The 2022-23 NFL regular season has come and gone. 18 teams have missed the playoffs and need to focus on reloading and rebuilding for 2023. With the draft order officially set for those that missed the playoffs, it’s time for my first official, no-trade mock draft. The final 14 picks are ordered by current Super Bowl odds.
1 – Chicago Bears – Jalen Carter – Defensive Tackle, Georgia
With Fields under center, Chicago would be remiss to not entertain offers from quarterback needy teams. But if no trade develops, Jalen Carter will be the pick. The Bears defense needs a game wrecker and Carter does just that. Head Coach Matt Eberflus will see shades of Deforest Buckner in Indianapolis and will not be able to help himself.
2 – Houston Texans – Bryce Young – Quarterback, Alabama
Yes, Bryce Young is an anomaly and will be betting against the history of the quarterback position, but to this point in his career, he has given no reason to doubt him. Young is a master manipulator of the pocket and understands how to evade pressure. He can throw off any platform and is insanely accurate down the field. He should be the consensus number one quarterback, no matter how small he is.
3 – Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson – Edge Rusher, Alabama
The Cardinals could go in many different directions. Kyler Murray may not be ready for season, Deandre Hopkins could be traded, and one of their best defenders, J.J. Watt, just retired. Will Anderson is the smart pick in this scenario. One of the top edge prospects we have ever seen, Anderson is a game changing presence and Arizona needs as many of those as they can find.
4 – Indianapolis Colts – CJ Stroud – Quarterback, Ohio State
Another pick that will be overdone throughout the process, but it makes too much sense. Owner Jim Irsay is fed up with how the quarterback position has played out since Andrew Luck’s retirement and he will force GM Chris Ballard’s hand. Stroud is an accurate, rhythmic passer who knows when and where to distribute the ball. His play under pressure comes into question, but he put a lot of those questions to bed in the playoff game against Georgia. Stroud would have a chance to finally pull the horseshoe out of Luck’s shadow.
5 – Seattle Seahawks (via Denver) – Myles Murphy – Edge Rusher, Clemson
The Seahawks nearly made the playoffs and will still draft in the top five. Their defense needs some serious love and Myles Murphy is just what the doctor ordered. He’s a physical, athletic three-down edge rusher. He will pair perfectly with Uchena Nwosu and Boye Mafe to wreak havoc upon opposing offensive lines.
6 – Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles) – Christian Gonzalez – Cornerback, Oregon
While the Lions have played well in 2022, their defense was atrocious. They allowed the most yards per game and the third most points per game. Christian Gonzalez would be a solid addition opposite Jeff Okudah. He’s a lanky, fluid cornerback with the ball skills to turn the ball over at any given moment. He’s okay against the run, but Dan Campbell and company will make him one of the most physical corners in the league.
7 – Las Vegas Raiders – Paris Johnson Jr. – Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Las Vegas is another team with needs across the table, but none more so than the offensive line. After cutting ties with Alex Leatherwood, Vegas will prioritize offensive tackle. Johnson Jr. played both guard and tackle at Ohio State and will give versatility to an offensive line that needs a boost. Josh McDaniels will want to protect their new quarterback, especially an aging one…
8 – Atlanta Falcons – Tyree Wilson – Edge Rusher, Texas Tech
The Falcons severely lack pressure off the edge, ranking second to last in total sacks with only 21. Tyree Wilson is this year’s version of Travon Walker. An extremely long, freakishly athletic edge would do wonders for a team with no dominant presence on defense.
9 – Carolina Panthers – Will Levis – Quarterback, Kentucky
Do I think Will Levis falls to the ninth pick? No. But with no trades, it is hard to find a fit. There have been links connecting owner David Tepper to Will Levis, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Levis has a cannon for an arm and is more than mobile enough. His 2022 production was far from what was expected, but teams will bet on tools more than the boxscore.
10 – Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans) – Cam Smith – Cornerback, South Carolina
Philadelphia has few true needs. Picking in the top 10 as the number one seed is simply unfair, but here we are. One spot they could use some help with is cornerback. Cam Smith and Darius Slay would be an awesome duo on the boundary. Smith is a patient, physical corner who fits the Philadelphia mentality like a glove.
11 – Tennessee Titans – Peter Skoronski – Offensive Tackle, Northwestern
Could the Titans move on from Ryan Tannehill? Sure. But will they draft a quarterback? Probably not. Their offensive line has been atrocious and Peter Skoronski gives them the flexibility to put him at guard or tackle. He’s a fluid, athletic tackle who climbs easily to the second level. Derrick Henry would be one happy camper with Skornoski in front of him.
12 – Houston Texans (via Cleveland) – Quentin Johnston – Wide Receiver, Texas Christian
After years of top wide receiver classes, 2022 is a bit of a downer. But Quentin Johnston is the top dog. A big-bodied wide receiver who is a menace on the move. His game is a bit reminiscent of Tee Higgins and pairing Johnston with Bryce Young would give the Texans their duo for years to come.
13 – New York Jets – Broderick Jones – Offensive Tackle, Georgia
The Jets will find their quarterback via trade or free agency, and they have to protect that investment. Broderick Jones is a mauler in the run game and holds up well in pass protection. After taking a few swings at fixing their tackle situation, Jones could finally be their home run pick.
14 – New England Patriots – Brian Branch – Safety, Alabama
Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have an insane amount of mutual respect, and Saban will certainly have nothing but positives to say about Brian Branch. Branch is a rangy, do-it-all, safety who can replace Devin McCourty if he chooses to retire. He’d be a perfect fit in Belichick’s complicated and scheme-versatile defense.
15 – Green Bay Packers – Isaiah Foskey – Edge Rusher, Notre Dame
Will Rodgers stay? Will they trade Jordan Love? Will they pick a wide receiver with a first round pick? Who knows, but for now they look to add an edge rusher opposite Rashan Gary. Preston Smith is still a solid player, but having a third rotational rusher would be an added layer to a defense who has largely underperformed in 2022.
16 – Washington Commanders – Kelee Ringo – Cornerback, Georgia
William Jackson III was shipped out to Pittsburgh after a failed experiment, and Washington needs to replace those snaps. Kelee Ringo is the most athletic of this deep cornerback class but still needs to develop consistency in coverage. But his upside is worth taking a chance on.
17 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Darnell Wright – Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
The Steelers could trade up for one of the higher ranked offensive tackles, but Darnell Wright is a solid pick for a team desperate for offensive line boost. He can start at right tackle on day one and be one half of a bookend to protect Kenny Pickett.
18 – Detroit Lions – Drew Sanders – Linebacker, Arkansas
While Rigo made his name known in Hard Knocks and in 2022, the Lions still need a physical, athletic linebacker. Sanders is a three-down linebacker in today’s game and could wear the green dot for many years.
19 – Seattle Seahawks – Jaxon Smith Njigba – Wide Receiver, Ohio State
They have DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but Geno Smith (or whoever is under center) will need as many weapons as they can get. Lockett is aging, but having a trio of Lockett, Metcalf and Jaxon Smith Njigba would immediately be one of the top in the league. Smith Njigba certainly won’t outrun you, but he’s one of the top route runners and is shifty enough for yards after catch.
20 – Miami Dolphins – FORFEITED
21 – New York Giants – Josh Downs – Wide Receiver, North Carolina
Brian Daboll worked wonders on Daniel Jones and the Giants offense to get them to the playoffs, but New York still needs more weapons. Downs is a violent route runner who creates separation with ease. He may work more on the inside, but he would easily be the top target for Daniel Jones.
22 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Antonio Johnson – Safety, Texas A&M
Doug Pederson flipped the Jaguars around faster than anyone thought possible. The defensive line is one of the best in football, but the secondary could use some help. Antonio Johnson is another versatile safety who can also play in the nickel when needed.
23 – Baltimore Ravens – Devon Witherspoon – Cornerback, Illinois
Marlon Humphrey needs some help. Marcus Peters is aging and it’s time to replace him. Devon Witherspoon is a press corner who bullies receivers at the line of scrimmage. He fits the AFC North mold to a T and would add a young stud to the Ravens secondary.
24 – Minnesota Vikings – Jordan Addison – Wide Receiver, Southern California
It is time to think about life after Adam Thielen. He’s been a shell of himself for a few seasons and Jordan Addison would certainly be an upgrade at this point in time. Addison does struggle with drops, but his route tree is second to none and would only get better learning under Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
25 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – O’Cyrus Torrence – Offensive Guard, Florida
Losing Alex Cappa to the Bengals was a massive blow to the Buccaneers and they need to find his replacement. Torrence is a mammoth who swallows defenders with ease. He’s far from the most athletic, but once he gets his hands on you, good luck getting away. The next Bucs quarterback will be thrilled with Torrence protecting him.
26 – Los Angeles Chargers – Zay Flowers – Wide Receiver, Boston College
Justin Herbert’s arm paired with Zay Flowers deep threat ability should get everyone excited. Football is more fun with deep shots down the field and Herbert and Flowers would certainly cook some up.
27 – Dallas Cowboys – Trenton Simpson – Linebacker, Clemson
Micah Parsons can do literally anything you ask of him, and pairing him with a similar player in Trenton Simpson would be unfair. Simpson has a profile similar to Isaiah Simmons, but defensive coordinator Dan Quinn (if he stays) could be able to get the most out of him.
28 – Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Mayer – Tight End, Notre Dame
A luxury pick, but a fun one. Hayden Hurst has been awesome for the Bengals, but the depth behind him is lackluster at best. A hometown player, Michael Mayer would take the Bengals offense to new heights, even if he sits behind Hurst for a year or two.
29 – Denver Broncos (via San Francisco) – Anton Harrison – Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Russell Wilson stinks, but the Broncos are stuck with him. Garrett Boles will be back and healthy in 2023, but replacing Billy Turner at right tackle should be high on the list of priorities. Harrison is a solid pass protector who can give Russ time to cook, or at least somewhat cook.
30 – Buffalo Bills – JL Skinner – Safety, Boise State
Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are getting older and the Bills secondary needs to continue its invigoration of youth. JL Skinner is a hard hitting safety who frightens anyone coming across the middle.
31 – Philadelphia Eagles – Bijan Robinson – Running Back, Texas
Bijan Robinson should probably go earlier than this, but this is the absolute perfect fit. The Eagles need a three-down back to take pressure off of Jalen Hurts and company. Robinson is one of the best running back prospects we have ever seen and would bring yet another dynamic to the Eagles offense.
32 – Kansas City Chiefs – Andre Carter II – Edge Rusher, Army
The Chiefs invested heavily in their secondary last year, and now it is time to focus on the trenches. They could go offensive tackle or a speedy wide receiver (Jalin Hyatt, perhaps), but Andre Carter II would give a one-two punch opposite George Karlafits on the edge.