The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, which means it’s officially time to start on the 2023 draft preparation. And what better way to kick off a new draft season than with a Way Too Early Mock Draft to help us get to know some of the top prospects heading into the 2022-2023 season.
1. Texans: C.J. Stroud – Quarterback, Ohio State
The Texans will use the 2022-2023 season to see what Davis Mills brings to the table. But odds are, Lovie Smith and company will want to add athleticism to the position. C.J. Stroud looks to have a massive 2022 season at Ohio State. He will duke it out with Bryce Young for the top quarterback available, but Stroud’s prototypical size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and incredible arm strength will have the Texans on a full-blown dash to the podium.
2. Jets: Will Anderson – Edge Rusher, Alabama
If Will Anderson was eligible in this year’s draft, he probably would have gone number one overall. When you turn on any Alabama game from the 2021 season, Anderson stands out above the rest. At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Anderson is a freaky athlete who racked up 17.5 sacks in 2021 alone. Jermaine Johnson, Will Anderson, and Carl Lawson would be the top edge group in the NFL.
3. Lions: Bryce Young – Quarterback, Alabama
A no-brainer selection for Detroit. Bryce Young would be your Day One starter after dumping Jared Goff’s contract. Young does not have all-world arm talent, but he’s accurate and cerebral. He prefers not to run, but he has the athleticism to get extra yards if needed. Pairing Young with his former receiver Jameson Williams would be a match made in heaven.
4. Giants: Will Levis – Quarterback, Kentucky
Levis isn’t quite in the First Round conversation yet, but he has a chance to propel up boards next season. Levis threw for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 2021 in a run-heavy Kentucky offense. A mobile quarterback at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds with a rocket for an arm, the Penn State transfer will give Brian Daboll flashbacks of Josh Allen.
5. Jaguars: Jaxson Smith-Njigba – Wide Receiver, Ohio State
On a team with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba may have been the best receiver on Ohio State last season. During his 2021 campaign, Smith-Njigba hauled in 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. He has an opportunity to build on his impressive season and lock his a top-five profile.
6. Panthers: Tyler Van Dyke – Quarterback, Miami
Assuming Matt Rhule fails to live up to expectations once again, the Panthers could be in on a rebuild and look to snag their quarterback of the future. Tyler Van Dyke took the reigns in Miami after three games and never looked back. Van Dyke has elite accuracy and prototypical size (6-feet-4, 225 pounds). He’ll have to learn a new offense after Mario Cristobal’s hiring, but odds are he takes the jump to launch himself up draft boards.
7. Falcons: Jalen Carter – Defensive Tackle, Georgia
It felt like Georgia’s entire defense was drafted early in the 2022 NFL Draft. But the best player wasn’t even eligible. Jalen Carter was a bully in the run game and put fear into the eyes of any quarterback he faced. Carter will help replace Grady Jarrett on the interior and give Arthur Smith a future Pro Bowler in the middle.
8. Seahawks: Eli Ricks – Cornerback, Alabama
One of the top cornerbacks in the NCAA transferring to Alabama feels like a cheat code. Alabama has a history of developing talented cornerbacks and Eli Ricks will be no exception. Ricks would be a lockdown cornerback that Seattle has been missing since Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom.
9. Bears: Kayshon Boutte – Wide Receiver, LSU
Wide Receiver U brings yet another dynamic receiving threat to the NFL. Kayshon Boutte is a run-after-catch machine who isn’t afraid to make a play down the field. Boutte played in only six games but still had 38 receptions for 509 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s recovering from an ankle injury but should have an opportunity to be on the field Week One for LSU.
10. Steelers: Paris Johnson – Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
The Steelers invested in their quarterback of the future with Kenny Pickett. Now they have to invest in protecting him. Paris Johnson is massive at 6’5” 315 pounds and is extremely fluid. Johnson played guard during the 2021 season, but he will kick out to left tackle in 2023.