Note: While this mock draft is being published after news of the Bears trading out of the #1 overall pick, this mock was completed beforehand. Some of the blurbs may reference any event that occurred between the conclusion of the NFL Combine and the publication date. Future mock drafts will reflect this change.
1.01 (from CHI) Indianapolis Colts
QB CJ Stroud (Ohio State)
At the time of this mock, Carolina had yet to make their trade. I still believe Stroud will be the pick. While his upside may be limited, his floor is very safe, and he will likely be a productive and hyper-efficient quarterback.
1.02 Houston Texans
QB Bryce Young (Alabama)
With Stroud off the board, the Texans take the next best and most ready quarterback in this draft class, Young. While some will be worried about Young’s size, it has yet to impact him in his career. He just has “it” and is a legitimate playmaker.
1.03 Arizona Cardinals
iDL Jalen Carter (Georgia)
Arizona could be a possible trade down candidate here. If they stick in their spot they likely go defense and take the best defensive player in the draft.
1.04 (from IND) Chicago Bears
EDGE Will Anderson (Alabama)
After the Bears trade down, they take a defensive player to help improve a pass rush that was lacking last year.
1.05 Seattle Seahawks
EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson)
SEA needs help all over their D line. At this spot, EDGE is the best value and Murphy provides BPA. Murphy is a versatile player who fits most schemes and can add some punch to this pass rush.
1.06 Detroit Lions
CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
Gonzalez was already climbing draft boards, and his performance at the combine only accelerates that climb. DET needs an infusion of top tier talent in the back end and Gonzalez provides a high ceiling as a lockdown corner.
1.07 Las Vegas Raiders
QB Will Levis (Kentucky)
This is not the pick I would make personally. Vegas needs a QB desperately now that Carr is gone. Anthony Richardson would be my pick here, but he doesn’t really seem to fit what McDaniels typically likes in a QB. Levis on the other hand does.
1.08 Atlanta Falcons
CB Joey Porter Jr (Penn State)
Atlanta could still stand to improve their pass rush. But they did add two EDGE players last year that showed some promise and just re-signed Lorenzo Carter to help the pass rush. Corner now sits atop their biggest needs and Porter’s size and athleticism give him a high ceiling. He should form a formidable duo with AJ Terrell.
1.09 Carolina Panthers
QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)
The Panthers go with a QB with massive upside and will give him time to learn behind Darnold – or maybe turn it over to him. ARich has franchise changing upside. Also, franchise dooming potential. The Panthers make a splash and get their QB of the future.
1.10 Philadelphia Eagles
EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
The Eagles face many hard decisions in the offseason and have to replace many defensive starters. Some young pieces remain and Wilson will see the field on day one. He’s a plug and play starter and potentially top EDGE in the class. Eagles start reloading now.
1.11 Tennessee Titans
OT Broderick Jones (Georgia)
Many picks would be sexier but the line needs help right away and Jones is a strong tackle that will help the Titans move on quickly from the loss of Lewan. Jones is still growing as a prospect and has top ten OT potential when he hits his ceiling.
1.12 Houston Texans
iDL Bryan Bresee (Clemson)
WR is the pick I see here often but I am going with a building block on the other side of the ball. Bresee has massive upside and potential to wreck offensive lines from the interior while also being versatile enough to move around. Selfishly, I want him to fall, but after a strong combine – Bresee is a big riser for me.
1.13 New York Jets
iOL Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
The Jets somehow manage to get the best Offensive Lineman in the draft at 13 here. Though images of Mekhi Becton putting in good work over the offseason have surfaced, 2023 is still the last year of his contract. Nathaniel Hackett could use some help up front, regardless of who is under Center come opening day. People will knock Skoronski for his short arms, but having shown sufficient athleticism at the Combine, I think he can fit anywhere that a team needs him. Don’t overthink good football players, even if they don’t fit into the mold of what they “should” look like.
1.14 New England Patriots
CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
Ever since the departure of JC Jackson, the Patriots have been throwing as many darts at the board to shore up at CB, seeing if anything will stick. While the law firm of Jones and Jones is sticking well enough for now, Witherspoon would immediately take one of the outside CB spots. Witherspoon found remarkable success at Illinois despite having a gaggle of different defensive coordinators. Evaluators took note of this last season where he was one of the most efficient corners in the draft class. His experience in man during his time in Champaign will make him an instant starter in the man-heavy Belichick system.
1.15 Green Bay Packers
OT Paris Johnson (Ohio State)
Paris Johnson looks every bit the part of an NFL Left Tackle. However, people forget that this time last year, we were talking about him only having played on the interior. This versatility fits with what the Packers look for in their Offensive Linemen. There are two real possibilities here. The Packers will either have retained Aaron Rodgers, meaning that they can use their Day 2 picks to pick up weapons considering the weak skill positions class, or they will likely move this pick in either direction to pick up assets or a QB. Either way, a good protection unit makes either of those situations much easier to deal with.
1.16 Washington Commanders
LB Trenton Simpson (Clemson)
Washington somehow needs help at almost every position except iDL and WR. They whiffed on Jamin Davis a few years ago, as his play has been below-expectations to say the least. Trenton Simpson can step right in and have a London Fletcher-like effect with the opposite skillset. Simpson is a silly athlete with great pop and good instincts. He may not be the thickest or strongest at the point of attack, but he is more than capable of running and hitting with the best of them.
1.17 Pittsburgh Steelers
OT Dawand Jones (Ohio State)
Pittsburgh has its quarterback, running back, and wide receivers. What they don’t have is an offensive line. Jones tested as one of the best offensive lineman in the class and his tape shows that as well. Steelers land their possible left tackle of the future.
1.18 Detroit Lions
WR Quentin Johnston (TCU)
Wide receiver may seem like a redundant pick here for the Lions but Johnston brings a different value and possible alpha X type to their room.
1.19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Kelee Ringo (Georgia)
With the top QB’s off the board Tampa Bay pivots and goes for a top CB in Ringo. While still a bit raw, Mingo has the tools to develop into a top corner.
1.20 Seattle Seahawks
OT Anton Harrison (Oklahoma)
Seahawks have re-signed Geno Smith and have a future lead back in Kenneth Walker. Building out the line helps improve them and helps continue to build on a possible playoff team.
1.21 Los Angeles Chargers
WR Jordan Addison (USC)
The Chargers could use some help at OT, but aren’t in a position to grab one here without reaching. They also desperately need WR help and can take their pick of anyone minus QJ. While JSN may be a better prospect than Addison, slot is the one WR position LAC can still feel good about despite Allen aging. With Addison, they add a do-it-all flanker who will complement Allen and Williams well and give Herbert a talented WR with whom to grow.
1.22 Baltimore Ravens
EDGE Nolan Smith (Georgia)
Smith is undoubtedly one of the biggest risers following the combine after his impressive performance. Baltimore’s needs could very easily change this offseason, but right now, they can take BPA. Smith may be a bit of a tweener in size, but his blend of athleticism, motor, and leadership skills make him a player worth betting on. The Ravens already have two solid OLBs in Bowser and Oweh, but they don’t typically shy away from talent for need and you can never have too many pass rushers.
1.23 Minnesota Vikings
CB Deonte Banks (Maryland)
Another player who helped themselves at the combine, Banks is a big, physical corner who answered any concerns about his speed at the combine. Minnesota could draft an LB here after releasing Kendricks. But they also need an infusion of talent at CB and Banks presents a better value here while they can grab an LB in the second round.
1.24 Jacksonville Jaguars
S Brian Branch (Alabama)
With the Jags getting Ridley back and tagging Engram, their potential need at the skill positions on offense has been filled. There isn’t an OT really worth taking her, so instead they turn to defense and take BPA. Jacksonville has a decent safety duo in Jenkins and Cisco, but Jenkins has an out in his contract next year. Branch’s versatility and smarts will allow him to find a role somewhere on this defense right away.
1.25 New York Giants
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
The Giants desperately need WR help and JSN is perfect for their offense and Danny Dimes. JSN will work primarily out of the slot and give Jones a reliable target and a player who can easily soak in 150 targets a year. This is one of the best case scenarios for the Ohio State wideout.
1.26 Dallas Cowboys
iOL O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida)
The Cowboys O-Line is middle of the road and Torrence is a big improvement for the middle of the line. He needs some work to evolve but already is a strong and broad player that handled Jalen Carter when they matched up. Torrence will help pave the way for Pollard, Zeke, and hopefully give Dak more time in passing situations.
1.27 Buffalo Bills
RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)
The Bills have been searching for an answer at running back and Bijan answers it emphatically. He’s a true three-down back and will help the Bills offense become more diverse and take some pressure off Josh Allen running so much. Bijan will fit any team but man, Buffalo would be so much fun.
1.28 Cincinnati Bengals
CB Clark Phillips III (Utah)
One of the biggest needs for the Bengals is CB and I am hoping some of the other CBs fall here, but Phillips is still an upgrade over Eli Apple. Phillips has ball skills, coverage instincts, and insanely quick feet. He’s tough but may struggle with bigger receivers.
1.29 New Orleans Saints
iDL Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern)
Tomi Adebawore is one of the biggest risers in this draft class. Many evaluators first noticed him when he took over the game against Nebraska early in the 2022 season. But everyone else likely got on board at the Senior Bowl. The biggest skeptics, however, have now also been converted to the hype of Adebawore after a phenomenal Combine performance. The Saints have their QB, which should ideally entice the rest of the offensive skill position group to stick together. Adebawore holds down the middle of a very good defense under a defensive-minded head coach. With the ability to shoot gaps as well as forklift blockers, teams should be willing to overlook his below-average stature.
1.30 Philadelphia Eagles
CB Cam Smith (South Carolina)
With the Eagles willing to ship off Darius Slay, and James Bradberry hitting free agency, the team is suddenly in dire need of CB help. Avonte Maddox has now developed into a starting-caliber slot, but the defending NFC champs need to shore up a position that was touted as a strength a season ago. At this pick, they pick up one of the last top-tier CBs in the class. Smith is a long, instinctive CB with experience against some of the best WRs in the SEC. South Carolina is now slowly becoming known for their CB prospects, and Smith is the next up. Though he may need to clean up some immature tendencies in his game, he has all the tools to slot right into a starting lineup at the next level.
1.31 Kansas City Chiefs
OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee)
The Chiefs had Andrew Wylie starting at RT during their Super Bowl run. While his performance was enough to win a ring, he is a free agent and the team could do better. Lucas Niang and Prince Tega Wanogho are likely backups at this point or longer-term projects. Darnell Wright may be the perfect fit in this offense at a position of need. While Zeus Jr is also hitting free agency, Wright is a plug-and-play starter with noted struggles on the left. If the team were to shell out some cash, they would bring back Zeus Jr and not Wylie. Will Anderson recently said in an interview that Wright was the most formidable blocker he had faced in college. With great patience and a good punch, Wright could make an impact right away. His large frame fits well with the scheme while not hindering his good movement skills as well. If face pressure on QBs is the fashionable way to gain pressure these days, Wright could go a long way to make sure that is mitigated.
2.32 Pittsburgh Steelers
iDL Calijah Kancey (Pitt)
Many evaluators are scared to get prospects wrong. These same folks remember being wrong on Aaron Donald, so they refuse to miss out on that opportunity with yet another slightly undersized Pitt iDL. Kancey is good in his own right. A good get-off and a bowling ball-level of aggressiveness lead to a number of plays where he can create chaos in the backfield. The quicks are not the concern, but his strength and sandbags may be. Kancey can tend to get pushed around when his original rush is stymied. We’ll see how an NFL strength and conditioning program helps with those issues. The Steelers have shown a recent proclivity for taking shots on Pittsburgh prospects, and I can see it continuing on the defense this year.
2.33 Houston Texans
WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee)
Houston took Bryce Young with their first pick and now adds a deep threat to help the receiver room. Hyatt, as of now, profiles as a big slot but with Young’s ability to buy time, we could see some fun connections between the two.
2.34 Arizona Cardinals
LB Jack Campbell (Iowa)
The Cardinals are in a full rebuild at this point. While they have some cornerstone pieces on offense, they double-tap defense here and get a possible stud linebacker and a tackling machine.
2.35 (from IND) Chicago Bears
WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)
While the Bears would be picking a bit later now, I still think Flowers is a likely target for them in this range. Even adding DJ Moore, Flowers helps build out an already young receiver room to help their young QB.
2.36 Los Angeles Rams
iOL John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota)
The Rams need offensive line help in the worst way. Taking Schmitz here at least helps that, despite what they might do at QB.
2.37 Seattle Seahawks
iDL Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin)
After sporting one of the worst run defenses in the league last year, Seattle needs to address the DL. They add Murphy in round one to address DE. Here, they add Benton to shore up their interior and help as a big, run-stuffing DT.
2.38 Las Vegas Raiders
CB Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State)
Forbes blew up the combine and should subsequently climb NFL draft boards. The Raiders need help on the back end, and Forbes is an athletic ball hawk who can create turnovers.
2.39 Carolina Panthers
EDGE Derick Hall (Auburn)
One of the biggest risers post Senior Bowl continues to climb here after a very good combine performance. Hall can provide Carolina with an edge-setting run defender who could develop into a nice pass-rushing complement for Brian Burns.
2.40 New Orleans Saints
RB Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama)
The Saints just signed Derek Carr, which should help their offense and provide stability. Now, they look for a potential replacement for Kamara to continue building that offense. Kamara has an unresolved legal situation and a hefty cap hit for 2023. But there’s an out in his contract for 2024. Gibbs can be a nice compliment to Kamara this year and then take over in 2024 if the team cuts Kamara.
2.41 Tennessee Titans
EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)
I’ve seen Van Ness go as high as the top ten, so grabbing him here is an absolute no-brainer. The Titans need pass-rush help, and Van Ness had a great combine showing. He’s got a quick first step, power, and all the tools to develop into an elite pass-rusher. This feels like the steal of the draft up to this point.
2.42 Cleveland Browns
S Antonio Johnson (Texas A&M)
The Browns will fall in love with the size and physicality of Johnson – he tackles with force and reacts to plays happening with urgency and speed. In coverage, he is capable but relies on his acceleration and speed to keep close. Will be used more in the box initially but will bring a tough attitude to the Browns’ secondary.
2.43 New York Jets
LB Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
I love this fit here, too; Sanders will thrive in the Jets system and take over for the departing Kwon Alexander. Sanders will play off-the-ball and complement what CJ Mosley does in the middle. Sanders has phenomenal range and versatility in roles from his position – love this fit in New York.
2.44 Atlanta Falcons
EDGE Will McDonald IV (Iowa State)
The Falcons need everything, and they address their meager pass rush with the best EDGE left on the board. McDonald is explosive and has a good mixture of pass-rushing moves to make him difficult to engage consistently. He’s strong and lean but a bit of a tweener – and he is going to massively upgrade the Falcons’ pass rush.
2.45 Green Bay Packers
TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
Many have been mocking Mayer to the Packers in the first round, but they get him on day two in this scenario. The consensus TE1 is not likely to fall this far, but the Packers would love for this series of events to play out. Mayer is exactly what most would consider the prototypical TE that coaches are looking for. While he isn’t the most explosive athlete (77th percentile according to RAS), he is big, understands how to beat man and zone, and blocks decently well. Whoever is under Center will be glad to have Mayer as a security blanket.
2.46 New England Patriots
WR Josh Downs (North Carolina)
If there is one team in the NFL that doesn’t mind trotting out small WRs and CBs, it’s New England. Josh Downs is a walking highlight reel every time he touches the ball. Many teams will have taken him off their boards after measuring only 5’9″ at the Combine. Whichever team takes a chance on him will be rewarded with a receiver who separates with plus-plus burst and acceleration in and out of breaks. He may never be a dominant receiver outside the numbers above the rim, but he is more than capable of thriving in space and conflict schemes.
2.47 Washington Commanders
iOL Cody Mauch (North Dakota State)
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has said that teams view Mauch as a project at Center. Chase Roullier and Wes Schweitzer’s tenures have been valued, but they simply aren’t sufficient for this protection unit. Mauch can add an immediate dose of nastiness and strength to the interior of the offensive line. After going defense in the first round, the Commanders need to address the offense. The draft is unlikely to provide a solution at Quarterback for the team, but an improved Offensive Line will go a long way to helping Sam Howell succeed.
2.48 Detroit Lions
LB Noah Sewell (Oregon)
The biggest winner with this pick is Arlene Sewell. With the brothers reuniting once again, the Sewell matriarch can be happy to only have to go to one game per Sunday. Noah Sewell is every bit of an athletic freak as his brother, Penei, and a kneecap-biting demeanor to boot. He may not have the highest football IQ, but Sewell has the athletic tools that, when pointed in the right direction, can explode blockers and ball carriers alike. The Lions made something out of Malcolm Rodriguez in 2022, but they could use some depth, as injuries made the middle of the defense a liability at times.
2.49 Pittsburgh Steelers
iOL Joe Tippmann (Wisconsin)
As mentioned with the Steelers’ first pick, they need offensive line help. They grabbed Jones to help get a possible franchise left tackle, now they add interior help with Tippmann. The Steelers just missed the playoffs last year but could be a scary team with an improved and young offensive line.
2.50 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Tampa couldn’t get a quarterback in the first, so they take Hooker in the second. Hooker seemed to be a product of the Tennessee offense last year but that doesn’t mean the tools aren’t there. Hooker can be a productive quarterback, and he’s likely, as of now, one of the best options on the roster.
2.51 Miami Dolphins
TE Luke Musgrave (Oregon State)
Miami looks to be moving on from Gesicki. What could help Tua more than another weapon? That’s exactly what Musgrave is. He tested well and is a great receiving option. This Dolphins offense is loaded.
2.52 Seattle Seahawks
WR Cedric Tillman (Tennessee)
Seattle adds Tillman? They already have Lockett and Metcalf, though. Tillman is a technician and can play alongside both Lockett and Metcalf. Add in both contracts with Lockett and Metcalf are approaching their ends, and Tillman could be a building piece for the future.
2.53 Chicago Bears
iDL Mazi Smith (Michigan)
After trading back the first round, Chicago misses on stud iDL Jalen Carter and has to “settle” for stud EDGE Will Anderson. In this round, the Bears can shore up the interior of their DL with Mazi Smith, a strong, quick run-stuffing DT.
2.54 Los Angeles Chargers
OT Blake Freeland (BYU)
The Chargers always seem to need an OT, and this year is no exception. Freeland destroyed the combine. Freeland is already a stout run blocker and has a high ceiling if he can improve his pass protection.
2.55 Detroit Lions
TE Darnell Washington (Georgia)
Detroit shipped off Hockenson last year and saw their production at TE drop dramatically, as expected. Washington brings blocking ability that HC Dan Campbell will love and should provide a red zone threat for an offense lacking size among its pass catchers.
2.56 Jacksonville Jaguars
iDL Siaki Ika (Baylor)
The Jags solidified their offense by tagging Engram and Ridley being reinstated. They addressed the back end of their defense in Round 1 and now attack the DL. Ika presents as a physical run-stuffing DT who should improve JAC’s mediocre run defense.
2.57 New York Giants
LB Daiyan Henley (Washington St.)
Henley is a fun linebacker that can do everything. He’s taken a bit of a hit due to age, but man – he’s a football player to the core. Henley has good range, loves to tackle, and has a motor that keeps him in every play. The Giants need some linebacker stability, and he’s going to provide it.
2.58 Dallas Cowboys
WR Kayshon Boutte (LSU)
Boutte has taken a massive hit in his draft stock, but on film, man, Boutte is a beast. He’s a monster after the catch and has some learning to do, as he hasn’t played much in the past two seasons – I love the way he could complement the WR corps in Dallas. Plus, Dallas loves diva WRs.
2.59 Buffalo Bills
iOL Steve Avila (TCU)
The Bills add some O-Line help, and Avila gives them an interior lineman that’s a mauler in run blocking. Avila handles power rushers well, but speed gives him a bit of trouble- the Bills will need to make sure he isn’t too exposed in that area. He’s a dependable starter and may start early on.
2.60 Cincinnati Bengals
TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah)
The Bengals will likely move on from Hayden Hurst, and TE is a position of need. My TE1 is Kincaid, and grabbing him here gives the Bengals another reliable weapon for Burrow and could ease the transition of targets away from Tee Higgins if the team can’t resign him. Kincaid is a receiver in a TE’s body, he’s a natural pass catcher and a mismatch in the middle of the field.
2.61 Carolina Panthers
EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State)
Anudike-Uzomah provides an interesting counterpoint to Brian Burns for the Panthers. While Burns is a twitched-out speed rusher, Felix is more of a powerful rusher who pushes the pocket. The combination could make the Carolina front extremely fun to watch. His bull-in-a-china shop approach may be chaotic to the detriment of both teams at times. Carolina may not expect to be competitive anytime soon, but their defense could be very entertaining either way.
2.62 Philadelphia Eagles
WR Nathaniel Dell (Houston)
Some are pointing out the need for a third/fourth receiving option in Philly. Quez Watkins has been a liability at times, even causing interceptions at times. If the team wants to rely on a tiny WR, how about someone who fits the demeanor of the city and the concepts that Steichen left behind for Brian Johnson to continue? Despite his small frame, Tank Dell is a tough baller type who can track the ball deep as well as muscle out windows in shorter areas. He has nowhere near the speed that Watkins has, but that shouldn’t be too much of an emphasis in this offense anyway. With Hurts’ continued development as a passer, Dell may be just what the offense needs to take this offense to lead the league for multiple years to come.
2.63 Kansas City Chiefs
EDGE Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame)
With the release of Frank Clark, the Chiefs are in the market for disruptive pass rushers. Isaiah Foskey’s stock has faded a bit down the stretch here, but he is still a quality EDGE. Foskey’s skill set primarily relies on his ability to convert speed to power. He relies on a single-handed punch to execute his signature long-arm move. The Chiefs don’t care so much about a player’s individual traits or what they look like as much as whether or not a defender can create havoc in the backfield. Foskey does just that, although further development of counters and techniques could take him to the next level of second-tier pass rushing relatively quickly.