could be in a position to make changes at head coach and/or general manager once the season concludes.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • Sr • 6'4" / 229 lbs
It is impossible to predict what Carolina may do considering the likely implementation of a new head coach. There is little P.J. Walker could do -- similar to interim head coach Steve Wilks -- to earn an extended starting role. One thing is relatively certain: Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold will not return in 2023. It is not an ideal situation for Levis, but Carolina needs a fresh start.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'3" / 314 lbs
The quarterback outlook pendulum has flipped in the direction of Justin Fields earning a longer look. As a result, Chicago takes the best player available in the form of Carter. The Bears need more help along the offensive line, but they cannot be so desperate as to take a lesser talent just to fill a need.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Northwestern • Jr • 6'4" / 313 lbs
Washington's interior offensive line has been an issue this season. Skoronski has played left tackle for Northwestern but has five-position flexibility. The Commanders upgrade the offensive line.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Bryan Bresee DL
Clemson • Soph • 6'6" / 298 lbs
Jacksonville has invested a lot into its defensive front seven, but that's the direction the board falls. The Jaguars could consider cornerback or offensive line help in this spot.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Penn State • Soph • 6'6" / 308 lbs
Indianapolis has some core positional needs like quarterback, left tackle and cornerback. The team does not have enough draft picks to address each, and a deserving quarterback is not on the board at this point. The Colts opt for one of the most pleasant surprises of the college football season.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Ohio State • Jr • 6'6" / 313 lbs
New York has done a fairly adequate job of addressing a need at offensive tackle because it is not easy. However, the long-term solution at left tackle is not on the roster. Johnson has played well in his first season since transitioning from offensive guard.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 10
Myles Murphy DL
Clemson • Jr • 6'5" / 268 lbs
Murphy is one of the top prospects in this draft class regardless of position, but quarterbacks push everyone else down a bit. Seattle gets good value while adding depth and talent along its defensive line.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Kelee Ringo CB
Georgia • Soph • 6'2" / 207 lbs
Las Vegas could use a boundary cornerback. It could be afraid to fish in that pond after having a few first-round busts, but Ringo checks all of the height, weight and speed boxes. If the Raiders hit on the Georgia product, they would have a good start on rebuilding the secondary with Nate Hobbs under contract for two more years.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Josh Downs WR
North Carolina • Jr • 5'9" / 171 lbs
After trading away Calvin Ridley, Atlanta is looking to add some new wide receivers to the mix. The team has size with Kyle Pitts and Drake London, so adding a player with speed is the correct path. Downs is a good route-runner who can create yardage after the catch.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Texas • Jr • 5'11" / 215 lbs
The presence of a talented running back like Robinson would take some of the pressure off of Kyler Murray. Robinson has great size and is a viable starter in all three phases of the position.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 14
Oregon • Soph • 6'1" / 197 lbs
The Eagles have some expensive pieces on offense, so having two first-round picks is a good outlet to replace expensive veterans without sacrificing much from a production standpoint. Gonzalez gives Philadelphia a cheaper, younger replacement for James Bradberry.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 15
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • Sr • 6'6" / 271 lbs
Houston selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young No. 2 overall, and now it turns its attention to the defensive side of the ball. Wilson has shown progress since last season and needs to continue that trajectory to fulfill his draft placement. However, he has the size, speed and athleticism to be an elite edge rusher down the road.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'5" / 249 lbs
With the first of two picks, Seattle added Clemson pass rusher Myles Murphy. Mayer is the team's next selection. The Seahawks are sitting on one of the best 2022 draft classes and are hoping their stroke of luck continues. Mayer is a big, strong outlet who is not going to test off the charts but will serve as a reliable option for the suddenly revived Geno Smith.
Round 1 - Pick 17
TCU • Jr • 6'3" / 208 lbs
New York's wide receiver issues have been well-documented. It seems as though Wan'Dale Robinson is the only player with any level of assurance being on the roster next season. Johnston gives the Giants size at the position. Over the past four games, he has recorded 30 receptions for 536 yards and four touchdowns for the undefeated Horned Frogs.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 196 lbs
New England is ready to move on from its large free agent expenditures of last offseason: Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. Smith-Njigba joins a room that includes Jakobi Meyers and Devante Parker.
Round 1 - Pick 19
USC • Jr • 5'11" / 173 lbs
There is no overdoing it when it comes to addressing the wide receiver position. In an ideal world, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs can continue developing. Addison provides a unique skillset, allowing him to contribute from Day 1.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
Tennessee could be moving on from both starting offensive tackles in the next few years. The franchise does not want to find itself in a position to replace both in one offseason, so it needs to get ahead of Taylor Lewan's contract expiring.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 21
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'2" / 198 lbs
The thought process for Detroit's pick changes entirely if head coach Dan Campbell is gone. Johnson is a physical, versatile player who is originally from the Midwest and comfortable playing in harsher climates.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Clemson • Jr • 6'2" / 235 lbs
Los Angeles just needs to get healthy; that is the most substantial improvement that could happen to its roster right now. With that being said, linebacker is still a position in flux, and Simpson offers the capability of shooting gaps to apply pressure on the quarterback, athleticism to fall back into coverage, and awareness to fit run gaps.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Eli Ricks CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'2" / 188 lbs
If not for the novelty of Eli Apple, the casual NFL fan could not name a cornerback on Cincinnati's roster. It has been a rocky road for Ricks, but he has shown his potential dating back to his freshman season with LSU.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 193 lbs
Tampa Bay's cornerbacks have been productive this season, but it is another area of the team where difficult financial decisions will probably have to be made in the near future. Porter gives the Buccaneers a link between the present and the future.
Round 1 - Pick 26
LSU • Jr • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Minnesota picked up tight end T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline, but the long-term vision needs to include another pass catcher opposite Justin Jefferson. Adam Thielen is 32years old and scheduled to carry roughly a $20 million salary cap hit each of the next two seasons. Boutte's season has not gone as planned, but if anyone is able to assist in reaching his potential, it could be another former Tiger in Boutte.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Georgia • Jr • 6'7" / 264 lbs
Tight end Dalton Schultz is playing out his franchise tag, and Dallas may not be willing to meet his contract demands. Washington has grown as a blocker and remains a mismatch for opposing defensive backs.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Cam Smith CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 180 lbs
Baltimore is a team that has always valued depth at the cornerback position. The Ravens have dealt with injuries in that room, and Marcus Peters is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jared Verse EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'4" / 248 lbs
Denver uses the pick acquired in the Bradley Chubb trade to potentially add his replacement. Verse, a transfer from Albany, has great size and traits for the position. He showed that he was capable of playing last season against Syracuse, and that has carried over to his time with the Seminoles.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Felix Anudike-Uzomah EDGE
Kansas State • Jr • 6'3" / 255 lbs
Realistically speaking, the current season will be Frank Clark's last in Kansas City. He has a $30 million salary cap hit next season, and the Chiefs would be able to save $21 million by releasing him. His absence, plus the early-season play of rookie George Karlaftis, make it important for the Super Bowl contender to have options in that room.
Round 1- Pick 31
Brian Branch CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Philadelphia's roster is in need of little, so general manager Howie Roseman is likely to draft best player available. However, it makes a lot of sense for the Eagles to conduct a cost-cutting operation. They already drafted a replacement for James Bradberry and now do the same with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. One would think the team would get compensatory selections in the event one or both left in free agency.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Florida • Jr • 6'5" / 330 lbs
Buffalo needs to continue investing in Josh Allen every year, and upgrading the offensive line is one way to do that. Torrence was a good player at Louisiana, but he has developed into one of college football's best interior offensive linemen at Florida.