NFL Draft 2023 predictions: Christian Evans chooses his mock draft without trades

Christian Evans runs through a mock draft without trades ahead of the real NFL Draft 2023

A Kansas City Chiefs fan cheers during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas (Image: Getty)A Kansas City Chiefs fan cheers during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas (Image: Getty)
A Kansas City Chiefs fan cheers during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas (Image: Getty)

The 2023 NFL Draft gets underway tonight (27 April) from Kansas City, with the Carolina Panthers in possession of the first overall pick.

Carolina is expected to take a quarterback first overall, with Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson all tipped in recent days.

Ahead of the draft, I’ve put together a mock draft without trades.

1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, Quarterback

The Panthers traded their star wide receiver DJ Moore, a future first-round pick, a future second-round pick, as well as the ninth and 61st overall picks in 2023 to get the first pick in the draft. They are in desperate need of the quarterback. Young starred at Alabama and is arguably the best in the class.

2. Houston Texans: CJ Stroud, Quarterback

After trading Deshaun Watson last year, the Texans are on the hunt for their next franchise quarterback under new head coach DeMeco Ryans. Stroud improved in both of his two seasons as a starter for Ohio State, and despite a poor performance in the S2 Cognition test, Stroud is still expected to be a high pick. No brainer for the Texans.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, Defensive End

The Cardinals find themselves in an interesting position heading into the 2023 campaign. Arizona has a first-year head coach in Jonathan Gannon and a first-year general manager in Monti Ossenfort. Meanwhile, JJ Watt has retired, Byron Murphy has joined the Minnesota Vikings, Kyler Murray is recovering from an ACL injury and there are rumours DeAndre Hopkins could be traded. But here, they take the best player available in Anderson.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, Quarterback

Since the retirement of Andrew Luck after the 2018 campaign, the Colts have tried for quick fixes with the additions of Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan, but neither move paid off as hoped. Here, they’ll likely have their pick between Richardson and Will Levis. Indianapolis’ new head coach Stane Steichen is going into his first year at Lucas Oil Stadium after a successful partnership with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Richardson has earned comparisons to Lamar Jackson, and could well sit behind former Eagles signal-caller Gardner Minshew as he continues his development.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, Defensive Tackle

The Seahawks will continue to improve their defence with the addition of Carter. The Georgia star was tipped as the first overall pick not too long ago, and Pete Carroll will be thrilled to add a player of his calibre to the roster.

6. Detroit Lions: Tyree Wilson, Defensive End

This pick could go in multiple directions. The Lions could opt to bolster their secondary with Devon Witherspoon or Christian Gonzalez, but instead opt to draft Wilson, who had seven sacks in his final season for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, Quarterback

Derek Carr’s tenure as the Raiders signal-caller came to an end in March, and Josh McDaniels’ team subsequently signed former San Francisco 49er Jimmy Garoppolo. Like the Lions, Las Vegas could opt to go in multiple directions. Gonzalez, Witherspoon and Northwestern tackle Peter Skoronski could be the pick. But Levis could become a long-term franchise quarterback, and will get to sit back and learn behind Garoppolo in year one.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback

The Falcons have invested heavily in the secondary this offseason, and will add to it again with the addition of Gonzalez. Terry Fontenot handed former Bengals safety Jesse Bates a big-money contract in March and now finds a running mate for AJ Terrell at corner.

9. Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, Guard/Tackle

After trading away the first overall pick, the Bears have shown their commitment to Justin Fields as the franchise quarterback. General manager Ryan Poles filled a major hole at wide receiver by trading for DJ Moore, and will now go about fixing Chicago’s offensive line. At Northwestern University, Skoronski was an All-American left tackle and although it remains to be seen whether he is moved to one of the guard positions, Skoronski is the definition of a pro-ready prospect and a day-one starter.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, Running Back

Robinson has been referred to as a generational talent and has drawn comparisons to New York Giants superstar Saquon Barkley. Following the departure of Miles Sanders, the Eagles have a need at running back and would be absolutely thrilled to give Jalen Hurts another weapon.

11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr, Tackle

The Titans handed Andre Dillard a three-year contract in free agency, but Tennessee’s offensive line remains in need of repair. Johnson played both guard and tackle in college and protected CJ Stroud at Ohio State. No brainer for the Titans.

12. Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver

Drafting Smith-Njigba is an obvious choice for the Texans. First and foremost, after trading Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys, Robert Woods and Nico Collins currently stand as the top two receiving options. Smith-Njigba is regarded as one of the best receivers in the class, and played with Stroud at Ohio State. The pair could rekindle their connection like JaMarr Chase and Joe Burrow in Cincinnati.

13. Green Bay Packers: Dalton Kincaid, Tight End

The Packers begin life without Aaron Rodgers this season, and will hope to add to Jordan Love’s passing options. Kincaid enjoyed a superb season at Utah in 2022, catching 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdown passes. Kincaid’s presence should give Love a reliable option in Green Bay’s pass game.

14. New England Patriots: Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback

Devin McCourty retired at the end of the 2022 campaign, leaving a gaping hole in the Pats’ secondary. The Patriots need to upgrade the cornerback position in all three of the short, medium and long-term and are thrilled to land a player of Witherspoon’s calibre.

15. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, Tackle

The Jets finally managed to get a deal over the line to bring Aaron Rodgers to the MetLife Stadium this week, and the Jets must attempt to keep the former Packer upright. Jones gave up zero sacks while playing as a left-tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs, and at 21 he’d be a long-term piece for the Jets.

16. Washington Commanders; Joey Porter Jr, Cornerback

With a number of holes to fill, Washington could have chosen to select Darnell Wright instead of adding a cornerback to the roster.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers, Darnell Wright, Tackle

The tackle position is arguably Pittsburgh’s biggest concern heading into the draft, going for a day-one starter at the right tackle position in Wright.

18. Detroit Lions, Deonte Banks, Cornerback

Following their decision to draft Tyree Wilson sixth overall, the Lions opt to strengthen their defensive backfield with the lightning-fast Banks. The addition of Banks would help bolster a secondary that added both cornerback Cam Sutton and safety CJ Gardner-Johnson.

19. Tampa Bay Bucs, Brian Branch, Safety

The Buccaneers have a number of gaps they need to fill as they begin life without Tom Brady. In this scenario, they could opt for Myles Murphy, Nolan Smith or Lukas Van Ness. Instead, they decide to add the best safety in the class in Branch.

20. Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith, Defensive End/Linebacker

The Seahawks would be in dreamland if this happened. After picking the highly-rated Carter fifth overall, they selected his former Georgia teammate to join a defensive front that added Dre’mont Jones on a three-year $51.53m contract in free agency.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen played in just 10 games in the regular season in 2022 and Mike Williams missed four regular season games himself. With this pick, the Chargers opt to give franchise quarterback Justin Herbert another weapon in the passing game.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver

Despite adding Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr in free agency, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta continues to bolster the position with a speedy and big-play threat in Flowers.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Lukas Van Ness, Defensive End

After missing out on Flowers and Addison, the Vikings opt to bolster their defensive line with the extremely athletic Van Ness, who is capable of rushing the passer from the inside and the outside.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Murphy, Defensive End

The Jaguars are in a decent position heading into the 2023 campaign, and opt to give defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell another edge rusher, who can play inside and outside to help the likes of Josh Allen and Travon Walker get to the quarterback.

25. New York Giants: Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver

Following a good 2022 campaign, the Giants committed big money to retain the services of Daniel Jones. Now they go about and find him a weapon in Johnston, who recorded 60 catches for 1,069 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the TCU Horned Frogs last year.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, Tight End

Following the departure of the Cowboys’ first choice tight end Dalton Schultz, Dak Prescott gets a big-bodied pass catcher to complement CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks in the pass game.

27. Buffalo Bills: Josh Downs, Wide Receiver

With Bills’ no.2 wideout Gabriel Davis expected to hit free agency following the 2023 campaign, Brandon Beane drafts his eventual replacement in Downs to give Josh Allen extra help.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, Tackle

Bengals General Manager Duke Tobin has one mission this offseason - protect Joe Burrow. Tobin pulled off a coup by adding former Kansas City Chief Orlando Brown Jr to protect Burrow’s blindside and now finds the Bengals a starting right-tackle.

29. New Orleans Saints, Calijah Kancey, Defensive Tackle

The Pittsburgh alum has been compared to former Pittsburgh star Aaron Donald, and the Saints are in need of bolstering their defensive front following the departures of Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata. This pick makes too much sense.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Will McDonald, Defensive End

After landing Bijan Robinson with the 10th pick, the Eagles bolster their defensive line with the explosive, athletic and fast McDonald.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalin Hyatt, Wide Receiver

The defending Super Bowl champions have very few holes on their roster, but add Hyatt to give Patrick Mahomes a wide receiver to replace the departed Mecole Hardman and Juju Smith-Schuster.

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