Breakdowns

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Early Selections Before Training Camp

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Early Selections Before Training Camp

As the NFL begins to turn its collective eye toward training camps, it’s time to take another look at the 2023 NFL Draft. Yes, it’s a fool’s errand to be doing mock drafts this early but admitting that is half the battle.

Don’t think of this as a prediction of who will be selected next April, but rather as a list of potential team needs to keep an eye on this NFL season as well as prospects to watch on Saturdays who may fit those needs. With that in mind, let’s get to the picks.

**2023 NFL Mock Draft Order decided using Super Bowl Futures Odds as of 7/4/22**
  1. Houston Texans — C.J. Stroud (QB Ohio State)

While some may believe Davis Mills could develop into a Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman-type QB for a defense-first, Lovie Smith team, if the Texans are drafting as high as oddsmakers think, that experiment will be over in a hurry. Here they take a legit franchise passer with absolutely all of the tools.

  1. Atlanta Falcons — Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE Alabama)

Could the Falcons take a QB as well? Similar to the above, absolutely—especially if they’re drafting in the Top 5. While I think that would be tempting in this scenario, I have the Falcons falling in love with Anderson, who would have easily been the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as one of the most well-rounded pass rushing prospects we’ve seen in a while.

  1. Chicago Bears — Jalen Carter (DL Georgia)

After a 2022 Draft that saw numerous Georgia players come off the board, most analysts believe the best defender (and the cog that really made that defense hum) was Carter. He’s not overly massive but has both surprising strength and reflexes that gives the offense fits. Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ defense would look a lot better in a hurry.

  1. Detroit Lions — Bryce Young (QB Alabama)

The Jared Goff experiment really isn’t an experiment as much as it is a necessary evil at this point. With Goff likely coming off the books after this season, adding a talent like Bryce Young under center (and on a rookie contract) would really kick the Lions’ rebuild into high gear.

  1. Seattle Seahawks — Bryan Bresee (DL Clemson)

The tape on Bresee isn’t fantastic, but new defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin will have a chance to utilize the talented defensive lineman more to his strengths. Coming off an injury, Bresee is looking at a good final season and has the athleticism to test through the roof.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Broderick Jones (OT Georgia)

The Jaguars have put some nice weapons around QB Trevor Lawrence, and while they could easily put the finishing touches on their receiver unit, the line is likely to be the talk of the upcoming season. Jones has yet to be a fulltime player for the Bulldogs, but that’s about to change and his stock will fly sky high.

  1. New York Giants — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR Ohio State)

The Giants have an assortment of weapons but lack a true No. 1 target. Meanwhile, the Ohio State wide receiver was the No. 1 target on a team that also included Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

  1. New York Jets — Myles Murphy (DE Clemson)

An absolute beast as a down lineman, Murphy isn’t a true EDGE threat, but would give the Jets another piece to move around Robert Saleh’s defensive front depending on down and distance.

  1. Carolina Panthers — Anthony Richardson (QB Florida)

The Panthers don’t have any real bright light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the quarterback position—even with Baker Mayfield—and Richardson is as good a physical specimen as there is. Richardson has a lot to do to become/solidify the QB3 position in this draft, but the tools are there.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers — Paris Johnson Jr. (OT Ohio State)

The Steelers have a recent history of taking players (especially linemen) from Ohio State and Johnson has the ability to slide in wherever the Steelers want to put him on the line with experience at both guard and (soon to be) tackle.

  1. Washington Commanders — Will Levis (QB Kentucky)

So far, Levis is a better quarterback prospect than an actual quarterback, but another year in a pro-style offense should change that. He’s got a big arm he needs to show off more, and even if he needs a year of maturation once he gets to the pros, he’s a better long-term option than anything on the Commanders’ roster.

  1. New England Patriots — Eli Ricks (CB Alabama)

It feels like cheating to just slot an Alabama defender to the Patriots, but here we are, falling back into old Bill Belichick habits which often die very hard. Ricks is lanky, ridiculously athletic and the transfer from LSU to Alabama should suit him nicely.

  1. Minnesota Vikings — Nolan Smith (EDGE Georgia)

If Jalen Carter is the cog that makes the Georgia defense run, Smith is the spoiler, flame decals and spinning rims that make the defense that much more fun to watch.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans) — Trenton Simpson (LB Clemson)

A rocked-up linebacker with athleticism to spare? That’s just what the doctor ordered for an Eagles unit that has over-performed but needs someone who can create matchup nightmares.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders — B.J. Ojulari (EDGE LSU)

A lot can happen between now and the actual draft (a startling understatement 10 months beforehand, but Ojulari is the last player on this board, today, that I could see as a No. 1 pick. While the Raiders don’t have a glaring need for a pass rusher, he’s the kind of top end talent every team wants to add to their line.

  1. Miami Dolphins — MIchael Mayer (TE Notre Dame)

This was almost my pick for the Dolphins in the last mock and it’s a popular pick in a lot of other writers’ mocks. The idea is trying to replicate all the success George Kittle has had for the 49ers in Mike McDaniel’s new offense. Mayer isn’t Kittle, but he’d be another weapon for Tua Tagovailoa and help the run game as well.

  1. Tennessee Titans — Andre Carter (EDGE Army)

Carter could go Top 5, and he could also end up out of the first round depending on how teams feel about his service academy status. The new commitment rules are far more lenient, and that could lead to the talented pass rusher being the highest drafted service academy player in the Super Bowl era.

  1. Arizona Cardinals — Kelee Ringo (CB Georgia)

Easily one of the top corners in the draft, Ringo is athletic and rock solid in coverage. The one question the NFL might have, though, is if he’s benefited from such fantastic play around him. 

  1. Houston Texans (via Cleveland) — Bijan Robinson (RB Texas)

The Texans don’t need a running back nearly as much as they need everything Robinson can bring to the table from a “franchise player” standpoint. He’s a weapon out of the backfield in the receiving game and a legitimate game-breaker with the ball in his hands. Him being a local prospect helps as well.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles — Joey Porter Jr. (CB Penn State)

With some of the best length of any defensive back in the draft class and NFL bloodlines, Porter is already a high pick. If he plays in 2022 like he did against Ohio State’s talented crop of receivers last season, his stock will go sky high.

  1. Indianapolis Colts — Peter Skoronski (OT Northwestern)

A lot of people have Skoronski as the top tackle in the draft class, and that’s probably true from a “best college player” standpoint. He’s polished and battle tested. He also lacks the elite athleticism and measurables that most picks have but while that might affect his stock, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a very, very good player.

  1. Baltimore Ravens — Noah Sewell (LB Oregon)

This happens to the Ravens, they ignore conventional wisdom in NFL circles—like, “off the ball linebackers aren’t as valuable”—and then fantastic players fall right into their laps.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals — Garrett Williams (CB Syracuse)

Williams is the sort of cornerback that has quickly come back in vogue as movement skills trump pure physical measurables thanks to the rising importance of slot receivers and sub-packages. The Bengals have talent in the defensive backfield, but every single team can use another Garrett Williams around.

  1. Dallas Cowboys — Kayshon Boutte (WR LSU)

Run after the catch is Boutte’s specialty, and he could have the sort of season that makes him the first receiver off the board. Here, he falls to the Cowboys who would find a spot on the field for him immediately.

  1. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) — Jaquelin Roy (DT LSU)

Roy is the perfect, end-of-first/top-of-second defensive lineman with fantastic power and decent size but lacking the elite pass rushing of top tier prospects. This is a lunch pail pick that makes the Dolphins much better on early downs.

  1. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver) — Tanner McKie (QB Stanford)

McKie is all projection because the talent around him at Stanford is suboptimal. He’s got a great arm, though, and any team that interviews him is going to love him. He probably goes higher than this in a draft with trades.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers — Quentin Johnson (WR TCU)

Johnson is the kind of receiver the Chargers can never seem to have enough of. He’s got a massive 6-foot-4 frame and big, reliable hands.

  1. Green Bay Packers — Blake Freeland (OT BYU)

Am I stacking the bottom of my first round with players who have elite physical traits and could go much higher? Maybe… Freeland is 6-foot-8 and moves like a much smaller lineman. The Packers have also long had a type and Freeland fits. 

  1. Detroit Lions (via LA Rams) — Storm Duck (CB North Carolina)

The Lions still need depth and top-end talent in the back end of their defense, and while Mr. Duck has been injured for a good piece of his college career, the tools are all there to be a longtime starter in the NFL.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs — Isaiah Foskey (DE Notre Dame)

10 years ago, Foskey would’ve been a top pick because he looks like just about every top edge rusher drafted back then—long, strong and with good body bend. 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jordan Battle (S Alabama)

Battle is less of a prototypical safety and more of a movable chess piece in the defensive backfield. What do you get for a team that has (just about) everything?

  1. Buffalo Bills — Cooper Beebe (OG Kansas State)

The Bills struggle to run the ball effectively when it’s “put up or shut up” running downs, and that’s largely because of their interior offensive line. Beebe is a tackle in a guard’s body and would immediately improve that unit.

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