The 2023 NFL Draft is a little over a month away. Pro days are underway as draft prospects look to raise their stock in front of coaches, scouts and NFL executives. The Athletic had their beat writers put together a cumulative mock draft of the first round, as well as some high-profile picks in the later rounds.
Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud goes to the Carolina Panthers with the No. 1 pick they acquired from the Chicago Bears. Three more quarterbacks go in the top of the round. While Michael Mayer long projected as the top tight end in the class, we have yet another mock draft with a different tight end hearing their name called first on draft day. Overall, this draft has some interesting picks compared to other mocks, which just shows how varied things can turn out on draft night.
1. C.J. Stroud — Carolina Panthers
2. Bryce Young — Houston Texans
4. Anthony Richardson — Indianapolis Colts
7. Will Levis — Minnesota Vikings via trade with Las Vegas Raiders
The first three quarterbacks are no surprise. The battle for the No. 1 pick seems cemented between Stroud and Young among analysts. I think the NFL Combine helped Stroud more than it did Young, and think Joe Person went the right way, taking Stroud at the top. Speaking of strong Combine performances, Richardson has shot up draft boards, and now not only is he consistently the third QB taken, but is not making it past Indy at 4.
The surprise choice is Levis at No. 7. In this mock, the Minnesota Vikings trade No. 23, 87 and a 2024 1st for this pick and No. 204. Yes, quarterback is going to need to be addressed as Kirk Cousins nears the end of his contract with the team. This is just a massive move to do it when several mocks have Levis still on the board at 23 already.
First defensive player taken
3. Will Anderson — Arizona Cardinals
This is getting to be a chalk pick at this point. Anderson seems locked into Arizona with this pick barring anything significant happening between now and draft night. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter heads to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 5, but it seems that if Arizona chooses to keep their draft pick at No. 3, it will be Anderson who would instantly replace a retired JJ Watt.
30. Bryan Bresee — Philadelphia Eagles
This is the second time the Eagles are on the clock in the first round. Bo Wulf has them taking CB Christian Gonzalez with the 10th overall pick and staying on the defensive side of the ball at 30. This is a dynamic duo on defense that could have instant impact in the 2023 season. Bresee would provide youth, alongside Jordan Davis from last year’s draft, to shore up the Philly defensive line.
17. Calijah Kancey — Pittsburgh Steelers
I understand where Mark Kaboly is coming from with this selection. They are building for the future of their defensive line with a Pitt product like they are known to do. The problem I have with it is just that both of the next two picks address more pressing needs this season. Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks isn’t at the top of the position group, but still projects as a day-one starter and is a physical DB like the Steelers are used to. Darnell Wright would help instantly improve the Steelers' offense live to help protect second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.
This mock draft starts out how many others do but then takes a turn with the Levis pick. It makes me think back to last year when there were six quarterbacks mocked in the first and then only one taken in the first two rounds. Texas running back Bijan Robinson has been mocked as high as No. 10 but falls to the Dallas Cowboys at 26 in this draft.
The only thing that I don’t agree with or couldn't see happening come April 27 is the Washington Commanders trading back twice. Even if they are in on Sam Howell as their quarterback, there are still other draft needs that can be met by keeping their pick at 16 or 23 if they move back once. Both trades only include picks for this year, so I guess it just depends on how deep their organization thinks the class is, but I’d rather stay at 16 or move back once for a mix of picks this year and next than twice.