Gaffney’s Way Too Early 2023 NFL Mock Draftby Jack Gaffney May 5, 2022 0 comments
Some say the perfect time to look at the upcoming NFL Draft is just days after the last one wrapped up. Psychotic, yes, necessary, probably not, but make no mistake, this 2023 Draft Class is expected to be loaded. The quarterback class is expected to be better than this year, and there is a ton of talent in the premium position pool. All of about 360-ish days out, here is what you could expect to see pan out.
Draft Order set by FanDuel Sportsbook Super Bowl odds as of May 2. Any ties dealt by 2021 records, then point differential if necessary.
Be sure to check out our 2022 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
1) Houston Texans – Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama
Depending on the play of Davis Mills this upcoming season, this could be a signal-caller. Anderson however, is a generational pass-rushing prospect. In just his second season with the Crimson Tide, he put up a mind-numbing 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. Even with the talent at quarterback, Anderson should be the best outright player in this class should he not return for his senior season.
2) Atlanta Falcons – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Grady Jarrett was just picked up on a new three-year deal, but look at what the Eagles did at this year’s draft. They gave paired Davis with Fletcher Cox to be a new duo on the interior, and this could be a similar situation for Carter and the Falcons. The volume of Georgia players who went in the draft was a huge talking point and Carter could be better than any one of them. Further improving the trenches should help open things up for one of the worst pass-rush groups in the league.
3) Detroit Lions – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Lions have now put together back-to-back great drafts under the Brad Holmes-Dan Campbell regime. There is still one piece left to truly solidify this core they have going, and let’s be honest, Jared Goff isn’t the answer at quarterback. The Young vs C.J. Stroud debate should last for quite some time, with neither serving as a bad option. Despite Young being smaller in height and weight, he is as legit a quarterback prospect we have seen in a while. Maybe Jameson Williams can give Holmes an internal scouting report.
4) New York Jets – Paris Johnson Jr, OT, Ohio State
Joe Douglass is going to likely have multiple holes to fill on the offensive line next offseason. Specifically at right tackle with George Fant‘s contract ending. Johnson is a behemoth at 6-foot-7 but surprisingly weighs only 290 pounds at the moment. Having two monsters bookend Zach Wilson‘s line would be a luxury the Jets cannot pass up if given the chance.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
You will be hearing a lot about Georgia being the new Tight End U in the coming years, and it is 100-percent warranted. Their first of likely two first-rounders here is the 20-year-old Washington. The Las Vegas native is what you could call a ‘white whale’ tight-end prospect. He is comically tall at 6-foot-7, and only weighs 265 pounds. He missed five games a season ago so the stats don’t jump out, and with the talent, Georgia has at tight end with Brock Bowers and Arik Gilbert, they may not this year either. Make no mistake, however, Washington is worth the top-five pick, especially with three tight ends hitting free agency next year.
6) Seattle Seahawks – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Seahawks had a good draft to build a foundation, and now they get their franchise guy in Stroud. He has a more ideal size for an NFL quarterback, standing three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier at the moment. His highlight last season at Ohio State was throwing for a record 573 yards in the Rose Bowl against Utah, along with six touchdowns. The bright lights clearly don’t bother him, which is a great trait to have this early.
7) Carolina Panthers – Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College
The Panthers did just take Matt Corral last weekend, but there is no guarantee this coaching staff, and potentially front office is back next year. There are some enticing options behind those top two, including Jurkovec out of Boston College. At 6-foot-5, he possesses great arm talent but isn’t the most mobile quarterback you’ll ever see. He played in just six games this past season due to injury but will be back with his No. 1 target Zay Flowers for one last run with Jeff Hafley’s squad.
8) Chicago Bears – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Ryan Poles spent his first draft as Bears GM spending several picks on the offensive line, but Justin Fields could use better protection still. Skoronski projects as one of the best offensive tackles in next year’s draft, but could kick inside at just 6-foot-4. If not, the grandson of Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Bob Skoronski could make sense at right tackle.
9) New York Giants – Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
The Giants will be going quarterback in this draft, but they don’t exactly have the pick of the litter. For a few reasons, Van Dyke is quite an interesting option. Firstly, he will be with Mario Cristobal this year, who was head coach at Oregon with Justin Herbert. Cristobal has gone as far as calling Van Dyke the best signal-caller in the country. If he continues off of a strong 2021 campaign, he could go in the top 10 in this draft.
10) Pittsburgh Steelers – Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
In an odd move, the Steelers did next to nothing to address the offensive line in the draft this year. Now along with that, linebacker will be a priority with Devin Bush on the way out after his fifth-year option was declined. A semi-finalist for the Butkus Award last year, Sewell racked up 114 tackles for the Ducks and made All-Pac 12 first team. With how lackluster Bush was a season ago, this feels like a good option.
11) Washington Commanders – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
This is set to be a big season for the Commanders, both Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne are slated free agents, and it is unlikely they can keep both. Payne will likely be the more cost-effective signing, so assume that is what they go for. Even better is that they go for an Ohio State receiver to replace an Ohio State receiver, it’s foolproof. Smith-Njigba’s production skyrocketed in 2021, going for nearly 100 catches and 1600 plus yards. That while playing with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson mind you. Expect another monster season this year as well as he likely becomes the top receiver in this class.
12) Philidelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints) – Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama
Thanks to Micky Loomis, the Eagles were able to turn three first-rounders this year into a two-and-two split between 2022 and 2023. First up is Battle, a physical box safety who could slot in for Anthony Harris on day one. He possesses elite football IQ and is simply everything you’re looking for in strong safety. Battle realistically would have been the second or third safety of the board had he not opted to stay at Alabama in this year’s draft as well.
13) Minnesota Vikings – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Vikings get themselves away from Kirk Cousins most likely after this season, that’s the good news. Now they must go with a quarterback on day one next year. Levis is a true dual-threat signal-caller who can win any way you want him to. After transferring from Penn State, he put up 2800 yards and 24 touchdowns. A concern is he was turnover-prone, but that is fixable with the right coaching.
14) Miami Dolphins – Bryan Breese, DT, Clemson
Miami has some flexibility next year, having an extra first-rounder later on from the San Fransisco 49ers trade to get Trey Lance. Defensive tackle isn’t a pressing need, but Breese at 14 is too good to pass up on. The gap from Georgia’s Carter to the Clemson product is not much, and the argument could be made that he is better. Breese was limited to four games in 2021 due to a torn ACL but had a monster season as a true freshman. At just 18 years old when the 2020 season began, he made All ACC first-team honors, in addition to winning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as well. If he can get back up to speed, don’t be surprised if he goes top 10.
15) Las Vegas Raiders – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
If you are currently unfamiliar with Gibbs, he just transferred to Alabama from Georgia Tech earlier this year. However, he just went off at the Alabama spring game, with 100 yards on just nine carries. Even in Nick Saban’s pass-heavy offense, he should put up some big-time numbers, as he is a factor in the run and pass games. With Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake on expiring contracts, Josh McDaniels can get a guy who he can sink his teeth into.
16) New England Patriots – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
The cornerbacks have slid here with the quarterbacks taking a front seat, leaving the Patriots with the pick of the litter. They drafted Marcus Jones and Jack Jones and brought back Malcolm Butler, but the latter is not a long-term solution. Ringo goes first among his peers due to a good blend of size and physicality, at 6-foot-2 and just over 200 pounds. Size is something the Patriots cornerback depth chart lacks the further up you look, and this would change that.
17) Philidelphia Eagles – Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
The Eagles are another team likely to be on the hunt for a corner next year. Ricks has a similar build to Ringo but is a tad bit lighter. Before transferring out of LSU, he picked up five interceptions, four of which came as a freshman. It is also worth noting with Ricks, that he was recently arrested for speeding without insurance and in possession of marijuana. This isn’t the first time an Alabama Player, has gotten into offseason issues, Mac Jones getting a DUI maybe being the most prominent. If Ricks puts his best foot forward, he should be back in Nick Saban’s good graces sooner rather than later.
18) Tennessee Titans – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Titans got their new long-term solutions at quarterback and receiver with Malik Willis and Treylon Burks. Now they get a new franchise tight end in Mayer, Notre Dame’s do it all man. From his first season to his second, Mayer’s production doubled across the board and additionally went from two to seven touchdowns. Mike Vrabel should also love his blocking ability as well.
19) Arizona Cardinals – Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
Steve Keim took a couple of offensive linemen late in the draft but needs to do more to protect his franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. The 6-foot-5 Nelson opted to return to The U for another year, and that will only help his draft stock. He is still a tad raw, but one more full season in the ACC should help him put it all together. The talent is certainly there to do so.
20) Baltimore Ravens – Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Paul DeCosta (who should be arrested immediately) simply refused to have a bad pick in this year’s draft, and in this scenario continues that trend. Outside of Rashod Bateman, the Ravens have an unproven receiving core at the moment with Devin Duvernay and James Proche behind the Minnesota product. Boutte would be an excellent complement to Bateman with his outright explosiveness. The LSU product had a 300-plus yard game in his freshman year against Ole Miss just to give you an idea.
21) Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson
Around a year and a half ago, seeing Uigaleli going this late would be criminally insane. Although not entirely on him, his numbers did not look impressive in 2021 with a lackluster supporting cast in the passing game. Regardless, there is still a lot to like about the Clemson signal-caller. Indianapolis would be a great spot as well, given that Matt Ryan should be the guy until he hangs it up. This gives time for the Colts to properly develop the 6-foot-4 quarterback.
22) Cincinnati Bengals – Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama
Cincy appears to have their Jesse Bates replacement waiting in the wings with Daxton Hill, but corner is a hot topic with the play of Eli Apple. Moore missed games for the Tide from late November onward last year but was in the Alabama STAR (slot corner) role beforehand. Additionally, he made All-SEC second team as a freshman with a fantastic season in 2020. If he can regain that form, a first-round selection is in his future.
23) Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) – Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
Nick Caserio has an overall solid draft, but the Texans still need some help on the edges. McDonald opted to stay in school for one more year and now can have three consecutive double-digit sack seasons for Iowa State. Additionally, he has nine career forced fumbles and 33 tackles for loss for the Cyclones. This would be fantastic value in the early 20s for the Texans.
24) Dallas Cowboys – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Cowboys had just two players all last season get over five sacks. One of those two, Randy Gregory, is no longer in Dallas. Shoring up the pass rush should be an absolute must for the Cowboys to be a real contender. Smith can provide that to Jerry Jones’ squad. He is coming off of a career-best season at Georiga with 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
25) Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) – Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama
Next up on the docket for the Seahawks is to get themselves a new field general linebacker, and To’oTo’o fits the bill perfectly. He opted to stay one more year and college and that decision will likely make him a first-round selection next spring. To’oTo’o is a big-time leader for Alabama despite starting out at Tennessee and possesses good instincts for the position. He also isn’t a true ‘do it all’ linebacker either, with not much to show as a pass rusher. However, he has one more season in the SEC to show off what he can do.
26) Los Angeles Chargers – Emil Ekiyor Jr, IOL, Alabama
The Chargers should still clean up their offensive line for Justin Herbert, and do so with the 6-foot-3 Alabama center. Granted, Ekiyor would likely kick out to left guard in this scenario. He has 29 career starts in 38 total games in the SEC. Getting the big man to clog up the middle, especially in the AFC West would be a big get.
27) Miami Dolphins (via San Fransisco 49ers) – Arik Gilbert, TE, Georgia
The Dolphins are going to be one of the teams in a salary-cap crunch next off-season due to their all-in approach this offseason. Mike Gesicki may be out of the Fins price range given his current market value, making tight end a sneaky need. Enter Gilbert, who didn’t play at Georgia last year after transferring from LSU. His physical profile (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) is close to guys like Travis Kelce and Darren Waller as examples. Where he ultimately goes next year depends on how he does this season at Georgia. Even with several legit tight ends on the roster, he should find ample playing time, there’s a lot to like here.
28) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
Giants fans will instantly recognize that last name because BJ is the brother of Azeez Ojulari. With the trajectory the soon-to-be junior is already on, he should be one of the SEC’s best at getting to the quarterback. The Lions do not have a super pressing need on the edges just yet, but it’s never a bad idea to have a lot of talent to get after the QB. Look for Ojulari to have a big year for the Tigers and Brian Kelly.
29) Green Bay Packers – Jordan Addison, WR, Transfer Portal University
Getting Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs was a good start, but the Packers still need help on the outside. Randall Cobb is only going to give you so much at this point. If Green Bay wants to give Aaron Rodgers the best possible shot at getting back to the Super Bowl, they have to get him help and do it through the draft in all likelihood. Addison is a big name right now in the College Football world. He is coming off of a 100 catch, 1593-yard, 17 touchdown season with Pitt, but he will be elsewhere in 2022. USC has been a hot target, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front. How he fares out of the subpar (as of late) ACC will heavily determine where he goes next spring.
30) Kansas City Chiefs – Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
Frank Clark is set to have a 30 million dollar cap hit in 2023 for the Chiefs. Unless Brett Veach is somehow ok with that, he is 100 percent gone after this season with just a nine-million-dollar dead cap charge. That does leave a hole on the edge for Kansas City, and they go with one with 2-of their last-3 first-round picks. Hall has seen more game action with each year at Auburn, and the production has gone steadily up. The speed rusher put up nine sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles last season.
31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jalen Catalon, SAF, Arkansas
The Bucs brought in Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal into their secondary room, but both are on one-year deals. To get some additional youth on board, Catalon is a perfect get. He is hyper versatile, playing just about everywhere on defense for the Razorbacks. Maybe a bit smaller than you’d like, standing at 5-foot-10, but he checks every other box. Another year in school this year is for the best all things considered.
32) Buffalo Bills – Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Bills Mafia has a rather big free-agent class next offseason, which includes Tremaine Edmunds. Seeing as his market value could be pretty solid, Buffalo may need to consider getting his replacement in the draft. Simpson would fit very well in their defense. He is a factor off the ball and can rush the passer just as well, having 10.5 sacks in two seasons at Clemson. Safety could make sense as well here with Jordan Poyer on an expiring contract.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images