Bryce Young might be historically undersized by successful NFL QB standards but we don’t care. He’s been that good for Alabama, dragging that team to victory just about every week. And he’s doing it with none of the playmakers that made life so much easier for Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones in previous years.
The Bears moved on from Robert Quinn before the trade deadline so they’ll be in the market for an edge rusher this offseason, and Will Anderson is in the same pre-draft conversations as Chase Young and Nick Bosa when it comes to best non-QB players in a class.
With Derek Carr set to be somewhere else in 2023, drafting a QB seems to be a high priority — enough so that in this mock we have Vegas moving up before the Panthers do. C.J. Stroud has flown under the national-media radar all season, but some NFL teams will tell you he’ll be in the running for QB1, and his performance in the semifinal game vs. Georgia showed that he can beat you with his arm and his legs.
Levis, who definitely looks the part, was plagued by injuries and poor play all fall. That said, NFL teams love how he projects to the next level but he’ll be a controversial talking point for the next six months. Either way, if owner Jim Irsay thinks Levis is the guy to turn things around in Indy, it’s easy to imagine that he will spare no expense to go get him.
Jalen Carter, who was arguably the best defender on a 2021 Georgia ‘D’ that had five first-round picks, would fill a huge void in Seattle, where the defense has struggled getting after the quarterback.
Murphy won’t be 21 until next spring and while we’d like to see him play with more consistency … he won’t be 21 until next spring. On top of that, when he’s on, he’s hard to stop, which makes him such an interesting prospect. `
Porter is the prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield, but he checks many of the boxes of what team’s look for when drafting DBs.
Richardson is one of the most exciting prospects in this class. The problem: he’s short on experience, and while his physical tools are rare, the Panthers are in dire need of a starting QB right now. David Tepper could choose to go the free agency route (again), but that has been, shall we say, a crapshoot. At the end of the day, Carolina may have to move inside the top 5 if they’re a quarterback they really want with Day 1 starter potential.
Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support.
Paris Johnson, who plays left tackle for the Buckeyes this season, also has experience on the interior; either way, he is a Day 1 starter, which in Philly could be at guard early in his career before moving to tackle if and when Lane Johnson decides to hang them up.
Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he’ll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard.
The Patriots are looking for a new OC this offseason, and they’ll also need to get Mac Jones more weapons on the outside after the offense stalled in 2022. Johnston’s an above-the-rim playmaker whose athleticism and contested-catch abilities put him in the running for WR1
Addison isn’t a big target, but he’s one of the most dynamic players in the country who can line up anywhere. Whether it’s Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love or the QB behind Door No. 3, the Packers need to break the 20-year drought of not taking a wideout in the first round.
Branch isn’t the first name you hear about when the conversation turns to Alabama’s defense, but maybe he should be. He’s a sure tackler, can blitz off the edge, and is solid in coverage, and if Nick Saban trusts him, that’s all you need to know about his NFL prospects.
Who knows what Tom Brady’s future is in Tampa Bay, but what better way to convince him to run it back at 46 than to add a tight end in the mold of Gronk. And while there’s only one true Gronk, Mayer was one of the best players in college football last season, dominant at all three levels, and a solid blocker in the run game, too.
The Georgia-to-first-round pipeline continues. A year after five Bulldogs went in Round 1, expect a handful this time around too. Ringo is a long, physical corner who has matched up against some of the best players in the country.
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There was some thought that Harrison might return to Oklahoma for an NIL deal that was too good to pass up, but he’s instead opted for the NFL. He’s one of the top tackles in the class and now the question is whether he finds his way into Round 1 or goes early on Day 2.
Robinson is special, and while he is probably one of the best players in this class, he could still be around late in Round 1 because he’s a running back. And while the Ravens and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have parted ways, it’s fair to assume that the team will still revolve around Lamar Jackson and the run game. JK Dobbins showed flashes after returning from ACL surgery but there isn’t a lot of depth behind him. A backfield of Jackson, Dobbins and Robinson is a problem for the rest of the AFC, even if Baltimore has more pressing needs here.
Ojulari, whose brother played at Georgia and plays for the Giants, had a solid campaign for the Tigers, and he has many of the same explosive qualities that made his brother so hard to block for the Bulldogs. Ojulari could end up being better than Azeez, and that’s saying something.
Kincaid could end up being one of the best rookie offensive weapons in 2023, especially if Doug Pederson uses him like the Jags used Evan Engram in ’22. Engram and two other Jacksonville TEs are currently free agents though the team could certainly decide to re-up the former Giants first-rounder who is coming off a career year. Even still, Kincaid would only make Trevor Lawrence’s life easier in ’23.
Smith-Njigba barely saw the field during the 2022 season because of injuries but he’s still one of the top wideouts in the class. And with Daniel Jones about to get paid, the Giants might as well get him some more weapons.
Hyatt wasn’t in the first-round conversation heading into the season but he’s a great example of a player taking advantage of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker’s Heisman Trophy campaign. Hyatt is a bona fide deep threat who consistently stacks defensive backs who have been helpless to do much about it all season.
The Bills don’t have a lot of needs — and safety, interior offensive line, or even running back (if, say, Bijan Robinson is still sitting there) could be options here. But cornerback could be a target, as well. Cam Smith is a first-round talent who can be a Day 1 contributor.
Darnell Washington is listed at 6-7, 265 pounds (he actually plays bigger than that), and while he’s growing into his role as a receiver, he’s essentially another offensive tackle when he’s inline. The Bengals will only have one TE under contract after the season and Washington would serve the dual role of both receiver and blocker in Cincy’s offense.
Sanders is a former five-star who transferred from Alabama after the 2021 season and all he’s done is show out for the Razorbacks. He was an edge rusher for the Crimson Tide but he lines up all over the defense for Arkansas and he’s been a one-man wrecking crew when he’s on the field.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more athletic offensive tackle in this class, and Duncan pops on tape at time. How he makes his way through the pre-draft process will ultimately determine if he can find his way into the first round.
The Eagles haven’t taken a RB in the first round since 1986 (!) but we said the same thing about Andy Reid and RBs right until the moment he selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire a few years ago. And while CEH may not be the best example of why Philly might consider a back here, Gibbs has drawn comparisons to Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara as both a runner and a receiver. He essentially be yet another weapon for Jalen Hurts in this offense.