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2023 NFL mock draft: Lions trade up for QB, Jalen Carter finds a perfect home

For every team that didn’t meet expectations a season ago, they now turn to the 2023 NFL Draft for a fresh injection of talent to the roster. While organizations can fill smaller, more immediately pressing needs through free agency, the draft offers a chance to add an impact player at a fraction of the cost.

All 32 NFL franchises will admit their ideal plan to build their roster is through the draft, with the hopes of finding several long-term contributors throughout the three-day player selection process that runs from April 27-29.

Obviously, some teams are in a stronger position to improve than others, with the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles all boasting two first-round picks. While others, such as the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and San Francisco 49ers, don’t have a pick until Day 2, thanks to previous trade agreements.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

Let’s dive into our latest 2023 NFL mock draft, with projections for the first three rounds.

NFL mock draft 2023: Texans, Colts, Panthers land QBs

1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Carolina Panthers have created the ideal environment for a rookie quarterback. Not only will the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft be supported by an emerging offensive line, he’ll also have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL to learn from, a top defense and sufficient weapons around him. C.J. Stroud might not offer the highest ceiling, but he can win Offensive Rookie of the Year in Carolina and be a top-12 quarterback who helps Carolina win multiple NFC South titles. — Matt J

Related: Carolina Panthers mock draft 2023

2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News
Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Houston Texans have no reason to trade up for the first pick, with Stroud or Bryce Young providing a quality franchise-caliber quarterback. This might be Houston’s dream scenario. As Nick Saban said, Young is one of the smartest players in all of football and the combination of leadership, quick processing ability and accuracy represents everything this franchise needs. Young is an ideal fit for Bobby Slowik’s offense and the Texans already have a strong offensive line in place to help protect Young. — Matt J

Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors

3. Detroit Lions*: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • TRADE: Detroit Lions trade 6th, 48th overall picks and 2024 3rd (MIN) to Arizona Cardinals for the 3rd and 105th overall picks

The Detroit Lions don’t have to use their wealth of assets to move up for a quarterback, but it’s the smart play. Detroit is arguably the best team in the NFC North, meaning it won’t even be within trade-up range for a top quarterback in 2024. That’s why the Lions should go all-in for Anthony Richardson right now. He offers the highest upside of any player in the 2023 NFL Draft and would get to sit behind Jared Goff for a year. When he’s ready in 2024, Richardsons steps into an offense built to be one of the best in football and he will amplify everything around him. — Matt J

4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Syndication: The Courier-Journal
Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay reportedly has a notable preference at quarterback and this selection in our 2023 NFL mock draft follows the buzz around the league. Will Levis isn’t a top-10 prospect on our board, but he checks off all the boxes for the Colts’ scouting department. Levis might be better off sitting behind Gardner Minshew for a few games in 2023, but we’d expect him to ultimately earn the starting job in training camp. — Matt J

Related: Indianapolis Colts mock draft 2023

5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

Syndication: Online Athens
Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

On talent alone, Jalen Carter deserves to be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, a series of off-field issues and a concerning effort at Georgia’s Pro Day raised red flags. The Seattle Seahawks aren’t afraid of risk. Carter is exactly what they are missing on the defensive line and he’ll be one of the biggest reasons why Seattle’s defense would turn around in 2023. — Matt J

6. Arizona Cardinals*: Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Alabama
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
  • TRADE: Arizona Cardinals trade the 3rd and 105th overall picks to the Detroit Lions for the 6th, 48th overall picks and a 2024 3rd (MIN)

It’s the dream scenario for the Arizona Cardinals, trading down and still landing a blue-chip talent. Even if you believe Will Anderson Jr. is at his ceiling physically, he still projects as an impact pass rusher who could average 10-12 sacks per season during his peak years. Arizona is desperate for disruptors on its defense and Anderson Jr. is perfect for Jonathan Gannon. — Matt J

Related: Arizona Cardinals mock draft 2023

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders lose out on the top quarterbacks in our latest 2023 NFL mock draft, pushing them to improve their defense. Christian Gonzalez is already a No. 1 cornerback, offering athleticism and size that you only find in the greats at his potion. While failing to land a quarterback is a down moment for Las Vegas, adding a talent like Gonzalez fills a need. — Matt J

Related: Las Vegas Raiders draft needs 2023

8. Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have totaled just 190 pressures and 39 sacks over the last two seasons, by far the lowest totals in the NFL. While Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson might not have the best technique, the length and athleticism put him in rare company. Wilson can immediately make a difference coming off the edge for a Falcons’ defense that desperately needs him. — Matt J

Related: Atlanta Falcons mock draft 2023

9. Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears know Peter Skoronski better than just about any NFL team. A local product who dominated at Northwestern, it really shouldn’t matter if he’s an offensive tackle or left guard. Chicago needs a great offensive lineman and Skoronski is arguably the best in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Put him anywhere and Justin Fields will feel a lot safer in the pocket. — Matt J

10. Houston Texans*: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • TRADE: Houston Texans trade 12th, 104th and 188th overall picks to Philadelphia Eagles for 10th overall selection

The Houston Texans could take the patient approach and hope the Tennessee Titans don’t take a wide receiver, but those risks are rarely worth it. Packaging two mid-round picks allows Houston to jump over its divisional foe, landing a No. 1 receiver for Young. Building a connection between Young and Jaxon Smith-Njigba should set up an excellent tandem in the NFL for years to come. — Matt J

Related: Jaxon Smith-Njigba scouting report

2023 NFL mock draft: Eagles, Steelers, Patriots load up

11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr, OT, Ohio State

If the Tennessee Titans are unable to move up for their quarterback of the future, they need to create a better supporting cast for the next face of the franchise. Paris Johnson Jr. isn’t as polished as Skoronski, but he offers a far higher upside as a pass-blocking left tackle. He will just be the first move toward overhauling this offense in the years ahead. — Matt J

Related: Tennessee Titans mock draft 2023

12. Philadelphia Eagles*: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

  • TRADE: Philadelphia Eagles trade 10th pick to Houston Texans for 12th, 104th and 188th picks in 2023 NFL Draft

Howie Roseman loves many things about the NFL Draft, including trades and finding gems on Day 3. Currently, the Philadelphia Eagles don’t have picks in Rounds 4-6. By moving down two slots, without losing any targets in the process, Roseman gets some early picks on Day 3. After that, he can grab a player to bolster the trenches. Lukas Van Ness will be an excellent situational pass rusher as a rookie and eventually blossom into a high-end starter. — Matt J

13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

With the New York Jets hanging on to the 13th pick and still expected to land Aaron Rodgers, they can now address a major need. Broderick Jones can spend the 2023 season at right tackle, providing Rodgers with the offensive line he needs to succeed. With time, Jones could become the next Andrew Thomas. — Matt J

Related: 2023 NFL power rankings

14. New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Bill Belichick should be elated if this 2023 NFL mock draft scenario comes to fruition. While Devon Witherspoon doesn’t offer the prototypical height (5-foot-11), he is one of the most well-rounded cornerbacks in the class. Drawing some comparisons to All-Pro Jaire Alexander, Witherspoon would be the final piece to create an elite Patriots’ secondary. — Matt J

Related: New England Patriots mock draft 2023

15. Green Bay Packers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

After not drafting a wide receiver in the first round since Javon Walker, now is the perfect time for the Green Bay Packers to break the streak. Jordan Love needs all the help he can get and while the Christian Watson-Romeo Doubs duo is respectable, Green Bay needs game-changing threats. Quentin Johnston has some issues with drops, but the combination of size and speed could eventually help him become a perennial Pro Bowl selection. — Matt J

Related: Green Bay Packers mock draft 2023

16. Washington Commanders: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

The Washington Commanders have more than enough talent in their front seven to dominate defensively, but the secondary needs a lot of work. Deonte Banks is one of the most athletic players in the 2023 NFL Draft and those physical tools allow him to shadow No. 1 receivers. Add him to the Commanders’ secondary and this will be a top-10 defense in 2023. — Matt J

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The Pittsburgh Steelers have delivered a quietly efficient offense, filling holes on both sides of the ball without overspending. Next up, using the 2023 NFL Draft to create a better environment for Kenny Pickett. By adding Darnell Wright, Pittsburgh finally addresses the issue at offensive tackle that hindered this team for years. — Matt J

Related: Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft 2023

18. Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

The Detroit Lions already have a lot of what they need offensively to win the NFC North in 2023, leaving just the defense to overhaul. Calijah Kancey slides outside the top-15 picks because his size as a defensive tackle limits him to passing downs. With that said, Kancey’s explosiveness off the snap can make him a dangerous interior pass rusher early in his career. — Matt J

Related: Detroit Lions mock draft 2023

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

After seeing the top offensive tackles come off the board, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pivot to adding a dynamic pass-catching threat. Dalton Kincaid is the perfect complement to Cade Otton, too. While Otton serves as the blocker, Kincaid is the athlete put in space who makes big plays for Baker Mayfield in 2023 and eventually the next franchise quarterback in Tampa Bay. — Matt J

Related: Dalton Kincaid scouting report

20. Seattle Seahawks: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

The Seattle Seahawks are looking for a third wide receiver and Zay Flowers fits the bill. While he doesn’t offer great size (5-foot-9), Seattle just needs more dynamic receiving threats. While defenses are focused on trying to contain Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf downfield, Flowers will rack up everything underneath and deliver big plays. — Matt J

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

While the Chargers may have more pressing needs, we’re taking the best pick available approach by selecting a top-ten talent in Texas running back Bijan Robinson. He’d give the Chargers flexibility, whether it’s seeking a more immediate trade for Austin Ekeler, who’s in the final year of his contract, or if they wanted to have a two-headed monster in the backfield who’s equally as good toting the rock as he is catching passes from Justin Herbert. – Andrew Buller-Russ

22. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

If there’s still a receiver with a first-round grade on the board by the time the Ravens are on the clock, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger need for Baltimore. Whether Lamar Jackson stays or goes, the Ravens need more weapons. Jordan Addison has shown he can be successful in multiple offenses, catching passes from different QBs. He’s a polished route-runner who could immediately make an impact in Baltimore – ABR

Related: Baltimore Ravens mock draft 2023: Getting some much-needed talent on offense

23. Minnesota Vikings: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Receiver, cornerback, and defensive line. These are the most pressing needs for the Minnesota Vikings. While trading down, or possibly even selecting Hendon Hooker, could be intriguing, no one expected a blue-chip cornerback like Joey Porter Jr. to be available late in the first. Landing a potential No. 1 cornerback is too good to pass up. – ABR

Related: 3 Minnesota Vikings wide receiver targets in NFL Draft

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

Addressing a bottom-tier pass defense would be wise, yet adding to the trenches, helping free up Travon Walker could be just as important to make the Jaguars a fearful unit. Bryan Bresee had an up-and-down career with the Tigers, including tearing his ACL, but he also showed he could be a game-wrecker. If Bresee can continue developing his pass-rush arsenal, he could be a Pro Bowl talent. ABR

Related: Jacksonville Jaguars mock draft 2023: Building on last season’s momentum

25. New York Giants: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

All the top receivers are gone, the Giants could very well trade down, but they already have ten draft picks. We gave some thought to selecting guard O’Cyrus Torrence, but adding a versatile weapon like Brian Branch became too tasty to pass up. He’s likely a safety but also has tons of experience covering the slot as a cornerback. He’d be a fine replacement for Julian Love. – ABR

Related: New York Giants mock draft 2023: Bolstering the defense for a run at NFC East title

26. Dallas Cowboys: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Tight end Michael Mayer is still on the board, but the Cowboys showed they don’t place a high amount of value on tight ends, and this is a deep class. Instead, how about getting Micah Parsons a pass-rush partner in crime? Nolan Smith is akin to Parsons in that he has a smaller frame and wins with a fast first step, plus his ability to get after the QB is nearly unmatched. Parsons and Smith sprinting off the edge? Watch out. – ABR

Related: Dallas Cowboys offseason moves earn glowing praise from NFL executives

27. Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

With the top receivers and cornerbacks off the board, the Buffalo Bills can still find a Day 1 starter while improving their offense with O’Cyrus Torrence. At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, Torrence is built to play guard in the NFL. His best trait shows up in the running game, yet he also didn’t allow a single sack during his senior year. – ABR

Related: NFL executive believes Buffalo Bills will be ‘feeling a lot of heat’ in 2023

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Irv Smith Jr. was brought in as a potential short-term stopgap at tight end, but Michael Mayer could be the long-term solution who develops into one of Joe Burrow’s best friends. He’s a complete player whose best skill comes as a pass-catcher, yet he more than holds his own as a blocker too. Add Mayer to the Bengals, and they’d vie for the best skill position group in football. – ABR

Related: Cincinnati Bengals mock draft 2023: Assembling a Super Bowl champion

29. New Orleans Saints: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

The Saints have tried to find a dominant pass-rusher opposite of Cameron Jordan, but neither Marcus Davenport nor Payton Turner developed as New Orleans had hoped. They’ll swing for the fences again with Clemson’s Myles Murphy. Also inconsistent, we’ve seen Murphy show flashes of becoming an All-Pro, yet he also disappears. Hopefully he can be more reliable with better coaching. – ABR

Related: New Orleans Saints mock draft 2023: Building for the now and later

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Having already addressed edge rusher with their first selection, now we focus on life after Darius Slay and James Bradberry by adding another cornerback who could eventually develop into a starter. He’s already athletic and has a nose for the football, yet learning from two Pro Bowl vets could turn Forbes into one himself. – ABR

Related: Philadelphia Eagles targeting top 2023 NFL Draft prospect

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

At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, McDonald may be a bit small, but he understands leverage and how to get after quarterbacks. Explosive with a quick first step, McDonald’s long 35-inch arms should help him cause nightmares for opposing tackles in the NFL. – ABR


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2023 NFL mock draft: Round 2 projection

  • 32. Pittsburgh Steelers (via CHI): Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
  • 33. Houston Texans: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
  • 34. Arizona Cardinals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
  • 35. Indianapolis Colts: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
  • 36. Los Angeles Rams: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
  • 37. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern
  • 38. Las Vegas Raiders: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
  • 39. Carolina Panthers: Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC
  • 40. New Orleans Saints: Steve Avila, G, TCU
  • 41. Tennessee Titans: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
  • 42. Green Bay Packers: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
    • Projected Trade: Aaron Rodgers traded to the Jets for the 42nd pick, conditional ’24 2nd
  • 43. New York Jets: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
  • 44. Atlanta Falcons: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
  • 45. Green Bay Packers: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
  • 46. New England Patriots: Cody Mauch, T, NDSU
  • 47. Washington Commanders: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
  • 48. Arizona Cardinals (via DET)*: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (FL)
  • 49. Pittsburgh Steelers: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
  • 50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
  • 51. Miami Dolphins: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
  • 52. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State
  • 53. Chicago Bears (via BAL): Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
  • 54. Los Angeles Chargers: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
  • 55. Detroit Lions (via MIN): Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
  • 56. Jacksonville Jaguars: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
  • 57. New York Giants: Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
  • 58. Dallas Cowboys: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
  • 59. Buffalo Bills: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
  • 60. Cincinnati Bengals: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
  • 61. Chicago Bears (via SF): Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
  • 62. Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Brown, S, Illinois
  • 63. Kansas City Chiefs: Matthew Bergeron, T, Syracuse

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

NFL mock draft 2023: Round 3

  • 64. Chicago Bears: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
  • 65. Houston Texans: Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin
  • 66. Arizona Cardinals: Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
  • 67. Denver Broncos (via IND): Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
  • 68. Denver Broncos: Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
  • 69. Los Angeles Rams: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
  • 70. Las Vegas Raiders: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
  • 71. New Orleans Saints: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
  • 72, Tennessee Titans: Nick Herbig, EDGE, Wisconsin
  • 73. Houston Texans (via CLE): Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
  • 74. Cleveland Browns (via NYJ): Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
  • 75. Atlanta Falcons: Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
  • 76. New England Patriots (via CAR): Karl Brooks, EDGE, Bowling Green
  • 77. Los Angeles Rams (via NE): DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
  • 78 Green Bay Packers: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
  • 79. Indianapolis Colts (via WAS): Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
  • 80. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
  • 81. Detroit Lions: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State
  • 82. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
  • 83. Seattle Seahawks: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford
  • 84. Miami Dolphins: Chandler Zavala, G, North Carolina State
  • 85. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
  • 86. Baltimore Ravens: Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri
  • 87. Minnesota Vikings: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
  • 88. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
  • 89. New York Giants: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
  • 90. Dallas Cowboys: Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn
  • 91. Buffalo Bills: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
  • 92. Cincinnati Bengals: Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
  • 93. Carolina Panthers (via SF): Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
  • 94. Philadelphia Eagles: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
  • 95. Kansas City Chiefs: Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska
  • 96. Arizona Cardinals: Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas
  • 97. Washington Commanders: Andrew Vorhees, G, USC
  • 98. Cleveland Browns: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
  • 99. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Steen, T, Alabama
  • 100. Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State
  • 101. San Francisco 49ers: Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois
  • 102. San Francisco 49ers: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

Related: Highest paid NFL players in 2023: NFL salaries by position, highest-paid NFL stars

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