With the NFL draft season upon us, I have decided to put together my first-ever official mock draft this year. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation surrounding the draft over the last month or so.
I made this mock draft with a combination of what I think teams will do and what I think best fits the team and the player they are drafting. It will include trades that I have projected.
Follow Saleh Awwad on Twitter at @SalehAwwad_.
2023 NFL mock draft
1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The clear-cut top QB in this year’s draft regardless of his size. Goes through progressions and can operate an NFL offense better than anyone else in the draft. Young has the potential to get this franchise back on track immediately.
2. Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Texans’ new Head Coach DeMeco Ryans wants to establish a dominant defense and there is no better way to start the process than with game-changing edge rusher Will Anderson.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Arizona would without a doubt prefer the safer pick in Will Anderson here. While Tyree Wilson is a very raw prospect that needs to be polished, he has the highest potential out of any defensive player in the draft.
4. Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
A very accurate and well-built QB, Colts have been very desperate for some stability at the position and Stroud can give them this. While they have been heavily connected to Will Levis, I believe Stroud is the better quarterback and Indy should too.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Carter was looked at as the best player in the draft a couple of months ago, there has been some non-football-related controversy that has hurt his draft stock but Seattle has an opportunity to get their franchise defensive tackle here.
6. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Detroit still needs more help in the secondary, Witherspoon was an absolute lockdown corner in 2022 and has the potential to translate this to the NFL.
7. Houston Texans (From LV): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
*Projected trade with Las Vegas
Texans get their top defensive player at 2 and still walk out taking the quarterback with arguably the highest ceiling in the draft. Richardson is very raw and needs work but has skyrocketing potential and is well worth the risk here.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Nolan Smith may be the most explosive rusher in this year’s draft. Smith ran a sub 4.4 and had over a 40-inch vertical at the NFL combine. With just 21 sacks in all of 2022, Atlanta is very desperate for some pass rush help.
9. Chicago Bears: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Chicago needs to protect their franchise QB in Justin Fields, Paris Johnson can come in and immediately do just that.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
With the departure of Miles Sanders, the run-heavy Eagles still do not have a lead back that they can depend on. Bijan Robinson is a very rare 3-down all-around RB that has all the physical traits that you want in a franchise back. With Saquon Barkley-type potential, this is a perfect fit for both Philly and the Texas running back.
11. Tennessee Titans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Ryan Tannehill’s time is ticking in Tennessee and if developed right and given adequate coaching and surroundings, Levis may be able to be their franchise QB.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (From HOU): Peter Skoronski, OT/OG, Northwestern *Projected trade with Houston
Very good pass blocker, pro-ready, and can play all across the offensive line. The Raiders can get their newly acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo some protection here.
13. Washington Commanders (From GB): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon *Projected trade with Green Bay
The ultra-athletic and speedy Christian Gonzalez falls a little here and Washington swoops in and gets him, allowing them to get some much-needed help in the secondary.
14. New England Patriots: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
With already being one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league, athletic freak Lukas Van Ness will help Belichick and his defense continue to dominate.
15. New York Jets: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
With the Aaron Rodgers trade finally completed, it’s clear that the Jets are going all in and Darnell Wright is an absolute unit that can come in and start at right tackle for them right away.
16. Green Bay Packers (From WAS): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
*Projected trade with Washington
After moving up to the 13th pick in their trade with the Jets, Green Bay could move down and acquire more picks while still getting their guy. Kincaid has all the traits to be a dominant receiving tight end in the league, Green Bay needs to prioritize getting Jordan Love as much help as they possibly can.
17. Seattle Seahawks (From Pit): Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State *Projected trade with Pittsburgh
The dynamic, pure slot receiver will immediately give Seattle a top wide receiver trio in the league, JSN has the talent to produce right away at the next level.
18. Detroit Lions: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
After trading T.J. Hockenson mid-season, the Lions have a hole to fill at tight end and Michael Mayer has no clear weaknesses at the position.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
After cutting their long-time starting tackle Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay now needs a replacement that can protect whoever they decide to put out there at quarterback. Jones has great size and strength to play tackle at the NFL level.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (From SEA): Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State *Projected trade with Seattle
Newly signed Cornerback Patrick Peterson is 32 years old and still doesn’t make this secondary much better than it was last season, Porter has great size and man coverage skills.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Addison gives this Chargers offense the explosion and big play ability that they have desperately needed. The USC receiver is built almost identically to Devonta Smith and also plays very similarly to the Eagles receiver.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The Ravens are razor-thin at cornerback other than Marlon Humphrey. Banks’ athletic profile is off the charts, running a 4.35 at the combine along with having a 42-inch vertical. He could end up being a huge steal for Baltimore.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
After letting go of veteran receiver Adam Thielen, there’s now a hole to fill in the Vikings’ receiving core. Minnesota could use some size in their pass-catching unit, which Johnson has along with great athleticism and YAC ability. Johnson’s only real concern is his continuous struggles with drops, but as we have seen, receivers can fix this once they enter the league. The TCU product can come in and complement the OPOY Justin Jefferson perfectly.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi
Jacksonville has largely struggled against the pass as of late. Weighing in at 166 pounds, Forbes is not the biggest corner by any means but his playmaking ability, speed, and explosiveness more than well make up for this.
25. New York Giants: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
A little like Jamal Adams, Branch is a very versatile defensive back that can be a starting nickel corner for many teams, he can also play safety and even a little linebacker with his dynamic blitzing ability. This would be an absolute win for the Giants.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Dallas loves using their tight ends and is now in need of one after Dalton Schultz signed with the Texans. Darnell Washington is a physical specimen at 6’7, and 264 pounds while running a 4.64 40-yard dash. He can give this offense a different dynamic with his size and outstanding contested catch ability, along with being a dominant run blocker.
27. Buffalo Bills: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Flowers may be the best route runner in this year’s draft and is as explosive as any other receiver from the class. Buffalo has struggled because of the lack of weapons and Gabe Davis has proved to be a very unreliable number 2 receiver. Flowers can be a huge threat down the field and gives this offense exactly what they need to make that extra push in the coming years.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Joe Mixon’s time in Cincinnati seems to be coming to an end in the near future. Gibbs is an Alvin Kamara-type back that has elite speed and quickness, as well as being an elite pass catcher that would fit perfectly in Cincy’s high-powered offense.
29. New Orleans Saints: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
The defensive tackle from Pittsburgh consistently dominated opposing offenses, Kancey has drawn comparisons to fellow Pittsburgh Panther Aaron Donald. While Kancey is nowhere near Donald in any way, they do have very similar builds and strengths coming out of college. The Saints simply need defensive line help.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
The reigning NFC champions lost both Andre Dillard and Isaac Seumalo in free agency, this pick gives them a big athletic guard that can start immediately for them.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
After cutting Frank Clark, Kansas City gets their replacement here. Murphy has great size, speed, and strength that would work perfectly alongside their 1st team all-pro DT Chris Jones.