C.J. Stroud Revives Colts Offense and Draft Stock

With just one game remaining in the college football season, it’s time to cure that sadness with another 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Let’s look at where our favorite college football players will take their talents next year.

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2023 NFL Mock Draft

The NFL draft order for this 2023 mock is taken from the current NFL standings as of January 3. Check the PFN Mock Draft Simulator after every NFL game to see the most up-to-date draft order, and each subsequent mock draft will indicate the rapidly changing environment that is the 2023 NFL Draft.

1) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

In one of the more surprising moves of the college football offseason, Bryce Young decided to remind fans why he’s QB1. A 321-yard, 5-touchdown performance in a throttling of Kansas State capped off a great career for the Crimson Tide quarterback.

Was it foresight that forced him back? We’ll never know, but a strong C.J. Stroud performance in the College Football Playoff could have swayed some people into removing Young from the top. Fortunately, he also dominated, and the Texans take him with the first pick of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

2) Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

For once, the Bears are in a win-win situation. Picking between Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. is a tough choice, but you can’t go wrong with either. Chicago selects a wrecking ball on the interior who also brings elite finesse that most interior linemen haven’t seen.

So, while he can’t protect Justin Fields or catch his passes, Carter makes an impact on the other side of the ball that won’t go unnoticed.

3) Seattle Seahawks: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

Unless Seattle wants a quarterback here, they can’t lose either. If the Seahawks pass on Will Anderson Jr., Seattle doesn’t care. After all, they’re already playing with house money thanks to the Denver Broncos’ desperation.

Anderson is a game-changer on the edge. Bryce Young’s teammate is also the top of his position, and the Seahawks happily see him fall into their laps in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Part of me wishes that J.J. Watt would have waited to retire so he could teach Myles Murphy the tricks of the trade. Now, there’s still a chance for that to happen, but it won’t be as teammates.

Murphy and Watt boast similar frames, and both are absolute monsters on the field when they’re playing at their peaks. Murphy’s a great addition for the Cardinals in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, and he’ll be tough to block even if Watt isn’t there to tutor him.

5) Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

While Ohio State won’t play for a national championship, there was plenty of good to come out of their loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. C.J. Stroud reminded everyone that he is still “him” on the football field. Questions about his mobility evaporated, and his arm talent was on full display on the big stage. Indianapolis needs to find a long-term solution at QB.

6) Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Turns out Jamaal Williams’ preseason speech hit home for the Lions — they’re playing some great football as of late. The defense continues flying around the field, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need some assistance on defense.

Jeff Okudah’s playing great football this year, but he’d appreciate some help on the other side of the field. Maybe Aidan Hutchinson is looking to play two positions? Unless they want a quarterback, cornerback is the pick, and Christian Gonzalez would spark some excitement in the fan base.

7) Atlanta Falcons: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Oklahoma got a spiritual awakening in the Cheez-It Bowl (and not a good one). A Verse here and a Verse there haunted the Sooners’ offensive line all game, and he frequently reminded them why he’s the man for the Seminoles.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

He’s been a late first-round pick for most of the season, but it’s easy to see why he could move into the top 10. A great frame with a dominant game, Jared Verse is just what the Falcons need on defense.

8) Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Derek Carr is essentially out the door already, meaning it’s time to look for a new direction at quarterback. Las Vegas is a city full of entertainment, but Anthony Richardson could make the Raiders the biggest attraction.

A raw player with tremendous upside, Vegas needs to look toward the future with a new signal-caller. Davante Adams won’t stick around long if there’s no hope on offense.

9) Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

There’s a growing group that believes Will Levis is the best quarterback in the draft. I am not one of those people. Carolina needs a solution at quarterback after cycling through multiple players and landing back on Sam Darnold (yikes), and Levis gives them more potential.

The raw tools are there, but the consistency lacks. If Levis can put everything together, he’ll be a good quarterback in the NFL. I’d rather the most interesting thing about him be his ability to throw a football and not what he puts in his coffee.

10) Philadelphia Eagles: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

A reminder that the Eagles have this luxury pick despite being the best team in the league. They have some needs at certain positions, and adding an explosive pass rusher is one of them. Tyree Wilson brings a big frame with great power and quickness to add to a front seven that can be a nightmare.

11) Tennessee Titans: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Yes, the Titans drafted Treylon Burks in last year’s draft, but that’s not a reason to pass on Quentin Johnston. While we don’t know what the new general manager will want, the Titans snag the TCU star wide receiver in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. A big-time playmaker, Johnston averaged 27.2 yards per catch this past weekend in the Fiesta Bowl.

12) Houston Texans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

If Houston wants to address their need at wide receiver, they’ll have to trade back to get good value. If they want to keep this pick, adding help on the offensive line should be their route.

Peter Skoronski gives them versatility on the line. While he most likely slides inside to guard, he’ll get a chance to prove his worth at tackle. Either way, he’s a winner who will compete at any position.

13) New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

At 6’6″, 315 pounds, size isn’t a concern for Paris Johnson Jr., and the Jets need someone like him on their line. While they haven’t given up on Mekhi Becton yet, he hasn’t contributed much due to injury.

If the Jets don’t want to move up to get a quarterback, they can at least protect their current options better. Johnson has room to improve, but there’s a good foundation to build upon while he learns how to develop.

14) Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Teams aren’t afraid of Kelee Ringo as much as we expected going into the year. An aggressive corner, penalties have hurt Ringo at times this year. We saw Ohio State take advantage of that in the Peach Bowl this weekend. Still, at 6’2″, 200 pounds, Ringo is still worth a first-round pick, and the penalties are more part of a learning process than anything.

15) Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Pittsburgh is giving Kenny Pickett time to be the guy. Giving him time to show what he can do should be a priority. While Broderick Jones isn’t the most polished prospect, the ability to maul his competition draws teams his way. He’s an aggressive player in the trenches, and that will win Steelers fans over quickly.

16) Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

The ankle injury might be a concern for teams, but it would be more surprising to see Jordan Addison drop out of the first round. Christian Watson appears to have a bright future for the Packers, but adding Addison might keep Aaron Rodgers happy until retirement.

17) Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Bryan Bresee flirted with returning to Clemson before officially declaring, and he will be a fun player to watch in the trenches. At 6’5″, 300 pounds, he’s been a problem when healthy for the Tigers. Imagine being an offensive lineman that sees Aidan Hutchinson on the edge with Bryan Bresee lining up next to him. I’d have nightmares about that too.

18) Seattle Seahawks: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

A long, rangy cornerback, Porter gives the Seahawks another cornerback that fits that description. Pairing Joey Porter Jr. with Tariq Woolen gives Seattle a bright future. He’s a physical player who’s also patient throughout the route. The name will excite fans, but his game will take that excitement to another level.

19) Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

I don’t know what’s gotten into the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it’s certainly been fun to watch. Trevor Lawrence is hitting his stride, and the offense is exceeding expectations. To add a talent like Josh Downs makes this group even more thrilling.

MORE: Top 10 WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Christian Kirk and Zay Jones already give Lawrence two great options, but adding Downs opens the field up so much more. He’s quick off the line and can run some nasty routes, which gives defensive backs so many issues. That skill set makes life even easier for the Jaguars’ franchise quarterback.

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

Tampa Bay finds themselves in the playoffs, but there are still some positions to address. If Cam Smith remains on the board, it will be tough to pass on him. He can move inside to the slot, too — that flexibility will make any defensive coordinator intrigued.

21) New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Devon Witherspoon feels like the perfect pick for the Patriots. An underrated player on a team that isn’t in the spotlight frequently? Check and check. Now, it’s not Cole Strange in terms of surprise, but not many expect Witherspoon to be a first-round pick.

The Illini corner’s agility allows him to thrive through breaks, and his aggressive nature allows him to dislodge the ball from his receiver.

22) New York Giants: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

New York needs a linebacker, and they’ll have their pick between Trenton Simpson and Noah Sewell. Simpson’s an athletic playmaker still developing at the position, but his upside makes him extremely appealing.

23) Baltimore Ravens: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

The more I look at this pick, the more I like it. Clark Phillips III might be the most competitive player in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, and his drive to compete makes him a great fit for the Ravens.

Despite concerns about his size, Phillips is a lockdown corner. He might not have the traits of other corners in this class, but it’s not easy to beat him. He’s a twitchy player who works hard to be in the right place at the right time.

24) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Rashee Rice quickly rose to WR1 on SMU and got more experience than he anticipated with the struggles around him. Fortunately, that experience allowed him to become a first-round pick.

Justin Herbert is a superstar, and he just needs receivers that can stay healthy. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are great options, but there’s been plenty of stress when they’ve gone down with injury. Drafting Rice gives them some insurance when things don’t go according to plan.

25) Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Joe Burrow experienced less pressure this season. However, that can still improve. Darnell Wright thrived in Tennessee’s offense this year, ending the year facing a dynamic defensive line in the Clemson Tigers.

He’s got the potential to be an elite left tackle, and his power and strength in his frame could get him in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

26) Minnesota Vikings: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Kirk Cousins isn’t going anywhere, so give him better linemen to protect him or more weapons downfield. Minnesota elects to go with the latter. Zay Flowers isn’t in many first rounds, but the Vikings select him with the 26th pick in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Watchlist

Flowers brings great speed to attract attention away from Justin Jefferson. The Vikings’ star receiver has thrived despite a lack of a reliable second option. Flowers could stretch the field enough to make teams worry about more than No. 18.

27) Dallas Cowboys: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Tony Pollard is set to become a free agent. The divide on Ezekiel Elliott remains, and he could be on his way out as well. So why not keep a generational talent in the state? Bijan Robinson fills the role of Pollard while also raising the bar at the position for the future.

28) Denver Broncos: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Denver’s in a tough place right now. Drafting one player won’t change everything, but they have to start somewhere. Noah Sewell, at worst, brings the right attitude on the field to set the tone on defense.

At 6’3″, 250 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with when running downhill. He might have some concerns in coverage, but he will be an asset defending the run.

29) Buffalo Bills: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

If Bijan Robinson isn’t on the board, the Bills’ backup plan involves someone who would be RB1 if Robinson wasn’t in this class. Jahmyr Gibbs thrives in all aspects of the game. His acceleration makes him elite in short spaces, and his speed in the open field makes him a nightmare to stop.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

As much as I want to add another ridiculous weapon to the Chiefs’ offense, the front office can’t neglect the defense. Siaki Ika is a disruptor on the defensive line. He’s underrated as a pass rusher, but he thrives at defending the run by taking up blockers with ease.

31) Philadelphia Eagles: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

Imagine 6’6″, 330-pound Jordan Davis lined up next to 6’6″, 315-pound Gervon Dexter. I’d take time to let that combination develop into an absolute force. Dexter has great potential, but he must realize it. He’s developed well in 2022, and his ceiling breeds excitement.

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