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Mike Anania's 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

It is officially college football bowl season! This means many, many things. But, for those of us who know that its always draft season, we can now focus on those players that will be eligible to become the next big prospect for our favorite NFL teams. With 41 bowl games over the few weeks, it gives ample time to watch so many of the players most fans weren't able to see over the last 3+ months. Keep an eye on these players below, and many others, as NFL teams start jockeying for their draft position. Here is my first mock draft for the 2023 season.

  1. Houston Texans - Biggest Needs: QB, WR, OL THE PICK: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio St - There will be a heated debate over which QB should be the top pick in the 2023 draft. A lot of scouts like Alabama's Bryce Young, as they should, but it is Stroud that should be atop the Texans' draft board. He is a pocket passer first, with ample mobility. The arm talent is evident, capable of making every throw that is required at the next level.

2. Chicago Bears - Biggest Needs: WR, OL, DL THE PICK: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama - The top ranked player on my board, Anderson has simply been dominant in the SEC. He has everything you look for as an edge defender at the next level. He has the size, speed, strength, athleticism, and quickness to be an elite defender against both the pass and the run.

3. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) - Biggest Needs: OL, EDGE, DL THE PICK: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia - Carter is a game-wrecker, plain and simple. His combination of size, strength, and quickness has proven to be nothing short of amazing. The best player on Georgia's defense should hear his name called very early on draft night.

4. Detroit Lions (via LA Rams) - Biggest Needs: QB, LB, CB THE PICK: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama - Jared Goff has played moderately well this year in Detroit, but the Lions would be wise to look for a potential star on offense. There are plenty of pieces on both sides of the ball in Detroit, but landing a franchise signal caller should be the top priority, if and when the opportunity presents itself.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints) - Biggest Needs: OL, S, WR THE PICK: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU - The Eagles have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and having a top 5 pick is pure insanity. Their "needs" are not dire, so they could very well trade down to accumulate more depth, or simply go with a luxury pick. In this scenario, they take Johnston, the playmaking WR who gives MVP candidate Jalen Hurts yet another weapon.

6. Carolina Panthers - Biggest Needs: QB, CB, DL THE PICK: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky - Levis is a bit of a polarizing prospect. He has all of the tangible traits you want in a franchise quarterback, big arm, quick release, mobility, and experience. However, he hasn't shown the consistency with his progressions and his anticipation. He can sometimes lock onto his first read too long, allowing help defenders to make up ground. If he can become a little more decisive and pull the trigger, Levis has the talent to become a very good NFL quarterback.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Biggest Needs: CB, S, OL THE PICK: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina - Smith has all of the traits you look for in a shutdown cornerback. He has good size at 6 feet and 185 pounds, he has excellent quickness and change of direction ability, and he has the swagger teams covet at the position. Teams seem to be avoiding him entirely this season, and with good reason. He needs to be more physical in run support, but Smith should be the first corner off the board on draft night.

8. Arizona Cardinals - Biggest Needs: OL, CB, EDGE THE PICK: Joey Porter, Jr - CB, Penn St - Porter has had a phenomenal season for the Nittany Lions, cementing his status as an early-to-mid first round pick in the upcoming draft. He has excellent size and length for the position and uses those to his advantage to eliminate opposing receivers. The bloodlines run deep with Porter and he could become a star, just like his old man.

9. Indianapolis Colts - Biggest Needs: QB, WR, OT

THE PICK: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida - Richardson is the "toolsiest" quarterback from this class, but he's also the riskiest of the top four. He has a big arm, is a freak athlete, and has shown the ability to place the ball with incredible accuracy. But, he has been incredibly inconsistent with his reads and decision making. He is the least likely of this group of QBs to play early in his rookie season, so the Colts will still need to find a stopgap at the position after the inevitable retirement of Matt Ryan.

10. Atlanta Falcons - Biggest Needs: WR, EDGE, CB THE PICK: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia - The Falcons certainly could be in the QB market if they don't believe that Desmond Ridder is the answer to their long term need at the position. In my opinion, they will give Ridder every opportunity to be that guy, so they pivot to Ringo, quite possibly the best pure athlete in the draft. He has a lot of work to do with his technique, but the talent is clear and Ringo is an excellent pick here.

11. Green Bay Packers – Biggest Needs: WR, EDGE, LB THE PICK: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio St – The Packers finally go after a receiver in the first round of the draft. Here, they select Smith-Njigba, who is the do-it-all receiver that can move from the slot to the perimeter and win with route running, physicality, or YAC ability. He pairs well with rookie Christian Watson, who is proving to be a dependable deep threat. JSN should dominate in the intermediate areas of the field.

12. Las Vegas Raiders – Biggest Needs: OL, CB, EDGE THE PICK: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson: Chandler Jones has had a very disappointing season after coming to Vegas on a big money contract. Murphy isn’t the same level of pure pass rusher that Jones is, but he’s a big, strong, physical edge that holds up incredibly well against the run and has shown enough pass rushing juice to take some pressure off Maxx Crosby on the other side. Murphy may be able to kick inside in pass rushing situations, as well. This is a very good pick for the Silver and Black.

13. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) – Biggest Needs: WR, DL, EDGE THE PICK: Jordan Addison, WR, USC – The Texans have already landed their franchise QB in CJ Stroud, and now they provide him with a true weapon in Jordan Addison. One of the best receivers in college football, Addison projects best as a slot, but one that is capable of winning in all areas of the field. He has plenty of speed to get deep, but shows outstanding route running in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Allowing Stroud and Addison to grow together could get the Texans back on track sooner, rather than later.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Biggest Needs: OT, CB, LB The Pick: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern: Skoronski should go much higher than this, plain and simple. One of the most dominant pass-blocking tackles in years, Skoronski fits the modern NFL as well as anyone. Given the Steelers hope to have their franchise QB already in town, they just need to protect him so that their weapons can flourish. Skoronski is the building block the Steelers have been waiting for on their offensive line.

15. Detroit Lions – Biggest Needs: CB, LB, DT THE PICK: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson – Bresee is a great fit for Detroit. He is an absolute rocket of a penetrator from the inside, meshing well with last year’s first round pick, Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions continue to build the trenches and should be ecstatic about adding an interior playmaker like Bresee.

16. Los Angeles Chargers – Biggest Needs: OT, LB, S THE PICK: Paris Johnson Jr, OL, Ohio St – The Chargers are heavily invested in protecting star QB Justin Herbert. In 2021, they selected Rashawn Slater, who has proven to be a star. Last year, it was Zion Johnson. This year, they add Paris Johnson, Jr, the versatile OL from Ohio St. Slater was injured this season, as were a few of the Chargers offensive linemen. Johnson solves a few problems, as he can play either guard or tackle, allowing the Chargers to shape their line however they would like. This is a great pick.

17. New England Patriots – Biggest Needs: EDGE, OT, LB THE PICK: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia – Smith is a little undersized as a full-time edge player, standing only 6’3” and 235 pounds, but his athleticism is undeniable. He is truly capable of playing sideline-to-sideline, but he is sturdy and holds up well against power. He hasn’t demonstrated a full arsenal of pass rush moves, yet, but the athlete in him is worthy of the selection in the middle of round one.

18. Washington Commanders – Biggest Needs: QB, OL, LB THE PICK: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee – Hooker is an older prospect and he is coming off a major knee injury, but he showcased outstanding improvement during the 2022 season, and was viewed as a Heisman candidate prior to the injury. If he comes back from the injury and doesn’t lose his mobility, teams will feel comfortable taking him due to his improvements as a passer. The Commanders have been going year-to-year at the QB position for quite some time. Selecting Hooker could solve that problem and provide the boost they so desperately need.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Biggest Needs: OL, QB, EDGE THE PICK: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame – The Buccaneers have some decisions to make this offseason, starting at the quarterback position. Tom Brady has played well enough, but clearly has taken a small step backwards. How much of that is him? How much of that can be attributed to the injuries and departures along the offensive line? Well, both would appear to be strong areas of consideration here. But, in somewhat of a shocking move, they decide to continue to build on defense. Foskey has a nose for getting to the quarterback, and pairing him with Joe Tryon-Shoyinka for the next handful of seasons seems like a good way to keep a competitive defense.

20. Seattle Seahawks – Biggest Needs: OL, EDGE, LB THE PICK: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson – Simpson is the prototype of the modern linebacker. He has experience in the slot and shows outstanding recognition in both man and zone coverage. He is athletic along with being big and physical. After the Seahawks have landed Jalen Carter, they continue to address the defense. Offensive line is also an area of consideration here, but the temptation of landing an impact linebacker is too great to pass on.

21. Tennessee Titans – Biggest Needs: OT, WR, EDGE THE PICK: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame – The Titans always seem to keep plugging along. They may not have the most talented roster in the league, but they find ways of putting it together. Here, Mayer doesn’t fill the biggest need on the roster, but he’s an upgrade in every sense over current starter Austin Hooper, who will likely be a cap casualty during the offseason. Mayer is both a better receiver and a better blocker than Hooper, and he will help form a nice duo moving forward with last year’s first round pick, WR Treylon Burks.

22. New York Jets – Biggest Needs: OL, QB, S THE PICK: Brian Branch, S, Alabama – The Jets defense has been excellent this season. Sauce Gardner has been everything they envisioned, and then some. There aren’t many needs on this roster as a whole, so they go with the best player available, which is Branch. He has the size/speed combination coaches drool over and he has shown a nose for the football, constantly making plays. His game translates as well as any safety over the last few years. This may be the final piece to the defensive puzzle for head coach Robert Saleh.

23. New York Giants – Biggest Needs: WR, LB, QB THE PICK: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon – The Giants have made incredible strides this season, far outperforming expectations. The defense has been the key, holding up very well against some of the NFL’s best teams. Decisions need to be made on offense, and adding a playmaker on the perimeter is a distinct possibility, but the Giants keep building what they believe can be a dominant defense and take Gonzalez, the big corner with outstanding ball skills.

24. Denver Broncos – Biggest Needs: OT, LB, DT THE PICK: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma – Harrison is a bit raw with his technique, but his size and athleticism play at any level. His footwork is solid, though has some room for improvement, which should leave coaches chomping at the bit to get their hands on him and mold him.

25. Baltimore Ravens – Biggest Needs: WR, CB, EDGE THE PICK: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU – Boutte entered the 2022 season with hopes of being the top WR off the board. Things have not been perfect, but he has flashed the talent that teams have always known is present. He has excellent size and athleticism and the big play ability teams covet. With Rashod Batement having constant injury issues, the Ravens must find a receiver to take some attention away from star TE Mark Andrews. Boutte is definitely a player defenses must worry about.

26. Cincinnati Bengals – Biggest Needs: DT, CB, OT THE PICK: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia – In Jones’ first season as a full-time starter, he has held up incredibly well, especially in pass protection. Pro Football Focus credits him with 295 pass-blocking snaps, giving up no sacks or hits allowed, and only four hurries. Those are incredible numbers at any level, let alone facing the competition in the SEC. The Bengals must continue to improve along the offensive line and keep their franchise cornerstone, Joe Burrow, upright.

27. Dallas Cowboys – Biggest Needs: OL, DT, WR THE PICK: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon – The Cowboys have few needs, but linebacker is definitely an area in which they could look to upgrade. Micah Parsons might be the best defensive football player on the planet, but his versatility, especially his pass rushing skills, leave the Cowboys somewhat shorthanded at the linebacking level. Anthony Barr was brought in this year to help, but he’s injury prone and simply not the player he once was. Enter Sewell, a big, fast, and physical linebacker that can do a lot of the same things Parsons can, giving the Cowboys an even greater edge on the defensive side of the ball.

28. Kansas City Chiefs – Biggest Needs: OT, DL, WR THE PICK: O’Cyrus Torrence, OT, Florida – Torrence is an absolute mountain of a man, but he is extremely quick. He shows excellent explosion at the snap and uses his power to simply move defenders out of the way. His footwork needs work in pass protection, but he has enough natural athleticism to improve in that area. Patrick Mahomes should welcome this pick with open arms.

29. Minnesota Vikings – Biggest Needs: CB, LB, DT THE PICK: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M – The Vikings continue to look for a shutdown cornerback through the draft, and they have continued to come up empty. Patrick Peterson has had an excellent 2022 campaign, but he is not getting any younger. Enter Jones, the big, physical corner that has barely been targeted this season. Teams know its just not worth throwing at him, with only 11 targets against through 10 games. He’s allowed only six catches all season, per PFF. Impressive stuff.

30. Buffalo Bills – Biggest Needs: OL, S, CB THE PICK: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech – This is not a need pick, though Wilson can fill the void if Von Miller is unable to return to form. Wilson is a monster of a man, but comes off the edge in a fit of rage. If Wilson somehow lasts to the end of round 1, the Bills will find themselves running to the podium with the steal of the draft.

31. Philadelphia Eagles – Biggest Needs: S, OL, LB THE PICK: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas – Miles Sanders has had a solid season, but the opportunity to land a prospect like Robinson may be too good to pass up. The RB position has become devalued in recent years, but guys like this do not grow on trees. The Eagles have already landed a big-time playmaker on the perimeter in this draft, and now they land yet another star for a team filled with them. The NFL’s best roster has the luxury of making a luxury pick, and that is exactly what they do here.

NOTE: The Miami Dolphins have forfeited their first round pick, leaving only 31 selections.

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