In our 2023 NFL Mock Draft, cornerbacks, pass rushers, and offensive linemen are in high demand.
The Saints have the 29th pick, so they won’t be able to pick one of the top four quarterbacks unless they have a plan to move way up the board.
Instead, the Saints wait until the ninth pick in the second round (40th overall) to take Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, who tore his ACL late in the season, missed the Senior Bowl, and probably won’t be able to work out before the draft.
But what Hooker did on tape in 2022 should be more than enough to convince teams that he’s a Day 2 talent all the time. And he could do for the Saints what he did for the Vols, which was to revive a sputtering offense and put the Saints right back in the running for the playoffs. (Playing in the NFC South helps.)
Remember that there are only 31 picks in the first round because the Dolphins’ first-round pick was taken away for tampering.
2023 NFL Mock Draft: First 10 Picks
These are the 10 first picks according to our 2023 NFL Mock Draft:
Round 1 Pick 1: Bears, Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, from Alabama
The Bears got rid of Robert Quinn before the trade deadline, so they’ll be looking for an edge rusher this offseason. Will Anderson is talked about along with Chase Young and Nick Bosa as one of the best players in a class who isn’t the quarterback.
Round 1, Pick 2: Texans, Bryce Young, quarterback from Alabama
Bryce Young might be small for an NFL quarterback, but that doesn’t matter to us. He’s been so good for Alabama that they win almost every week thanks to him. And he did it without any of the players who helped Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones make plays in the past.
Round 1, Pick 3: Cardinals, Jalen Carter, DL, from Georgia
Jalen Carter would be an easy choice for the Cardinals here. He was arguably the best defender on a Georgia defense that had five first-round picks in 2021.
Round 1, Pick 4: Colts, C.J. Stroud, quarterback, from Ohio State
Since Andrew Luck retired, the Colts haven’t had much luck with quarterbacks nearing the end of their careers. It’s safe to assume that owner Jim Irsay will be looking for the team’s next face of the franchise. The national media hasn’t paid much attention to CJ Stroud this season, but some NFL teams say he’ll be in the running for QB1. His performance against Georgia in the semifinals showed that he can beat you with both his arm and his legs.
Round 1, Pick 5: Seahawks, Tyree Wilson, EDGE, from Texas Tech
When you watch Wilson play, you love his game more and more. Not only what he showed on tape at Texas Tech, but also what he could be like in 2 to 3 years. He is long and has the body to put on weight if he needs to. He is also a strong pass rusher with a lot of speed who can take over games.
Round 1 Pick 6: Lions, CB Joey Porter Jr., from Penn State
Porter is the perfect example of a big, strong cornerback who belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get too physical downfield, but he has a lot of the qualities that teams look for in DBs when they draft them. Is Porter getting up too early? Maybe, but big, strong cornerbacks are in high demand. In recent drafts, Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr., Jaycee Horn, and Patrick Surtain II were all taken early in the first round.
Round 1 Pick 7: Raiders, Will Levis, quarterback from Kentucky.
It seems unlikely that Jarrett Stidham would be the team’s starting quarterback in the long run. And since Derek Carr is going to be somewhere else in 2023 and Tom Brady is for sure done playing, it seems like drafting a quarterback is a top priority. Even though Levis looks the part, he was hurt and didn’t play well all fall. Still, NFL teams like how he could do at the next level, but he will be a controversial topic of conversation in the coming months.
Round 1, Pick 8: Falcons, Myles Murphy, DL from Clemson
Murphy turned 21 in early January, and even though we’d like him to play more consistently, he just turned 21. He has all the physical traits of an elite edge defender, and it’s easy to see him becoming the best in a few years. And that’s a big part of why he’s such an interesting candidate.
Round 1 Pick 9: Panthers, Anthony Richardson QB, from Florida
Richardson is one of this class’s most exciting prospects. The problem is that he doesn’t have much experience, and even though he has rare physical tools, the Panthers need a starting quarterback right now. David Tepper could choose (again) to become a free agent, but that has been, let’s say, a crapshoot. At the end of the day, Carolina might have to move up into the top 5 if there’s a quarterback they really want who could start on Day 1.
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 11 to 20
These are picks 11 to 20 according to our 2023 NFL Mock Draft:
Round 1 Pick 10: Eagles, Christian Gonzalez CB, from Oregon
Gonzalez, who came from Colorado, is a great athlete who is still getting better at his new job. He is big, strong, and fast enough to go up against NFL wide receivers. He just needs to get better at stopping the run.
Round 1 Pick 11: Titans, Paris Johnson Jr. OT, from Ohio State
This season, Paris Johnson played left tackle for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He has also played on the inside, so he is ready to play on Day 1.
Round 1 Pick 12: Texans, Jordan Addison WR, from USC
Addison isn’t a big target, but he’s one of the most versatile players in the country and can play anywhere. The only question is whether Addison or Quentin Johnston will be the WR1. Two different body types and two different ways to play, but both of them are the best. The Texans could pick an offensive lineman to help protect their investment in their quarterback, but this class has a lot more top offensive linemen than top wide receivers.
Round 1 Pick 13: Jets, O’Cyrus Torrence OL, from Florida
Torrence moved from Louisiana and picked up right where he left off. He was the best player for Florida last fall, and he was also the best player at the Senior Bowl practices. If the past is any indication, he’ll be the best player in the NFL, too.
Round 1 Pick 14: Patriots, Quentin Johnston WR, from TCU
Johnston is a playmaker who makes plays above the rim. His athleticism and ability to catch the ball in a crowd put him in the running for WR1. Mac Jones’s offense has a new leader, and now he has a new target downfield.
Round 1 Pick 15: Packers, Michael Mayer TE, from Notre Dame
Mayer is more like Gronk than Kelce, which isn’t bad. And he’ll have plenty of chances to do so in Green Bay, whether it’s with Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, or the QB behind Door No. 3. WR also makes sense here, but it’s been 21 years since the Packers picked a WR in the first round.
Round 1 Pick 16: Commanders, Devon Witherspoon CB, from Illinois
Witherspoon had a great year for the Illini, and even though his small size will be questioned, you wouldn’t know it from watching him play.
Round 1 Pick 17: Steelers, Peter Skoronski OT, from Northwestern
Skoronski is solid and reliable, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. During the pre-draft process, he’ll have to worry most about how long his arms are and whether he’ll play tackle or guard in the NFL.
Round 1 Pick 18: Lions, Lukas Van Ness EDGE, from Iowa
Van Ness never started a game for Iowa, but that’s not the point. NFL teams like his size, his athleticism, and where they think his game could be in a couple of years. Last year, Purdue’s George Karlaftis went at the end of Round 1, and USC’s Drake Jackson went a round later. Both players had a lot of potential and did better than expected as rookies. Van Ness is part of the same talk, but he might be the best of the bunch.
Round 1 Pick 19: Buccaneers, Drew Sanders LB, from Arkansas
Sanders was a five-star recruit who moved from Alabama to Arkansas after the 2021 season. All he did for Arkansas was show up. He was an edge rusher for the Crimson Tide, but for Arkansas, he played all over the defense, and when he’s on the field, he’s a one-man wrecking crew.
Round 1 Pick 20: Seahawks, Brian Branch S, Alabama
Branch’s name doesn’t come up first when people talk about Alabama’s defense, but maybe it should. If Nick Saban trusts him, that’s all you need to know about his NFL prospects. He makes sure tackles, can blitz off the edge, and is solid in coverage.
2023 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 21 to 31
These are picks 21 to 31 according to our 2023 NFL Mock Draft:
Round 1 Pick 21: Chargers, Broderick Jones OT, Georgia
Jones had a good season for the Bulldogs in ’22. For the last two years, he has practiced every day with some of the best defensive players in the country. He isn’t quite done yet, but he has the athleticism and strength to make a big difference when he does.
Round 1 Pick 22: Ravens, Deonte Banks DB, Maryland
In the fall, Banks’ teammate Jakorian Bennett, who is also a cornerback, got most of the attention. However, Banks put together the kind of season that will get you talked about in the top 50. He is a big, strong corner who can run and keep up with NFL wide receivers. He is a fluid athlete who is also big and strong.
Round 1 Pick 23: Vikings, Kelee Ringo CB, from Georgia
The pipeline from Georgia to the first round keeps going. Last year, five Bulldogs went in the first round. This year, you can expect a similar number. Ringo is a long, strong cornerback who has played against some of the best players in the country.
Round 1 Pick 24: Jaguars, Luke Musgrave TE, Oregon State
Musgrave was getting some buzz at the end of Day 1 and the beginning of Day 2 in Mobile. He didn’t have a great week, but it was clear why teams like him. He was hurt for most of the year in ’22, but he’s strong, long, and athletic enough to always get away from both safeties and linebackers. His blocking needs work, but he’ll be useful in the passing game right away.
Round 1 Pick 25: Giants, Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State
Smith-Njigba was hurt a lot during the 2022 season, but he’s still one of the best wide receivers in his class. It’s easy to forget that he led the 2021 Buckeyes in receptions, which included first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave and future first-rounder Marvin Harrison Jr.
Round 1 Pick 26: Cowboys, Jalin Hyatt WR, from Tennessee
Hyatt wasn’t talked about for the first round before the 2022 season, but he’s a great example of a player who makes the most of his chances, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker’s Heisman Trophy season. Hyatt is a real deep threat who stacked defensive backs all season long and left them with little they could do.
Round 1 Pick 27: Bills, Bijan Robinson RB, from Texas
Robinson is unique, and he is probably one of the best players in this class. However, because he is a running back, he could still be available late in Round 1. Yes, we know that the Bills used a pick from the second round last year to get James Cook. But Cook isn’t a back who can play on every play, and Nyheim Hines is the only other RB on the team’s roster before free agency. Adding a player like Saquon Barkley to this team’s offense? There are even worse things.
Round 1 Pick 28: Bengals, Anton Harrison OT, Oklahoma
Some people thought Harrison might go back to Oklahoma because the NIL offered him a deal that was too good to pass up. Instead, he chose to play in the NFL. He’s one of the best tackles in the class, and now the question is whether he’ll make it into Round 1 or go early on Day 2.
Round 1 Pick 29: Saints, Cam Smith CB , from South Carolina
In the Sean Payton deal, the Saints got a first-round pick that they really needed. Bad news: It’s not even close to being high enough to get the team a quarterback. Instead, defense is the main focus. Brady Roby and PJ Williams are going to be free agents, and Cam Smith is a first-round talent who can contribute on Day 1.
Round 1 Pick 30: Eagles, BJ Ojulari EDGE, from LSU
Ojulari’s brother played at Georgia and now plays for the Giants. Ojulari had a good season for the Tigers, and he has many of the same explosive qualities that made his brother so hard to stop for the Bulldogs. Ojulari could turn out to be better than Azeez, which is saying a lot.
Round 1 Pick 31: Chiefs, Keion White DL, Georgia Tech
White was another player who had a great week at the Senior Bowl. NFL teams love his size (6-foot-4, 280 pounds) and his motor. He always wins at the line of scrimmage and is good at stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. He might go early on Day 2, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended up in the first round.