It’s never too early to think about next year’s NFL draft once last year’s draft is complete. With some exciting prospects available on the board – including two superstar college football quarterbacks — there’s great reason to start looking forward to 2023.
Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud will be in a heated battle to be the first off the board, fresh off their competition to win the Heisman in college. They also will have plenty of early company from other star Crimson Tide and Buckeyes players.
Here’s an initial look on how the 2023 first round might play out. Sporting News’ 1-32 draft order is based on current consensus reverse Super Bowl 57 odds:
NFL Mock Draft 2023
1. Houston Texans
- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 215 pounds)
The Texans are giving Davis Mills another shot to prove he can be a franchise passer with Deshaun Watson gone but although he’s got a strong arm, he’s not the complete answer. Stroud is quickly putting together the total package in Columbus.
2. Detroit Lions
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (6-0, 194 pounds)
Young should also continue to build his skill set, that includes off the charts intangibles and smarts, coming off a stellar Heisman-winning campaign in a program that keeps churning out promising NFL QBs. The Lions need to go here after passing on a QB in 2022.
3. Atlanta Falcons
- Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (6-4, 243 pounds)
After opting to grab their young franchise passer in the 2022 draft, the Falcons can go back to locking into the best defensive player available. Anderson is an awesome and prolific disruptor, the nation’s most impactful athlete at any position.
4. New York Jets
- Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6-3, 210 pounds)
The Jets loaded up on defensive talent elsewhere over the weekend, but they will think about finding a DeForest Buckner-type for Robert Saleh early in 2023. Carter can take over game with his explosive inside push that’s an equal asset vs. run and pass.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 197 pounds)
The Jaguars invested big money in wide receiver help but they will need a true alpha for Trevor Lawrence. Smith-Njigba already has the size, speed and quickness to be a No. 1 and will confirm that status with more bulk and more consistent route-running.
6. New York Giants
- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-4, 251 pounds)
The Giants are putting some duct tape around tight end after moving on from Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph but they should be in the market to get a rare impact receiver. Mayer has the downfield skills and hands to be worthy of a top-10 pick out of a tight end factory.
7. Carolina Panthers
- Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (6-5, 300 pounds)
The Panthers need to think about their defensive front more next year with some limited return from 2020 first-rounder Derrick Brown. Bresee should rebound as a disruptive force for Tigers returning from a torn ACL.
8. Chicago Bears
- Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (6-5, 275 pounds)
The Bears didn’t tap into the strong pass rusher class with their limited 2022 picks in the wake of trading Khalil Mack but they should be position to consider a bona fide and well-rounded sack producer who also can blow up plenty of running plays.
9. Seattle Seahawks
- Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama (6-1, 195 pounds)
The Seahawks opted not to address their issues at corner early in 2022 so Pete Carroll and John Schneider need to have an eye on young upgrades. Ricks, a transfer from LSU, has great SEC pedigree as a cover man.
10. Washington Commanders
- Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6-2, 205 pounds)
The Commanders didn’t use Day 1 or Day 2 capital on needed cornerback help but that should change after William Jackson continues to disappoint as a big free-agent addition. Ringo is a dynamic, clutch ballhawk in coverage and will stand out more with many Georgia top defenders ascending to the NFL.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (6-5, 316 pounds)
There’s a good bet the Steelers will try to land a franchise left tackle to better pass-protect Kenny Pickett in Year 2. Nelson’s athleticism is first-round caliber and expect him to get stronger in college as he made a wise decision to delay his pro entry.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)
- B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU (6-3, 244 pounds)
The Eagles turned their big draft haul into a much smaller one with trades in 2022, leaving the need for a young explosive pass rusher on the table. This explosive player with a quick first step and a variety of moves would make sense. Ojulari is the brother of former Georgia star Azeez, a 2021 second-rounder who starts for the Giants.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
- Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame (6-1, 192 pounds)
The Eagles also couldn’t tap into a need at safety after choosing not to give Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton first-round consideration. Here they think about Hamilton’s replacement. Joseph should build on his corner-like on-ball playmaking in his transfer from Northwestern, rebounding from a tough transitional year in his former program.
14. New England Patriots
- Malachi Moore, S, Alabama (6-0, 190 pounds)
Devin McCourty is going into his Age 35 season. Adrian Phillips just turned 30. Bill Belichick should already have his eye on his favorite program to restore his playmaking pop in coverage. Moore is an absolute stud in coverage on the inside and makes a lot of plays in coverage. Expect him to keep growing his all-around game alongside Jordan Battle for Nick Saban.
15. Las Vegas Raiders
- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (6-3, 225 pounds)
The Raiders, with limited picks in 2022 because of the Davante Adams trade, should be in better position to address their key defensive need on the second level next year. Simpson offers great speed and quickness with special pass-rush skills for a 4-3 weakside linebacker.
16. Miami Dolphins
- Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (6-3, 253 pounds)
The Dolphins, with limited picks in 2022 because of the Tyreek Hill trade, should be in better position to address their key defensive need for the pass rush next year.
17. Tennessee Titans
- Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh (6-0, 175 pounds)
The Titans did replace traded A.J. Brown with first-rounder Treylon Burks, but they also need to be wary of the fact newcomer Robert Woods is coming off a torn ACL and will be turning 31 before next season. Addison was the best collegiate receiver in 2021 catching passes from Pickett and will have appeal because he can be highly effective with his quickness in the slot if not using his smooth route-running outside.
18. Baltimore Ravens
- Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington (6-7, 310 pounds)
Kirkland made a good decision to return to school to give him a shot to be one of the top tackles taken in 2023. He has the frame and athletic traits needed to become a left tackle, but teams will be more comfortable if he can get stronger and bulkier. The Ravens will need a potential starter outside given Ronnie Stanley’s durability issues.
19. Minnesota Vikings
- Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU (6-0, 190 pounds)
The Vikings hit a home run with the complete, dominant playmaking skills, speed and quickness of Justin Jefferson. The Bengals did the same with Ja’Marr Chase from the same program. The Vikings can go back to the Tigers to complement Jefferson with Adam Thielen fading and being less durable going into his Age 32 season.
20. Indianapolis Colts
- Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame (6-5, 260 pounds)
The Colts focused on addressing more immediate needs with Chris Ballard in 2022 but they will be in the market for more pass rush help. Foskey has a great combination of physical explosive traits and should keep getting better playing down the road again in South Bend.
21. Arizona Cardinals
- Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-6, 315 pounds)
D.J. Humphries has started to struggle in pass protection on the left side and is unsigned beyond this season. Johnson will showcase his athleticism well going back to playing the outside to protect Stroud.
22. Cincinnati Bengals
- Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (6-3, 251 pounds)
The Bengals opted to pass on his older brother Penei for offensive tackle in 2021, but they should have some interest in Noah to replace and upgrade from Germaine Pratt in 2023. This Swell, is a big, mean force against the run with some good pass-rush pop that he can develop further this season.
23. Dallas Cowboys
- Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas (5-10, 200 pounds)
The Cowboys should be in the market to upgrade safety with a well-rounded thumper against the run who also makes a lot of plays in coverage. It doesn’t hurt that Catalon is a top performer at Jerry Jones’ alma mater.
24. Houston Texans (from Browns)
- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6-0, 214 pounds)
After no running backs went in the first round this year, Robinson is set up to be next year’s Najee Harris with his prolific, explosive rushing and workhorse profile. The Texans will also like staying in-state to get Robinson’s receiving upside.
25. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
- Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama (6-2, 228 pounds)
The Seahawks need to wait to find their true replacement for long-time stalwart Bobby Wagner. To’o To’o follows Christian Harris as the Crimson Tide’s latest speedy and rangy tackler who racks up numbers against the run and also stays very active in coverage.
26. Miami Dolphins (from 49ers)
- Tre’Vius Hodges Tomlinson, CB, TCU (5-9, 177 pounds)
The Dolphins need to think about moving on from expensive and disappointing former Cowboy Byron Jones in 2023. They should covet the speed and athletic energy in coverage that LaDainian’s nephew can provide.
27. Los Angeles Chargers
- Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (6-2, 196 pounds)
The Chargers have had success in the slot with Asante Samuel Jr. so they can go for another fine pedigree cover corner to put outside opposite big 2022 free-agent addition J.C. Jackson. The namesake son of the former Steelers linebacker has a nice big frame and flashes great athletic traits in coverage. He should get more polished and consistent in his return to the Nittany Lions.
28. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
- Byron Young, DT, Alabama (6-3, 292 pounds)
The Lions did well in addressing their edge pass rush by landing Aidan Hutchinson but next year it will be more about the interior defensive line after taking another Young from the Crimson Tide as their franchise QB. This Young has awesome blend of power and explosiveness to take over games, much like many past ‘Bama bashers.
29. Green Bay Packers
- Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (6-4, 294 pounds)
Skoronski has been a worthy replacement for Chargers 2021 first-rounder Rashawn Slater with his athleticism and technically sound blocking. The Packers need to think about the future beyond David Bakhtiari, who will turn 31 in September. They will also love the fact Peter is the grandson of Bob Skoronski, a star tackle during the Vince Lombardi glory days blocking for Bart Starr.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
- Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma (5-11, 177 pounds)
The Chiefs drafted a great slot wideout in Skyy Moore to help replace Tyreek Hill for Patrick Mahomes. But JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman are only signed through 2022 so they mightneed to look for more explosiveness early at the position next year. Mims fits the bill and has a high ceiling as the latest Sooners standout.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina (6-1, 200 pounds)
Rattler has a big chance to restore his draft stock with the Gamecocks after fizzling and being replaced in his final season with the Sooners. He has the natural arm strength and athleticism to play himself back into first-round consideration. The key will be more consistent with his accuracy and decision-making.
32. Buffalo Bills
- Jarrett Patterson, C/G, Notre Dame (6-4, 307 pounds)
Rodger Saffold, who turns 34, is a one-year solution at guard so the Bills will be in the market to upgrade given Saffold and Cody Ford are pending free agents. Patterson has some Zack Martin-like upside to his blocking.