Texans Grab Bryce Young, Detroit Trades Up For C.J. Stroud

Only a single game remains between now and the postseason. So far, we’ve looked at a 2023 NFL Mock Draft with a no-trade scenario, as well as one where several teams traded up for quarterbacks. This time we’ll go a little more balanced, but we’ll still be using the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and our own big board rankings.

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Latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft Selects 4 Quarterbacks in 8 Picks

Though we don’t go into the details much here, all NFL draft trades were assumed comparable on the Rich Hill Trade Value Chart, give or take 10%.

1) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Seeing Bryce Young mocked first overall to Houston is probably going to get very boring for Texans fans. You can always whet your appetite for excitement by heading over to your favorite streaming service and watch Young highlights until the draft is over and it’s all in ink.

In my first mock, I mentioned that I didn’t think Young’s size was going to be much of a factor. And while I considered that possibility in my second go around, I still think Houston is the type of team to consider that a minor issue.

The Alabama QB has excellent timing on a multitude of routes and seems comfortable leading an offense both inside and outside of a pocket, though he’d prefer the former to the latter.

2) Chicago Bears: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

While I think another team trading up for a quarterback is a possibility, and one Bears fans probably long for after the Mitchell Trubisky damage has passed, I think the draft ultimately starts with the next pick, with Will Anderson Jr. likely headed to Chicago to start his career.

This addresses a huge need for the Bears and brings in one of the few blue-chip players of this draft to build their defense around. As of right now, Anderson sits with 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for a loss in his college career, with 10 and 17, respectively, coming this season.

He’s an absolute riot to watch on the field and is more difficult to defend than any defender in this class. Anderson’s athletic talents are mouth-watering, and if they weren’t, then his technique would be equally so.

3) Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Should the Seahawks sign Geno Smith to a new deal coming off a career-best season? Or should they draft a replacement, knowing that this might be the only time they’re in position to do so for a while? As much as that question will play out in Seattle media, I’d like to consider a third possibility, which is that they do both.

Signing Geno back to a player-friendly deal could see him return on a structured one-year contract — allowing him to show this season isn’t a fluke and possibly make an even larger contract in 2024 — while the Seahawks could groom a player with mountains of potential in Anthony Richardson.

Richardson has the size, arm, athletic ability, and passing talent to make teams go crazy at draft time. He just needs to put them all together at the same time, which Seattle would be buying time to develop while Smith plays for a contract.

4) Detroit Lions (Trade From ARI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Sometimes you don’t have to be asking yourself what you can do to get better right now, but what you could have done to be better at your worst. While Jared Goff is finishing off his 2022 season pretty strong, just as he did in 2021, he started off the year as one of the most turnover prone. Through Week 8, when the Lions were 1-6, Goff threw 11 touchdowns but with nine turnovers.

There are several issues that this team needed to resolve, but one of the biggest already might be. The Lions’ pass rush, and their defense as a whole, was terrible to start the year, but their rookies may finish the year with more sacks than any rookie class in history.

A trade up likely costs Detroit their other first-round pick, but in terms of value, they’re likely to net other picks in return, possibly in 2024.

C.J. Stroud projects well in this type of offense due to some similarities with Goff. A chief complaint of Goff is that he struggles under pressure, but we didn’t see that with Stroud against Georgia, the best defense in the nation, on the CFB playoff stage.

Stroud threw no picks and went for nearly 350 yards and four touchdowns, more TDs than Georgia had allowed to any team in 2022, and more yardage than all but one opponent.

5) Indianapolis Colts: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

A quarterback would be ideal for the Colts, but in this scenario, the top three are gone, and there’s a decent chance Indianapolis might consider the next man up to be a reach inside the top five. A trade down would be the next best thing, but the teams that are the most thirsty are likely thinking pretty much the same thing about Will Levis, the presumptive QB4.

This leaves the Colts with going for a wide receiver, or a tackle, and I think they go OT here. Paris Johnson Jr. is a very high-character player who would act as a cornerstone for a franchise that needs some stability quickly. His athleticism is likely to fit the mold the team has worked to build (they’re consistently a top-three team athletically for OL), and he’d provide some of the leadership the Colts need to move forward.

6) Arizona Cardinals (Trade From DET): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

With J.J. Watt heading from Arizona to the Hall of Fame waiting room, the team could use a new, massive, uber-athletic pass rusher on the outside.

Myles Murphy’s size is already a big draw, but the Cardinals know better than most how that can be used to give an identity to a defense. Prior to Watt, the Cardinals’ defense was led by Calais Campbell, who made the All-Pro team twice while with the team. That type of impactful edge setting while remaining a danger to passers could put the Cardinals right back in the NFC West race.

7) Atlanta Falcons: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

This draft probably couldn’t have fallen better for the Falcons than watching Jalen Carter fall all the way into their lap. While the teams ahead of them paid a premium to fill pressing needs, and I believe they succeeded in doing so, it left Atlanta free to pair a monstrous interior pass rusher like Carter with the already impressive Grady Jarrett. NFC South interior offensive linemen may simply skip film sessions for a prayer circle when facing Atlanta.

Carter possesses prototypical NFL size for an interior rusher, a term that means a much different thing than it used to since players like Jarrett started causing havoc. The power Carter’s able to generate on his rushes is quite something, and his pound-for-pound play strength may rival that of George Karlaftis — a player he outweighs by about 40 pounds — making him even more dangerous as the game progresses and a true terror to have to play consecutive snaps against.

8) Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Derek Carr and the Raiders seem poised for a messy divorce, which makes their position in this draft a precarious one. Las Vegas desperately needs to rebuild a foundation that currently cannot support its own weight, but they’re not really picking in the best slot to do so.

This is the highest I’ve had Will Levis go and the first time I’ve considered him for the Raiders. Josh McDaniels, assuming he’s still the coach, is a tough one to read in terms of QB evaluation since the only thing we have to go on is his historically atrocious selection of Tim Tebow when he headed the Broncos. But we do know that McDaniels is willing to take risks if he feels it fits a long-term plan.

Levis has wrinkles, but he’s one of the toolsiest players in the class, and McDaniels still has a reputation as someone who can work with that.

9) Carolina Panthers: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

There are several ways the Panthers could go in this draft, but I think their preferred route would still be to find a new signal-caller. In this scenario, that option has all but evaporated, and a trade up is probably unlikely in this slot.

As such, Carolina is left searching for a different position to target, but I think their backup options are pretty solid. Kelee Ringo still projects to be the best corner of this class, and it’s expected that praise will only rise with the Combine.

MORE: Top 10 CBs in the 2023 NFL Draft

The Panthers took one of the most explosive athletes in history when they drafted Jaycee Horn in 2021. Ringo doesn’t need to test similarly, but if he’s anywhere in the ballpark (which is rumored he will), the Panthers could pair a very dangerous tandem of athletes against the rest of the NFL in 2023.

10) Baltimore Ravens (Trade From PHI): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Ravens are more known for trading down, or standing pat and letting elite players fall to them. But I think there’s an opportunity for Baltimore to make a big move and a statement to their QB that they’re serious about keeping him long term.

Quentin Johnston is one of the best height/weight/speed prospects of the last few seasons and it’s pretty easy to imagine how he’d be deployed from the Ravens. Lamar Jackson provides a dangerous threat to opposing defenses and having someone who can both take the top off a defense as well as threaten from anywhere underneath is asking a lot to scheme for.

11) Tennessee Titans: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

In each of the last two mocks, we had the Titans taking an OT, trying to fill their biggest need on offense. This time we’re taking a different tact and taking advantage of Kayshon Boutte changing his mind and declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Titans receivers have been among the least productive in the NFL, despite taking Treylon Burks in 2021. Burks, along with fellow rookie Chigoziem Okonkwo, has been among Tennessee’s most popular targets.

I have always liked the Titans’ version of bully ball, and I think it would be interesting to see them take that tact in their receiving corps as well. Taking someone like Boutte after nabbing Burks and Okonkwo will add some speed to the group while keeping that identity as a physical team.

12) Houston Texans (From CLE): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

The Texans have plenty of needs they could address with this pick, and I think trying to find a fix for their pass rush is probably at or near the top of their defensive priorities.

Tyree Wilson may not be the most productive edge rusher in the class, with only seven sacks in each of the past two seasons, but we saw with the Jaguars taking Travon Walker first overall that sometimes it’s in the tools and how you can deploy them.

Could the Texans make a similar last-place-to-playoffs jump that the Jaguars took?

13) New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia

While there’s plenty of talk about moving on from Zach Wilson, the Jets simply aren’t in a position to move on from their embattled QB any time soon. More likely, they eat the season and do whatever they can to squeeze blood from the stone in terms of his potential, both in the wild chance that it works and because it’s the best way to still build for the future when their defense is as strong as it is.

Broderick Jones will likely play offensive tackle in the NFL, but with the Jets, he’s likely to start his career inside. That works just fine for New York, as they really just need people to start blocking effectively and consistently.

That’s something Jones has done his entire career. He looks like he possesses NFL-level athletic traits and size, so getting him reps against top-tier talent in the pros could shore up that line for a decade.

14) Washington Commanders: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Like the Jets, the Commanders simply don’t land in a position to fix their biggest need in this draft class without a huge trade up. They could find other ways to put the offense in a better position, but I think the more likely scenario is that they try to build where they’re strongest and further improve their defense.

Noah Sewell is big and athletic, both plusses for a linebacker in a defense where he’ll be expected to play some gap control. With Jamin Davis positioned to move around and shoot gaps using his extreme athleticism, someone will need to remain in the middle of the field to act as field general while still being a threat to rush in some packages. Sewell is a rock, and the Commanders could use one of those as much as they need a new owner.

15) Pittsburgh Steelers: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

It’s been pretty painful to watch the once monolithic Steelers defense struggle as much as it has this season. What has been less painful to watch is the progression of Kenny Pickett, who seems like he’s headed in the right direction after a pretty dreadful start to his NFL career. When you have that kind of movement, you want to build on that momentum if you can.

One way to do that is to take a big, athletic offensive lineman who can mirror even the most dangerous of pass rushers. Peter Skoronski took on superb athletes like Michigan’s David Ojabo in 2021 and looked at ease mirroring his movements, something that isn’t exactly common to have seen. Put him somewhere to block for Pickett and hopefully give your QB the time he needs to push on to some wins.

16) Green Bay Packers: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

The Green Bay Packers may be the only thing keeping the once pitiful Detroit Lions from surging into the playoffs in 2022, and their doing so with their own resurgence, which has to feel extra special headed into the final game of the season. In this case, they’re also keeping in line with one of their long-standing draft trends: prioritizing speed and athletic ability.

Imagine, if you will, a defensive backfield full of players who ran under 4.4. That seems to be what the Packers have been trying to build, DBs who can absolutely fly. They’ve prioritized athletes in general, but nowhere more so than speed in that defensive backfield. A player like Brian Branch — who’s been clocked over 22 MPH — has to have them drooling.

17) Arizona Cardinals (Trade From DET): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Cardinals are probably going to give back some later picks to Detroit in order to include this valuable first-rounder in the Lions’ trade-up package, but that puts them in a position to double up on the defensive line and turn this into an identity-building draft.

Bryan Bresee is one of the more talented interior rushers we’ve seen in recent years, but he comes with some injury flags. Despite that, it’s rare to have a player as put together as he. Bresee has the size, explosiveness, and lateral agility to give blockers fits, but he pairs that with some of the better hand usage and technique you’ll find in this year’s class.

18) Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

It’s fairly common to see a new QB paired with a receiving threat to try to give the team a 1-2 punch on offense for years at a time. After having seen what Kenneth Walker III can do, the Seahawks are uniquely positioned to have their own triplets by taking the speedy Jordan Addison with their second first-round pick.

MORE: Top WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Addison was one of the most productive wide receivers in the country in 2021, and while his numbers didn’t look quite the same in the Pac-12, he was still able to show the speed and agility that has made him a top prospect for most.

Giving Smith a new weapon to utilize in 2023 while also putting into place an important building block for 2024 and beyond would position Seattle favorably in the NFC West.

19) Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

After back-to-back first overall picks, who would have thought that we’d be talking about the potentially playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars this late in the season? Surprise or not, it has to make Jaguars fans happy to see the kind of progress they’ve seen on both sides of the ball under Doug Pederson’s leadership.

Joey Porter Jr. is the type of player the Jags could take that would add to an already improving defense. Corner might already be Jacksonville’s top defensive need, but it’s also adding a player known for his aggression, athleticism, and, most importantly, progression year over year into an ideal scenario to find early success.

20) Philadelphia Eagles (Trade From TB): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

After netting what was likely a sizable haul from a blockbuster Ravens trade up, I could see the Eagles looking to jump a couple of needy teams to grab one of the few remaining top-tier corners in a strong class.

All eyes will be on Christian Gonzalez during the NFL Combine. Not because there are too many concerns about his athletic ability, but because there’s almost no questions about his play on the field or ability to be deployed as a defender.

Over the last two seasons as a full-time starter, Gonzalez has had four interceptions, 12 passes defensed, six sacks, along with 77 tackles, making him one of the most productive corners in the 2023 class.

21) New England Patriots: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

I think the Patriots’ secondary needs just as much work as their linebacking group. Cam Smith is a chirpy SEC corner with good size and a promising athletic profile. Listed at 6’0″ and 188 pounds, Smith has a prototypical NFL build and is expected to have relatively long arms to go along with it.

With those boxes checked, it’s just a matter of technique and aggression. Both are probably positives, though I think Smith’s aggressiveness can get the better of him at times.

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

Trenton Simpson is the type of linebacker that has been prized lately. Our own Ian Cummings once claimed that you have to play “Where’s Waldo?” every play just to see where he’s lining up before the snap. This kind of defensive versatility would give the Giants an edge to take advantage of their already pretty disruptive defensive line.

23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Trade From PHI): O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

The third team to hold this pick since this draft commenced, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t seem as strong as their division-leading position would suggest. That doesn’t mean they’re bad, only that they’re vulnerable to regression and have to be careful not to let their guard down. The good news is that tactics probably don’t change much given their current needs, anyway, so they can still build through the trenches.

O’Cyrus Torrence is the top interior offensive lineman in this class right now, and rightly so. His blend of physicality and athletic ability has led to him being one of the most promising blockers in the class. While no guard is guaranteed a first-round selection (positional value being what it is), Torrence is as close to that level as you can get on the interior.

24) Los Angeles Chargers: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

If you need a guy who can get his hands on a lot of footballs, Clark Phillips III is probably one of your guys. Phillips has either intercepted or batted away 30 passes in the last three seasons, and he ran four of those picks back for touchdowns.

That level of production is no joke. If the Chargers can get over his lack of size, or if Phillips tests well enough to make that size moot, he’d make a valuable addition to that defense in the AFC West.

25) Cincinnati Bengals: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

Cincinnati’s needs are few, making any pick for them riches on riches. If Isaiah Foskey has a strong Combine, it’s going to be difficult to justify him falling as far as the end of the first round.

Players with great athletic profiles and back-to-back double-digit sack seasons for a top-tier college program don’t usually last very long. Foskey’s production comes in a number of different ways, as well, so this is no one trick pony the Bengals would be picking up.

26) Minnesota Vikings: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

For a team many like to think are pretenders, the Minnesota Vikings just keep on winning football games. It’s hard to really put a pin in a position they need help in the most, but with Jaxon Smith-Njigba still available this late and with Rashee Rice and Cedric Tillman not far behind, it’s tough to imagine they wouldn’t just make Justin Jefferson’s job a lot easier.

Some question Smith-Njigba’s athletic prowess, but his hands and route running are top notch. Sure, it might not be because he’s faster than everybody, but Smith-Njigba does seem to get open a whole lot and doesn’t struggle to catch footballs thrown his way.

Putting him on a squad with Jefferson would be a little ironic, as he wasn’t really ever the WR1 on his OSU squads, but it’d be tough to defend.

27) Dallas Cowboys: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Emmanuel Forbes is a lengthy, athletic corner who recently claimed the NCAA record for career pick-sixes. He has the size and athletic tools to be a dangerous NFL defender, and putting him across from Trevon Diggs would make the Dallas Cowboys an even more immediate threat to the Eagles’ top spot in the NFC East.

28) Las Vegas Raiders (Trade From DEN): Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M

The Las Vegas Raiders are no strangers to making multiple picks in Round 1. Their recent record in that regard has been less than stellar, but you shouldn’t quit on something just because the last guy didn’t know what he was doing.

Having already taken a swing on a quarterback in this class, the Raiders trade back into the first round to try to find a new leader on defense.

Most safeties that succeed in the NFL have multiple jobs these days, and Antonio Johnson would be no different. Already adept at playing deep, Johnson is also a good slot defender, which would allow him to both survey the field and play physical up close. This allows the Raiders to take advantage of his speed and physicality to improve their defense.

29) Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I still feel like the Buffalo Bills have so few holes that they have the luxury of making a solid strength an indomitable one and not worry about the positional value discussion at all.

Bijan Robinson has been one of the best running back prospects we’ve seen in recent years, and while we see stuff like that every year and imagine how much hyperbole it is — “best in years, but a second-round pick?” — it fits this time.

MORE: Top RBs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Robinson has great size, a strong, explosive athletic profile, and the kind of technique and toughness to take an already dangerous Bills offense to a completely different level in 2023.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

The Chiefs are tough to buy for. But you can’t really go wrong with trying to find a defensive player who can help keep points off the board so your top-tier QB can instead put points on it. When every pick can seem like a luxury pick, it’s really about finding the best fit.

He may not be the sack artist some of the other pass rushers in this class are, but BJ Ojulari is not short on traits at all, which is why he’s still a probable first-round pick.

A combination of athletic traits (he’s already put up a 42” vertical, 99th percentile for a DE), as well as the ability to deploy pretty much anywhere you need a rocket on the defensive line, makes him a frightful player to game plan for.

31) Philadelphia Eagles: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

With many ways to pick for a team currently leading the NFL, Philadelphia can go several ways with this pick. It’s unlikely to be a trade down since there’s no QB worth jumping up for to get that fifth-year option, but the Eagles are similar to the Bills and Chiefs in that they have very few needs to pound the table for.

In our last mock, we took Gervon Dexter for Philadelphia, and I stand by that once again here. Pairing a defensive tackle this big, who is as good as he is at using his size to create leverage and basically sap any power his blockers have, is a massive advantage and a scary one when paired with someone like Jordan Davis alongside him. I’d watch the Eagles every week just to see this kind of show.

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