Russell Brown 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Four Quarterbacks in the top-10 and Three Mock Trades


Phew! What an incredible season it has been and for the NFL season to come to an end with one of the best Super Bowls we’ve ever seen. But with that, we now redirect our attention to the 2023 NFL Draft! Last year, my final mock draft finished top-10 and with the process, we’ll look to do that again. So with that, here’s my mock draft 1.0 for the 2023 NFL Draft!

1.Indianapolis Colts (Mock Trade with Chicago) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama 

It’ll be interesting to see what the Chicago Bears do with the first overall pick. There’s plenty of belief that they’ll move the pick for some additional draft capital to build around Justin Fields. With that, I’d expect a team like the Colts to position themselves in front of the Texans to get their quarterback of the future. There are concerns on the overall frame of Bryce Young but he’s got the desired mobility and arm strength to succeed in the NFL. With the Colts having an established offensive line, Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman, it’s a pretty solid unit around Bryce Young to start his career.

Trade Details:
IND Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (1st Overall Pick)
CHI Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (4th Overall), 2023 Second Round Pick (36th Overall) and 2024 First Round Pick

2. Houston Texans – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

There’s certainly a chance that the Texans select a quarterback with the second pick but what if they don’t? The Texans have enough draft capital to take one of the best defensive talents in the draft and still could move up for one of the top quarterbacks. Meanwhile, they could also be a team that lands Jimmy G from the 49ers or Derek Carr from the Raiders this off-season. That said, I think DeMeco Ryans would be ecstatic at the idea of adding a premier edge rusher to his defense. The blend of power and speed that is possessed by Anderson helps him stop the run and rush the passer. He could become a foundational piece for the Texans new-look defense.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Jalen Carter, IDL, Alabama

One of the most common scenarios in mock drafts would be for the Cardinals to trade back. That said, we know how difficult it is for those trades to happen. So with that, the Cardinals will play it safe and take one of the best overall players in the draft. Carter is versatile and has a blend of power and speed that we rarely see for the position. He should become an immediate impact player for a Cardinals defense that will desperately need it after losing JJ Watt to retirement. 

4. Chicago Bears (Mock Trade with Indianapolis) – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

With the Bears trading with the Colts, it’s a waiting game for them to see if one of the defensive players falls to them. In this case, they don’t and the Bears pivot to protecting Justin Fields. On this pick, I simply tried to connect the dots of Peter Skoronski and Kevin Warren being part of the Big Ten and how he played right down the road. On the field, Skoronski is a smart player with great overall technique. He’s consistent and athletic and has over 2300 career snaps in his 33 career games played. He’d become a plug-and-play starter for the Bears offensive line.

Trade Details:
IND Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (1st Overall Pick)
CHI Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (4th Overall), 2023 Second Round Pick (36th Overall) and 2024 First Round Pick

5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

While I love the idea of Anthony Richardson or CJ Stroud to the Seahawks, I can’t get the conversations of Will Levis to Seattle out of my head from when I was at the Senior Bowl. Much of what I heard was that the Seahawks “like Levis a lot.” It all makes sense too because Levis has the desired tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s tough, mobile and has the arm talent needed to succeed in the NFL. He’ll need to clean up his turnovers and become a better decision maker at the next level. Fortunately, he should be able to sit behind Geno Smith for much of the 2023 season.

6. Detroit Lions (via LAR) – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Could it be a quarterback at this spot? Anything’s possible but I genuinely believe that Jared Goff is the guy that the Lions want under center for the foreseeable future. So with that, we go to one of the biggest areas of need on the defensive side of the ball. The need for a starting cornerback should be one of the Lions top priority and they’ll be able to address it here with the addition of Christian Gonzalez. He’s got great length for the position, can run in-stride with receivers and is fluid in his backpedal and as he opens his hips to run. There’s potential for Gonzalez to make an immediate impact on the Lions secondary.

7. Las Vegas Raiders – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Raiders are one of the teams that have the draft capital needed to move picks around on the second day of the draft to acquire a veteran quarterback. Josh McDaniels was brought to Vegas to win now so my assumption is that they’ll look at Jimmy G or potentially Aaron Rodgers to reunite with Davante Adams. That said, everyone in the NFL is searching for offensive tackle help and the Raiders are no different. Despite having Kolton Miller on the left side of their offensive line, they need someone to anchor the right side. Jones has only given up two sacks in his career and despite being a bit of a waist bender, he moves incredibly well for a player of his size and has a strong anchor to match the power from defenders.

8. Houston Texans (Mock Trade with Atlanta) – CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

There’s no doubt that I’m enamored by what the Houston Texans can do in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’ve got the draft capital that’s necessary to move around in the first round (think of the New York Jets in 2022). With one of the top quarterbacks falling down the board, they get aggressive and move up to get their guy for the future. Getting in front of Carolina will be crucial for them and in this scenario it pays off for them in a big way. They grab a premier edge rusher and now get a quarterback that can make every throw on the field. The hope for anyone drafting Stroud is that he continues to win at the next level but also, the performance that we saw out of him against Georgia is what we see from him in the NFL.

Trade Details:
HOU Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (8th Overall)
ATL Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (12th Overall) and 2023 Second Round Pick (34th Overall)

9. Carolina Panthers –  Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

With the top-3 quarterbacks off the board, the Panthers will settle for Anthony Richardson. That’s not a bad thing either. The hope around the league is that Richardson becomes more like Josh Allen or Cam Newton rather than DeShone Kizer. He’s another big arm quarterback with great mobility but a quarterback that relies heavily on his arm strength rather than consistently throwing with more touch. One thing that separates Richardson is his pocket movement and mobility skills but with his poor decision making, he becomes the fourth quarterback off the board. The expectation is that Frank Reich will have a veteran quarterback such as Sam Darnold to be the bridge quarterback for part of the 2023 season and then at some point, Richardson will get a chance to prove that he’s the guy for the future. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

When you look at potential free agents for the Eagles this off-season, there’s quite a few names that they could lose. Especially on the defensive line. But in the secondary, there’s some question marks for the future. Darius Slay is 32 years old and James Bradberry is set to hit the free agent market. It’s a no-brainer for the Eagles to add a player such as Witherspoon. He’s an ultra physical defender with the desired ball skills to be successful at the next level. Best suited to play man coverage, this gives the Eagles another CB1 option to help defend some of the top receivers from the NFC East. 

11. Tennessee Titans – Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State 

For the 2023 season, the Titans could look very different from how they look right now. They have to find a way to get their salary cap situation under control but fortunately, they can do a bunch of restructuring on the contracts of Zach Cunningham, Robert Woods and Bud Dupree. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising if they moved on from Ryan Tannehill. Another player that has a lot of questions for this upcoming season is left tackle Taylor Lewan. He’s started only 20 games over the last three seasons and they could move on from him and save close to $15 million dollars. So with that, they should look at the option of drafting a tackle such as Paris Johnson. He didn’t allow a single pressure in 2022 and has great length for the position at 6-6 and 315 pounds. Keep in mind, Johnson is versatile with experience at both guard and tackle for the Buckeyes. 

12. Atlanta Falcons (Mock Trade with Houston) – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

The Falcons move down with a mock draft trade with Houston and are still able to land one of the better players in this year’s draft. Murphy has generated over 70+ pressures these past two seasons and he’s got a serious blend of power, speed and athleticism for a player of his size. He’s listed at 6-5 and 275 pounds and he’d become an immediate impact player for the Falcons defense. In 2022, the Falcons only recorded 22 sacks and could see a significant increase by adding Murphy to their defense.

Trade Details:
HOU Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (8th Overall)
ATL Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (12th Overall) and 2023 Second Round Pick (34th Overall)

13. New York Jets – Brian Branch, SAF, Alabama

One of the most versatile players in the 2023 NFL Draft is Brian Branch from Alabama. He’s primarily played in the slot but he’s also got experience playing down in the box or even as a deep safety. Branch seems destined to play some nickel and free safety in the NFL and for him, there might not be a better fit than with Robert Saleh and the New York Jets. He’ll get tested in coverage but in run support, he’s as sure of tackler as there is (only 3 missed tackles in his career) and much of this is due to his ability to close and physicality. With LaMarcus Joyner set to be a free agent, the Jets could have a need for a free safety and Branch would fill that void.

14. New England Patriots – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

The Patriots are always a giant question mark when it comes to their draft plans. That’s no different here for the 2023 NFL Draft. I could see them going offensive tackle or even wide receiver but with Tyree Wilson available, he just seems like a plug-and-play Patriots defender from the first round. He’s got great size at 6-5 and 275 pounds but he’s versatile enough to play from a 4i-technique to standing up as a tilt 7-technique. The Patriots would be able to utilize due to his pass-rushing skills. In 2022, Wilson generated over 30 quarterback hurries and he had 8 sacks for the season. Look for him to make an immediate impact while being paired with Matthew Judon off the edge for the Patriots defense.

15. Green Bay Packers – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame 

This isn’t a very Packer way of drafting but with Robert Tonyan set to hit free agency, I could see the Packers hitting the refresh button at the position. Whether their QB of the future is Jordan Love or not, we’ll see but whoever the quarterback is for the Packers will need weapons. Mayer is a difference maker due to his size, route running ability and how well he’s able to run after the catch. He’ll be able to align just about anywhere on the field and would give the Packers a true possession player over the middle of the field and he should become a productive red-zone threat as well.

16. Washington Commanders – Bryan Bresee, IDL, Clemson

All signs are pointing to Da’Ron Payne hitting free agency and leaving the Commanders. With that, they’ll look to replace him with a former five star recruit and former number one ranked high school recruit. Bresee isn’t the most productive interior defensive lineman but he also had a torn ACL in 2021. Listed at 300 pounds, Bresee moves incredibly well for a player of his size. He can plug the A-gap but has the versatility to align in a 4i-technique or even a 5-technique. He seems best suited to play as a 3-technique at the next level but look for him to be more productive in the NFL. Especially when paired with Chase Young and Jonathan Allen.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jordan Addison, WR, USC

This one is simple – reunite Kenny Pickett with Jordan Addison. While the Steelers have George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, they should look to add another weapon into the mix for their offense. Addison is my top receiver in the draft due to his speed, fluidity and ability to separate. He will be effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field and it would give Kenny Pickett a familiar face in an offense that has the potential to start going to the next level. The Steelers may need to move on from offensive coordinator Matt Canada but by selecting Addison, it gives the current or the next chef of the offense the ingredients to be successful.

18. Detroit Lions – O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida

Truly, I go back and forth with what the Lions do with the 18th overall pick. There’s still a significant need for finding defensive talent but I’d expect them to add a name or two in free agency. That said, there’s a need for a starting right guard and there might not be a more NFL ready interior offensive lineman in this draft than O’Cyrus Torrence. He checked into the Senior Bowl at 340 pounds and he was just as strong and powerful as advertised. He played close to 700 snaps in his first season with the Gators and he didn’t give up a single sack. He would pair nicely alongside Penei Sewell and Frank Ragnow. This seems like a perfect way to protect Jared Goff and continue to maintain a successful ground game.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

If you’re looking for a team in “salary cap hell” then look no further than the Buccaneers. Their top-3 receivers (Gage, Godwin and Evans) are all in the double digits for salary, meanwhile, Godwin and Evans are going to make over $23 million. This is all in the process of Tom Brady retiring. It’ll be interesting how the Bucs restructure contracts, potentially trade or release players and if they’re able to bring back any of their pending free agents. We all know that the salary cap is a myth but either way it’ll be interesting. That said, the Bucs could have a potential need at cornerback with Jamel Dean hitting the market. Since I don’t see a quarterback worth taking here, they go with the defensive side of the football and replace Dean with Joey Porter Jr., from Penn State. JPJ has long arms and is super physical for the position. His length allows him to play through the catch point consistently. Keep in mind, he has NFL bloodlines with his father, Joey Porter, who played 13-years in the NFL.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (Mock Trade with Seattle) – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas 

There was heavy consideration for Bijan being the Eagles pick with the 10th overall selection but I decided to hold off. That said, the Eagles make a move up the board to ensure they get their guy for their backfield. With Miles Sanders set to hit the free agent market, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Eagles go another direction. Especially with the option of being able to land Bijan Robinson. He can do a variety of things out of the backfield with his pass-catching ability, explosiveness and his lateral quickness. Robinson also has a lower body flexibility that allows him to change direction at ease. He’d pair with Jalen Hurts in one of the best QB/RB combinations in the NFL.

Trade Details:
PHI Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (20th Overall)
SEA Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (31st Overall) and 2023 Third Round Pick (96th Overall)

21. Miami Dolphins — pick is forfeited

22. Los Angeles Chargers – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Some would say that the Chargers are already better off by moving on from previous offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. That said, they need to continue to surround QB Justin Herbert with weapons and a perfect fit for their offense would be Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State. There will be questions surrounding his health but when he’s on the field, he’s a dynamic playmaker with savvy route running skills and run after the catch ability. Pairing JSN with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams is a recipe of success for Justin Herbert.

23. Baltimore Ravens – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

The Ravens feel very similar to the Patriots when it comes to their overall draft strategy. I did consider this being an interesting trade back spot but with some of the defensive talent on the board, I think the Ravens would be wise to take a shot at Lukas Van Ness from Iowa. Last year the Ravens took an Iowa product with Tyler Linderbaum so why not do it again but this time with LVN? He provides alignment versatility with his ability to play in a 4i-technique to stand-up off the edge. Meanwhile, he’s also able to showcase a long-arm technique when rushing the passer or at times displays just pure power. With Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul set for free agency and both on the wrong side of 30-years old, the Ravens could look to replace them with Van Ness.

24. Minnesota Vikings – Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

With the recent hire of Brian Flores as the Vikings defensive coordinator, you’d have to imagine the Vikings will consider going after some type of defensive talent for him. Keep in mind, the Vikings had one of the worst defensive units in all of the NFL last season. At the Senior Bowl, I specifically heard Flores brag about Derrick Hall showcasing his ability to translate “speed-to-power” on a variety of his rushes so maybe that’ll be a player he’ll value with Dalvin Tomlinson set to hit the free-agent market. That said, the Vikings need help in their secondary. Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Chandon Sullivan and Kris Boyd are all set to hit the market and despite having Cameron Dantzler and Andrew Booth, the Vikings will need another playmaker in their defensive backfield. Phillips provides versatility with his inside and outside ability but he seems best suited to play the slot and that’s just fine. He’s a fluid athlete with ball skills – he had six interceptions in 2022 (30 pass breakups in his career). Flores seems to value cornerbacks in his defense and Phillips would be an intriguing upgrade to their secondary.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

I’m not sure if the Jaguars are going to pay Evan Engram or not – they probably should. That said, it shouldn’t stop them from considering another weapon for their offense. Dalton Kincaid is one of the best vertical pass-catchers in the 2023 NFL Draft and he’s the most sure-handed pass-catcher in the draft. In his career, he only has one drop and he consistently catches the ball away from his body. Kincaid has great athletic ability and is an experienced route runner so finding success with Trevor Lawrence should bode well for him and the Jaguars.

26. New York Giants – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Maybe we see a run on wide receivers earlier than this and the Giants end up pivoting to a linebacker or an offensive lineman but it feels like one of the “top 3” receivers will be at this spot. In this scenario, it ends up being Quentin Johnston and he’d be a perfect fit for the Giants offense. Johnston has the size of a true ‘X’ receiver at 6-4 and 205 pounds but he’s also got unique run after-the-catch ability. For Daniel Jones, he operated an offense with a cast of misfits (outside of Barkley) so adding a weapon for him would be a smart move as they figure out the contracts of Jones and Barkley.

27. Dallas Cowboys – Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

As we head into free agency, there’s a good chance that the Cowboys either lose Anthony Barr or Leighton Vander Esch from their linebacker group. They’re both set to hit the market so it’ll be interesting if they bring one of them back, if any of them at all. That said, Trenton Simpson falls into their lap and while he’s a bit of a different player than LVE or Barr, he does provide some much needed versatility to the Cowboys second level of their defense. He’s got over 300+ snaps in the slot for Clemson and he can move around the box due to his athletic ability. I’d look for SImpson to come in and play right away in the Cowboys defense that is led by Micah Parsons.

28. Buffalo Bills – John Michael Schmitz, IOL, Minnesota

Some would say this is a reach but is it really? John Michael Schmitz has first round ability on tape and is one of the most consistent interior offensive lineman in the class. He really showed out at the Senior Bowl and seemed a step ahead of the opposition on just about every rep. The Bills could plug and play Schmitz at right guard and potentially move him to center down the road. He’s an effective reach blocker and displays the consistency needed to climb and seal off defenders at the second level. Getting help around Josh Allen has to be the Bills top priority this off-season.  

29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN) – Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

Unexpectedly, the Saints now have a first round pick. They’ve got plenty of cap restructuring to do but they are going to have to pair another receiver with Chris Olave. Also, the Saints will need to make a decision on Michael Thomas as he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. That said, the Saints find a great compliment to Olave by selecting Josh Downs. He’s a fluid route runner that wins in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Down in the red-zone he’s a consistent winner with whip routes and how’s able to successfully secure passes away from his body. Whoever the Saints quarterback is for the future is getting equipped with two pass-catchers that can win in a variety of ways.

30. Cincinnati Bengals – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

When you look at the Bengals potential free agents, they could look to have a whole new secondary next season. Their cornerbacks Eli Apple and Tre Flowers are set to hit the market while safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates are as well. While the Bengals figure that out, they’ll select Kelee Ringo at this spot. After you get past the top-3 cornerbacks for the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s some uncertainty on how the board falls. Ringo makes sense for his physicality, length and athleticism used to recover when beat off his press technique. Testing will be crucial for Ringo to solidify his first round status but he’s been rumored to run a sub 4.4 time for the 40-yard dash.

31. Seattle Seahawks (Mock Trade with Philadelphia) – Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech

After the way the board ended up for the Seahawks with the 20th overall pick, I have them trading back and acquiring a day two pick. The Seahawks could potentially lose Poona Ford and LJ Collier to free agency so they could look to replenish their defensive front. By adding Keion White, you get a player that has plenty of power, change of direction ability and versatility. White looks to rush with power more often than not but he could be used on a rotational basis to start his career and it wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up becoming a starter at some point during his rookie season. Testing for White will be critical during the pre-draft process.  

Trade Details:
PHI Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (20th Overall)
SEA Receives: 2023 First Round Pick (31st Overall) and 2023 Third Round Pick (96th Overall)

32. Kansas City Chiefs  – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Per Spotrac, the Chiefs will have just about $11 million dollars for free agency. They can do some restructuring to increase that number but with starting offensive tackles Orland Brown and Andrew Wylie set to hit the market, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chiefs look at drafting a starting tackle for their offense. One of the plug-and-play starters from the 2023 NFL Draft should be Darnell Wright from Tennessee. He’s got good size to play either tackle or guard and one of his favorite moves is the snatch-trap technique. He’ll be a great addition in the run game and as a pass protector for the Chiefs. 

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