2023 Mock Draft With 5 WRs In The 1st Round

Apr 5th 2023

Hayden Winks

With 2023 NFL Free Agency nearly completed, we can now look ourselves in the mirror when building a 2023 NFL mock draft. This is what I think what will happen a month before the Panthers are officially on the clock. I'll add odds when applicable, and will frequently reference expected draft position from GrindingTheMocks.

My Mock Draft 1.0 is here.

1. Panthers - QB1 C.J. Stroud

Watch the Stroud episode of Scheme with Josh McCown. Watch McCown's interaction with Stroud after the Pro Day. Or just watch the tape and realize that Stroud is 1st overall worthy prospect -- he's my QB1. I'd handicap this as 75% likely, with Young soaking up a large majority of the leftovers. The markets (-320 aka 80% odds) agree... His expected draft position: 1st.

2. Texans - QB2 Bryce Young

NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein has connections to Houston (he had CB Derek Stingley at 4th overall last year as a bold call), and he mocks Young here. I'd say there's a 75% chance of this happening. On top of that, NFL Network's James Palmer reports the Texans are only looking at Young and Stroud at 2nd overall (aka no Anthony Richardson sneakiness). The markets agree (-225 aka 69% odds)... His expected draft position: 2nd.

3. Cardinals - EDGE1 Will Anderson

Arizona's roster is a disaster, so they'll want to trade back. But does the NFL like the QB prospects enough to trade in front of the Colts? I think it's a true tossup and ultimately comes down to the evaluations of Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. If they stay put out of a lack of interest, it seems that the best available players are on defense, where they have a defensive head coach. EDGE1 Will Anderson is the obvious choice (-130 odds to go 3rd overall) and was mocked here by Daniel Jeremiah. Last mock, I got funky with a Christian Gonzalez selection to point out some underrated connections, but I'll stick with chalk this time to see how it'll change the dynamics of the top 10... His expected draft position: 3rd.

4. Colts - QB3 Anthony Richardson

GM Chris Ballard said they don't have to trade up to get the QB prospect they want, and I (somewhat) believe him! It's already risky to draft the most boom-bust player in the draft. It's extremely risky for another team to trade future picks to do so. Richardson and Jalen Hurts aren't exactly the same players, but there are rushing similarities that former Eagles OC and current Colts HC Shane Steichen can lean into. Gardner Minshew received high-end backup money to bring him along. This pick was made in Daniel Jeremiah's mock, too. Richardson's odds of being the QB3 in the draft sit at -275... His expected draft position: 4th.

5. Seahawks - DT1 Jalen Carter

Geno Smith's contract is in line with average starters in 2023 and also includes roster bonuses and guaranteed money in 2024. Plus, Drew Lock is making $4M this year, and Pete Carroll wants to win now, not rebuild. He's old!!! It's enough for me to lean non-QBs as they look to compete in a much weaker NFC West. Carter has character concerns to address, but he's not taking top-30 visits with teams outside of the top-10 picks because they're that confident he's going high. As a reminder, DT Jeffery Simmons tore his ACL pre-draft and beat a women on film, yet still went 19th overall just a few years ago... His expected draft position: 6th.

6. Lions - EDGE2 Tyree Wilson

Detroit added NCB Cameron Sutton and CB2 Emmanuel Moseley this free agency, but Moseley is on an one-year $6M contract, while CB1 Jeff Okudah is going into the last year of his contract. I'm not ruling out scheme and personality fit CB Devon Witherspoon, but Wilson is ranked higher on big boards and arguably fits a bigger need of adding pass rush opposite Aidan Hutchinson... His expected draft position: 5th.

7. Raiders - CB1 Devon Witherspoon

The Raiders were interested in the first overall pick, but that doesn't mean they like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis. Jimmy Garoppolo's contract is fully guaranteed in year one and will be fully guaranteed if he's on the roster on the third league year in 2024. Even if they move on, the Raiders would swallow $11M while saving $13M. This is a two year deal in my opinion. That brings me to best players available and team needs (which includes the entire defense). The Raiders rank 8th in man coverage rate, slightly favoring Witherspoon over Gonzalez, who is often ranked higher. Either would fit.... His expected draft position: 11th.

8. Falcons - CB2 Christian Gonzalez

Best player available + valuable position + team need opposite A.J. Terrell. Whoever falls between Tyree Wilson, Devon Witherspoon, and Christian Gonzalez is the most likely selection here... His expected draft position: 7th.

9. Bears - OL1 Paris Johnson Jr.

Chicago was last in adjusted sack rate on offense (largely because of Justin Fields). They addressed the interior, but their current starting left tackle was a 5th-round pick last year. Johnson checks every box as an upside left tackle, making him a quality bet at -125 odds to be the first OL to be drafted. Peter Skoronski isn't as good of a fit, given his middling size and this offense's run-heavy identity... His expected draft position: 8th.

10. Eagles - OL2 Peter Skoronski

Philadelphia will always build through the trenches, and their current biggest need is at guard, where Skoronski could project best at given his threshold-lacking arm length. Some believe he could be an All Pro on the interior, with the chance of being good enough to play left tackle still. That's insurance on LT Jordan Mailata... His expected draft position: 10th.

11. Titans - QB4 Will Levis

If Levis was loved by the NFL, he would've declared after his redshirt junior year in 2021 (his best season), especially because that was a horrendous QB class. He's regressed since then. After tweeting out I thought he'd fall, I had multiple highly respected analysts confirm a slide is possible. At the same time, Tennessee is doing a lot of homework on QBs and was even rumored to be in the mix for a trade up to 3rd overall. However, they lack draft capital (six draft picks without a 4th rounder) and have holes to fill. Patience would be helpful, while they take on the boom-bust profile that new GM Ran Carthon dove on with Trey Lance in San Francisco. Levis, personality-wise, seems like a Mike Vrabel guy, too... His expected draft position: 9th.

12. Texans - EDGE3 Lukas Van Ness

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein also had this one. The team need makes a ton of sense, especially with 49ers DC Demeco Ryans coming to town to coach. If LVN needs to develop as an unproven pass rusher, Houston won't mind in their early stages of a massive rebuild... His expected draft position: 13th.

13. Jets - EDGE4 Nolan Smith

It appears that LT Mekhi Becton is back on track, so the Jets will turn to adding to the defensive line. Smith is rising on consensus boards and would provide speed to a sturdy interior defensive line. Daniel Jeremiah, who is plugged in with the Jets' brass, agrees... His expected draft position: 17th.

14. Patriots - OL3 Broderick Jones

New England couldn't protect Mac Jones last year, and they've only put bandaids on to stop the bleeding this offseason. Jones is a great athlete with upside as a redshirt sophomore from Georgia... His expected draft position: 12th.

15. Packers - WR1 Jaxon Smith-Njigba

The best way to troll Aaron Rodgers out the door is by going with a first-round receiver. JSN isn't going to bust, which is why he's -250 to be the first WR in the draft. He also complements explosive-based receiver Christian Watson in this offense... His expected draft position: 14th.

16. Commanders - RB1 Bijan Robinson

Washington's new GM drafted six different RBs in the first three rounds as the Lions GM or assistant GM. With Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson leading the Commanders to a 29th-ranked finish in YPC last year, this would be the perfect excuse to draft a "blue chip" player with Ron Rivera coaching for his job. Can't you hear the "run the ball, don't turn the ball over, and win with defense" quotes already??? His expected draft position: 16th.

17. Steelers - CB3 Deonte Banks

A fantastic athlete, Banks earned big bucks from the NFL Combine. Since then, he's officially visited Pittsburgh, a signal he's on their wish list... His expected draft position: 21st.

18. Lions - CB4 Joey Porter Jr.

With Okudah and Moseley only signed for 2023, Detroit hasn't solved all of their long-term CB needs. Porter has NFL blood, perfect for the knee-biting Dan Campbells... His expected draft position: 16th.

19. Bucs - TE1 Michael Mayer

It caught my eye that they haven't traded their top WRs and even re-signed players I thought they'd let walk. Perhaps this GM and HC are worried about their job security, rather than tanking for Caleb Williams (which is the smart choice of course). We've seen this offensive staff bring in a full depth chart at TE, headlined by Gronk. A true in-line TE with receiving numbers, Mayer is the consensus TE1 in this class and -125 to be the first TE in the draft... His expected draft position: 22nd.

20. Seahawks - EDGE5 Myles Murphy

The Seahawks defensive line is now set with Jalen Carter and Murphy... His expected draft position: 18th.

21. Chargers - WR2 Jordan Addison

Still ranked inside Daniel Jeremiah's top-10 prospects, the worries of Addison dropping in the draft have been exaggerated. In fact, I don't hate +1000 odds of Addison still going as the WR1. His tape is good, and WRs are getting smaller in general. The key here is the Chargers WR coach is the same coach who originally got Addison to sign with Maryland, before they both committed to Pitt a few years ago. When he left, Addison left to USC. Let's connect some dots, while acknowledging that Addison is also a great complement to Mike Williams (big body) and Keenan Allen (power slot)... His expected draft position: 24th.

22. Ravens - WR3 Quentin Johnston

Baltimore can't be serious with Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, and Devin Duvernay as Lamar Jackson's top receivers. Adding Johnston gives them size and yards after the catch ability, even if I'm iffy on his overall profile. This analytics-based front office will certainly value this highly-paid position and his early-declare status. Maybe that'd be enough for Lamar to sign an extension with Kenroy Francis' approval... His expected draft position: 19th.

23. Vikings - WR4 Zay Flowers

CB Andrew Booth and slot CB Byron Murphy need a third running mate at corner, but there's also room for one more pass catcher with Adam Thielen released. In fact, Minnesota HC Kevin O'Connell said during a live NFL Combine interview on NFL Network, "We met with Zay, he was phenomenal... When you turn on the tape, you feel that explosiveness on the field anytime [guys like him] touch it."... His expected draft position: 26th.

24. Jaguars - OL4 Darnell Wright

After losing RT Jawaan Taylor, it's unclear if Walker Little is ready for a starting role on the other side. If they want a straight forward projection, then Wright makes a ton of sense. He played both left and right tackle at Tennessee, and likely could kick inside, too... His expected draft position: 20th.

25. Giants - S1 Brian Branch

Best player available at a position of need and with coach-to-college connections between Brian Daboll and his Crimson Tide... His expected draft position: 23rd.

26. Cowboys - TE2 Darnell Washington

One Washington comparison is Mercedes Lewis, who play-caller and head coach Mike McCarthy coached for a decade with the Packers. Dallas has a pair of Day 3 second year players at the top of their depth chart, and neither block as well as Washington. Get ready to establish the run... His expected draft position: 31st.

27. Bills - DT2 Mazi Smith

A great athlete who is rising up consensus boards, Smith would complement Ed Oliver and Daquan Jones in 2023 before replacing them afterwards. Both are only signed this year... His expected draft position: 30th.

28. Bengals - TE3 Dalton Kincaid

Cincy has cycled through TEs in recent seasons but can't view undersized and oft-injured Irv Smith as an every-down starter. Kincaid fits that profile better, and he has a very high receiving ceiling. In fact, he roasted my USC Trojans to the tune of 16 catches... His expected draft position: 27th.

29. Saints - DT3 Calijah Kancey

Cameron Jordan is 34 years old, and this is the worst EDGE depth New Orleans has had in years. I really wanted to find an edge here, but Will McDonald is far smaller than the typical Saints 4-3 DEs and the rest of the bigger edge prospects aren't mocked in this range. Instead, the interior line gets addressed with a bursty 3-tech to pair with 1-tech Khalen Saunders... His expected draft position: 25th.

30. Eagles - WR5 Jalin Hyatt

More likely to settle in the early parts of Round 2, Hyatt would be a luxury for the Eagles, but there is room for one more. He'd be a low-volume deep threat, allowing A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith to play with space underneath. We debated Hyatt's value in the video below... His expected draft position: 37th.

31. Chiefs - OL5 Anton Harrison

RT Andrew Wylie left this offseason, and his spot hasn't been replaced. Jawaan Taylor is rumored to switch to left tackle with the Chiefs, but that could depend on which OT is available at 31. Anton Harrison was Oklahoma's left tackle, which would likely keep Taylor at right tackle... His expected draft position: 34th.

Also in consideration: QB Hendon Hooker, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, OT Dawand Jones, OG O'Cyrus Torrence, C John Michael-Schmitz, DT Bryan Bresee, EDGE Will McDonald, EDGE Felix Anduke-Uzomah, LB Drew Sanders, LB Jack Campbell, CB Kelee Ringo, CB Cam Smith, CB Emmanuel Forbes.