2023 NFL Mock Draft: Post Sean Payton trade, version 3.0

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The Sean Payton trade changes our NFL Mock Draft
FILE – New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches a play during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The Denver Broncos have agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints that will make Sean Payton their head coach, a person with knowledge of the accord said Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)

With the NFL season headed to the Super Bowl, we now know the draft order for 29 of the 31 NFL teams that will be picking in the first round of the NFL Draft. We’ve also recently seen a shake-up in the draft order with the Denver Broncos trading yet another first-round pick, this time to the New Orleans Saints for the rights to sign head coach Sean Payton

All of that means it’s time for a new NFL mock draft.

This is a no-trades NFL mock draft, and much of it remains the same as version 2.0, which you can see here, but the bottom of this draft is different, and we’ll keep updating our picks in the weeks ahead as the draft order changes and prospects go through off-season workouts. Enjoy!

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2023 NFL Mock Draft: First Round

1. Chicago Bears, 3-14: Will Anderson, EDGE Alabama

The Chicago Bears will likely be looking to deal this pick for a haul, but we’re not going to project trades in our first mock. There’s a really strong likelihood that the Colts might try to make a move for this pick to get ahead of Houston, but, for now, Chicago stays home and takes Will Anderson, who is probably the best overall player in the draft. 

2. Houston Texans, 3-13-1: Bryce Young, QB Alabama

Bryce Young could very well be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but there are some concerns about his size at 6-foot, 190 pounds. The choice will likely be between Young and the more projectible but far more raw Will Levis. We’ll say the Texans go with the more NFL-ready option. 

3. Arizona Cardinals, 4-13: Jalen Carter, DT Georgia 

With head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim out in Arizona, the Cardinals could be looking at an overhaul. But, for now, we’ll assume that Kyler Murray stays along with his talented receiving corps, which means the Cardinals need defensive help, especially with J.J. Watt retiring. Jalen Carter is an immediate difference-maker

4. Indianapolis Colts, 4-12-1: Will Levis, QB Kentucky

The Colts are going to take a quarterback. That probably is not a surprise to anyone. There’s a good chance they take Levis even if they trade up to the first pick, so they’ll get him here at No. 4. He’s a riskier bet than Young, but his upside is probably the highest of any QB in this class. 

5. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos, 5-12): Tyree Wilson, EDGE Texas Tech

The Seahawks make the playoffs and get a top-five pick, but we saw from their Wild Card loss to the 49ers that they still need an influx of talent on the defensive side of the ball. This is also where the draft gets interesting because Seattle could trade down with somebody who wants to take Stroud, if he’s still on the board, but since we’re avoiding trade for now, Seattle continues to boost their young defense with a pass rusher who has elite physical traits and can be disruptive off the edge.

6. Detroit Lions (via Rams, 5-12): Christian Gonzalez, CB Oregon

The Lions’ defense is a mess, but their secondary in particular is a real issue outside of Jeff Okudah. This may be a little early to take a corner, and Detroit is in a good position to trade down with Stroud still on the board, but since we’re not doing trades, they will take Gonzalez, who will emerge as the best corner in this class. He will give Detroit two young corners with upside for the foreseeable future. 

7. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-11: CJ Stroud, QB Ohio State

It’s highly unlikely that CJ Stroud will fall outside the top five with teams looking to trade up, but this is a no-trade NFL mock draft so Josh McDaniels could have the best overall quarterback in this class depending on your view. Stroud has good timing, accuracy, and the footwork necessary to be successful in this league. But just how much of his success was because of the OSU receivers?

8. Atlanta Falcons, 7-10: Bryan Bresee, DL Clemson

Atlanta has a ton of needs on the roster but none so more than in the trenches. Bresee would pair nicely with Grady Jarrett and could be a mainstay in Atlanta for a long time. 

9. Carolina Panthers, 7-10: Anthony Richardson, QB Flordia

Depending on who you ask, this is a deep quarterback class. Richardson is even more of a project than when Josh Allen came out of college. Richardson has several raw tools but his tape is about as uneven a player as I’ve ever seen. Carolina will be gambling here and it could hinge on whoever the head coach is. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints, 7-10): Kelee Ringo, CB Georgia

The Eagles’ secondary could look a lot different next season with all four starters at safety and corner up for free agency this year. The odds are the Eagles will need a No. 1 guy and who better than the best corner of a national championship team? Ringo is one of Georgia’s best defenders and will be a plug-and-play, Day 1 starter for a defense that finished as a top-five unit in almost every category.

11. Tennessee Titans, 7-10: Myles Murphy, DE Clemson

There is always an edge rusher that falls in the draft for one reason or another. Murphy will be ranked above many of his counterparts but in this mock, he falls to Tennessee at 11. I doubt Philadelphia double dips at EDGE this year and the Titans will swoop in for the kill if this happens. 

12. Houston Texans (via Browns, 7-10): Peter Skoronski, OT Northwestern

Skoronski is the top tackle product in the draft and he’d pair nicely with the Bryce Young selection at No. 2 overall. The Texans need all the help they can get along the offensive line and protecting their new franchise quarterback should be a top priority.

13. New York Jets, 7-10: Paris Johnson, OT Ohio State

Skoronski and Johnson will go quickly off the board following each other. If the Jets do not trade this pick for a quarterback, they’ll look to solidify the offensive line and provide depth where they desperately need it. The team may have missed the playoffs because of the quarterback but the injuries along the O-line didn’t help.

Paris Johnson goes to the Jets in our NFL mock draft
Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson (Wikimedia commons)

14. New England Patriots, 8-9: – Quentin Johnson, WR TCU

Bill Belichick saw the absolute beating Mac Jones took this season due to the lack of weapons, poor offensive line, and flawed coaching. He’ll look to rectify that this offseason and provide some level of positivity for their young quarterback. Johnson is arguably the best receiver in this draft.

15. Green Bay Packers, 8-9: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR OSU

How funny would it be that the year Aaron Rodgers retires is the year the Packers finally take a wide receiver in the first round? Pairing Christian Watson with a top slot receiver in this class is almost too perfect for Jordan Love or Rodgers, should he choose to come back.

16. Washington Commanders, 8-8-1: Devon Witherspoon, CB Illinois

It’s a strong corner class, and they don’t come much better than Devon Witherspoon. In a division where the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys all have top weapons at wide receiver (if we expect the Giants to solidify their receiving core) then the Commanders will need all the help they can get for a secondary that has struggled at times this year. 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-8: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

It’s a matchup made in heaven. Porter playing in the city his father made an all-pro career out of is too easy to predict. Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t the problem this season but help in the secondary is always needed when you have the Bengals, Ravens, and Browns in your division.

18. Detroit Lions, 9-8: Nolan Smith, EDGE Georgia

The Lions have a golden opportunity to build one of the more imposing, young defenses in football if the dominos fall as they are in this NFL mock draft. Smith flirts as a top-10 talent in the Class of 2023 as an athletic edge rusher that could potentially pair wonderfully opposite the impressive Aidan Hutchinson — who should be garnering more Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration. 

The draft order for all of the subsequent picks is subject to change after the playoffs

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-9: Cam Smith, CB South Carolina

There might not be a cornerback in the nation that had been avoided more than Cam Smith. Following a three-interception, nine pass-breakup campaign in 2021, opposing quarterbacks targeted receivers covered by Smith just 22 times in eight games this season. Tampa Bay is poised to lose two of its best cornerbacks in Jamal Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting and they’ll thank their lucky stars if Smith falls to them.

20. Seattle Seahawks 9-8: Jaylon Jones, CB/S Texas A&M

The Seahawks need an interior defensive lineman to bolster an interior that has been bullied by the run game this season, but their selection of an EDGE at No. 5 takes them out of the running for legitimate interior linemen in the first round. Seattle has a No. 1 corner in Tariq Woolen, but much is left to be desired from Mike Jackson Sr. as the No. 2 option. Jones provides another option.

21. Los Angeles Chargers 10-7: Trenton Simpson, LB Clemson

The Chargers’ offense, led by Justin Herbert, is among the NFL’s most elite. They have adequate skill position players, and their offensive line is serviceable enough. But, their defense, particularly their running defense, is shakey. The team gave up the 5th-most rushing yards in the NFL this year (2,478). Trenton Simpson is an elite athlete who would make an immediate impact, and help secure the middle of the field for years to come.

22. Miami Dolphins 9-8: PICK FORFEITED

23. Baltimore Ravens 10-7: Clark Phillips III, CB Utah

Last season, the Ravens allowed the 7th-most passing yards of any NFL team at 3,947. Phillips is a smaller player, but he plays so much bigger than his profile suggests. He is a solid tackler with the ability to play both outside and nickel and has a tremendous feel for reading quarterbacks. If he was two inches taller, he’d be a top-15 pick. Adding Phillips to the Ravens’ secondary would be an immediate boost for Baltimore, and help shore up one of their biggest areas of need.

24. Minnesota Vikings 13-4: Jordin Addison, WR USC

The Vikings’ loss to the Giants showed that they can really use another wide receiver. Adam Thielen is on the downside of his career and really disappeared in the second half of the season, and KJ Osborn is really just a good depth piece. Addison is a great middle-of-the-field and contested catch option to pair with Justin Jefferson.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars 9-8: Michael Mayer, TE Notre Dame

Evan Engram is a free agent this offseason — and he couldn’t have picked much of a better time to do so after posting 73 catches for 766 yards and four touchdowns. Considering how much of a premium tight ends are at in the NFL, a bidding war likely awaits for his services. It makes Mayer the logical pick here in our NFL mock draft.

26. New York Giants 9-7-1: Josh Downs, WR UNC

Daniel Jones has shown he is more than capable of being a top quarterback in this league. Pairing him with a top wide receiver will be key this off-season. Downs is one of the more athletic targets in college and could be a perfect slot receiver for the Giants as they look to move players around. This one is all about scheme-fit for New York.

Josh Downs is our mock draft pick for the Giants
North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs celebrates a first down in 2021 (Wikimedia Commons)

27. Dallas Cowboys 12-5: Deonte Banks, CB Maryland

The Cowboys are among the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, so they have a solid amount of freedom to take the best player off the board with this pick. While they can use a wide receiver, finding a cornerback to play opposite Trevon Diggs is likely a bigger need. Banks attacks the football with aggression and was trusted to cover top receivers this past season. The Cowboys love to play an aggressive style of defense and will welcome his turnover ability.

28. Buffalo Bills 13-3: Jalin Hyatt, WR Tennessee

The Bills need offensive line help and could also be in the market for a safety if they don’t extend Jordan Poyer, but the hard truth is that Gabe Davis has disappointed this season. He is among the league leaders in drops and failed to show the consistency needed to be the team’s number two wide receiver. Hyatt has the speed to beat defenders deep, but he has quick feet and good route running to make plays over the middle of the field too. He’d be a huge bet for the Bills here.

29. Cincinnati Bengals 12-4: Blake Freeland, OT BYU

The biggest thing that the Bengals could do going forward is to protect Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s passers have been sacked 44 times this season (11th-most in the NFL), and the offensive line has not been great at helping the running game. Blake Freeland is NFL-ready and would make an immediate impact next season, with his huge 6-foot, 8-inch frame, and the versatility to play anywhere along the line. 

30. New Orleans Saints (via DEN, via MIA, via SF): Isaiah Foksey, DE Notre Dame

The Saints recently saw Trey Hendrickson leave in free agency and will likely see the same thing with Marcus Davenport this off-season. Cam Jordan is their largest cap hit but is 33 years old and may not have many more years left in New Orleans. They need youth at the position, and Isaiah Foskey features impressive versatility and a balanced skill set to rush the passer and defend the run.

31. Kansas City Chiefs 14-3: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Notre Dame

The Chiefs have a few issues on the defensive line, outside of Chris Jones. George Karlaftis is showing improvement and Mike Danna is solid, but there’s a chance that one or both of Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap is not in Kansas City next year, so the Chiefs need some bodies at the edge position that could morph into a pass rush weapon. Van Ness has an appealing blend of size, length, power, and flexibility, and features a high ceiling that a team like the Chiefs will take a gamble on.

32. Philadelphia Eagles 14-3: Bijan Robinson, RB Texas

It’s hard to see Howie Roseman draft a running back in the first round. The analytically-driven Eagles don’t see the value in taking one this high, but with Miles Sanders departing in FA and few needs for the team elsewhere, the Eagles get one of the more complete backs coming out of college. Robinson behind the top offensive line in football would be an early favorite for rookie of the year. 


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