For all the fanatics welcome to Mock Draft season. If you like it, hate it or have some questions let me know Friday at 9:30pm EST on our live show “The Second Half Draft Show” on YouTube.
1. HOU – Bryce Young – QB – Alabama
The Texans get their franchise quarterback. This pick is a no-brainer with the Davis Mills experiment over and the former Heisman trophy winner staring you right in the face. Young should be everyone’s QB1 as he performs the best when you need him the most.
2. CHI – Will Anderson – Edge – Alabama
The top defender in the class since last season, Will Anderson’s draft stock could only go down from there. Now with Jalen Carter on his heels for the best defensive player in the class, the Bears have their pick on who the face of their defense will be for the next decade. Anderson is a Khalil Mack like edge who wins with power consistently to wreck a game plan and gets the nod in this mock draft.
3. SEA (from DEN) – Jalen Carter – DL – Georgia
Next up the Seahawks add to their defensive line slotting in Jalen Carter. Carter is a game-wrecker who happens to be a technician as he creates havoc for interior linemen. The quickest route to the quarterback is up the middle. Seattle nailed the 2022 NFL Draft and kicks things off with a BANG in 2023!
4. DET (from LAR) – BJ Ojulari – Edge – LSU
Although BJ Ojulari continues to be one of the most dominant pass rushers in the class, there isn’t enough respect on his name from other draft evaluators. He is a top 5 talent as his first step from the snap and closing ability is reminiscent of Von Miller. The Lions need to improve their defense to get to the next level. Pairing Ojulari with Aidan Hutchinson is too good to pass up. Stay tuned for the next Lions pick in the 1st round.
5. CAR – C.J. Stroud – QB – Ohio State
One of the most intriguing draft prospects, C.J. Stroud is under fire by some evaluators due to the helmet he wore in college, the Ohio State offensive scheme, and his inability to consistently win outside the confines of the offense like Bryce Young. When I watch him he displays a skill-set in which he consistently wins from inside the pocket with plus mechanics and arm talent. Get him in the right system like Tua and he can do similar if not greater things.
6. PHI (from NO) – Myles Murphy – Edge – Clemson
There’s something about Myles Murphy that screams Clelin Ferrell. It could be that they both attended Clemson coupled with their similarity as long, edge setting defenders. However, they say, “Grade the player and not the helmet.” The more I watch Murphy, the more I’m impressed with his his ability to blow plays up in the run and passing game utilizing physicality, length, and athleticism.
7. ARI – Paris Johnson – OT – Ohio State
Go grab OT1 and protect the franchise quarterback. Kyler Murray needs more time to find all those weapons on the offensive side of the ball and the Cardinals offensive line has struggled to get a good push up front in the run game. Paris Johnson gives them the best of both worlds as a complete offensive tackle that checks all the boxes. He’s the first offensive lineman off the board in this mock draft.
8. GB – Jordan Addison – WR – USC Historically, the Packers have not prioritized the wide receiver position in the 1st round of the NFL draft. Maybe missing the playoffs and Davante Adams changes things. Enter 2021 Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison to help the Packers passing game. His vertical prowess, yards after catch ability, and production was showcased fin Pittsburgh last season. However, his release from the line and route running skills stood out more to me this season at USC.
9. LVR – Peter Skoronski – OL – Northwestern
The Raiders defense needs help tremendously but the offensive line needs a major upgrade as well. In order for Derek Carr to succeed with his plethora of weapons, he needs more time in the pocket to be comfortable. Peter Skoronski is viewed by some as the top tackle in the class. Put on the Nebraska tape and you will see what all the rave is about.
10. HOU (from CLE) – Tyree Wilson – EDGE – Texas Tech
Here’s a player that has improved his draft stock immensely. A physical freak, Tyree Wilson will be a much discussed prospect heading into the 2023 draft. Wilson’s size (6’6 275) and power through contact that overwhelms blockers play after play. The Texans have improved the talent on their defense and get stronger with Tyree on the defensive line. Especially in the run game where they need it the most.
The Houston Texans round out the first 10 picks of this mock draft with Tyree Wilson. Checkout my early season impression of Wilson.
11. JAX – Christian Gonzalez – CB – Oregon
If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. The debacle that was Urban Meyer (Gator) traded away former first round CB C.J. Henderson (Gator) leaving the Jaguars back-end in need of help. No player is a sure thing but Christian Gonzalez has far fewer question marks than Henderson had coming entering the draft. Gonzalez checks all the boxes in coverage and is not afraid to come down and make tackles in the run game. He is complete and one of the safer (high floor) picks in the class.
12. PIT – O’Cyrus Torrence – OL – Florida
The Steelers have continued to struggle along their offensive line and have to grab the top lineman available at this spot. If you know anything about head coach Mike Tomlin he wants to play defense and run the ball. O’Cyrus Torrence is a road grader that Najee Harris can run behind and finally average over 4 yards per carry.
13. DET – Bryan Bresee – DT – Clemson
Alright I teased this pick earlier and this is exactly how the Lions stop blowing leads and losing one possession games. Double (triple) down on the defensive line with Bryan Bresee and BJ Ojulari along with Aidan Hutchinson and create one of the best defensive lines in football. Playoffs!!
14. IND – Michael Penix Jr. – QB – Washington
Here is the most controversial pick in this mock draft. We are still early in the draft process and many evaluators will update their top guys at each position numerous times throughout the process. Some may see Michael Penix Jr. as a day 2 pick at best. But his arm talent, ability to process and get the ball out his hands quickly, and deep ball touch makes him QB3 for me. The Colts need a new franchise QB and Penix in the right, quick rhythm passing system ala Tua Tagovailoa can get you the same if not better results.
15. ATL – Jared Verse – EDGE – Florida State
The Falcons continue to try and improve their pass rushing unit with Jared Verse. The former transfer from Albany offers an array of pass rushing goodness. Pair him with Arnold Ebiketie and the Falcons have a good chance to not finish at the bottom of the league in sacks… again.
16. NE – Anton Harrison – OT – Oklahoma
Harrison matches what the Patriots want to do on offense. Play physical. He has the size, physicality, and athleticism to dominate in the run game and the base and anchor to hold up in the passing game. If not Harrison, Broderick Jones from Georgia is also a good target for the Patriots offensive line, but I lean towards Harrison in this mock draft.
17. SEA – Brian Branch – S – Alabama
With so many Alabama defenders getting love across the draft class, Brian Branch sometimes goes unnoticed. Well he shouldn’t due to his all around skill-set in coverage and his tackling ability. With a downline difference-maker already in the class (Jalen Carter), let’s sure up the secondary with the well-rounded Branch and continue to bolster the defense.
18. LAC – Brandon Dorlus – DT – Oregon
At this point I’m just staking my claim on who my guys are in this draft class. Another player not getting much first round love, Brandon Dorlus will be a problem for offensive linemen for years to come. He’s a rare DT that can play effectively on the edge as he has elite short area quickness and flexibility to bend the corner. Dorlus’ arsenal of hand moves with a shoulder dip make him an unfair matchup in the trenches.
19. TB – Andre Carter – Edge – Army
The loss of JPP and injury to Shaq Barrett have left the Buccaneers in need of a edge rusher that can get to the quarterback. Andre Carter’s stock will continue to rise leading up to the draft as people get to see him more throughout the process.
20. WAS – Kelee Ringo – CB – Georgia
My CB1 coming into the season should not be available this late in the draft but crazier things have happened. Ringo is a smart and instinctive corner who can travel across the formation and understands his defensive assignments. Not too many weaknesses in his game as he checks a lot of boxes: size, speed, technique, closing ability, hips, and playmaking ability. Though he stands to improve as a tackler.
Find out where Ringo lands in our preliminary cornerback rankings.
21. BAL – Quentin Johnston – WR – TCU
It seems like a WR is mocked to the Ravens every year. I love the fit of Quentin Johnston in Baltimore to give Lamar Jackson a big bodied WR that can track the football down the field or take a short completion to the house given his open field prowess. Johnston, Rashod Bateman, Mark Andrews, Devin Duvernay, and Isaiah Likely will give Lamar the most talented pass catching unit of his career.
22. NYJ – Trenton Simpson – LB – Clemson
A quarterback is not out of the equation for the Jets top pick as Zach Wilson continues to struggle early in his career. I anticipate we’ll see more and more mock drafts with the Jets opting for a QB. However, one of the best players on the board, at a position of need might be the better answer. Trenton Simpson has rare athleticism and versatility that can thrive behind one of the better defensive lines in the league. Simpson seems like a player that can thrive in Robert Saleh’s defense due to his ability to fly sideline-to-sideline and come downhill like a missile.
23. CIN – Joey Porter Jr – CB – Penn State
The Bengals needs to continue to improve their secondary if they want to get back to the Super Bowl. Go grab the son of a player that used to give you fits with Joey Porter Jr. He’s extremely disruptive and plays with the same swagger and confidence as his daddy. I like his ability to stab, turn, run, locate the football and close on a pass attempt.
24. NYG – Michael Mayer – TE – Notre Dame
One of the best players in the class regardless of position, Michael Mayer would be a gift for the New York Giants. Wide receiver is a huge need but Mayer can excel in the passing game as a security blanket and open up huge holes in the run game for Saquon Barkley.
25. DEN (from SF) – John Michael Schmitz – OL – Minnesota
The eye in the sky doesn’t lie when scouting John Michael Schmitz. The man with two first names is tailored made for a zone blocking scheme like the Broncos. Once Javonte Williams get healthy, the Broncos will need a player like Schmitz that can move laterally effortlessly, excel in the run game, and always gets to the second defender.
26. TEN – Rashee Rice – WR – SMU
We are getting closer to Malik Willis time in Tennessee. He will need a second receiver next to Treylon Burks that can play physical and stretch the defense. Rashee Rice excels at both due to his dog mentality and ability to stack defensive backs. In this mock draft, the Titans are thrilled with the selection.
27. MIA – Forfeited
28. DAL – Cam Smith – CB – South Carolina
Cam Smith is a perfect fit for the Cowboys secondary. He has the physicality and competitive fire to match the energy of Micah Parsons and he has unbelievable click and close ability to excel in coverage. Facing Tennessee speedster WR Jalin Hyatt, he displayed an ability to play 10 yards off coverage to limit the deep ball and had the propensity to contest short passes when Hyatt ran shorter routes.
29. BUF – Bijan Robinson – RB – Texas
This is a marriage I’ve been thinking about happening for some time now. I had to make it happen in this mock draft. The Bills have been looking for a running back that can do everything and Bijan Robinson can do everything at a high level. Bijan is an all-purpose back that can make players miss like Saquon Barkley, dominates in the open field like Reggie Bush, and run between the tackles and run routes like Christian McCaffrey.
30. MIN – Josh Downs – WR – North Carolina
It’s time to take the Vikings offense to a full throttle explosive show on turf. With Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook already in the fold, throw a Josh Downs in the mix and you have too many problems for NFL defenses. Downs can beats one-on-one coverage like a Hunter Renfrow utilizing his top notch route pace or he can blow by you vertically like Jaylen Waddle.
31. KC – Jalin Hyatt – WR – Tenneessee
There will by a wide receiver run at some point in the draft and I’m anticipating it in the mid-to-late first, early second round. There are some other receivers like his teammate Cedric Tillman that are more complete, but Hyatt has the speed the Chiefs might cove and he lands in the 31st spot in this mock draft. Hyatt is a player that excelled vertically in the Volunteers’ scheme due to his speed.
32. PHI – Drew Sanders – LB – Arkansas
The Eagles will be tempted to grab RB Jahmyr Gibbs at the bottom of the 1st round. If they pivot and go back-to-back defenders then I like Drew Sanders to sure up their 2nd level. The versatile, off the ball linebacker/edge rusher comes downhill with bad intentions. The sideline-to-sideline ability of Sanders would be scary behind that Eagles front.