Goody's 2023 NFL Mock Draft
By Joe Goodwin
I guess every analyst and pundit has an opinion on this week’s NFL rookie draft. And, I think it is a fun exercise to analyze the incoming rookies and where their best fit might be based on the information we have. For this exercise, I will not be making any trades. Trades are too difficult to project based on what we know and what the teams know. In addition, this mock is a combination of where I feel players are best matched based on needs and what universal information has been released through the process. This time of year is fun to project what your favorite teams will do and I am no different. I also reserve the right to make changes midweek if new information (or suspension?) becomes known..
1. Carolina Panthers select CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio St.
After I saw the interaction between QB coach McCown and Stroud, I was sold he was the right pick for the Panthers. If you are not aware of the impact McCown has on QB’s, check out the differential between Carson Wentz’s production with McCown being there versus not being there. McCown is a QB whisperer. Carolina gave up a lot of draft capital to make this selection, and I do not believe they are taking that risk with a player like Bryce Young that doesn’t check off some of the boxes to be a franchise QB; namely height and weight. Stroud is 6’3 and 212 lbs. With over 3,600 yards passing and a ridiculous 41 to 6 touchdown to interception ratio last year, Stroud is my top QB in this draft class and the Panthers are set to make him the top overall pick.
2. Houston Texans select Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
“Houston, we have a problem.” Yes, Houston does have a problem. Winning that last game of the regular season was a disaster for the Texans. Instead of trading down and adding a treasure chest full of picks, they are left to take the “next” best thing. If I was the general manager, I would trade down and add assets. Demeco Ryans needs to add players of talent, not one talented player. Alas, the Texans take a wildly successful QB that, if he was 3 inches taller and 15 lbs heavier, would be the unquestioned #1 pick in the draft. Young threw for over 3,300 yards and had 32 TD passes. The history does not bode well for a QB under 6’0, but maybe Young is an outlier. Or maybe he is not?
3. Arizona Cardinals select, Will Anderson, DE, Alabama
The Cardinals have a wide array of options for this week. I’m sure they are hoping a QB-needy team wants to move up to take Levis or A-Rich. Instead, I have the Cardinals taking the safest, easily projected pick in this draft: Will Anderson. When you see a player compared to Von Miller, you run, don’t walk to draft that type of talent. What is even more impressive than his on field prowess, is Anderson is regarded as a fantastic person and leader. Those traits will aid the Cardinals well in their efforts to rebuild.
4. Indianapolis Colts select, Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Do the Colts take the best player available and roll into the season with Gardner Minshew or Nick Foles under center? Or do they roll the dice, select a QB and hope he exceeds expectations after the top 2 QBs are off the board? My best guess is the Colts select a QB and hope the infrastructure is in place to develop Will Levis into a top 20 QB. With Johantan Taylor and Michael Pittman, the Colts have some pieces in place to turn this around quicker than some of the other teams drafting in the top 6 of this year’s draft. Levis has a cannon for an arm and looks like Captain America. If he makes smart throws and adjusts to the speed of the NFL quickly, he will be a steal at the 4th pick. If I was in the room, I would be calling the Vikings about Cousins, then selecting Jalen Carter here.
5. Seattle Seahawks select Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Geno Smith is essentially under a 1 year contract, so taking a QB here makes some long term sense. The Seahawks had a great 2022 draft, and hope to do that again this year. With 2 first round picks, the Seahawks can afford a luxury with this pick, not a necessity. I’m sure a team like the Raiders or the Falcons would love to move up to grab AR-15, but the Seahawks stand pat and make the selection themselves. With a QB like Richardson, he is more prone to leaving the pocket, than staying in it to make tough passes. The comparisons to Cam Newton are real. With Geno Smith as a mentor, Richardson makes sense as the long term solution at the sport’s most important position.
6. Detroit Lions select Jaxon Smith Njigba, WR, Ohio St
This pick flipped from Jalen Carter to Devon Witherspoon, and then to JSN once news broke that a majority of the Wide Receiver room is suspended. I played around with the idea of waiting for the 2nd pick of the first round to address this spot, but my thoughts were swayed by one overarching thought: why would the Lions allow other teams to dictate what receiver they take? By grabbing a receiver at this spot, the Lions get to choose which receiver they take and who they want to pair with Amon-Ra. JSN seems like a great fit next to ARSB and that’s all I need to make the selection.
7. Las Vegas Raiders select, Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
With all due respect to Devon Whitherspopn, there are many teams that prefer Christian Gonzalez with his combination of size and speed. With the knock on Witherspoon being related to size, the Raiders have historically been a team that has always valued measurables to be a major factor in draft selections. At 6’1 and 200 lbs, Gonzalez can play physical, fast, and technical. The Raiders find a future Pro Bowler with the 7th Pick and Gonzalez.
8. Atlanta Falcons select Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
The Falcons have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Although Jalen Carter would be tempting, as he is the most talented player on the board, I think the Falcons will go a little safer and pair Arnold Ebiketie with a running mate for years to come in Tyree Wilson. And, at 6’6 and 275 lbs, Wilson has some flexibility to play all over the line and game tape reveals a pass rusher who can be unblockable. The Falcons hit a homerun with this pick.
9. Chicago Bears select Peter Skoronski, OG, Northwestern
Again, a long consideration for Jalen Carter, but the Bears have to show Justin Fields they are serious about keeping him healthy. Skoronski is the most sound offensive lineman in this draft, even if his “short” arms scare some teams. I love the sentiment by Skoronski when he questioned how many tackles/guards have failed in the NFL with the longer arms? Gotta love a guy that knows playing football isn’t always measured by pounds and inches. Ask Jason Kelce…
10. Philadelphia Eagles select Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
The slide finally ends for Jalen Carter. The Eagles love to replenish their offensive and defensive lines early in drafts and this year is no different. I can also see Skoronski wearing kelly green if he happens to be here. Instead, Carter teams up (again) with fellow Bulldogs Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean to create a dynamic defensive middle for the reigning NFC Champions.
11. Tennessee Titans select Paris Johnson Jr. , T, Ohio St.
The Titans have a lot of “smoke” surrounding them in regards to trading up, trading down, moving Derrick Henry. In the end, the Titans need to get better along the line, and Paris Johnson Jr instantly makes their line better. There may be some growing pains early, but Johnson projects to be a solid tackle for the next decade.
12. Houston Texans select Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
Houston stays in state to select Quentin Johnson to pair with newly drafted Bryce Young. Jordan Addison was also a consideration, but I don’t think the Texans go the “smallish” route twice. Johnson is great at winning on contested catches. With Young, Johnson, and Pierce, the Texans start to forge an offensive identity under Coach Ryans.
13. Green Bay Packers select Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
I debated whether Mayer vs. Kincaid fit for the Packers with this pick. In the end, I choose the player more ready to play day 1. The Packers are rebuilding and drafting a ready made player helps speed up the timeline for the Packers. Mayer is a solid player that totaled 19 touchdowns at Notre Dame. The Packers have a lot of options with this pick, but I think the “safe” Mayer is the selection.
14. New England Patriots Select Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
This was also a landing spot where I could see Devon Witherspoon landing. However, Belicheck instead leans to the edge and selects the talented Van Ness. Lukas is still a little raw in skills, but I think that’s what Belicheck likes best and he will mold him into a special player.
15. New York Jets select Darnell Wright, T, Tennessee
I’m sure many Jets fans are hoping for Skoronski or Johnson to fall to them here, but make no mistake about it, Wright is not a consolation prize. He is a prize!
Not sure about that? Well, turn on the Alabama vs. Tennessee game. Watch how Wright just dominated Will Anderson all game. Yes, the same Will Anderson that is the 3rd pick in the draft. Wright is the right pick for the Jets.
16. Washington Commanders select O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
Every time I mock, I come back to Torrence being a perfect fit for the Commanders. Torrence would probably be in the same conversation with Skoronski if he had more than 1 year of high major football under his belt. That said, Torrence recorded an 88 overall score by PFF. The Commanders start to build a wall around Sam Howell.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers select Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn St.
When I make this pick, I can envision Kevin Costner from “Draft Day” calling Ray Jennings and asking if he wants to continue in his Dad’s legacy. I can see Mike Tomlin making that same call and asking Joey Porter Jr. if he wants to join his “ole man’s squad?” The story is just too good and I’m not passing up on it. Joey Porter is also my 3rd rated CB in this class, so the Steelers are just making this pick for sentiment sake. Obviously, Witherspoon is a HUGE consideration, but Pittsburgh values family and tradition and use that to make this pick.
18. Detroit Lions select Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
I’m sure by now readers are saying, “No. Way.” They take Witherspoon there, especially with Okudah gone. Hate to spoil Day 2 fun, but this draft is loaded CB and I think the Lions decide to take the game breaker in Kincaid to replace Hockenson. Similar to the Texans, I don’t see the Lions waiting and allowing other teams to determine which TE to draft. With LaPorta, Washington, and Kuntz, the Lions allow the other teams to fight it out. They get their target in Kincaid and arm Jared Goff with all the ammo he needs to have an explosive offense; especially with a depleted wide receiver corps.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
I was torn with Kancey or going with one of the remaining offensive line players still left. In the end, Kancey would be my choice for the Bucs. With the NFC being depleted at QB, the Eagles proved the team that can pressure the QB will win a lot. The Bucs use that theory and pick the versatile Kancey to terrorize NFC South QBs for years to come.
20. Seattle Seahawks select Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The Seahawks collected a bunch of long term pieces in last year’s draft in Charles Cross, Boye Mafe, Kenneth Walker III, and Tariq Woolen. With Anthony Richardson added to that group, the Seahawks try to bolster the defense with Bresee (and incoming Bobby Wagner). At 6’6 and 298 lbs, Bresee is big and fast with a lot of versatility that can move around the defensive line.
21. Los Angeles Chargers draft Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Keeping the local kid close and drafting a player at a position of need just seems too perfect not to select. Yes, the Chargers have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to start the 2023 season, in 2022, Keenan Allen missed 7 games and Mike Williams missed 4 games. Justin Herbert's window is wide open, and the Chargers need to ensure the future is bright…and healthy at the wide receiver position.
22. Baltimore Ravens select Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Devon Witherspoon’s slide comes to a halt by the Ravens. To be clear, the slide had less to do with talent, and more to do with fit and need. Most analysts have Witherspoon as a top 10 talent in this draft; and rightfully so. Last year, Witherspoon was targeted 63 times and only gave up 22 receptions. His numerics from last year are off the charts. What Witherspoon lacks in ideal size, he makes up for in tenacity and technique. The Ravens hit a homerun with this pick.
23. Minnesota Vikings select Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
I can see the war room in Minnesota dancing with glee as Witherspoon starts to slide. And the sheer dejection when the savvy Ravens snag him one pick before the Vikings. Deonte Banks is a fine player and will have a good career. Banks’ combine numbers in the 40 yard dash, shuttle run, and vertical jump all point to Banks having plenty of natural ability to cover in the NFL. I would love to be a “fly on the wall” that first practice when Banks lines up opposite Justin Jefferson.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars select Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
With Trevor Lawrence, Travis Ettiene, and Christian Kirk forming the firepower on offense, the Jaguars look to add the same to the defense. Nolan Smith is exactly the type of bookend to work with Josh Allen and Travon Walker in order to dominate the line of scrimmage. Nolan Smith is an example of the new hybrid player taking over the league. In many ways, I see a Hasson Reddick-type player in Smith. The Jags get a good one in the 2nd half of the draft. I can also see the Jags taking Brian Branch in this spot, but….
25. New York Giants select Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The Giants anxiously wait their turn and get a perfect fit of a player, in Brian Branch. Branch is a true leader and should instantly make an impact on the Giants as he replaces Julian Love. With AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and CeeDee Lamb in the division, every defensive secondary must get better. And the Giants make the right decision in adding Branch.
26. Dallas Cowboys select Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Dallas Cowboys like to make a splash in everything they do. And what better way to make a splash in the draft, than to select the draft’s best player in Bijan Robinson. Simply put, the Cowboys select their next great RB after Ezekiel Elliot and Emmitt Smith. Tony Pollard is on a 1 year deal and this pairing makes a lot of sense.
27. Buffalo Bills select Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
The Bills will draft Campbell to replace the recently departed Tremain Edmunds. Campbell is the unquestioned top linebacker in this draft and the Bills cannot afford to miss a step without a reliable keystone in the middle of their defense. Also can see one of the edge/defensive lineman going here as well. However, the fit for Campbell is perfect and the Bills make the right call.
28. Cincinnati Bengals select Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
The Bengals have a lot going for it on the offensive side (Burrow, Chase, Higgins) and with the recently signed Orlando Brown Jr, the offensive line has been improved too. Now, the Bengals look to inject some firepower into its defense. When the road to the Super Bowl is paved with obstacles like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert, opposing teams must find ways to slow down opposing quarterbacks. Murphy immediately helps the defense in pass rushing downs and will look to do more as he matures.
29. New Orleans Saints select Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Saints have a lot of needs on defense, but the depth is abundant in those areas, so the Saints decide to fill the spot opposite Chris Olave in drafting Zay Flowers. With Flowers and Olave terrorizing opposing defensive backs, the Saints will see less blitzes and more time to push the ball downfield. Flowers and Olave will make for a fun pass catching duo. Through this exercise, I was surprised Flowers made it this long. His separation skills are elite and the Saints will be happy to see that on Sundays.
30. Philadelphia Eagles select Will McDonald, Edge, Iowa St
Howie Roseman loves to find unique and interesting players that make other teams scratch their heads years later on why they didn’t draft that player. McDonald will fit in nicely with the Eagles defensive end rotation as he learns how to come off the edge. What his tape shows in college, is not exactly how he will be used in the NFL. His 1st round grade is based on projection…and the Eagles can afford to wait a bit on this diamond in the rough to shine.
31. Kansas City Chiefs select Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
No, I don’t think Hooker stays in K.C. I am just convinced that a QB needy team (or a forward thinking one) that hasn’t already drafted a QB (Atlanta, Minnesota, Las Vegas) will want the extra year on the first round pick and grab this pick. Hooker may not even take a snap this year, but the opportunity to draft a front line starter at 31 is too great for a team to pass up. I know, I said no trades, but I technically didn’t make the trade. I just predicted the player in the spot on this one.
What player did you want to see your favorite team select?
Find me on twitter and let’s discuss. @jgoody77
Full time teacher, full time fantasy sports enthusiast. I try to look at fantasy sports through my own lens and share that vision with my readers I love to explore and find new, and exciting fantasy football options including: C2C, dynasty, IDP, and Devy. See me on Twitter @JGoody77
Always willing to give advice, reach out via Twitter