Disclaimer: When it comes to mock drafts, it is best to keep an open mind when it comes to this. We must be open to unexpected things that happen during this draft and how everything isn’t always going to go to plan. Expect teams to do strange things that will make you question what their plans are but it’s better when things are unpredictable than otherwise. Here is my full first round mock draft, trades are included.
1. Carolina Panthers (acquired from CHI Bears)- QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State University
It’s not really a mystery to anyone at this point. The Carolina Panthers like C.J. Stroud and he looks to be taken first overall by Carolina. I could be wrong but from what we have read and heard, it seems the Panthers have their guy. Stroud has an amazing deep ball, his accuracy is second to none and his athleticism is underrated. Carolina has been pretty active during free agency so Stroud isn’t going to be in a bad situation. You can tell by how Frank Reich viewed C.J. Stroud during his pro day, he knows that Stroud is going to look good with the Panthers.
CJ Stroud is going through his workout now with Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich very close by. @nbc4i pic.twitter.com/gdYo9whQW8
— Whitney Harding (@WhitneyNBC4) March 22, 2023
2. Houston Texans- QB Will Levis, University of Kentucky
Here is the controversial pick that some may receive some push back. You might ask. “Why would the Texans choose to take quarterback Will Levis when Bryce Young is sitting right there at #2?” All it takes is for one team to fall in love with a specific prospect, whether it is at their pro day or during the visits. I feel as if the Texans are gonna take a swing on Will Levis and draft him over Bryce Young. Houston hired Bobby Slowik to be their offensive coordinator, and Slowik comes over from the Shanahan coaching tree.
Levis played in an offense similar in his last season at Kentucky under offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who is also a Shanahan disciple. Levis had a bit of a down year his last season at Kentucky but his offensive line and his receiving weapons were subpar. Levis has good arm strength and athleticism so he will fit well in Houston under the same system.
3. Arizona Cardinals- EDGE Will Anderson Jr, University of Alabama
Arizona isn’t in a spot to be trading down considering how their roster is below average. The defensive line is pretty weak as it stands right now and Will Anderson makes sense for Arizona to fill out their edge position. Anderson is likely to be the best edge rusher on Arizona’s team by default, and whoever is second best is either second year players Myjai Sanders or Cameron Thomas. Arizona’s defense pass rush is pretty bad as it stands right now but would improve drastically by adding Anderson. Unless a team gives them a Godfather offer, expect Will Anderson to be a Cardinal at pick three.
4. Indianapolis Colts- QB Bryce Young, University of Alabama
Bryce Young has everything you want in a quarterback. The only thing that’s holding him back to some degree is his size. I don’t believe the Indianapolis Colts will have a problem with taking Young at four. Zak Keefer of the Athletic reported at the combine that head coach Shane Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard say Young’s size won’t scare them away when it comes to the quarterback position. While I believe Stroud is the best quarterback in this draft class, Young is really close. Shane Steichen was able to turn Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into an MVP caliber quarterback, imagine what he will do with Bryce Young as his quarterback.
5. Seattle Seahawks (pick acquired from DEN Broncos)- QB Anthony Richardson, University of Florida
Most mock drafts out there have Seattle taking a defensive player whether that is Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson. The last defensive player Seattle took in the top 10 was in 2009 when they drafted linebacker Aaron Curry. It didn’t work out as Curry was a bust. I understand that Seattle re-signed Geno Smith but the deal is structured in a way that Seattle can move off him in a few years.
Anthony Richardson will be ready around that time or earlier. Richardson dominated at the combine, his testing was off the charts and he showcased his skills during the on-field drills. He’s a project but he is worth taking considering the upside he possesses. People tend to forget Seahawks general manager John Schneider watched current Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen throw at his pro day back in 2018, who was considered a project quarterback at the time.
In 2017, he also watched Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throw at his pro day and Schneider would have taken him if he was there late in the first round. At the time Allen and Mahomes were considered project QB’s, outstanding physical traits but had to work on the technical aspects (accuracy, footwork, processing.) Don’t be surprised if Seattle chooses this route.
6. Detroit Lions- DT Jalen Carter, University of Georgia
Defensive tackle Jalen Carter is considered to be the best player in the entire draft, but due to off the field issues he isn’t guaranteed to go top three. However, if it is one team that could help him grow as a player and as a person it’s Detroit. The Lion’s secondary has been overhauled but the defensive tackle position has yet to be addressed and it is by far the weakest position group on the team. It might be a risk to take Jalen Carter right now, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing for Detroit to help this young man. Detroit’s culture is pretty strong, and I believe it’s something Carter needs at a time like this.
7. Washington Commanders (pick acquired from LV Raiders)- CB Christian Gonzalez, University of Oregon
Commanders receive: 1st round pick #7
Raiders receive: 1st round pick #16, second round pick #47
The Las Vegas Raiders chose to trade down because of their past struggles with first round picks. Outside of running back Josh Jacobs and left tackle Kolton Miller they haven’t had the best luck when it comes to acquiring talent. Washington trades up and selects cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Washington has chosen defensive backs in the top 10 in the past and they choose to do it this year. Kendall Fuller is in his last year of his contract and the rest of the room is uninspiring. Gonzalez is long, athletic and fluid as an athlete. His versatility is what stands out and he can play basically anywhere in the secondary.
8. Atlanta Falcons- EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech University
Atlanta’s pass rush was basically nonexistent last season. This was a team that struggled to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis. In free agency, Atlanta did address the defensive tackle and defensive end position but the room still lacks depth at that position. From an athletic standpoint, Wilson is a freak athlete. He’s long and he has insane explosive ability. Atlanta picks arguably the best pass rusher in this class and their pass rush benefits from it in a huge way.
9. Chicago Bears (pick acquired from CAR Panthers)- EDGE Myles Murphy, University of Clemson
Chicago has had a productive free agency period so far, but for some reason they have ignored the defensive end position. You would think after their rookie safety Jaquan Brisker led their team in sacks last season, the need would be addressed earlier. But it wasn’t so I have Chicago taking Myles Murphy at pick nine. Murphy is an edge rusher who is big, fast and explosive. Chicago’s front four group looks pretty weak currently and Murphy would help out the group in a huge way. Head coach Matt Eberflus will be pleased with Murphy playing on his defense.
10. Philadelphia Eagles- OT Paris Johnson Jr., The Ohio State University
I had to think outside the box with this pick. The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line is the best offensive line in the entire league. However, center Jason Kelce is likely to retire after this season and right tackle Lane Johnson could follow suit. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Philadelphia to take an offensive lineman at #10. Johnson doesn’t have to play right away. He can sit and learn behind Lane Johnson and he can take over at the right tackle position in a year. He has the versatility to play both guard and tackle with a ton of upside at both positions. If developed properly, the transition will be smooth so I wouldn’t rule out Philadelphia taking an offensive lineman with one of their first round picks.