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2023 NFL mock draft: Round 1 outlook after Bears, Panthers trade

The Carolina Panthers made one of the boldest moves of the offseason by acquiring the first pick from the Chicago Bears. Needless to say, the first blockbuster trade has a huge impact on our latest 2023 NFL mock draft.

It’s a deal that essentially guarantees quarterbacks will be the first two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Once the Panthers and Houston Texans secure their faces of the franchise, everything gets interesting after that with the third overall pick.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

While we’ll certainly see more trades this offseason and during the 2023 NFL Draft, our focus in this Round 1 projection will be on the first 31 picks using the current draft order. Stay tuned for mocked trades in our updated version on Sunday.

Let’s dive into Sportsnaut’s latest 2023 NFL mock draft with the Pro Football Focus simulator, with Matt Johnson covering the first 16 picks and Andrew Buller-Russ on picks 17-31.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors

2023 NFL mock draft: Carolina Panthers land franchise QB

1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Kansas State at Alabama
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina just paid a historic price to acquire the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. For now, the front office will downplay the suggestion that they know which quarterback they want. Carolina knows exactly who it wants and that’s Bryce Young. He is the best passer available and it’s hard to think of a better fit for Frank Reich and Co. – MJ

Related: Carolina Panthers mock draft 2023

2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While Anthony Richardson proved he is the most athletic quarterback at the NFL Combine, C.J. Stroud threw the football better than anyone. In one of the best combine passing performances in years, Stroud demonstrated why he is a high-end prospect. The Houston Texans will need to put great weapons around him, but this is the quarterback you want in Bobby Slowik’s system. – MJ

Related: 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings

3. Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Texas Christian at Georgia
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter is the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft, someone teams would even consider trading up to the No. 1 pick to land. Based on the early reporting following his arrest, he’ll still likely be a top-five pick. Making it to No. 3 in our 2023 NFL mock draft, the Arizona Cardinals land a generational talent inside who will be the disruptor Jonathan Gannon needs in the trenches. – MJ

Related: NFL teams weigh in on Jalen Carter’s draft stock after arrest

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts should certainly prefer to land Stroud or Young, but that’s highly improbable with the Texans and Panthers now in front of them. So, the Colts roll the dice on the quarterback with the highest upside in the 2023 NFL Draft. Anthony Richardson won’t be ready to start early in his rookie season, but the mind can only imagine what Shane Steichen could do with a player who is even more physically gifted than Jalen Hurts. – MJ

Related: Anthony Richardson draft profile, scouting report

5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

This is a dream scenario for the Seattle Seahawks. Will Anderson Jr. was the most dominant pass rusher in college football over the last two seasons. He racked up 207 pressures in three seasons at Alabama (PFF). Anderson solves the Seahawks’ pass-rushing issues and his presence would make life even easier for a great cornerback tandem.  – MJ

6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions might consider a quarterback to develop here, but the opportunity to land Tyree Wilson should prove too much to pass up. Some within the NFL believe he might be a better pass rusher than Anderson Jr. and it’s easy to understand why when you see his length and athleticism. On the opposite side of Aidan Hutchinson, this could be a dominant pass-rushing duo for years to come. – MJ

Related: Top NFL free agents 2023

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders’ plan at quarterback is simple. Josh McDaniels will find a reliable veteran he trusts – Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett – and use that former New England Patriots signal-caller to simply execute his offense. In the background, Will Levis will spend a year going through McDaniels’ quarterback boot camp before he takes over as the starter in 2024. – MJ

Related: Las Vegas Raiders free-agent targets

8. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not out of the question that the Atlanta Falcons could package the 8th overall pick and a 2014 first-round selection to land Lamar Jackson. For now, the franchise addresses its secondary with arguably the best cornerback in the draft class. Christian Gonzalez’s athleticism, length and demeanor will pair nicely working opposite of A.J. Terrell. – MJ

Related: NFL defense rankings

9. Chicago Bears: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

NCAA Football: Illinois at Minnesota
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears landed a No. 1 receiver for Justin Fields and secured a haul of picks just for moving down. Now, general manager Ryan Poles gets to start working on this defense. Devon Witherspoon, who football fans in Illinois will be familiar with, is an All-American cornerback who allowed just a 35.5% completion rate (PFF) when targeted in 2022. Chicago gets its shutdown corner, the first of many moves to overhaul on the defensive side. – MJ

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles would probably love to land one of the top cornerback prospects in this spot, but both Witherspoon and Gonzalez are off the board. As a result, general manager Howie Roseman sticks to his roots by building through the trenches. Paris Johnson Jr. can play tackle or guard, providing Philadelphia with the versatility it needs in an offseason where one of the starters on the line is certainly headed for a big payday. – MJ

Related: NFL salary cap tracker

2023 NFL mock draft: Teams take advantage of falling talent

11. Tennessee Titans: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Nolan Smith delivered one of the best NFL Combine performances in recent history. As a result, a projected top-10 pick before a pec tear makes his way back near the top of the 2023 NFL Draft. First-year general manager Ran Carthon learned a lot of things from the San Francisco 49ers and the importance of dominant edge rushers had to be one of them. – MJ

12. Houston Texans (via CLE): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

As mentioned above, the Texans need to surround Stroud with high-end weapons. There’s a temptation to pair Stroud with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but the playmaking ability offered by Quentin Johnston is too hard to pass up. Whether it’s deep routes or short throws that Johnston’s YAC ability turns into big plays, he can thrive in Houston. – MJ

13. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

No matter who the New York Jets quarterback is in 2023, the front office must take the final step to create a great supporting cast around them. While there’s plenty of debate over whether Peter Skoronski is a guard or tackle, there’s no denying he is an excellent blocker who can start immediately and fill the final void on the Jets’ offensive line. – MJ

Related: NFL stadium rankings 2023

14. New England Patriots: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

The New England Patriots received outstanding production from Matthew Judon in 2023, but he’ll be 31 this upcoming season and there are no guarantees he sticks on the roster through 2024. Besides, great defenses have at least a trio of versatile and explosive edge rushers. Lukas Van Ness would be the perfect third rusher in New England and he could blossom into so much more. – MJ

15. Green Bay Packers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Green Bay Packers could go a variety of directions here, including receiver Jaxon Smith-Njiogba, tight end Michael Mayer or safety Brian Branch. Ultimately, the Packers select Broderick Jones. With David Bakhtiari likely in his final year, Jones would be the future at left tackle and he can provide outstanding depth to the offensive line in 2023. – MJ

Related: 2023 NFL Draft tight end rankings

16. Washington Commanders: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

If the Washington Commanders’ offense is going to work with Sam Howell, they need a star at running back. Quite simply, Brian Robinson Jr (3.9 ypc) and Antonio Gibson aren’t anything close to that. Bijan Robinson is a three-down weapon that many in the NFL view as an elite talent. Eric Bieniemy can easily build his offense around Robinson. – MJ

Related: 2023 NFL Draft RB rankings

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt

For the second year in a row, the Steelers find themselves plucking a local Pitt Panthers product in the first round. While Calijah Kancey may not have as big of an impact as Kenny Pickett simply due to playing defensive tackle instead of quarterback, the type of nightmares he can cause can be just as troubling. Fresh off setting a new combine 40-yard dash record for DTs, Kancey’s pass-rush potential is tantalizing. – ABR

Related: Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly interested in signing All-Pro defender this offseason

18. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Aidan Hutchinson can be a game-wrecker, but he needs a partner in crime. Clemson’s Bryan Bresee may just be the solution who can play anywhere on the defensive line. His pass-rush ability should immediately translate to NFL production, and if he can continue refining his run-stopping technique, the Lions could have a special player on their hands. – ABR

Related: Detroit Lions mock draft 2023: Dan Campbell’s squad gets a defense

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Upon first glance, the Buccaneers really don’t need another playmaking receiver, but Mike Evans is heading into a contract year, and Chris Godwin’s expires in 2024. The opportunity to add a shifty weapon like Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba doesn’t come around often, and the fact that he could still be available at 19 seems like an opportunity too good to pass up, despite overlooking other needs. – ABR

Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers expected to pursue veteran QB: 4 options in free agency

20. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

We already addressed the pass rush with the fifth pick, now it’s time to continue improving the secondary. Alabama’s Brian Branch can help step into a leadership role in the back end, where he’s become quite comfortable covering the slot. But Branch is also a sound tackler with a true nose for the football. He’d be a Day 1 starter in Seattle. – ABR

Related: Seattle Seahawks free agent targets who can help the team win in 2023

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Many would like a receiver here if it makes sense. But how about the next best thing, adding a pass-catching tight end? If so, Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer is certainly the cream of the crop. Mayer isn’t just a pass-catcher, he can also move defenders as a blocker, creating holes for Austin Ekeler for years to come. – ABR

Related: 5 young NFL QBs destined to win the Super Bowl

22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

To no surprise, a year after trading Marquise Brown, one of the Ravens’ biggest needs is at receiver. There are several directions the Ravens could go, but adding a dynamic athlete like Zay Flowers is just what this offense needs to take the next step. Flowers can do it all, from making defenders miss in the open field, leading to long gains, or getting behind the defense, accomplishing the same goal. – ABR

Related: Baltimore Ravens free agent targets who can help the team win in 2023

23. Minnesota Vikings: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith get their jobs done, but they need more help in Minnesota. It would be tough to keep Myles Murphy off the field as his pass-rush ability is already impressive, but he needs to become more consistent. Perhaps starting out as a sub-package rusher while he continues to improve would be best until Murphy has proven too good to take off the field. – ABR

Related: Minnesota Vikings mock draft 2023: Rebuilding the Brian Flores-led defense

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

With the Jaguars set to move on from Shaquill Griffin, their need at cornerback continues to grow. Porter Jr. is the type of physical boundary corner who takes advantage of his lengthy 6-foot-2 frame to break up passes, having done so 11 times in his final season in college. Just like his dad, he’s also not one to shy away from contact. He’d be a great fit in Duval. – ABR

Related: Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2024 winner

25. New York Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

His stock may have slipped a bit after running a 4.55 40 time, but what Jordan Addison has put on tape should be enough to land him in the first round still. In this case, it’s the G-Men who are looking to provide Daniel Jones with more weapons. Addison routinely proved he could separate and is extremely smooth when running routes at Pitt and USC, now, he’ll look to do the same in the pros. – ABR

Related: 4 predictions for the New York Giants this offseason

26. Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Kinkaid, TE, Utah

Possibly set to lose Dalton Schultz to free agency, the Cowboys could look to replace him with one of the top pass-catching tight ends in this year’s draft class. Kinkaid is extremely polished as a receiver, and he’s an underrated blocker. At 6-foot-4, 246 pounds, you’d like him to be a bit bigger, but Kinkaid’s production speaks for itself. – ABR

Related: Super Bowl odds: Every team’s championship futures for 2023 NFL season

27. Buffalo Bills: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

On paper, Deonte Banks has everything NFL scouts seek in a starting corner. He’s 6 feet tall, 197 pounds, and ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Banks also posted an incredible 42″ vertical leap, showing he’s plenty explosive. Yet, Banks still needs to improve his awareness when it comes to playing the ball. Still, his platform gives teams plenty to be excited about. – ABR

Related: NFL MVP odds 2023-24: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow lead the pack

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Still needing to improve in the trenches, don’t be surprised if the Bengals select another offensive tackle in the first round. If so, Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison could be intriguing for the pass-heavy Cincinnati offense. Likely a Day 1 starter, Harrison’s best skillset is as a pass protector, allowing just one sack in his final season at OU. – ABR

Related: NFL teams that have never won a Super Bowl

29. New Orleans Saints: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

We don’t want to think about it either, but Cameron Jordan can’t play for the Saints forever. Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner haven’t developed into ideal long-term replacements or pass-rush partners. But Army’s Andre Carter is a bit of a different breed. At 6-foot-7, he’s an intimidating presence who also produced a total of 20 sacks in his college career. He’s the perfect high-upside player to take a chance on here. – ABR

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M

With Chauncey Gardner-Johnson set for free agency, along with several other key defenders, the Eagles will likely take to the draft to fill some of these needs. One versatile player GM Howie Roseman could have his eye on is Antonio Johnson. In addition to playing safety, Johnson is also adept at covering the slot, but he’s more of a box safety who’s best running downhill helping defend the ground game. – ABR

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Patrick Mahomes shows why he’s No. 1

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State

A team can never have too many pass rushers, especially when a freak like Will McDonald is available. McDonald racked up a whopping 28 sacks in college, using his excellent speed rush to get to quarterbacks. After winning the Super Bowl, the Chiefs can afford to take the best pick available route, and that may very well be McDonald. – ABR

Related: Top 20 NFL head coaches of all time

The Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick due to tampering violations.

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