Way Too Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Six First-Round Quarterbacks

Way Too Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft

The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, and if you’re a lunatic like me, you’re already curious about the top draft prospects for the 2023 draft. We will learn a lot more about these prospects over the next several months leading up to next year’s draft, and there will be players in this first round who fall much further and players who aren’t featured here who end up top picks. This time last year, many were projecting Carson Strong, Justyn Ross, and Jalen Wydermyer as first-round picks – they all went undrafted. All that said, let’s look at what the draft might look like next year.

*Draft Order is Based on Super Bowl Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

2023 First-Round Pick Trades

The following are the current trades that involve first-round picks and will be reflected in this mock draft:

  • Miami Dolphins have the San Francisco 49ers’ first-round pick from the Trey Lance trade
  • Seattle Seahawks have the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick from the Russell Wilson trade
  • Houston Texans have the Cleveland Browns’ first-round pick from the Deshaun Watson trade
  • Detroit Lions have the Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick from the Matthew Stafford trade
  • Philadelphia Eagles have the New Orleans Saints’ first-round pick from the Chris Olave trade

#1: Houston Texans – QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The Texans will give Davis Mills every opportunity to prove he can be their long-term starter this season, but if they end up with this pick, it’s unlikely Mills did enough to hang onto that job. Bryce Young is a former five-star recruit and was the Heisman winner in 2021. He will likely be the top quarterback prospect in this class.

#2: Detroit Lions – QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

The Lions were wise to focus on the rest of its roster in the 2022 draft and wait to figure out their long-term quarterback solution, but that will be resolved next year. I expect the Lions to be picking a bit later than this due to their much-improved roster, and they could be competitive as soon as next season if they pick up Stroud, and he hits the ground running.

#3: Atlanta Falcons – DE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

While quarterback is still likely a significant need for the Falcons, they miss out on the top two prospects here. Instead, they take the consensus top defensive player in this class to provide a boost to their pitiful pass-rush from a season ago. With Will Anderson joining Arnold Ebiketie as their 2022 second-round pick, the Falcons would have their edge starters in place for the foreseeable future.

#4: Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Jalen Carter, Georgia

In this scenario, Jalen Carter would join former teammate Travon Walker on one of the highest-upside defensive lines in the NFL. Carter explodes off the line of scrimmage and can be a significant difference-maker both against the run and the pass. Some NFL scouts consider Carter the best prospect from the Georgia defense that produced five 2022 first-round picks.

#5: Chicago Bears – WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

The Bears were slandered for not adding a top receiver to play with their young quarterback Justin Fields, but they would be rewarded for waiting to address the position in this scenario. Ohio State produced two top-11 picks in the draft this year, but Smith-Njigba was the best talent in their receiving corps last season – he had 15 catches for 347 yards (a bowl record) and three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl win over Utah without Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in the lineup.

#6: Seattle Seahawks – QB Tyler Van Dyke, Miami

While Seattle might see Drew Lock as a decent long-term prospect to groom at quarterback, they will likely change their tune after this season. Last year, Tyler Van Dyke’s inconsistencies will need to be ironed out, but the 6’4”, 224-pound prospect should be ready to take a significant step forward this season and prove himself worthy of a top-ten pick.

#7: New York Jets – DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson

The Jets have done so well with roster-building in recent years that they don’t have any glaring needs, but Sheldon Rankins is set to hit free agency last year, and they could look to continue adding to their talented defensive line. Bryan Breese is possibly the best run defender in this draft and should be in line for a big season in his return from an ACL tear that cut his 2021 season short.

#8: Carolina Panthers – QB Will Levis, Kentucky

It’s unlikely that Sam Darnold or Matt Corral is the answer at quarterback for Carolina, and it seems like Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer will be replaced after this season. Will Levis would be an ideal quarterback prospect for the team’s new regime with his massive arm and big frame. His transition to a pro-style game could take some time, but there are traits here scouts will love.

#9: New York Giants – QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

The Giants opted not to pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option, leaving the quarterback spot in flux for them. Anthony Richardson only started in one game last year, but he’s entering his first season as a full-time starter and has elite traits with arm talent and mobility. Brian Daboll’s ability to groom a raw athletic quarterback in Josh Allen could give the Giants confidence he can do the same with Richardson.

#10: Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

While Pittsburgh hopes to have found its quarterback of the future in Kenny Pickett, its offensive line is still one of the worst in the NFL. Skoronski already has 21 Big Ten starts to his name and has the makings of a future franchise tackle. He’s very refined in pass protection, and if he can bulk up this year, he should be the first tackle off the board in 2023.

#11: Washington Commanders – WR Jordan Addison, TBD

Terry McLaurin is set to hit free agency in 2023, and I suspect that the Commanders don’t plan on offering him the contract he can earn on the open market. That could leave them with a significant need at wide receiver, even after drafting Jahan Dotson this year. Jordan Addison was one of the best receivers in college football last season, with 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns.

#12: Minnesota Vikings – WR Kayson Boutte, LSU

The Vikings don’t have much depth at receiver beyond Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Thielen’s contract will likely become expendable for Minnesota as they prepare to hand Justin Jefferson a contract that will reset the market. Landing a rookie receiver to pair with him would be a financially sound strategy. Kayshon Boutte had nine touchdowns in six games last year before suffering a season-ending leg injury.

#13: Philadelphia Eagles – DE Myles Murphy, Clemson

Myles Murphy is poised for a big season at Clemson this year after contributing 11.5 sacks through his first two collegiate seasons, and he could play his way into top-ten consideration. At 6’5”, 275 lbs, Murphy is an athletic freak who is only scratching the surface of what he’s capable of as an edge-rusher. This year, the Eagles handed Haason Reddick a big contract, but adding to their pass-rush will continue to be a top priority.

#14: New England Patriots – TE Arik Gilbert, Georgia

One of the biggest wild cards in the NFL draft, Gilbert would immediately become the highest-upside receiving prospect on the Patriots. At 6’5” and 248 pounds, Arik Gilbert dominated SEC competition at just 18 years old. He has elite athleticism as he transitioned from wide receiver to tight end. However, Gilbert missed all of last season for undisclosed reasons.

#15: Philadelphia Eagles – DT Jaquelin Roy, LSU

This year, the Eagles drafted Jordan Davis and already landed Myles Murphy in this mock draft. Still, they can continue to round out their defensive line nucleus with Jaquelin Roy, who has rare quickness and hand strength for the defensive tackle position. With Davis eating up double teams, Roy’s athleticism would play very well.

#16: Miami Dolphins – RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Running backs don’t typically go this high in the draft anymore, but running backs don’t usually play like Bijan Robinson. At 6’0” and 214 pounds, Robinson has ideal size for running back and is a beast in the open field, with 79 broken tackles on only 195 carries last year. He’s poised for a massive 2022 season and should be the top running back prospect in a loaded class.

#17: Las Vegas Raiders – OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State

The Raiders still have unresolved issues along their offensive line, particularly at right tackle across from Kolton Miller. Paris Johnson has 13 career starts at right guard to his name, but he’s transitioning to left tackle this year, where his pass-protection in space will likely earn him top recognitions in the country.

#18: Tennessee Titans – TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

The Titans may have more significant needs than the tight end, but it would be difficult to pass on Michael Mayer at this point. He may not be an elite athlete, but Mayer catches anything in his zip code and had 71 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. He should be poised for another big year in 2022.

#19: Arizona Cardinals – CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia

Despite playing on a loaded Georgia defense, Kelee Ringo saw starting action as a redshirt freshman last year and sealed his team’s national championship with a late pick-six against Alabama. The Cardinals lack a top cornerback on the boundary, which will only be exacerbated this season with their limited pass-rush after losing Chandler Jones.

#20: Indianapolis Colts – DE Derick Hall, Auburn

Derick Hall explodes off the line of scrimmage with ease and had a whopping nine sacks and 13 tackles for loss in his first season as a full-time starter in 2021. With his lack of polished pass-rushing moves, that type of production is imposing, and he has immense upside as an elite athlete at a premium position.

#21: Baltimore Ravens – DE Nolan Smith, Georgia

The top overall recruit in the 2019 collegiate recruiting class, Nolan Smith is an elite athlete who gets off the line so easily. At 6’3”, 235 pounds, Smith is unlikely to be a true hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman in the NFL, but his elite tools should make him a highly enticing prospect as a high-upside pass-rusher. Baltimore needs to add to that position group alongside Odafe Oweh.

#22: Cincinnati Bengals – CB Eli Ricks, Alabama

Eli Ricks had an absurd freshman season in 2020 as PFF tracked him with only 13 catches allowed on 28 targets – that was against high-level SEC talent. Ricks transferred from LSU to Alabama this year and should have every opportunity to play his way into first-round consideration. The Bengals still need to add to their cornerback room, particularly if Daxton Hill is transitioning to safety full-time to replace Jessie Bates next year.

#23: Dallas Cowboys – RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

The Cowboys will have the opportunity to part with Ezekiel Elliott after this season without much damage to their long-term salary cap, and Tony Pollard is a 2023 free agent. That could have Dallas back in the running back market, and Jahmyr Gibbs is an elite talent. His ability to make defenders miss in space and break tackles will make for some exciting highlights at Alabama this year.

#24: Seattle Seahawks – CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

With impressive NFL bloodlines and excellent productivity thus far at Penn State, Joey Porter will be one of many cornerbacks in first-round consideration in 2023. The Seahawks added Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant as upside talents at cornerback in the middle rounds this year, but they will still need top-level talent at the position long-term.

#25: Houston Texans – CB Cam Smith, South Carolina

Another elite cornerback talent in the 2023 class, Cam Smith has wide receiver-esque ball skills – he had three interceptions and nine pass breakups last year. PFF also tracked him with just 15 catches allowed on 32 targets for 184 yards. With Smith joining Derek Stingley Jr. in Houston, the Texans could have a dynamic cornerback duo for years to come.

#26: Los Angeles Chargers – S Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame

This year, the Chargers added JT Woods in the draft, likely in preparation for Derwin James and Nasir Adderley to become free agents in 2023. If Los Angeles cannot retain one or both, Brandon Joseph could be an excellent cost-controlled option whose nine interceptions across 21 games at Notre Dame thus far highlight his impressive range and playmaking.

#27: Miami Dolphins – OT Zion Nelson, Miami (FL)

Zion Nelson was once considered a first-round prospect for the 2022 draft, but he opted to return to Miami. The hometown kid would be an excellent pick for the Dolphins, who still need to find their long-term right tackle across from Terron Armstead. He’s battle-tested with 33 starts and should only improve this season.

#28: Detroit Lions – LB Noah Sewell, Oregon

The Lions already drafted Penei Sewell in 2021, so why not add his brother here? Noah Sewell will be an interesting litmus test for the NFL’s evaluation process as he struggles in coverage but is as good as it gets as a run-and-chase, tackling linebacker. Is that skill set still valued with first-round capital in the NFL? That’s the real question for Sewell as a prospect.

#29: Kansas City Chiefs – DE B.J. Ojulari, LSU

The brother of Giants’ 2021 second-round pick Azeez Ojulari, B.J. Ojulari is similarly bendy around the edge but undersized. Ojulari already has 78 pressures through his first two seasons at LSU per PFF, and his film against Charles Cross this year was awe-inspiring. He needs to add some weight, but as a speed rusher, he has immense upside.

#30: Green Bay Packers – WR Josh Downs, North Carolina

The Packers will likely be back in the wide receiver market next year after failing to do enough to replace Davante Adams. Josh Downs doesn’t fit the size and physicality profile that the Packers typically look for in a receiver at 5’10”, 180 lbs, but he’s elite after the catch and will be a monster out of the slot in the NFL.

#31: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson

Tom Brady already retired and then un-retired this offseason, so it’s not crazy to think he might not be in Tampa Bay past this season. D.J. Uiagalelei is coming off a very disappointing season, but he has the pocket presence, footwork, arm talent, and size that could make him a first-round pick in 2023 if he can improve his play this season.

#32: Buffalo Bills – WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

What do you give a team that already has everything? What about an insanely dynamic slot receiver who averaged 22.0 yards per reception last season? Poised for a breakout season as Oklahoma’s top receiver in 2022, Mims is expected to play his way into first-round consideration. He would provide yet another weapon for Josh Allen in Buffalo.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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