The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated drafts in recent memory. With a talented pool of eligible players, scouts and coaches across the league are eager to see who will rise to the top and make an impact on their respective teams. From franchise quarterbacks to a deep class of defensive linemen, this draft class is loaded with potential game-changers. With the draft scheduled to take place in the heart of Kansas City, the excitement is palpable and the anticipation is building. So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at what this year’s draft has in store for us.
1. Carolina Panthers: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Panthers mortgaged the future when they traded up to the number one pick. However, similar to the 49ers two years ago, it’s not entirely clear what the plan is for the Carolina Panthers. The question has not been what position will the Texans will be, but rather which quarterback the Panthers will draft. A question one would think would have been answered prior to the trade (details below).
Why Panthers Are Drafting #1: The Panthers traded the Bears for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in exchange for a compensation package that includes: the ninth-overall pick this year, a second-round selection in 2023 (No. 61 overall originally from the 49ers), a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025, and Moore, a receiver who enters the second year of a three-year, $61.88 million contract with the Panthers.
2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Texans have already said they view Davis Mills as the long-term franchise backup QB, paving the way for the Texans to draft a QB. Despite is miniature size, Bryce Young was long considered the future number-one pick. Outside of his height, there is nothing the diminutive Bryce Young does poorly.
Why Texans Are Drafting #2: The Texans inexplicably stormed back in the final game of the season, costing themselves the top draft pick in this year’s draft. It was thought that their fourth quarter “collapse” would cost them superstar prospect Bryce Young. However after he turned out to be little Bryce Young at the draft combine, the Panthers went with what they viewed to be the safer option at QB in CJ Stroud.
3. Arizona Cardinals, Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama
Will Anderson Jr. will be the first non Quarterback taken in this year’s draft. The Khalil Mack-esque edge rusher brings size, speed and talent to a defense and a franchise currently in free fall. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter has the Cardinals trading this pick to the Colts so the Colts can get their guy at Quarterback. I’m not buying the logic. The Colts know the Cardinals do not need a quarterback, and the Cardinals know the Colts will draft a Quarterback. Furthermore, Indy knows Arizona will not want to miss out on Will Anderson Jr., which could happen if they trade the #3 pick to any other team other than the Colts. The Cardinals should stand pat and get their guy.
Why Cardinals Are Drafting #3: Kliff Kingsbury was supposed to be the chosen one who left the Cardinals’ world in uncertainty. The once-promising team collapsed in 2022 behind an awful year from franchise QB Kyler Murray. The only silver lining for the Arizona Cardinals was having the wherewithal to let the Falcons beat them at the end of the year, securing their position at #3 and a chance to draft a franchise-altering defensive player in Will Anderson.
4. Indianapolis Colts, Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Though we just dunked on his logic above, Chad Reuter makes a prescient observation about the Colts front office. New Colts Head Coach Shane Steichen was instrumental in helping Jalen Hurts mature to become one of the premier QB’s in the NFL. If not for a second-half collapse in the Super Bowl, Steichen would be considered the mastermind behind the Eagles championship run. In the modern NFL, it’s hard to imagine the Colts passing on a physical specimen such as Anthony Richardson.
Why the Colts are drafting #3: The Colts once again made a disastrous choice at Quarterback after trading for veteran Matt Ryan in the offseason. The offense was a disaster, Ryan looked like he should’ve retired, and the Colts tumultous season mercifully came to an end.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver), Jalen Carter, NT, Georgia
The reports of a Jalen Carter fall seem greatly exaggerated. The Seahawks drafting at #5 currently have middling NT Bryan Mone to man the position and a coach in Pete Carroll who would like to see this position solidified. It would be a strong addition for a team coming off of a surprise playoff run.
Why the Seahawks are drafting #5: The Seahawks are cashing in, and will continue to do so, on the Russell Wilson trade from the previous year. For Russell Wilson, the Seahawks returned quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks (2022 — No. 9 overall — and 2023), two second-round picks (2022 — No. 40 overall — and 2023) and a 2022 fifth-round selection. Given the rookie payscale, the Seahawks just need to avoid missing on these high-value picks.
6. Detroit Lions (from LA Rams), Christian Gonzalez DB
I know they have Jeff Okudah. Hear me out. The Lions need help on defense, bad. In fact it’s hard to remember a Lions draft where the defense was not a primary concern with multiple positions having holes that must be filled. The Lions have tough luck here because they really could’ve used Jalen Carter up front but, if it’s any consolation, they should get 2021 second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike back to man the position. Instead of just being “ok” at a position spot, why not turn it into a strength? With C.J. Gardner Johnson Manning coming to play strong safety and Okudah back from injury, the Lions could finally hold onto leads.
Why the Lions are drafting #6: The Lions are still benefiting from the Mathew Stafford trade with the Rams all those years ago. While it got the Rams the championship they were after, it cost them in the long run.
7. Las Vegas Raiders, Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
The Las Vegas Raiders brought in Jimmy Garoppolo and kept running back Josh Jacobs. That could be reason enough for them to pass on Will Levis here, as well as explosive running back Bijan Robinson who is still on the board. In Tyree Wilson the Raiders get a versatile defensive player with high upside to pair with Maxx Crosby (something they’ve been trying and failing to do for many years now).
Why the Lions are drafting #7: Derek Carr’s tenure with the Raiders came to the end with an injury but, to be honest, even before the injury things were not going so well. The acquisition of Davante Adams made their offense watchable, even explosive at times, but not good enough to compete in a division that also has the Chargers and Chiefs.
8. Atlanta Falcons Peter Skoronski, OG, Northwestern
The Falcons make another step in their perpetual rebuild by finally solidifying their offensive line. By drafting Peter Skoronski at guard. Though he’s listed as the top offensive tackle in the class, if he moves into the guard position he could be an All Pro player. That would give them a complete offensive line for a team that finished with the 10th best offensive line in 2023.
Why the Falcons are drafting #8: The Falcons are drafting #8 after inexplicably beating the Cardinals at home. The Falcons would be tempted to take Will Levis but the word in Atlanta is that they are deadset to give Desmond Ridder a chance to run the offense for a year. Drafting Skoronski, putting him at left guard, and then never passing the ball might give the Falcons a chance to be competitive.
9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina), OT, Paris Johnson Jr.
Despite the Bears making flashy moves at skill positions in bringing in DJ Moore and Chase Claypool, they still have needs up front if the offense is going to be dangerous. If they think Paris Johnson is a stretch here, perhaps they make another, but other than that this could work. Paris Johnson may need some refining but he’s a future starting tackle in the NFL for a long time to come.
Why the Bears are drafting #9: The Bears are beneficiaries of a Davis Mills pass and an aggressive Panthers front office. After earning the #1 pick, they traded the first pick to the panthers for the ninth-overall pick this year, a second-round selection in 2023 (No. 61 overall originally from the 49ers), a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025, and WR DJ Moore.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans), Bijan Robinson, RB, Eagles
This would be a dream scenario for the Philadelphia Eagles and a no-doubter if Bijan Robinson fell to #10 in the draft. The Eagles have some things they need to get done in this draft (a safety, for example), but the Eagles can indulge a little. Bijan Robinson has no business being available at #10 and they, once again, make the league pay for their ineptitude.
Why the Eagles are drafting #10: The Eagles made a 2022 draft trade with the Saints that sent the No. 18 pick, No. 101 pick, No. 237 pick, 2023 first round pick, 2024 second round pick to the Eagles in exchange for the No. 16 pick, No. 19 pick, No. 194 pick to the saints. The Saints turned around and packaged picks to get to Chris Olave in the first round of the 2022 draft.
11. Tennessee Titans, O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
The Titans could use a bit of direction after a tumultuous season following a disastrous offseason. Feeling AJ Brown would not resign, they traded superstar receiver AJ Brown to the Eagles and subsequently selected Treylon Burks (whose fate is still unknown) in the first round last year. In addition, they drafted Malik Willis who seemed overwhelmed in his limited action as a rookie. Derrick Henry, the franchise centerpiece is on the trading block. It would seem to be a bad idea to reach for a guard here. But, if they keep Henry, they need to get back to the power running game that made them great. In O’Cyrus Torrence the Titans would get an explosive run-blocking guard who could free up holes for Derrick Henry to go off like the old days.
Why the Titans are drafting #11: Despite a promising roster, the Titans just had a bad year. The offense looked lost without Arthur Smith and the defense was just bad enough to lose consistently.
12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland), Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Texans are drafting a receiver here. The question is who? Of the top receivers in the class, there is consistent fighting about who is #1. The right answer would be to try to drop back (someone must want Will Levis at this point) and grab multiple late first-round, early second-round selections. Let’s say that doesn’t happen. Jordan Addison’s 40 may scare many but he is a slick route runner with elite quickness. As long as he forms a rapport with new franchise QB Bryce Young he should be the top QB off the board.
Why the Texans are drafting #12: As part of the insane compensation for Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans will enjoy additional picks and capspace for the foreseeable future. They would be wise not to waste them.
13. New York Jets, Broderick Jones, Tackle, OT, Georgia
If Aaron Rodgers really is calling the shots then he should make this call. Broderick Jones is a starting tackle in the NFL in the near future and the Jets need depth. Offensively the Jets’ receiving core has been bolstered with Mecole Hardman and Allen Lazard to complement Garret Wilson. Running back Breece Hall should be ready to come back from injury. They just need more depth on the offensive line and they should be immediate contenders for a Super Bowl. It likely won’t happen though, as the Packers will take this pick from them in the Rodgers trade.
Why the Jets are drafting #13: Despite disastrous quarterback play, the Jets were not that bad. Their rookies looked good and their defense kept them in games. The result is a middling season that leaves them drafting at #13.
14. New England Patriots, Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Despite having Hunter Henry and bringing in Gesicki, I think you’re out of your mind if you think Bellicheck is passing on Michael Mayer. The Patriots under Bellicheck are at their best when they have two premier tight ends to play his 12 offensive scheme. He thought he had this when he acquired injury-prone Hunter Henry and deep-threat Jonnu Smith. Obviously, we know how the latter turned out but Hunter Henry just hasn’t popped like Pats fans had hoped.
Why are the Patriots drafting #14: The Patriots are drafting at #14 after a very middling year resulting in a very middling pick. In their defense, quarterback Mac Jones was injured or (mostly injured) for most of the year.
15. Green Bay Packers, WR, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, USC
Yikes. What do the Packers do now? The drama with Aaron Rodgers finally comes to an end with his trade to the Jets. But what now? Would they dare start the year with former number-one pick Jordan Love? Will they allow Danny Etling to compete for the starting job? They still have big-play receiver Christian Watson on the team entering his second year, two good running backs and solid pieces along the offensive line. Give Jordan Love a chance with a solid secondary target with a high upside and figure out if you have anything in Love now.
David Bakhtiari has only played in 12 of his last 35 games for the Jets. That’s not very comforting blindside protection so a tackle could make sense here.
16. Washington Commanders, Edge, Nolan Smith, Georgia
In the rush to address needs and draft players based on fit, the star of the NFL combine fell. Though there might not be a ton of tape on him, and the little that exists doesn’t show much, Nolan Smith’s combine alone should’ve secured him a top-15, if not top-10 pick in the NFL draft. The Commanders have Montez Sweat and an imposing defensive line, but Nolan Smith could be a tremendous weakside linebacker for the Commanders and solidify a thrilling and imposing front seven for the team from Washington.
Why the Commanders are drafting #16: An only somewhat disappointing season, the Washington Commanders have exciting things on the horizon with the legs and arm of 5th-round pick Sam Howell taking over as signal-caller in 2023.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers, Joey Porter Jr., DB, Penn State
The Steelers have other needs but how exciting would this be? The prodigal son of the franchise linebacker returns to bring the Steelers back to glory? It’s not just about storylines, if Porter Jr. is available at #17 he’ll be gone shortly. At 6’3 with long arms, the kid is absolutely electric. It’s not clear what they’ll do with him but he’s a first-round talent, maybe a high first-round talent, without much question.
Why the Steelers are drafting #17: Could you call the Steelers’ season disappointing? Kenny Pickett was good enough to retain the job but not good enough to be called the definitive franchise QB. Steelers fans probably don’t want to hear it, but they need to see more out of the kid before giving him the keys to the franchise long-term.
18. Detroit Lions, Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
The Lions feel a little silly here because they could’ve waited at the corner and taken Devon Witherspoon from Illinois if they wanted to add #2 corner but it’s ok because they got a tremendous athlete in Christian Gonzalez. The Lions continue to upgrade the defense with the defensive tackle who continues to draw comparisons to fellow DT Aaron Donald. While 2021 second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike should return, this would give the Lions two good interior defensive tackles paired with a solid secondary after their first pick and ambitious free-agent acquisitions.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Still no Will Levis? The Buccanneers have to get an offensive tackle here and Dawand Jones is a true monster. At 6’8 374 pounds, he is a mountain. Whoever takes over the quarterback position may have to feel the lumps of what it will be like to go through the growing pains of Dawand Jones.
20. Seattle Seahawks, Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
The Seahawks are making sure not to waste these picks as Edge rusher Lukas Van Ness falls to #20. The versatility and frame that Van Ness brings will keep him in the rotation no matter where he lines up. With the additions of Jalen Carter and Lukas Van Ess in the first round, the Seahawks have done more to improve their team than anyone.
21. Los Angeles Chargers, Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
This seems like one of the easier ones to project. The Chargers have skill but lack explosion. That culminates them in drafting a physical freak in Zay Flowers from Boston College. LAC benefits from Flowers coming from an offense where Flowers didn’t get too much exposure in BC. Flowers makes the Chargers immediate competitors to win the division.
22. Baltimore Ravens, Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
The Ravens are thrilled to be able to add a frontline defensive starter up front in Myles Murphy after releasing franchise edge rusher Calais Campbell in the off-season. Murphy is similarly tall, explosive and has one thing Campbell doesn’t have: youth. However this will be a team to watch as, if the Ravens do not retain Lamar Jackson, they will likely need to make some last second changes.
23. Minnesota Vikings, Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The slide ends here. Kirk Cousins is on a contract year and the future in Minnesota is unclear. While they had a great record last year, an upset against the New York Giants offense in the playoffs will make this an easy sell to Vikings fans. Levis will have a chip on his shoulder after falling to 23, and all of the talent to pull it off.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars, Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia
The Jags survive two different defensive backs being drafted before the top one is finally taken. Kelee Ringo is a true defensive back with a combination of size and fluidity paired with solid ball skills to be a terrific swing corner. The Jags still have some holes to fill but this gets them ever closer to competing for a championship.
25. New York Giants, Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
The New York Giants are coming off one of their best years in a decade and yet it’s not clear what their plan is on the perimeter (or offensively in general). They’ve signed Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Parris Campbell..but what does that do? They are all NFL wide receivers but who is supposed to line up outside? It’s hard to see how they aren’t inviting safeties into the box with that kind of receiving core. Quentin Johnson could be the go-to #1 receiver that necessarily draws help coverage due to his elite combination of size and speed.
26. Dallas Cowboys, Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Some might want the Cowboys to take Dalton Kincaid or Musgrave here but I’m leaning towards LaPorta. Sam LaPorta was the offense for Iowa for three years. Obviously that doesn’t say much as that offense did very little but LaPorta was the only bright spot. He cun run, block, catch, route run and, perhaps most importantly for the Cowboys, block. Without Dalton Schultz the Cowboys will get a TE at some point. If it’s in the first round, I would wager that it’s someone who can do it all.
27. Buffalo Bills, Jahmyr Gibbs, RB/WR, Alabama
The Buffalo Bills are left questioning themselves and their choices after a surprising early-round exit in the playoffs after an emotionally trying end of the season. It’s not clear where they go from here. They certainly aren’t moving on from MVP favorite Josh Allen, but they also seem to be a bit further away then we realized. The running back situation didn’t seem to be the problem, why would they draft a running back?
Because the don’t. They draft more than that. Someone who, when in the redzone, the defense might actually fall for the play action. One who, after the play action, still forces linebackers to find him in case there’s a checkdown. The Bills need something explosive here that doesn’t require them to change the path of their franchise. Gibbs accomplishes that and more.
28. Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Ok now Kincaid comes off the board. The Hayden Hurst experiment went ok and while some might like to see Luke Musgrave here I think the Bengals want someone that can be on the field consistently. Granted if Kincaid is gone at this point I would be very surprised if Musgrave is not the answer given his comparison to a longer, more fluid Hayden Hurst.
29. New Orleans Saints (from SF via MIA and DEN), Bryan Bresee, Clemson
The Saints lost their defensive coordinator and, to make matters worse, he took one of their starting linebackers and nose tackle to Atlanta with him. No worries. One was unproven and one was just mediocre. In Bryan Bresee gives short and longterm upside to solving the whole filled at interior defensive tackle.
30. Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The Eagles indulged in their first-round pick with Bijan Robinson at RB and yet still get their man at #30. The eagles had to get a safety in the draft and they get a very good one in Brian Branch. Branch should be able to start immediately with Gardner Johnson’s departure and, immediately, Eagles fans are dreaming of a championship.
31. Kansas City Chiefs, Jalinn Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Given the uncertainty about the receivers in this class this year the Super Bowl champions prove why they are the reigning champions: they sit back and get the best receiver on the board at 31. Let all of the other teams be forced to reach for players based on needs or hopes. The Chiefs can just sit back and take a stab. If he hits great, if not so be it. Unlike other teams that must fill holes, the Chiefs know the draft is purely statistical.