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NFL Mock Draft 2023: Edition 2 (Early Edition)

Will Levis, Kentucky to Indianapolis Colts

Edition 2.0 (Early Edition)

View my Edition 1.0 here

College football and NFL remain in full swing across the country, but as we gear up for December, the clock is already ticking on the 2023 NFL Draft. NFL teams out of the postseason race are already looking ahead, while college football's stars have been jockeying to rise up draft boards. So, why not recklessly speculate about a sporting event months away? 

1. Houston Texans
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
In the months since my first 2023 NFL Mock Draft, things have not changed at the top. Bryce Young remains the most likely player to go No. 1 and the Texans, in the midst of a 1-10-1 season, appear to be in a great spot to land him. He'll inject some life back into a franchise that has had a frustrating half-decade, but remains in an AFC South that appears fairly wide-open moving forward.

2. Las Vegas Raiders
Will Anderson Jr., LB, Alabama
A freak of nature who has posted 34.5 sacks in his Alabama career, Will Anderson Jr. is the best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. That doesn't mean he'll go No. 1 overall in a quarterback-centric league, but whoever gets him will be bringing a superstar defender. In this mock, it's Las Vegas, who is hoping to rid themselves of an atrocious recent NFL Draft history.

3. Carolina Panthers
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
It will be the dawn of a new era next fall for Carolina, who made the unsurprising decision to move on from Matt Rhule earlier this season. It looks like a complete teardown here, so why not invest in a new quarterback of the future with C.J. Stroud? They'll need to upgrade the weapons around him, but Stroud checks a lot of boxes with his physical tools.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson
The absence of T.J. Watt has made it clear that Pittsburgh's pass rush could use some reinforcements. Myles Murphy doesn't receive the same attention of a Will Anderson Jr., but he's been a productive contributor at Clemson since the moment he stepped on campus and brings an unlimited motor.

5. Chicago Bears
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
This is your classic draft selection of a team trying to protect their franchise quarterback. Chicago needs to address their offensive line, and they might not have to go too far to do so by adding Northwestern's Peter Skoronski. There's nothing flashy about the way Skoronski plays, but he could play either tackle or guard at a high level in the NFL.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)
Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Philadelphia is loaded on both sides of the ball, so they can afford to take best player available with the pick they earned when the Saints traded up last NFL Draft. That best player available is Georgia's Jalen Carter, the latest Bulldog who will earn millions playing on Sundays. Carter has been productive all year long in Athens and has the tools to play in the pros for a long time.

7. Indianapolis Colts
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis is going to be a polarizing prospect this cycle. NFL personnel love his stature and physical gifts, but he hasn't exactly been the most consistent quarterback in the collegiate ranks. He'll likely still end up being a Top 10 selection and the Colts need to start over at quarterback. Taking on aging veterans hasn't worked and Sam Ehlinger isn't a starting QB in the modern NFL.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Jacksonville's porous pass defense has been a source of frustration all season and needs to be addressed in the offseason. They'll likely bring in a veteran or two, but this also has a chance to be a strong defensive back class this year. Kelee Ringo, the hero of the 2022 National Championship Game, appears to be the top corner on the board at this juncture.

9. Detroit Lions
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Another team that could be in play for a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, it's not unrealistic to think the Lions may hold off and run it back with Jared Goff for at least one more season. Instead, they address a pass defense that remains among the worst in the NFL by selecting Christian Gonzalez, a big-bodied, versatile corner who came to Oregon by way of Colorado.

10. Arizona Cardinals
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Cardinals have been a major disappointment, which should make them an interesting player in the offseason. Clearly, something needs to change on offense and tailback is a place to start, as James Conner is simply average. Bijan Robinson is one of the most complete running back prospects we've seen in recent memory and could be quite a pairing with Kyler Murray.

11. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Ten picks after making Bryce Young their quarterback of the future, the Texans grab their long-term No. 1 wide out. It's been a frustrating campaign for Jaxon Smith-Njigba as he's dealt with injuries, but he remains a first-round lock and a receiver that projects well to the NFL. He could be the top guy immediately, with journeyman Brandin Cooks' status unclear for 2023.

12. Atlanta Falcons
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
It seems like Atlanta has had a need for a pass rusher forever, but they still have the league's worst pressure rate. Fortunately, there will be plenty of options available this upcoming spring and Bryan Bresee makes the most sense at this spot. It's been a tumultuous couple years for Bresee, who was injured in 2021 and lost his sister this fall, but he's a super impressive talent.

13. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
Tyree Wilson, DE/LB, Texas Tech
The Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise this fall, which gives them more freedom with the selections they earned from Denver in the Russell Wilson deal. Pass rusher seems like an obvious direction, and Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson offers impressive versatility and an explosive first step off the edge.

14. Detroit Lions (from LA Rams)
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Detroit dealt away T.J. Hockenson earlier this fall, but they can act quickly in securing a replacement by drafting Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame. Mayer has been a Day One contributor with the Irish and one of the most consistent tight ends you'll find in the nation. He's built like a truck, but his quickness and hands should make him an impactful pass-catcher.

15. Green Bay Packers
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Packers have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season and it's hard to know what they'll look like in 2023 and beyond. If it really is the final year for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the Packers need to upgrade the talent around Jordan Love. Enter Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff in 2021 and has followed it up with another impressive campaign on the West Coast.

16. Washington Commanders
Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn State
Washington is another team that could be in play for quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft but considering where they land in this mock, the smarter option may be to invest in their pass defense. There's plenty of options available at this spot, but Penn State's Joey Porter Jr. makes the most sense. The Nittany Lion corner has been a breakout star this fall and has established himself as a first-round lock.

17. Los Angeles Chargers
Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
Keenan Allen's injury-plagued season has demonstrated that the Chargers could use an upgrade at receiver. Even when Allen does return, he'll be 31 at the start of next season and seems to be nearing the end of his prime. Los Angeles can find a new long-term weapon at the position in Rashee Rice, a well-built wide out who could become a star in the pre-Draft process.

18. New York Jets
Olu Fashanu, OL, Penn State
Few players have helped their draft stock this fall quite as much as Penn State's Olu Fashanu. He's emerged as a viable candidate to land somewhere in the upper-half of the first round and could continue to rise up boards. There's a chance he could be the top offensive linemen off the board, but he finds himself with the Jets in this mock.

19. Cincinnati Bengals
Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
Cincinnati could go any number of direction in the 2023 NFL Draft, but edge rusher makes quite a bit of sense. They were in the market for one last spring, but instead chose to upgrade their pass defense during the Draft. Isaiah Foskey is a long, athletic pass rusher who has been extraordinarily productive during his time with the Irish.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Tampa could be in a bit of a conundrum at corner this offseason, with Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean both set to be free agents. It wouldn't be surprising at all if they opt to replace one of those two, or both, by taking a CB here. Clark Phillips III makes plenty of sense, as he's one of the best in college football this fall and is a legit Jim Thorpe Award candidate.

21. New England Patriots
Paris Johnson, OL, Ohio State
Another team that could be heading for an interesting offseason, New England is always a mystery when it comes to the NFL Draft. It's anybody's guess who they might draft and that's particularly tough to predict months out. Offensive line seems to make a lot of sense and Paris Johnson is a physically imposing presence who can play multiple different spots.

22. Seattle Seahawks
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
The Seahawks may have already added an impact defender earlier in Tyree Wilson, but you can never have too many playmaking defenders in the modern NFL. They chose to further upgrade the front seven with Trenton Simpson, an instinctive inside linebacker who has been very impressive at Clemson but still has plenty of potential to offer.

23. Denver Broncos (from San Francisco)
Jared Verse, DE, Florida State
Denver moved on from Bradley Chubb at the trade deadline and will likely now be in the market for an impactful edge rusher. Jared Verse began his career at Albany before transferring to Florida State, and he has not looked intimidated by the move to the Power Five whatsoever. On the contrary, he's been a relentless force for the Seminoles and likely has cemented himself as a first-rounder.

24. Buffalo Bills
Brian Branch, DB, Alabma
The Bills are a fascinating team to me looking ahead to the offseason. They've been Super Bowl-level good the last several years (and could certainly finish the job yet this season) but always feel a piece or two away from reaching their true ceiling. Running back could be in play here, but continuing to strengthen the defensive backfield feels like the right call in a conference with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow. Brian Branch is a versatile, well-rounded defensive back who had a productive career in Tuscaloosa.

25. Baltimore Ravens
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Lamar Jackson has had mediocre weapons around him for a big chunk of his career, including 2022. Rashod Bateman seems to have a bright future, but Baltimore has needed to upgrade this receiver room for years. Fortunately, Quentin Johnston drops to them in this iteration, which would be a dream come true for the Ravens. The TCU product has had a monster season and could earn Top 10 consideration, even in a strong receiver class.

26. New York Giants
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Could the Giants be in play for a quarterback in this Draft? It will be fascinating to see how they handle the Daniel Jones situation moving forward, but that doesn't mean they don't have other needs to address. The pass defense has been okay in 2022, but they could use another corner, and Cam Smith is one of the best available players here, regardless of position. 

27. Tennessee Titans
Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
No matter how much longer Ryan Tannehill is the guy for the Titans, they need to upgrade his supporting cast. They did just draft Treylon Burks a year ago, but you can never have too many dynamic weapons in the modern NFL. Jalin Hyatt had a breakout fall, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker's dominance, and should be a first-rounder, even in a stacked receiver group.

28. Miami Dolphins
This Draft pick has been forfeited due to tampering.

29. Dallas Cowboys
Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
It's been a frustrating two seasons in College Station, but safety Antonio Johnson has developed into a tremendous NFL Draft prospect in that span. He's a long, rangy defensive back who could become a true centerfielder for any NFL team. Dallas could use another piece like him in their secondary, and they won't have to go far to secure him.

30. Minnesota Vikings
B.J. Ojulari, LB, LSU
A tireless pass rusher with a nose for the ball, B.J. Ojulari would be a quality addition for any team looking to shore up their defensive front. The Viking defense has had a poor season, but it's not hard to imagine Ojulari playing a role similar to Anthony Barr as a pass rushing specialist.

31. Kansas City Chiefs
Josh Downs, WR, UNC
Yet another first-round wide receiver? This year's class is that good, and Kansas City is always looking for new toys for Patrick Mahomes to play with. Josh Downs has been one of college football's brightest stars, with two straight 1,000-yard campaigns, and has game-breaking speed. Anybody looking for evidence of his skillset should look no further than his three-game stretch from late October through mid-November. In three games against Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Wake Forest, Downs went for 37 receptions, 422 yards, and six touchdowns.

32. Philadelphia Eagles
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
This pick feels like trade bait considering Philadelphia already has a likely Top 10 selection from New Orleans, but if they do remain in this spot, Devon Witherspoon would be a tremendous move. Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been a great duo, but both are on the wrong side of 30, and I love Witherspoon as a prospect. He's not the most athletic player on the field, but is a hard-nosed, physical defender who should translate well to the next level.

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