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NFL mock draft 2023: CJ Stroud, Bryce Young headline outstanding 2023 NFL Draft class

Matt Johnson
NFL mock draft 2023
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to look ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft. Following a 2022 quarterback class that lacked franchise-caliber talent, that’s not a problem with Ohio State star CJ Stroud and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young headlining Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft.

Things can obviously change in a year. Some of the projected top picks a year ago, like quarterback Sam Howell, didn’t even hear their names called until late in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, there is plenty of confidence that the 2023 talent pool is stronger than what NFL teams encountered this past draft.

It’s headlined by two outstanding, young passers who both merit consideration for the No. 1 overall pick. For those looking to potential stars on the defensive side, Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and Georgia defensive lineman are both better than their elders from the 2022 draft class.

The draft order for our 2023 NFL mock drafted factors in our NFL playoff predictions and the latest Super Bowl odds.

When is the 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27 and conclude on Saturday, April 29. It will all be held in Kansas City, Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium.

Related: Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2023 winner

Let’s dive into our 2023 NFL mock draft.

1. Atlanta Falcons: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

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The Atlanta Falcons, with the worst roster in the NFL, land the No. 1 pick in our 2023 NFL mock draft. It will mark two years since the franchise passed on quarterback Justin Fields. This time around, they land the elite passing prospect from Ohio State. The 6-foot-3 quarterback processes at a high level, showed in-season improvement as a starter and boasts an excellent arm. With the size advantage over Bryce Young and NFL-ready makeup, he’s worthy of the first pick.

2. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

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The Carolina Panthers shouldn’t be sold on any of the 2022 quarterback prospects. At 6-foot, Bryce Young’s height is a factor that works against him. NFL teams might also be concerned about how to translate his success to the NFL, given Alabama’s loaded receiving corps. With all that acknowledge, Young is still an outstanding talent. Between arm strength that is off the charts and NFL evaluators rave about his maturity, football IQ and ability to make plays on the move.

3. Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama

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Will Anderson Jr. is an elite defensive prospect. He’d have easily been the No. 1 pick in 2022. With another dominant season at Alabama, the Heisman Watch candidate might even solidify his status as the top prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. The only thing that pushes this generational talent down to No. 3 overall, where Houston would happily select him, the top two teams desperately needing quarterbacks.

4. New York Jets: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

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Georgia coach Kirby Smart raves about Jalen Carter’s ability to penetrate the backfield and his role as a disruptive force. He was the best player on Georgia’s defense in 2021 and that is saying a lot. He could also be the final piece of the New York Jets defense before it turns into an utterly dominant group.

5. Chicago Bears: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

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It’s fair to say the Chicago Bears did very little to help build a better team around Justin Fields. We’re changing that in our NFL mock draft 2023. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the best receiver in college football last year and he’ll retain the title in 2023. We wouldn’t quite put him on the Ja’Marr Chase tier, but he’s not far behind. That’s the kind of weapon Fields needs.

6. Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

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Nolan Smith, the 247 Sports’ No. 1 recruit in 2019, needed a lot of time to figure it out. It started clicking this past season, with the 6-foot-3 edge rusher recording 8 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a rotational player. He’ll be thrust into a bigger role this fall. If he takes a step forward as a pass rusher, which there is reason to believe will happen, Smith can be one of the best players in the 2023 NFL Draft. Plus, Seattle isn’t afraid of taking gambles and it needs all the edge rushers it can find.

7. Detroit Lions: Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami

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After just one quarterback came off the board in the 2022 first round, three are gone within the first 10 picks of our 2023 NFL mock draft. Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke came on later in the 2021 season, posting a 25-6 TD-INT ratio with 2,931 passing yards. He’s showing all the tools to be a first-round pick and if Miami competes for a top spot in the top-25 college football rankings this year, Van Dyke might compete for the Heisman. He’d walk into a dream situation with the Lions’ offense.

Related: NFL defense rankings – Huge shakeups for top 20 defense before training camp

8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

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The No. 1 player in 247 Sports’ 2020 recruiting class, Bryan Bresee earned Ndamukong Suh comparisons out of high school. Unfortunately, the 6-foot-5 defensive tackle missed a majority of the 2021 season with a torn ACL. If he bounces back to his dominant form, Bresee is a top-five pick. For now, he’s an outstanding building block for the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line.

9. New York Giants: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

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The New York Giants are in a similar position as the Texans, needing a top quarterback to fall. With that not happening and trades off the table in our 2023 NFL mock draft, New York lands its next No. 1 cornerback. Kelee Ringo showed playmaking skills for one of the best defenses in college football history. He checks off the height, athleticism and length boxes that elite cornerbacks have and the sky is the limit for him with another season under Kirby Smart.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Malachi Moore, DB, Alabama

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The Philadelphia Eagles are going to have plenty of options in the 2023 NFL Draft. For now, making them stay put with the Saints’ first-round pick, the Eagles add to their defense. Malachi Moore is the Swiss Army knife of a secondary, capable of lining up at cornerback or playing deep safety. You can trust Alabama defensive backs having a high football IQ and that intelligence combines nicely with Moore’s physical tools.

Related: Alabama Crimson Tide football schedule 2022

11. Washington Commanders: Paris Johnson Jr., OL, Ohio State

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For the Washington Commanders, so many of the team’s needs could change within a year. Looking at the roster now, left guard is a position of weakness with Andrew Norwell unlikely to stick around long. Paris Johnson Jr. played guard for Ohio State in 2021 and it could be where his NFL career. starts. If he shows out at tackle, Johnson Jr. could go even higher.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

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Things change quickly in a year. In early 2022 NFL mock drafts, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was the No. 1 pick. He’s now the projected starter at South Carolina, fighting to prove he can be a more consistent player. The talent is undeniable, but sporadic accuracy and poor decision-making need to improve. He’d be a nice project for the Minnesota Vikings who need a long-term plan to move on from Kirk Cousins.

13. New England Patriots: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

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It’s time for NFL fans to feel old. The son of former linebacker Joey Porter, the next football star in the family plays a different position. A 6-foot-2 cornerback, Porter Jr. brings the same competitive fire as his father and he’s shown nice instincts in coverage. An All-American candidate in 2022, Porter Jr. could easily become a 2023 first-round pick. Talent and NFL bloodlines at a position of need, Bill Belichick will like that a lot.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

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After drafting quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th pick in 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers attention must shift towards the offensive line next year. Peter Skoronski, who rates as PFF’s highest-graded tackle returning to college football, could be a pillar on the left side of Pittsburgh’s offensive line and Pickett needs that level of protection.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson

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Myles Murphy, a five-star recruit in 2020, erupted last season for 14.5 tackles and eight sacks in 10 games. With a healthy Bryan Bresee, Clemson could have a pair of top-10 picks on the line. As for the Eagles, they land an upgrade on the defensive line and someone who could dominate alongside Jordan Davis for years to come.

16. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan

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The Miami Dolphins finally landed a top left tackle this offseason, signing Terron Armstead. However, there are no guarantees that the right side of the offensive line will deliver solid protection. Given Stephen Ross’ love for Michigan, it only makes sense to send the Wolverines’ top offensive lineman to Miami.

17. Arizona Cardinals: Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh

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If you want to know part of the reason why quarterback Kenny Pickett was so good in 2021, meet Jordan Addison. The Fred Biletnikoff Award recipient dominated the ACC (1,593 yards, 18 total touchdowns). With size (6-foot) not preventing the likes of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave from being top picks, Addison easily warrants a top-20 selection in our 2023 NFL mock draft. As for his fit with the Arizona Cardinals, he’s the No. 2 receiver this team needs and he can take over for DeAndre Hopkins in a few years.

18. Tennessee Titans: Andrew Vorhees, USC Trojans

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The Tennessee Titans have to view offensive tackle as a long-term need. Taylor Lewan is declining and right tackle is still a major concern. Andrew Vorhees, a redshirt senior this season, brings experience across multiple positions (right guard, left guard, left tackle) at USC. If he plays a part in the Trojans’ offense exploding this fall, NFL teams will likely covet him as a top-20 pick.

19. Las Vegas Raiders: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

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A five-star recruit in 2020, things never quite worked out for Eli Ricks at LSU. He transferred to Alabama this offseason, seizing on an opportunity to be coaches by a program with a stellar reputation for building up cornerbacks into NFL players. Ricks brings the size (6-foot-2), athleticism and agility to become a high-end corner. The 2022 season will prove crucial to his draft stock, but he definitely fills a need for Las Vegas. One thing is for certain, arrests and violations won’t help his stock.

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

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Tight ends aren’t often viewed as top-20 players in a draft class. Then again, they also aren’t typically five-star recruits. Michael Mayer, a 6-foot-4 weapon in Notre Dame’s offense, took a huge step forward in 2021 with 840 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He’s an outstanding pass-catching weapon for his size and would become a nice addition for the Bengals to help out Joe Burrow.

21. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

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The Seattle Seahawks rebuild seems to be following a blueprint, beginning with the same model that led to Pete Carroll’s success. Part of that original identity is building a strong defense. BJ Ojuari, a 6-foot-3 edge rusher, finished with 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a sophomore. He’s a strong bet to become the next LSU defender drafted in Round 1.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College

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Phil Jurkovec transferred to Boston College from Notre Dame, looking for an opportunity. He found it, providing the Eagles with a gunslinger who loved to make plays amid chaos. A hand injury in 2021 prevented Jurkovec from demonstrating he can operate more under structure. He might be a fringe first-round talent, but he offers the tools Frank Reich would love to mold for a year behind Matt Ryan.

23. Dallas Cowboys: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

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The Dallas Cowboys will finally be able to get out of the Ezekiel Elliott contract next offseason. While Tony Pollard could have a future, the front office might see more value in adding a running back via the draft. Bijan Robinson is one of the most exciting players in college football and he is beloved in Texas. Making him the new featured running back in the Cowboys’ offense would get Jerry Jones excited.

24. Houston Texans (via CLE): Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

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A four-star recruit in 2017, Hendon Hooker never quite figured things out at Virginia Tech. Transferring to Tennessee and teaming up with coach Josh Heupel might give him a shot at an NFL career. Hooker, a 6-foot-4 quarterback uplifted the Vols’ offense in 2021 with a 31-3 TD-INT ratio, a 68.2% completion rate and some impressive performances. Most remarkable, he showed the ability to carry a team. If he repeats that with more talent around him, Hooker might even move up in the 2023 NFL mock draft.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

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A four-star recruit in 2020, Marvin Mims went from a player flying under the radar to a college football star. The 5-foot-11 receiver averaged a whopping 22 yards per catch as a sophomore, turning just 32 receptions into 705 receiving yards. After trading Marquise Brown in 2022, the Ravens grab his future replacement in the first 2023 NFL mock draft.

26. Miami Dolphins (via SF): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

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While there are plenty of strengths on the Miami Dolphins defense, linebacker isn’t among them. It’s unlikely to improve in 2022, making it a top priority in the 2023 NFL Draft. Trenton Simpson, a 6-foot-3 linebacker, he brings the athleticism NFL teams are seeking from a linebacker. Simpson has some experience in coverage and the traits he brings to the table merit Round 1 discussion.

27. Los Angeles Chargers: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

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The Los Angeles Chargers addressed their pass rush and secondary in 2022. Next year, it will be time to find a linebacker who fits into Brandon Staley’s defense, Noah Sewell, the younger brother of Lions’ offensive tackle Penei Sewell, teased glimpses of becoming an All-American linebacker with a burning desire to rush the passer. If he cleans things up, he might be a top-15 pick in future 2023 NFL mock drafts.

28. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

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Dan Campbell wants to build a roster full of players who play with a nastiness. Kayshon Boutte brings that, even as a wide receiver. The former five-star recruit welcomed contact at times with the LSU Tigers in his first two years, making tough catches even when defenders interfered with him. As Detroit builds its new passing attack, Boutte would fit in nicely.

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

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The 2023 receiver prospects will be loaded, a yearly tradition for the NFL Draft. While there are plenty of compelling options, Quenton Johnston’s size (foot-4) and speed make him an ideal fit for the Green Bay Packers. Not only can Johnston get deep, but he is also dangerous after the catch and that will work quite nicely for Matt LaFleur.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Clark Phillips II, CB, Utah

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A former Ohio State commit, Clark Phillips II enrolled at Utah and quickly became one of the top defensive backs in the Pac-12 conference. He led the team 13 13 pass break-ups and showed improvement in his coverage ability. If he turns the skills he flashed in the Rose Bowland steps up more as a leader, you can bet the Chiefs would welcome him into their secondary.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

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Don’t expect quarterback Tom Brady to suit up for the Tamp Bay Buccaneers next season. With the franchise needing to find his replacement, adding one towards the end of Round 1 secures the fifth-year team option. Will Levis (6-foot-3) offers above-average athleticism for his position and he showed improvement in his decision-making. With more experience, he’ll iron out his issues and justify being a first-round pick one year from now.

32. Buffalo Bills: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss Rebels

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Zach Evans can redeem himself at Ole Miss. A turbulent recruiting saga resulted in him joining TCU. He produced, averaging over 7.3 yards per carry and 4.8 yards after contact per attempt this past season. Ultimately, the Horned Frogs weren’t the right fit for him. Lane Kiffin will give him a shot to thrive, using him both as a rusher and receiving option. If he performs up to his raw skills, he could be a fun piece in the Bills’ offense.

Let us know what you think of our 2023 NFL mock draft

2023 NFL mock draft – Players to watch this fall

  • Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
  • Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  • Devin Leary, QB, NC State
  • Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
  • Keytaon Thompson, WR, Virginia
  • Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
  • Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
  • Jordan McFadden, OT, Clemson
  • Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
  • Brandon Joseph, DB, Notre Dame
  • Sam Smith, CB, South Carolina
  • Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

2023 NFL Draft – Top quarterbacks

  1. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
  4. Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College
  5. Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
  6. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
  7. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  8. Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina
  9. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
  10. Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh

2023 NFL Draft running back rankings

  1. Bijan Robinson, Texas
  2. Zach Evans, Ole Miss
  3. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
  4. Blake Corum, Michigan
  5. Tank Bigsby, Auburn