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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Final version

The Aaron Rodgers trade shakes up our latest NFL mock draft
FILE – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts as he leaves the field after an NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Jan 2. 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. Rodgers says his intention is to play for the New York Jets in the coming season as the four-time NFL MVP quarterback waits for the Green Bay Packers to trade him. Rodgers made his comments Wednesday, March 15, 2023, during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)
AP Photos

The NFL Draft is just one day away, and with the draft order seemingly set after the Jets and Packers trade on Monday, it’s time to do our final update of the AMNY Sports staff NFL Mock Draft. 

This is a no-trades NFL mock draft, and while some of it remains the same as version 6.0, which you can see here, there have been a few changes throughout the mock. Just like in that version, we voted on each pick as a staff rather than assigning teams to individual writers. It caused a bit of a turnover from the very start of the draft, so dive in and let us know what you think. 

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2023 NFL Mock Draft: First Round

1. Carolina Panthers, 7-10: Bryce Young, QB Alabama

It now seems like all but a lock for Bryce Young to be the first player off of the board on Thursday night. There was some thought that Frank Reich and company would appreciate the accuracy of C.J. Stroud, but Young is the superior talent and will be the Panthers’ quarterback of the future. 

2. Houston Texans, 3-13-1: C.J. Stroud, QB Ohio State

With Young off of the board, the Texans pivot to Stroud. Yes, there are rumors that he won’t even be a top-five pick, but we see this every single year. The Texans are in dire need of a quarterback and Stroud is a solid if unspectacular signal-caller. He didn’t show up in big games at Ohio State, but he’s an accurate passer and will give the Texans a better chance to win football games, which is, after all, what this league is about. 

3. Arizona Cardinals, 4-13: Will Anderson, EDGE Alabama

With head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim out in Arizona, the Cardinals could be looking at an overhaul. But, they also just saw the best player in the entire draft fall into their lap. With J.J. Watt retiring, they could use a new disruptor on the defensive line, so they take Anderson here. 

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

We had thought there was a chance that the Colts could make a move for Lamar Jackson, which could mean the Ravens would pick at this spot, but that appears unlikely now. If the Colts stay here which quarterback they take will depend on the new head coach, former Eagles’ offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Anthony Richardson impressed in the skills testing at the NFL Combine, but we think that Will Levis will be viewed as a bit less of a project and has the raw tools to be the best quarterback in the draft.

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

Another shake-up early in the draft with the Lions opting for Wilson over Jalen Carter. 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. Wilson has the potential to be an elite edge rusher and seems destined to be inside the top five on Thursday night. 

6. Detroit Lions (via Rams, 5-12): Jalen Carter, DT Georgia

If there’s one coach who we feel can confidently get the best out of a player with character concerns, it’s Dan Campbell. His hard-nosed approach might just unlock another level for Jalen Carter, which would be a major boon for a Lions’ defense that was a mess last year. Aidan Hutchinson was a find for them and now they can give him a disruptive running mate to play inside. 

7. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-11: Anthony Richardson, QB Florida

It’s possible that Richardson doesn’t fall outside the top five with teams looking to trade up, but this is a no-trade NFL mock draft, so Josh McDaniels gets a potentially dynamic quarterback that he can develop for a year behind Jimmy Garoppolo. The Raiders can let Richardson sit and learn for at least a year before turning the franchise over to him. When you’re drafting a player like Richardson, that’s the perfect situation. 

8. Atlanta Falcons, 7-10: Lukas Van Ness, DE Iowa

Atlanta has a ton of needs on the roster and one of their biggest needs is in the trenches. Van Ness is an athletically gifted pass-rusher with top-10 upside who could fill a major hole on this Falcons defense.

9. Chicago Bears, 3-14: Peter Skoronski, OT Northwestern

The Bears added D.J. Moore and traded away a shot at a quarterback, so they are all in on Justin Fields. And rightfully so. Now they just need to protect him better. Peter Skoronski is an athletic tackle who has kept his quarterback clean and can play every position on the line. He’s a perfect fit in Chicago with their first pick in our NFL mock draft.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints, 7-10): Myles Murphy, DE Clemson

The Eagles’ defense let them down in the Super Bowl, and now they have to replace a decent amount of talent, especially along the defensive line. Myles Murphy gives them a versatile option who can rush from the inside and outside. He combines length, power, and quickness to collapse the edges on opposing quarterbacks. 

11. Tennessee Titans, 7-10: Paris Johnson – OT, Ohio State

The Titans were hoping for Skoronski here but are fine to settle for Johnson to help protect number Malik Willis. He will be a good fit for the Titans on the right side, which is a huge need in Tennessee right now especially since Taylor Lewan was released at the start of the offseason.

12. Houston Texans (via Browns, 7-10): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State

The Texans certainly need to protect new quarterback Bryce Young, but perhaps trading for Shaq Mason is enough for right now (they still have another pick). As a result, they can turn their attention to getting a weapon for Young and bringing in Smith-Njigba, who is the top slot receiver in this class and can help replace Brandin Cooks. 

13. Green Bay Packers, 8-9: Dalton Kincaid, TE Utah

The Packers swapped first-round picks with the Jets in the Aaron Rodgers trade, so that allows them to leapfrog the Patriots. In doing so, they’re able to snag Kincaid, who is a dynamic receiving option that will give Jordan Love a target over the middle with second-year receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs on the outside. 

14. New England Patriots, 8-9: – Devon Witherspoon, CB Illinois

Everybody wants the Patriots to take a wide receiver or Bijan Robinson, and while either of those scenarios is entirely possible, Bill Belichick is also never one to do what people think he will. When the top cornerback in the draft falls into his lap, Belichick jumps at the opportunity to shore up a secondary that will need to be at the top of its game going up against Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers in the AFC East. 

15. New York Jets, 7-10: Broderick Jones, OT Georgia

Skoronski and Johnson go quickly off the board following each other, but the Jets are able to swap picks with Green Bay and still get Jones, who is a very good athlete and has excellent length. He is a powerful blocker in the run game and will be a day-one starter for New York. 

The Jets select Broderick Jones in our NFL Mock Draft
Broderick Jones blocks on a passing play against South Carolina (wikimedia commons)

16. Washington Commanders, 8-8-1: Christian Gonzalez, CB Oregon

It’s a strong corner class, and there are many people who have Gonzalez inside the top 10 (we did up until this version of our NFL mock draft). 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: Brian Branch, S Alabama

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. After taking a defensive lineman in the first round, they add a physical and aggressive safety here in Branch, who didn’t light up the athletic tests at the Combine but was great in positional drills and had a tremendous amount of success with the Crimson Tide. 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-9: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG Florida

 Tampa Bay is poised to lose two of its best cornerbacks in Jamal Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, but the draft didn’t fall great for them here when it comes to adding talent in the secondary. As a result, they pivot to another major area of concern, which is their offensive line. Torrence is the best guard in the draft and a powerful interior blocker who could be an NFL starter for a decade. 

20. Seattle Seahawks 9-8: John Michael Schmitz, OC Minnesota

After the Seahawks bolstered their pass rush by drafting Tyree Wilson with the first pick in our NFL mock draft, they turn their attention toward the offensive line. The loss of center Austin Blythe creates a massive hole for the Seahawks, which they can address with one of the best interior offensive linemen in the draft. Schmitz is a plug-and-play starter on day one. 

21. Los Angeles Chargers 10-7: Michael Mayer, TE Notre Dame

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; however, that won’t stop them from adding Mayer when he falls into their lap.

22. Miami Dolphins 9-8: PICK FORFEITED

23. Baltimore Ravens 10-7: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

The Ravens need to get Lamar Jackson more weapons on offense if they’re going to keep him happy, and Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t enough. Mark Andrews is a mainstay and Rashod Bateman should lock down one of the perimeter spots, but Jordan Addison would be a great addition as one of the best contested-pass-catchers in this class. He has excellent route-running, speed, and ball-tracking ability and could fill the hole left by the trade of Marquise Brown.

24. Minnesota Vikings 13-4: Deonte Banks, CB Maryland

The Vikings’ loss to the Giants showed that they can really use help in the secondary. They got burned by Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Richie James, and while we love the Giants here, that’s not a good look for a team that wants to be a contender in the NFC. Banks attacks the football with aggression and was trusted to cover top receivers this past season. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars 9-8: Brian Breese, DT Clemson

Cornerback remains an option here in our NFL mock draft as the Jaguars look to build a secondary that can lock down the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills in the AFC. However, there will be options in round two, so the Jags bolster the interior of their defensive line with Breese. Breese is a long and explosive athlete who creates a ton of mismatches inside the defensive line; he’d be a great fit in Jacksonville.

26. New York Giants 9-7-1: Zay Flowers, WR Boston College

Daniel Jones has shown he is more than capable of being a solid quarterback in this league. Pairing him with a top receiving option will be key this off-season and while we’ve gone back and forth as a staff about whether that choice will be Flowers or Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, we’ve opted to land on Flowers as the most versatile option for this Giants offense. 

Zay Flowers goes to the Giants in our NFL mock draft
Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2023.AP Photo/Michael Conroy

27. Dallas Cowboys 12-5: Darnell Wright, OT/OG Tennessee

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. Darnell Wright is a behemoth who could make the transition from offensive tackle to guard and start on day one to replace Connor McGovern at left guard. He could both back to right tackle in the future, so he gives Dallas a lot of flexibility. 

28. Buffalo Bills 13-3: Josh Downs, WR North Carolina

Many in Buffalo want the Bills to add a big-play receiver, but the truth is that the Bills’ biggest need is in the slot. They discovered that mid-way through last season, which is why they brought Cole Beasley out of retirement. Downs would give them a younger and more electric version of that over-the-middle safety value that has proven so vital for Josh Allen in the past. 

29. Cincinnati Bengals 12-4: Anton Harrison, OT Oklahoma

Cincinnati is another team that could go in a number of ways given the talent they have spread across their roster, but they need more help protecting Joe Burrow. Harrison was a left tackle in college but has played right tackle before so he should be able to make the transition there without much issue.

30. New Orleans Saints (via DEN, via MIA, via SF): Bijan Robinson, RB Texas

Yes, we know Robinson likely won’t make it this long, but since we’re not projecting trades, we can’t say who will trade up to stop his fall. In this scenario, the Saints snap him up to pair with Alvin Kamara or perhaps replace him given Kamara’s current legal troubles. 

31. Philadelphia Eagles 14-3: Emmanuel Forbes, CB Mississippi State

After reinforcing the trenches with their first pick, the Eagles now opt to replace key pieces in the secondary with Forbes, who may not wow you with elite tools but is a solid and ultra-competitive corner, who plays with the physicality and aggression that Philly fans will love. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs 14-3: Mazi Smith, DT Michigan

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 more than a wide receiver, which they seem content to use low-cost options on. Smith is a gifted athlete who could free up Jones for more one-on-one opportunities that would allow him to wreak havoc. 

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