Nobody understands the NFL Draft landscape quite like general managers. They’ve made selections, pulled off trades and experienced some wild draft-day scenarios. So who better to make predictions for the 2023 NFL Draft‘s first round than two former general managers, Rick Spielman and Mike Tannenbaum?
Spielman started things off by picking for the Carolina Panthers, with each analyst for The 33rd Team alternating picks thereafter.
33rd Team’s Executive Mock Draft
1. Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young is the most complete quarterback in this draft, on and off the field. He’s got the intelligence and playmaking ability NFL teams look for. Even though he’s short, he does not get balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. One of the reasons the Panthers are going to take him is because they play in the NFC South, meaning Young will play in a dome or warm weather.
He’s everything you want in a quarterback, an A-plus across the board, except for the height. Young will be the exception to the rule. — Spielman
>> READ: Young’s Full Scouting Report
2. Houston Texans
Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
I’m not sold on the other quarterbacks or taking Hendon Hooker this high. Will Anderson has a really high floor and a compelling ceiling. He has high character and great length. He’s all of 6-foot-4, 253 pounds, and I think he’s going to be an even better pro than he was in college. When you look at the Houston Texans, they have a new defensive head coach, and they had trouble rushing the passer last season.
Jerry Hughes is getting up there in age (34), and they have Jonathan Greenard but not much else. I think Anderson will be a 10-year player. I don’t think he’ll end up being Von Miller, but he’s going to be a high-end player the Texans can win a lot of games with. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Anderson’s Full Scouting Report
3. Arizona Cardinals
Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
The Arizona Cardinals need everything. They need a lot of help with their pass rush, and Wilson has a high ceiling. He’s a little raw, but he can play inside and outside thanks to his unique length. I’m sure the Cardinals’ coaches will tell new general manager Monti Ossenfort in the draft room that they can improve Wilson’s technique, but they can’t teach his size, athleticism or effort.
If I’m the Cardinals’ new head coach, Jonathan Gannon, and Ossenfort, I’m going to make sure I take a high-character, high-quality football player. — Spielman
>> READ: Wilson’s Full Scouting Report
4. Indianapolis Colts
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Since Andrew Luck retired, it’s just been one misadventure after another at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. The thing I love most about Stroud is how he played against Georgia, which had a great defense, in the College Football Playoff. I love the fact he competed at the combine. I know it’s been a bumpy pre-draft process for him, but he’s still a good player.
Hopefully, he solidifies the Colts’ quarterback position for the next decade. In the past, their new head coach, Shane Steichen, has done a good job developing quarterbacks, like Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Stroud’s Full Scouting Report
5. Seattle Seahawks
Jalen Carter, IDL, Georgia
I’ve done a lot of research on Carter. The Seattle Seahawks have a history of success with players with checkered pasts. They know they have all the organizational support Carter will need. There’s no question that when he plays, he’s the most dominant player in this draft.
In this scenario, the Seahawks fully believe, regardless of how his pre-draft process went, they are going to get the best player in this draft, and they will have the support staff in place to make sure Carter hits his ceiling. — Spielman
>> READ: Carter’s Full Scouting Report
6. Detroit Lions
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Despite the Detroit Lions adding three defensive backs this offseason — Emmanuel Moseley, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Cam Sutton — Witherspoon is the epitome of a Dan Campbell cornerback. Witherspoon reminds me a lot of Antoine Winfield Sr. The Illinois product is tougher than tough.
Witherspoon is from the Panhandle in Florida, wasn’t highly recruited, has a massive chip on his shoulder and is very competitive. The Lions just moved on from Jeff Okudah. This pick would give them a front-line, difference-making corner who embodies what they want to be. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Witherspoon’s Full Scouting Report
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Las Vegas Raiders need help on the defensive side of the ball. Gonzalez should come in and help solidify the cornerback position right away. He’s a shutdown type of cornerback with unique size and athleticism. When he transferred from Colorado to Oregon last year, he proved he had good ball skills and ended up with four interceptions in 2022.
The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to be the starter this year and added Brian Hoyer as the backup. I’m going to take a player who can come in and immediately help this football team. The Raiders have enough talent to compete in the AFC West, and Gonzalez could be a major piece for them. — Spielman
>> READ: Gonzalez’s Full Scouting Report
8. Atlanta Falcons
Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
With Wilson off the board at No. 3 overall, Murphy makes a lot of sense for the Atlanta Falcons. He has all the length and measurables teams look for. I thought he was going to play a little better than he did in 2022, but the Falcons desperately need an edge rusher. They just signed Bud Dupree, but he’s more of a journeyman at this point.
Murphy has great upside for what the Falcons need. I think he’ll be more of a player who has 6-10 sacks per year, but he’s got good length and should be solid against the run.
>> READ: Murphy’s Full Scouting Report
9. Chicago Bears
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Skoronski is the most complete offensive lineman in this year’s draft. He’s a technician, smart and athletic. The biggest knock on him is going to be the arm length. He can probably still play left tackle, but the Chicago Bears might view him as a guard.
He could be a perennial Pro Bowl guard, and he’s an A-plus across the board, on and off the field. Skoronski would be an outstanding pick, especially since he played his college ball in the Bears’ backyard. — Spielman
>> READ: Skoronski’s Full Scouting Report
10. Philadelphia Eagles
Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
The Philadelphia Eagles want a pass rusher to pair with Brandon Graham, who is getting up there in age. Last year’s first-round pick, Jordan Davis, hasn’t necessarily panned out, and they lost Javon Hargrave in free agency. Van Ness had 13 sacks in two years and is a former wrestler.
Oddly, he didn’t start all the time at Iowa, but he’s a younger, ascending player with a high upside. The Eagles could slide him inside initially, but longterm I think he could go out on the edge. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Van Ness’ Full Scouting Report
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Johnson started at right guard in 2021, played left tackle last season and improved as the year went along. He’s athletic, works to finish in the run game and is great at the second level on screens. He’s solid in pass protection, but he needs technique work with his hands and punch.
>> READ: Johnson’s Full Scouting Report
12. Houston Texans
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
I considered wide receiver with this pick, but if Levis is still on the board, he can’t be ignored. He’s a Connecticut native. Went to Penn State, oddly couldn’t beat out Sean Clifford, so he transferred. He had a better season in 2021. He got hurt in 2022 and lost WR Wan’Dale Robinson, who the Giants drafted last year.
Even with that said, he had 43 touchdowns to only 23 interceptions at Kentucky. He had eight rushing touchdowns a year ago as well. Levis is a little stiff for me, but he’s a good athlete. The value of potentially getting a starting quarterback is too good for Houston to pass up here. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Levis’ Full Scouting Report
13. Green Bay Packers
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
I considered tight end for the Green Bay Packers, but there are a lot of quality tight ends who will be available in the second round. So we’ll go with Smith-Njigba since the receiver class isn’t as deep. He’s probably the most polished route runner in the class. He didn’t play most of the season because of a hamstring strain, but he had one of the fastest shuttles and three-cone times at his pro day.
Smith-Njigba ran 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, which is fast enough. He’ll be an immediate help to Jordan Love, along with second-year receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. So they have three young, talented receivers going forward with their young quarterback. — Spielman
>> READ: Smith-Njigba’s Full Scouting Report
14. New England Patriots
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The New England Patriots selected Cole Strange in the first round last year, and they’re coming back to the offensive line this year. Things didn’t work out with Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown hasn’t played well, and they desperately need a tackle. Wright played well against Alabama and Anderson this past season.
Wright plays on the right side for the most part, but I would move him to the left side. There’s going to be a run on tackles, and Wright likely comes in and starts right away. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Wright’s Full Scouting Report
15. New York Jets
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Jones might be the offensive tackle in this draft with the highest ceiling, but he’s not an immediate starter. He has the ability to come in, learn and grow for the New York Jets. Jones is extremely athletic, has excellent length, and he can be physical in the running game. He also is outstanding at working out in space.
Technically raw in pass protection, Jones has the feet of a dancing bear. He can slide and mirror pass rushers and does everything you’d want from an NFL tackle. He might be the best tackle from this class when it’s all said and done. — Spielman
>> READ: Jones’ Full Scouting Report
16. Washington Commanders
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
When you look at the Washington Commanders, they have good skill players in wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. But all they have right now at tight end is a converted quarterback in Logan Thomas. I love Kincaid if he’s healthy, but either way, he was productive this past year with 70 catches. He’s an excellent athlete, too.
I don’t know if he’s Travis Kelce, but I don’t think he’s far away either. This would fill a huge void for the Commanders. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Kincaid’s Full Scouting Report
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Pittsburgh Steelers stay in the team alumni section with this pick. Porter Jr. is a big, physical press-man cornerback. He finds the ball well enough in the air and is a willing enough tackler in the run game. He needs to clean up some things with his man coverage, especially staying attached on in-breaking routes.
Porter Jr. fits the Steelers’ biggest needs and their defensive scheme. — Spielman
>> READ: Porter Jr.’s Full Scouting Report
18. Detroit Lions
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
I’m gonna go with a bit of a surprise and take Hooker, who started 37 games in college. He spent a couple of years at Virginia Tech before transferring to Tennessee and led the nation in yards per pass attempt. I think Hooker has rare character. I saw him at the Orange Bowl, and he helped his teammates in meaningful ways.
At the Senior Bowl, I saw the same thing even though he couldn’t participate in on-field activities since he’s still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November. He’s got a great arm and prototypical size. If he wasn’t hurt, we’d be talking about Hooker as a sure-fire top-five pick. He can sit for a year behind Jared Goff, giving the Detroit Lions their quarterback of the future. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Hooker’s Full Scouting Report
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are smiling all the way to the podium to make this selection. They have Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask, but neither of them has proven to be the answer. If Richardson isn’t ready, he’s got a chance to sit behind Mayfield. He is a unique athlete who can make plays with his legs.
He needs to make better decisions with the football. The question is how quickly can he process and read defenses? I think that will come with experience, so getting Richardson at this spot makes a lot of sense. — Spielman
>> READ: Richardson’s Full Scouting Report
20. Seattle Seahawks
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Forbes is one of my favorite players in the draft. He’s undersized (6 feet, 180 pounds) but was productive during his college career. When you look at the Seahawks, they signed Julian Love, they have Quandre Diggs, and hopefully Jamal Adams will be healthy next year. Seattle hit on Tariq Woolen last year, too.
I just can’t disregard Forbes’ rare production on the ball. He’s a great fit for what the Seahawks need, and he’s a great value at pick No. 20. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Forbes’ Full Scouting Report
21. Los Angeles Chargers
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
I wouldn’t be able to run this card up fast enough. Robinson is a top-10 talent being devalued for his position. He has excellent footwork, vision and is a workhorse-type back. He does a great job catching the ball out of the backfield and can block in pass protection. The Los Angeles Chargers have Austin Ekeler, who wants to be traded.
This gives the Chargers another offensive weapon for Justin Herbert. — Spielman
>> READ: Robinson’s Full Scouting Report
22. Baltimore Ravens
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Addison ran 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, and he’s a little undersized at 173 pounds. However, the Baltimore Ravens only signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal, and Rashod Bateman is coming off an injury. Addison has good hands and is a great route runner.
He has a chance to be a solid receiver. I don’t think he’s a No. 1 difference-maker, but he greatly improves this receiver group for Baltimore. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Addison’s Full Scouting Report
23. Minnesota Vikings
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Cornerback was under consideration for this pick, but Johnston was just too good to pass up for the Minnesota Vikings. Johnston is a long, rangy, athletic receiver with great speed down the field. He also does an excellent job with the ball in his hands after the catch.
>> READ: Johnston’s Full Scouting Report
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
This is an intriguing player. He’s got a bigger wingspan than LeBron James, and he didn’t give up a sack last season at Ohio State. Jones can block out the sun; he’s 6-foot-8, 374 pounds, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have a need at right tackle. Jones is better than Walker Little, so this is a great pick.
Jones is more of a natural right tackle than a left tackle because he’s so big. This pick would help Trevor Lawrence a ton. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Jones’ Full Scouting Report
25. New York Giants
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The New York Giants could use another receiver, but Banks is the best player available at this spot. He’s a press-man cover-type cornerback who can also play off-coverage. He does have ball skills, and he tested out of the gym at the combine. Banks is a willing enough tackler in run support to be a Day 1 starter.
This is a big need for the Giants to fill. — Spielman
>> READ: Banks’ Full Scouting Report
26. Dallas Cowboys
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys for all the same reasons Dalton Schultz did. I got to see Mayer in person, and he’s rock solid. He doesn’t have the same upside as Kincaid, but he will likely turn out to be a better blocker than Schultz. He’s a good receiver and has good hands. I think he’s going to come in and be a Day 1 starter.
When you’re picking No. 26, and the needs line up like this, it’s encouraging to get a Day 1 starter this late in the first round. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Mayer’s Full Scouting Report
27. Buffalo Bills
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Besides his size (5-foot-10, 172 pounds), Flowers is one of the most complete receivers in this draft. He’s an excellent route runner, good after the catch for a smaller receiver and he makes plays down the field. He was the only playmaker at Boston College, and even with shoddy quarterback play, teams still could not stop him from being a productive receiver.
>> READ: Flowers’ Full Scouting Report
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Brian Branch, SAF/CB, Alabama
The Cincinnati Bengals lost safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell in free agency, making Branch a logical selection here. He fits the Bengals’ defensive scheme as a guy who can play sub-linebacker and safety. Branch didn’t run great at the combine, but he was a productive player in college.
You’d wish Branch’s offseason workouts were a little bit better, but when you put on the film, it’s obvious he’s a smart player. He was the quarterback of the defense, and I think he’ll turn out to be a good player in the NFL. He might not be a front-line guy because of his lack of speed, but he’ll start near the line of scrimmage and work his way back to free safety. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Branch’s Full Scouting Report
29. New Orleans Saints
Bryan Bresee, IDL, Clemson
The New Orleans Saints lost a couple of defensive linemen to free agency this offseason. On 2021 tape, Bresee plays like a top-10 pick. Last season he went through tragedy with his sister passing away and was also coming off an ACL injury. However, he’s athletic and can play multiple positions on the defensive interior.
>> READ: Bresee’s Full Scouting Report
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Right tackle Lane Johnson might only have one year left. This isn’t a sexy pick, but Harrison is a really solid player. I think he moves well for his size, and he only gave up two sacks last year at OU. I’m drafting him for the right side, knowing the Eagles have Jordan Mailata on the left. This pick would satisfy the Eagles’ replacement for Johnson. — Tannenbaum
>> READ: Harrison’s Full Scouting Report
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
Smith was injured in 2022, but he’s a freak athlete who ran in the 4.3s at the combine. He might only be used as a stand-up, two-point rusher, but you can’t teach the athletic skillset and speed that he has. Smith plays with good effort and a hot motor, too.
>> READ: Smith’s Full Scouting Report
Mike Tannenbaum is a former front-office executive for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Follow him on Twitter at @RealTannenbaum.
Rick Spielman is a former general manager of the Dolphins and Vikings, and winner of the NFL Executive of the Year award by Pro Football Weekly in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @spielman_rick