We’re creeping closer to the start of the 2023 NFL Draft and this is the point where mock draft season begins to go into hyperdrive. Draft experts will begin to finalize their predictions of where each prospect will land and it creates a ton of intrigue heading into the three-day event.
Below, we’ll take a look at the latest mock draft from Dane Brugler of The Athletic and analyze his predictions.
The Carolina Panthers more than likely will take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and mock draft experts seem to be split over whether they’ll take Alabama Bryce Young or Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. Brugler is in the Young camp and has the Crimson Tide QB walking across the stage as the top pick. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner has the combination of arm strength, athleticism, and processing needed to be a successful QB in the NFL, but his height at 5’10” has raised some concerns. If he can put those concerns to bed, then the Drew Brees/Russell Wilson comparisons may very well come to fruition. With Young going to the Panthers, Brugler has the Houston Texans taking Stroud at No. 2.
The Anthony Richardson hype is real in his mock as he has the Florida QB going No. 4 overall to the Indianapolis Colts. Richardson’s accuracy issues were a concern in college, but he has been touted as one of the most physically gifted top QB prospects since probably Cam Newton in 2010. Brugler has one more QB being selected in the first round with Kentucky’s Will Levis going to the Tennessee Titans at No. 11. The Ryan Tannehill era in Nashville is nearing its end and it would make sense for the team to bring in another young QB to compete with 2022 draftee Malik Willis for the future.
First defensive player taken
Brugler has the Arizona Cardinals taking Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. at No. 3, making him the first defensive player taken off the board. Anderson has been arguably the most dominant player in college football for the past few seasons and his array of accolades includes two SEC Defensive Player of the Year selections, two Nagurski Trophy Awards, and a Bednarik Award. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was initially being touted as the first defensive draftee in this class, but off-field issues have sent him down the board.
The first wide receiver taken in his mock is Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20 to the Seattle Seahawks. Sharing a receiving room with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson in 2021, JNS still managed to stand out by setting a Big Ten record with 1,606 receiving yards off 95 receptions and nine touchdowns that year. His 2022 season was derailed by a hamstring injury and that’s what prevented him from being a potential top 10 pick. Some NFL analysts have compared him to Justin Jefferson and that means the Seahawks would be getting a steal at No. 20.
Brugler has the Washington Commanders taking Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the 16th pick in the first round. Listen, I’m not in the “don’t take a running back in the first round” camp. Robinson is incredible and teams in the first round should think hard about scooping him up if given the chance. But Washington in particular has several holes to fill elsewhere and using a top pick on a running back wouldn’t be wise. The Commanders hit on their third-round selection of Brian Robinson one year ago. Using a first-rounder on one this year would be counterintuitive.
Overall, Brugler’s mock draft is on point. With a few exceptions, he addresses every team’s areas of need and the teams who need a quarterback take one at the appropriate time without reaching.