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Midseason Mock – 2023 NFL Draft

We’re here. Week 9 officially marks the halfway point of the season. Where has the time gone? As long as we wait for football season to arrive, it goes even faster once it’s here. There’s no better time in that case then to check in on the NFL Draft!

Right about this time normally marks the time when we slowly, but steady, start to familiarize and get an understanding of the prospects throughout college football who will hear their name called early next April. Different from last year, this class has two potential franchise QBs, a deep RB class, and maybe the deepest group of edge rushers that we’ve seen in a long time. It is also shaping up to be a stacked corner class with as many as five who could hear their name called on day one. I did my best below to take a guess at where these young bucks will play next season and some of these spots are intriguing situations that will provide teams with immediate day one production.

Before we check out the draft order below, keep in mind that much will change between now and Week 18, with a lot of jockeying for position among the non-playoff teams. But this is where the league stood as of Week 9, per NFL.com. Also, as it stands now, the first round will have only 31 teams next year, as the Dolphins traded their 2023 first rounder they owned from the 49ers in the deadline deal that brought them Bradley Chubb from Denver last week. The 49ers previously dealt their pick to Miami in the deal that allowed them to move up in 2021 to select Trey Lance.

Now, without further ado, I give you my first mock for the 2023 NFL Draft.

1. Detroit Lions – Bryce Young QB/Alabama – He continues to separate himself from Stroud as the QB1 with his acrobatics game after game. The talk of his stature labeling him an outlier for the position will almost certainly be the one red flag during draft season. However, the Lions have torn it down for this reason – to find their next franchise QB post Matthew Stafford.

2. Houston Texans – Will Anderson, Jr EDGE/Alabama – Anderson is considered a generational talent in this draft and has the skills to live up to that hype. He does everything at an elite level and can absolutely take over games. The Texans lack superior talent on their defense and Anderson gives them the franchise EDGE they haven’t found since JJ Watt left.

3. Carolina Panthers – CJ Stroud QB/Ohio State – They have searched long and hard to find a Quarterback and the Baker Mayfield experiment sealed the end of their patchwork strategy. They’re in a position now to solidify their future at the most important position. Stroud and Young are in their own tier as the top QBs in 2023.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Carter DT/Georgia – Carter is a difference maker and will make an impact from day one. He is a mountain of a man with a freakish skillset and a top 5 overall talent.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers – Olu Fashanu OT/Penn State – No one has seen their draft stock risen so high this season than Fashanu. An unknown before the season and now a name to get familiar with. Fashanu started his first game in the Nittany Lions’ bowl game and has developed into the best OT in college football. The Steelers selected Najee Harris and Kenny Pickett with their last two first round picks. Now they get a franchise LT to help them both develop.

6. Las Vegas Raiders – Kelee Ringo CB/Georgia – Both Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett are signed to a one year deal and the Raiders’ defense ranks near the bottom in total yards/game(366.7). They have only 3 INTs all year and Ringo can be a foundational piece to help rebuild their defense.

7. Seattle Seahawks(via Broncos) – Bryan Bresee DT/Clemson – Teams have found success on the ground this season against Seattle’s front seven, giving up close to 150 rushing yards per game(140.8). Bresee can step in day one and make an impact as a backfield disruptor and give Seahawks opponents a reason to gameplan around.

8. Philadelphia Eagles(via Saints) – Myles Murphy EDGE/Clemson – An embarassment of riches with this pick. The Eagles are the only undefeated team left in the NFL and are in a position for a top 10 pick next year thanks to their trade with the Saints during last draft season. The Eagles got this pick after dealing one of their three 1st’s to the Saints and now looks like they fleeced them. They don’t have a lot of needs, but defensive line appears to be a position they will want to prioritize next season, as nearly five could be playing elsewhere and they replenish with a perfect fit who can wreak havoc on quarterbacks.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Paris Johnson, Jr OT/Ohio State – Johnson has played at an elite level after transitioning to his more natural fit as a blindside tackle from an interior offensive lineman last season. Donovan Smith has two years left on his current contract and will be 30 by the time next season starts. The Bucs could see this as an opportunity to draft his replacement as their future franchise LT, despite Tom Brady remaining a question mark as their QB next season.

10. Houston Texans(via Browns) – Will Levis QB/Kentucky – Davis Mills doesn’t appear to be the answer and the Texans may move on to find an upgrade next season. Levis has fallen off in terms of production this season and question marks will remain in regards to his decision making and ball placement. Levis is toolsy and it’s very possible those tools will stand out on the draft circuit, allowing himself to enter the top 10 conversation again. If that happens, I think the Texans will hand over the keys of the franchise to Levis.

11. Chicago Bears – Trenton Simpson LB/Clemson – The Bears dealt Roquan Smith at the trade deadline and leaves them with a huge void in the middle of their defense. Simpson is an off-ball linebacker that can do everything and the best LB in this draft. He can step in immediately and make an impact.

12. Arizona Cardinals – Christian Gonzalez CB/Oregon – Byron Murphy has developed into their CB1, but he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2023 and they drafted Marco Wilson, a 2021 4th round pick, whom has allowed 61.2% of passes targeted against him to be caught. Gonzalez has bounced back from his disastrous game against Georgia in Week 1.

13. Green Bay Packers – Quentin Johnston WR/TCU – Johnston has elevated himself to the potential WR1 of this draft class and has entered the top 10-15 conversation. The Packers are feeling the domino effects of trading Davante Adams and Christian Watson has not developed nor produced like they hoped. Romeo Doubs appears to have hit as a mid-round pick and now Johnston can step in as Aaron Rodgers next go-to guy.

14. Detroit Lions(via Rams) – Antonio Johnson S/Texas A&M – Opposing offenses have had their way with the Lions defense, torching them through the air. They have given up a 69.8% completion percentage to opposing QBs and will need to find players who can help on the back end if they ever want to see their offense reach their ceiling with the impressive collection of young talent they have acquired.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Peter Skoronski OT/Northwestern – Dennis Kelly is the Colts’ current starting LT and will be a free agent in 2023. Colts offense has a superstar in RB Jonathan Taylor and will want to continue to build around him. Skoronski is strong, a mauler, and too good to leave out as a top 15 pick.

16. New England Patriots – Jordan Addison WR/USC – Patriots invested a top 15 pick for Mac Jones in 2021 and need to see it through his rookie contract, continuing to put pieces around him to help. They used a top 50 pick last year on Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton, who has shown flashes, but hasn’t lived up to that selection just yet. Addison is an explosive playmaker that can stretch the field vertically and open up boxes for Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris in the run game.

17. Washington Commanders – Joey Porter, Jr. CB/Penn State – Commanders have to challenge some of the best WR talent in the NFL twice a year and will need to find help to limit big plays and give their defensive line(their strength) a chance to win up front. Porter is a physical corner w/ coverage skills. There’s also the bloodlines factor as his father is former Steelers great, Joey Porter.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – Clark Phillips III CB/Utah – Cornerback is one of the strengths of this draft class and Phillips III is making a strong case as CB1. The Bengals lost Chidobe Awuzie for the season due to injury and Eli Apple is on the downside of his career. Phillips allows them to turn the page and rebuild in the secondary with he and Dax Hill – their 2022 1st round pick.

19. Atlanta Falcons – Bijan Robinson RB/Texas – This is probably a little too low to have Bijan in this spot, but the situation makes a lot of sense. The Falcons have averaged a 60/40 split run v pass and Arthur Smith has shown he wants to build his offense around the run game. Corrdarrelle Patterson has a void year in 2024 and is 31 years old. Smith was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee and helped developed Derrick Henry into the star he is today.

20. Denver Broncos(from Dolphins via 49ers) – Tyree Wilson EDGE/Texas Tech – Wilson has freakish length, and also strong and physical. His play has stood out this season for Texas Tech and is most likely to hear his name called in Rd 1 next April. He is still raw as a pass rusher and will need to be coached up, but he has the tools to develop into a dominant pass rusher. The Broncos dealt Bradley Chubb in a deadline deal with the Dolphins, which leaves a huge void along the Broncos’ front. Randy Gregory has fit in well as a free agent signing, but is on injured reserve; and Baron Browning has made a huge jump in his second season. Nik Bonnitto was the team’s top draft pick(2022 – 2nd round) and could find himself having a larger role this year and going forward. The Broncos continue to invest in their defensive front, like they always have.

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Michael Mayer TE/Notre Dame – Gerald Everett is signed through 2023, but Michael Mayer becomes the best player on the board with this pick. Mayer would bring another dimension to the Chargers offense and allow them to stretch the seams. He is a mismatch for LBs and DBs with his size and a great all-around player. He is the TE1 of this class.

22. Seattle Seahawks – Cam Smith CB/South Carolina – Tariq Woolen appears to have been a steal for the Seahawks as a day three pick and now they get another one who is of the similar mold as a long, lengthy, and aggressive corner making him another good fit for Seattle’s secondary. The Seahawks would have an intriguing one-two combo on the and make it hard for opponents to win on or outside the numbers.

23. New York Jets – Broderick Jones OT/Georgia – Like Fashanu, Jones has seen his draft stock risen to new heights with his play on the field throughout this season. He has put himself in position as one of the top OTs in this class, and I think this is a great situation for him to step in and contribute immediately. Mekhi Becton is a huge question mark going into next season as the Jets’ future franchise LT and need to put as many resources as possible into hopefully getting something out of Zach Wilson – which it appears is also another question mark in 2023.

24. Baltimore Ravens – Isaiah Foskey EDGE/Notre Dame – Foskey would land in a great situation in Baltimore and really help him continue to develop as an all-around player. Justin Houston is 33 years old and David Ojabo may take another year to be fully recovered from his torn achilles sustained during his pro day last spring. This is a traditional pick for Baltimore and ceiling would be very high for Foskey with the Ravens.

25. Kansas City Chiefs – Jaxson Smith-Njigba WR/Ohio State – Smith-Njigba had a breakout 2021 campaign with over 1600 yards receiving and a record-setting Rose Bowl. Prior to the start of this season, Smith-Njigba was a bonafide top 10-15 pick in 2023 if he built off an impressive season. But he’s been limited to four games due to a hamstring injury and has been unable to stay healthy. Smith-Njigba is a junior, so it’s possible he could choose to stay in Columbus. But for these purposes, we will include him as part of the 2023 WR class. If he does choose to stay, and gets an early draft grade from the advisory committee, the Chiefs would land a dynamic playmaker who can handle a volume workload as well as stretch the field vertically – a perfect fit for Andy Reid and the Patrick Mahomes-lead Chiefs highpower offense.

26. Tennessee Titans – Nolan Smith EDGE/Georgia – Smith was lost for the rest of the season but showed that he can impact a game when he’s healthy. The Titans have Jeffrey Simmons who has turned into a force along their defensive front and Harold Landry is on injured reserve due to an ACL tear. The Titans are yet again contenders in the AFC and add Smith who can help them and force opponents to have to line up both Simmons and Landry in one on one situations during the course of a game.

27. New York Giants – Kayshon Boutte WR/LSU – New York traded their best WR in Kadarius Toney to the Chiefs and have only Wan’Dale Robinson on the roster that looks to be part of their future. It will be hard to beat teams consistently with no presence on the outside and allow defenses to stack boxes against Saquon Barkley and dare Daniel Jones to beat you. It has worked so far this season, but it could catch up at some point. Brian Daboll is proving he is a coach who will play to his team’s strength and can unleash a little piece of his offense with Boutte.

28. Dallas Cowboys – O’Cyrus Torrence IOL/Florida – Conor McGovern is a free agent and Dak is signed to a long-term deal. The Cowboys have done a great job developing offensive line talent and have built that unit through the draft. Torrence has day one starting talent and is a big man at 6’5/347 with a mean streak. He looks to be a good fit for the Cowboys big boys up front.

29. Minnesota Vikings – Jared Verse EDGE/Florida State – Verse burst onto the scene when he dominated against LSU and is another unknown riser in this draft class. Two years ago, he was playing at Albany and now is a legitimate first round talent next April. Verse would give Minnesota a solid compliment to Danielle Hunter as another edge rusher and physical presence against the run to set the edge.

30. Buffalo Bills – Brian Branch S/Alabama – Brandon Beane has done an impressive job building Buffalo into the juggernaut they are. He has hit on his draft picks and has been selective in free agency with quality players who fit their schemes. They have built a win-now defense and Branch could step in as a contributor from day one and make an impact. Both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde enter their age 32 season in 2023.

31. Philadelphia Eagles – Jahmyr Gibbs RB/Alabama – So not only are the Eagles the NFL’s last undefeated team, but they also have two first round picks next year and now bring in a player who has drawn comparisons as a “mini” Alvin Kamara? Yikes for opposing defenses. Miles Sanders is a free agent in 2023 and the Eagles could let him walk if they believe they can upgrade in either free agency or the draft. Gibbs has had a breakout year for Alabama and is by far the RB2 of this draft class, behind Bijan Robinson.

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