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2023 NFL mock draft: Colts, Raiders land QBs in Round 1 projection before Week 18

The best way for football teams to improve for the next season comes via the 2023 NFL draft. As we enter the final week of the regular season, several teams have clinched a playoff berth, and many others are still alive in the race to the postseason. Yet, many others are not, and their fanbases are scrounging for every 2023 NFL mock draft they can find.

With the 2023 NFL Draft order becoming more clear with each passing week, we now have a much better idea of the range each team will be picking in during the first round.

As usual, there are several top NFL draft prospects that are generating plenty of interest ahead of the upcoming player selection process, including quarterbacks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, but not everyone needs a new quarterback. Yet, with so many blue-chip prospects, whether it’s more offensive weapons or a trench warrior who can wreck a game, NFL teams will have plenty of options to choose from.

Without further ado, here is our latest 2023 NFL mock draft ahead of Week 18.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings

1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

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If the Houston Texans do ultimately land the top pick, how could they look past Alabama’s Bryce Young? Widely touted as the top overall pick helps, but this is the perfect fit for the Texans, who are desperate to land a potential franchise quarterback. Even without superb pass-catching options, we’ve seen Young routinely make something out of nothing, which he may have to do a lot for a bad Houston franchise. – ABR

Related: Best Bryce Young landing spots

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

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The player with the most sacks on the Chicago Bears’ defense is rookie safety Jaquan Brisker, with four. That’s not normal. A case could be made for defensive tackle Jalen Carter here, but given the chance to select a prominent edge rusher or an interior disruptor, most NFL general managers would pick the sack artist. Racking up 34.5 sacks across three seasons, it’s safe to say Will Anderson Jr. is the best pass-rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft class. – ABR

Related: NFL exec likes C.J. Stroud more than Justin Fields, views him as third QB in 2023

3Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

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We just made the case for why Carter shouldn’t be taken at No. 2, but we also can’t deny he’s among the best, most NFL-ready prospects in this talent pool. Carter was a man among boys in college, where his brute strength was regularly on full display. If Anderson is off the board, the Seattle Seahawks will run to the podium to turn in Carter’s name, bolstering their interior defensive line. – ABR

4. Arizona Cardinals: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

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With J.J. Watt announcing his retirement, it creates a massive hole in the already porous Arizona Cardinals defense. He’s their leading sack artist, and the Cards don’t have a ready-made replacement (who does?) for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Clemson’s Myles Murphy can come in right away and provide another edge-rushing threat who could flirt with double-digit sacks once he adjusts. He’s an absolute freak who can reportedly run in the 4.5s and also holds up extremely well as a run-stopper. He’d be a perfect replacement for Watt. – ABR

Related: Best Arizona Cardinals coaching candidates to replace Kliff Kingsbury in 2023

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

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If Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud slips to the Indianapolis Colts, they will feel as though they’ve won the lottery. With a quarterback room that’s in constant turnover, the Colts can finally build a better future by investing their time toward developing one of the most pro-ready QBs in the class. The best part is that he won’t require a drastic alteration to any NFL offense, as he does a large majority of his work in the pocket. – ABR

Related: 5 best Indianapolis Colts coaching candidates to replace Frank Reich

6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

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Many were expecting the Detroit Lions to target a quarterback, but Jared Goff‘s recent play makes the former No. 1 pick tough to replace. The Lions are already on the cusp of playoff contention with a defense that allows the fourth-most points in football. Imagine what they could do with a unit that ranks in the top half. Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston give Dan Campbell a potent pass rush, but the defensive interior is still in rough shape. Clemson’s Bryan Bresee could shore that up in a hurry, bringing his versatility to the trenches. – ABR

Related: 3 quick Detroit Lions fixes to make team a legit NFL Playoff contender

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

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Another prime landing spot for one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class, Will Levis is impressing many NFL evaluators, even if he didn’t exactly dominate at Kentucky. Levis’s physical tools are eye-popping, with his cannon arm being the most impressive tool in his bag. He’s also an above-average athlete, which has even led to some dropping Josh Allen’s name as a mild comparison. Josh McDaniels would be thrilled to have a top prospect he can mold into a future star. – ABR

Related: 4 Las Vegas Raiders QB options to replace Derek Carr

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

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Simply put, players like Tyree Wilson don’t grow on trees. How many pass rushers do you know of who have a seven-foot wingspan? Truly an athletic freak, Wilson really took off the past two seasons, accruing at least 13.5 TFLs and seven sacks each year. With DT Grady Jarrett performing as the team’s leading sack artist with six QB takedowns, Wilson can provide another threat, only rushing off the edge instead. – ABR

Related: NFL teams that have never won a Super Bowl

9. Carolina Panthers: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

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Yeah, the Carolina Panthers selected Matt Corral in last year’s draft, in the third round, but with how difficult it’s been to identify the next franchise QB in Charlotte, the temptation of Anthony Richardson may be too strong to resist. In a similar mold as former NFL MVP fan-favorite Cam Newton, Richardson is raw as a passer, but he has a rocket for an arm and plenty of mobility plus strength to be a dangerous threat at the next level. – ABR

Related: NFL coaching candidates: Best head coach, coordinator and GM candidates in 2023

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

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When you’re the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the NFL’s best record, plus a young QB still on his rookie contract, there aren’t many glaring needs. But GM Howie Roseman could use his first of two first-round picks to look to the future, selecting Miles Sanders’ replacement, who’s set for free agency this offseason. Bijan Robinson is the total package, with speed, power, and capable hands out of the backfield. He’s a three-down back who could quickly be a Pro Bowl player. – ABR

Related: NFL Playoff scenarios: A full look at where things stand in Week 17

11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, LT, Nebraska

It would be nothing short of a miracle if Peter Skoronski, the draft’s best offensive lineman, was still on the board by the time the Tennessee Titans make their selection. He’d be an instant day-one bookend, protecting Malik Willis‘ blindside (or whoever’s under center in 2023). Skoronski is well-regarded as the top pass protector in the draft class and can be a fixture for the next decade-plus. – ABR

Related: 4 Tennessee Titans quarterback options for 2023

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

We already selected Bryce Young with Houston’s first pick, but the Heisman winner will need some top targets to throw to. Enter TCU’s Quentin Johnston, who’s a threat to score each time he touches the ball. The 6-foot-4 receiver is a matchup nightmare who can win 50-50 balls, gain YAC, and immediately become a dangerous threat as an outside option in Houston. – ABR

Related: 4 best Houston Texans coaching candidates to replace Lovie Smith

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

While the New York Jets still don’t have a franchise QB, one can never go wrong by continuing to build in the trenches. Paris Johnson Jr. is an ideal fit, as the Jets don’t seem interested in playing Mekhi Becton at left tackle anymore, but Johnson can play either guard or tackle, providing more positional versatility in the Big Apple. – ABR

Related: 3 ideal Zach Wilson trade scenarios from the New York Jets

14. Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

If he’s still here, the Washington Commanders would be foolish to look past Kelee Ringo and his large 6-foot-2 frame, providing ideal size for a boundary cornerback. He also happens to be the best at his position among draft-eligible players. He’s a long, physical who comes in as battle-tested as could be, playing for a top-notch Georgia defense. – ABR

Related: Washington Commanders’ Ron Rivera with shocking admission after latest loss

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones, LT, Georgia

Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, and George Pickens form a triple threat at the offensive skill positions, but none of them will truly thrive without even a mediocre offensive line providing protection and opening up lanes. That’s where Georgia’s Broderick Jones can help, and he fits the mold of a tough Pittsburgh Steelers team who has a rich history of pounding the rock with success. – ABR

Related: NFL world reacts to Kenny Pickett going full hero mode for the Pittsburgh Steelers

16. Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Green Bay Packers have their 1-2 receiver duo with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, but more is needed. Robert Tonyan used to be a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers, but that’s no longer the case. While Michael Mayer might not be an elite athlete like the All-Pro tight ends of today, the stylistic comparisons to Jason Witten hint at the impact he would have in Green Bay. – MJ

Related: 2023 NFL defense rankings: Week 18 NFL outlook

17. Detroit Lions: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

While the Lions’ defense has shown impressive strides this season, there are still weaknesses in the secondary. Cam Smith brings a physical style that Dan Campbell will love and Smith’s football IQ and athleticism can make him a starter in Week 1. – MJ

Related: NFL Power Rankings Week 18: Green Bay Packers climb, New York Jets crash

18. Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Before suffering a torn pectoral muscle, Nolan Smith projected as a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’ll be healthy for the regular season, providing the Seattle Seahawks with a premium edge rusher who can become one of the best pass rushers in the NFC West. – MJ

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Tom Brady comes back to life with 400-yard effort in Week 17

19. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Jacksonville Jaguars have built an offense that can carry them for years, now it’s time to strengthen the defense. Christian Gonzalez offers the prototypical frame and athleticism for a coaching staff to build from. After what he showed in 2022 at Oregon, Gonzalez’s upside is easily a No. 1 cornerback for a perennial playoff contender. – MJ

Related: 3 reasons why we want the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the NFL Playoffs

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Injuries have certainly played a role in the decline of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense this season. Once an area of strength, Tampa Bay’s pass rush could really stand to improve. Verse, who recorded 17 tackles for loss in 12 games this season, is quick off the snap with power and athleticism to cause fits for offensive tackles. – MJ

Related: Tom Brady has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking dangerous

21. New England Patriots: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Spending a top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on a receiver would be very unlike Bill Belichick. However, Robert Kraft’s anger about the play-calling and the impact that the absence of bonafide offensive weapons took a great toll on the Patriots’ offense in 2022. Jordan Addison excelled at creating separation in college and the ability to make open windows will greatly benefit Mac Jones.

22. New York Giants: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Viewed as a potential elite talent in the 2023 NFL Draft before the season, injuries prevented Jaxon Smith-Njigba from proving himself in 2022. With that said, the hands, route-running ability and playmaking that Smith-Njigba showed in 2021 would make him New York’s No. 1 receiver. – MJ

Related: Daniel Jones’ performance will force the Giants to pay him big money

23. Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Zay Flowers, one of the fastest players in the 2023 NFL Draft, might seem like a luxury pick for the Los Angeles Chargers. However, Keenan Allen is on the wrong side of 30 with a history of soft-tissue injuries. Flowers would be an explosive weapon as the No. 3 receiver in Los Angeles before eventually becoming a go-to target for Justin Herbert in the years to come. — MJ

Related: Top-selling NFL jerseys 2023

24. Baltimore Ravens: Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

Staring down the possibility of Marcus Peters testing the open market, the Baltimore Ravens will be in the market for a cornerback. Joey Porter Jr. brings the tenacity and mindset the Ravens’ coaching staff will love and his skills make him the perfect No. 2 corner. – MJ

Related: NFL insider suggests Lamar Jackson trade increasingly possible in 2023

25. Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

La’el Collins will be recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, with David Bakhtiari the perfect example of how returns the next season are never guaranteed. Meanwhile, Jonah Williams hasn’t played especially well this season. Anton Harrison comes from a Power 5 program, which is important to Cincinnati, plus he thrived in pass protection last year at Oklahoma.

Related: Making the case for Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow as NFL MVP

26. Minnesota Vikings: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

Cornerback is the biggest weakness on the Minnesota Vikings roster as we head into the 2023 NFL Draft. Clark Phillips showcased at Utah that he can play either inside or on the boundary, a versatility that is needed in Minnesota and will aid his early NFL transition. – MJ

Related: 2022 NFL offense rankings: Lions rise after a 41-point romp in Week 17

27. Dallas Cowboys: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

Injuries late in the season proved how shallow the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary is. Playing the ‘STAR” position at Alabama, Brian Branch proved quite comfortable dropping back in coverage as a nickel corner and defending against the run. He’s an ideal do-it-all defensive back who would fit nicely in Dallas. – MJ

Related: Jerry Jones reportedly eyeing new Dallas Cowboys head coach in 2023

28. Denver Broncos (via SF): O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

The Denver Broncos are going to devote plenty of resources toward helping this offense. One crucial move will be enhancing the offensive line. O’Cyrus Torrence, the top guard in the 2023 NFL Draft, can start immediately at either guard spot and provide stable play as a rookie. – MJ

29. Buffalo Bills: Darnell Washingon, TE, Georgia

Once the top cornerbacks and offensive tackles came off the board in our 2023 NFL mock draft, the focus shifts to a more creative approach. Think about Darnell Washington as a supercharged Marcedes Lewis, someone who can block like an offensive tackle and is also a quality pass-catcher. Both of those skills would fit nicely in Buffalo and help Josh Allen. – MJ

Related: Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2023 winner

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Off the radar a year before the 2023 NFL Draft, Jalin Hyatt took the college football world by storm this past season. He is exceptional on vertical routes, using his speed to get past just about every cornerback he faced in the SEC. As the Kansas City Chiefs keep tweaking their receiving corps, Hyatt could be a perfect long-term addition. – MJ

Related: NFL MVP odds 2022-23

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Trenton Simpson is a luxury pick for the Philadelphia Eagles to close out our 2023 NFL mock draft. Viewed as a top-25 talent, Simpson is a Swiss Army knife who can be deployed as a blitzer, work sideline-to-sideline and shows a natural ease when dropping back into coverage. – MJ

Related: Super Bowl odds: Every team’s championship futures for 2022-23 NFL season

Miami Dolphins were stripped of their 2023 first-round pick (22nd overall) for tampering violations
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