The 2023 NFL Draft is just days away! With one of the most exciting times of year in the NFL on the horizon, I have laid out how I think things will shake out before the Dynasty Nerds Draft Watch-Along I am co-hosting with Dan Toomey this Thursday and Friday night on the Dynasty Nerds YouTube channel. Make sure to tune in!
How wrong will I be in this mock? Probably very. Predicting an entire round is like trying to get a perfect bracket in the NCAA tournament. There are so many factors and things we don’t see coming. But as of right now, this is how I see things shaking out. And check out how some of these picks might shake up your rookie drafts in the next few weeks!
- Carolina Panthers (from CHI): QB – BRYCE YOUNG
This one seems all but locked in at this point. By all accounts, the Panthers, who traded a haul to get to one overall, have circled Bryce Young as their QB of the future. Barring something crazy, this seems to be the chalk pick for 1.01.
From a fantasy perspective, Young lands in a great situation. A QB-minded head coach, committed owner, solid offensive line, and a good defense are already in Carolina. Next, it will just be about getting Young some weapons.
- Houston Texans: QB – WILL LEVIS
It only takes until the second pick for things to get interesting. Will Houston go another way than QB? Maybe they will trade out? Will they take C.J. Stroud? I am going with Levis, who appears to be the favorite as of right now for a Texans team that also seems to be overthinking this pick.
Levis landing in Houston is not a dream scenario as they have a lot of rebuilding to do, but the draft capital may give owners more confidence in taking the Kentucky product.
- Arizona Cardinals: ED – WILL ANDERSON
I almost had the Cardinals trading back. Ultimately, I think most teams behind them that we think want QB have cooled on Anthony Richardson and Stroud. Unable to find a deal they like, the Cardinals go with the best and safest player on the board in Anderson. They will start re-tooling the team by anchoring their defense with a future star.
- Indianapolis Colts: QB – CJ STROUD
Look how nicely things developed for Indy! A team that many thought would need to move up to get the QB they love has Stroud fall right in their lap. Stroud is the player I think is most set to become a franchise quarterback. Colts fans will be excited to add a Stroud jersey in their closet next to their Manning and Luck attire.
Stroud’s strange run the last few weeks ends with him landing in a great position for his fantasy value. He already has weapons on this team and a few players that can protect him. If the Colts can continue to improve the offensive line, Stroud is in a great spot.
- Seattle Seahawks: ED – TYREE WILSON
Seattle has a number of ways they can go here, but have lots of capital in this class. They decide on a more sure thing on defense. Wilson’s insane length excites Seahawks brass, and they take him over the likes of Jalen Carter. The team won’t question Wilson’s durability or endurance nearly as much.
- Detroit Lions: DL – JALEN CARTER
Once regarded as the top prospect in this class, Carter fell down the board for some off-the-field reasons. But that is to the benefit of the Lions, who find themselves another guy who is willing to bite a kneecap off for Dan Campbell.
- Las Vegas Raiders: CB – DEVON WITHERSPOON
While Vegas was mocked by many as a team looking to improve at QB, the addition of Jimmy G and the fast run of QBs in the top four has them changing mindsets and grabbing defense. Witherspoon is an aggressive and instinctual corner. It gives the Raiders a boost against the pass-heavy opponents in the AFC West.
- Atlanta Falcons: RB – BIJAN ROBINSON
The Falcons are dead set on giving themselves as many offensive weapons as possible before fully figuring out the QB position and they go with the top weapon on the board. Robinson joins an offense with Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Everyone will wonder if Desmond Ridder can be the future for all of that firepower.
Essentially, anywhere Bijan landed was going to be fine for him, but Atlanta is a nice spot. The team has weapons in the passing game that will force the defense not to completely focus on the running game. With a young QB, Bijan will have to get his fair share of touches every game. And Arthur Smith will never shy away from running the ball.
- Tennessee Titans (from CHI): QB – ANTHONY RICHARDSON
Seeing Richardson fall down the board, Tennessee tries to move up for him several times before finally finding a taker in Chicago. It may be two spots, but they don’t want to risk losing their guy. They move picks 11 and 41 for 9 and 64 and get their QB. Richardson will attempt to be everything Vince Young, Jake Locker, and Marcus Mariota could not be as first-round Titans QBs.
With Ryan Tannehill still in Tennessee, it could be a number of weeks before Richardson sees the field. But when he does, he will have a first-round talent WR in Treylon Burks on his roster. The Titans have always committed to running, which isn’t necessarily bad for Richardson, who could see his fair share of QB runs. And they have always been competitive with Mike Vrabel. It’s not my favorite landing spot for his fantasy value, but it is still very intriguing.
- Philadelphia Eagles: CB – CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ
Philadelphia has a plethora of picks and the ability to truly go for the best player available. They look to refortify their defense for the future and take one of the best defensive backs in this class in Gonzalez. While the team still has Darius Slay and James Bradberry, Gonzalez is the top player on their board. It ensures that defense will continue to stifle opponents.
- Chicago Bears (from TEN): OT – PETER SKORONSKI
Chicago has needs all over the place, but they are able to take their top offensive lineman in the draft and get Justin Fields some added protection. Some worry Skoronski’s arm length will prevent him from being successful at tackle. He is the best pure lineman in this class, and the Bears need players that can become staples. Even if that means Skoronski ends up playing guard.
For Justin Fields owners, you have to be excited about this pick for your fantasy team. Fields getting some more protection and time to throw (or eventually tuck and run) is always good. And hopefully, this limits the number of hits he takes over the next few years.
- Houston Texans: WR – JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA
After snagging their new franchise QB at two overall, Houston gives Levis a weapon to work with. Smith-Njigba is the best wide receiver in this class and goes to a team in desperate need of playmakers. However, the landing spot may not be the most exciting for fantasy owners.
Smith-Njigba getting a rookie QB isn’t the best landing for him, as both will have to grow together. I still believe in JSN in fantasy, but the start of the career could be a bit slower in this scenario.
- Green Bay Packers: OT- PARIS JOHNSON
With the Packers moving on from Aaron Rodgers this offseason, they bring in one of the top tackles in this class to protect Jordan Love. The oft-injured David Bakhtiari turns 32 this fall and has missed 26 games in the last three seasons. Johnson will learn from a great LT early in his career while playing RT to begin. He can be the next man up when Bakhtiari is a free agent in two years.
- New England Patriots: ED – LUKAS VAN NESS
Honestly, I don’t have much more reasoning for this pick. The Patriots love to boost their defense, and Van Ness feels like a Belichick pick. Knowing he needs to get more pieces to stop the likes of the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets in his division, Belichick grabs a versatile edge that is hard to scheme against.
- New York Jets (from GB): OT – DARNELL WRIGHT
With Aaron Rodgers on the way, the Jets need to shore up their offensive line and protect their new QB in his twilight years. Wright would be going even higher in this draft if the right tackle was valued as highly as a left tackle. Yet 15th overall is not bad for the Tennessee product. With an already stellar defense and weapons all over the offense (including Mekhi Becton already at left tackle), this may be the last big piece New York needs to make some noise in the AFC.
- Washington Commanders: CB – JOEY PORTER JR.
Snatching Porter a pick before he can land where his dad played in the NFL, Washington bolsters their secondary by getting an instinctual corner that can be a young leader in the locker room. With the franchise in a bit of flux and possibly changing ownership, Washington grabs a very good player with a safe floor to ensure they are getting a piece they can build on.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: OT – BRODERICK JONES
Pittsburgh had one of the worst lines in 2022, which you felt if you were a Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, or Pat Freiermuth owner. Jones comes in to anchor the left side of the line and ensure Kenny Pickett can stay protected a bit longer. The Steelers can look like they have an offensive identity on Sundays.
This is a great pick for owners with Steelers players. The Steelers need to improve that line for any of your players to even think about getting to their ceiling.
- Detroit Lions: TE – DALTON KINCAID
The Lions had multiple first-round picks and already addressed the defense with Jalen Carter. Detroit is able to replace a former first-round TE they traded last year in T.J. Hockenson. Kincaid is arguably the purest pass catcher in this class. It gives Detroit another weapon on an already young and exciting offense. Look out NFC North! The Lions are coming for their first division title since a time when the Buccaneers were still in their division.
Tight ends can always take some time to develop, so I wouldn’t expect Kincaid to be a top-10 TE right away, but this landing spot is very nice. The Lions are building a great base, and Kincaid being a part of that bodes well for his fantasy chances.
- Buffalo Bills (from TB): WR – ZAY FLOWERS
The Bills have been on the doorstep of the Super Bowl for the last three seasons and have just been unable to get over the hump. With the competitive window starting to close, the Bills get aggressive and move up in the draft to get themselves another weapon for Josh Allen. And Stefon Diggs celebrates as well, as Flowers’s arrival means defenses cannot strictly focus on Diggs.
If this was to play out, I think Flowers would shoot up rookie draft boards. I could even see the scenario where owners like Flowers in Buffalo more than JSN in Houston. Personally, I would still take JSN, but there is no denying this is a great spot for Flowers and helps his fantasy stock.
- Seattle Seahawks: DI – CALIJAH KANCEY
The Seahawks decided to start the new Legion of Boom in this draft, taking Kancey and pairing him with Tyree Wilson (who they took at five) for a completely revamped defensive line. Kancey is an outlier for his position with his smaller size. But his explosiveness and quickness are valued highly by the Seahawks. They are thrilled to have two new warriors for the battle in the trenches.
- Los Angeles Chargers: TE – MICHAEL MAYER
The Chargers saw their two favorite wide receiver targets go off the board before they picked. They turn to the tight end position to find Justin Herbert another weapon. Michael Mayer is a complete tight end that gives the Chargers help in blocking as well as another weapon in the passing game. Maybe he is the missing piece to giving the franchise its first playoff win since the 2018 season.
If you are looking to improve at TE on your fantasy team, you can’t ask for a better landing spot. The Chargers have a great young QB, with talent all over the offensive land, in the receiver room, and in the backfield. It is going to shoot Mayer up draft boards in rookie drafts.
- Baltimore Ravens: ED – MYLES MURPHY
Baltimore historically is fantastic at drafting and going with the best player available mentality. They get on the clock at 22 and find that a talented EDGE like Murphy is still somehow available. Baltimore has always been a franchise built on defense. They continue to improve on that side of the ball and roster one of the best defensive teams in the league.
- Minnesota Vikings: CB – DEONTE BANKS
A lot of talks have been that Minnesota will look for wide receiver early in the draft. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores pounds the table for Maryland’s Deonte Banks to help change fortunes in the Twin Cities. The Vikings’ defense surrendered 431 yards to the Giants in the playoffs. The franchise needs to improve defensively to get themselves further in the NFC.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: ED – NOLAN SMITH
Jacksonville is thrilled to see one of the best pure athletes in this draft class still on the board when they are up at 24. Smith is a freakish talent on the defense and a leader in the locker room and helps move a young Jags team further in the direction of being a competitive franchise for years to come.
- New York Giants: WR – JORDAN ADDISON
When the Giants come on the clock at 25, they could not be happier than to have a good WR option still available to them. The 2021 Biletnikoff winner, Addison, immediately becomes the best pass-catching option in the Giants’ offense. Not to mention the best target Daniel Jones has ever had as a professional.
The Giants committed to Jones and signed him to a big deal. Addison coming in to be the number one for Jones in Brian Daboll’s offense is a really nice landing spot for fantasy owners. Expect Addison’s stock to rise in this scenario.
- Dallas Cowboys: DI – MAZI SMITH
Jerry Jones loves to find diamonds in his draft picks. The quickness-to-size combo in Smith is not something you see in every prospect. Finding a way to bolster the defense in Dallas, especially in the interior, will be a priority for the Cowboys, and Smith is a great start.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from BUF): QB – HENDON HOOKER
Falling back from 19 to 27, the Bucs decide to take a shot at finding the next quarterback for their future, with Tom Brady deciding to hang up the cleats at the end of 2022. Hooker is a fascinating prospect, and getting him before he leaves the first round means the Bucs will have the fifth-year option if the Tennessee product pans out in Tampa.
There could be worse landing spots for Hooker. The reality is Tampa is going to be in a re-tooling process for a few years. There are a bit older and will need to be infused with more young talent for Hooker to succeed. But Hooker will absolutely get the chance to be the guy there, especially with first-round draft capital.
- Cincinnati Bengals: S – BRIAN BRANCH
Seeing both Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates leaving Cincinnati during free agency, the Bengals run to the stage to find themselves some help in the deep secondary. Branch is the best safety in this class and comes at a position of need for the team. The Bengals will need to focus on building their defense with affordable rookie deals with big contracts for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and possibly Tee Higgins on the horizon.
- New Orleans Saints: ED – ADETOMIWA ADEBAWORE
The Saints brass loved what they saw from Adebawore at the Senior Bowl and hopes he can be the next big defensive lineman for the franchise. Adebawore has soared up draft boards and finds his way into the first round. New Orleans is trying to find ways to bring their defense back into the top ten in the NFL.
- Philadelphia Eagles: G – O’CYRUS TORRENCE
The Eagles have some aging players on their offensive line and lost guard Isaac Seumalo to their in-state rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Torrence is the best pure guard in this class and allows the Eagles to continue to bully teams in the trenches. And keeping their newly mega-paid quarterback off the ground.
- Kansas City Chiefs: TE – DARNELL WASHINGTON
The Super Bowl Champions learned a tough lesson when they fell to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. Patrick Mahomes is Superman, but he still needs protection. They have worked ever since at bringing in linemen to protect Mahomes. They take the opportunity at 31 in getting him more protection, as well as another weapon. I can’t wait to see what kinds of plays Andy Reid will draw up in 12 personnel with the mammoth of Washington (6’7”, 264 lbs.) on the field.
Want to yell at me and tell me how bad this mock is? Find me on Twitter at @timbmartens, and let me know what you think!
And most importantly, hop on the Dynasty Nerds YouTube channel this Thursday and Friday during the draft to hear live analysis and reactions from myself and @DanT_NFL.