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Zak Drapeau's 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Welcome to Mock Draft season! This will be my 5th year mock drafting for the NFL Draft which will happen this year April 27th through the 29th.

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My second Mock Draft will publish on March 10th after the NFL Combine, and my third on April 27th before the actual Draft.

This season's draft class more than last years' has an emphasis on the Quarterbacks, with four 1st-round grades and up to six potential draftees on the first day. With last year's generationally low talent, teams are very excited for this year's crop of QB's and are more than willing to trade up to draft the potential future of their franchises.

Other strong positions in this class is cornerbacks, defensive ends and offensive tackles. This class is generally strong with plenty of depth, as over 250 players project to be draftable, (only 224 picks at draft).

If you have any comments or changes you would make to the mock, feel free to leave a comment or tweet at me @DrapeauZak.

Without further ado, here's my first 2023 NFL Mock Draft.


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1. Will Anderson Jr.

Chicago Bears

6'4" 243 lbs.

Alabama Edge Rusher

With so many teams looking to trade up and draft either Young or Stroud, the Chicago Bears are in the best position to make out like bandits and cultivate several picks for a potential suitor at number one.

However, Will Anderson Jr. is too good of a prospect to pass up. Anderson Jr. totaled 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for loss on his way to virtually every defensive award possible at Alabama, including the Nagurski and Bednarik awards for best defensive player in college football this season.

With the Bears' history of dominant defenses and pass rush, Anderson Jr. may be the next Khalil Mack to help with the Bears' lowest sacks total from last year with only 20. Anderson will immediately become the best defensive lineman on the team and will possibly elevate this defense as the Bears continue their rebuild.


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2. Bryce Young

Houston Texans

6'0" 194 lbs.

Alabama Quarterback

Young has been a consensus #1 pick since the moment he took over at Alabama in his freshman year three years ago. Although he finished behind Caleb Williams in most of this season's awards, Young won almost every award possible in his Heisman trophy winning season in 2021.

The Houston Texans are possibly at their lowest point since the franchise started in 2022. After trading their franchise QB Deshaun Watson last offseason, the Texans have begun a complete rebuild of their team, and the first step to a rebuild is finding their QB of the future.

Young will bring stability, accuracy and leadership to the Texans that will definitely help the team focus on upgrading the rest of the team while not having to worry about the QB.


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3. C.J. Stroud

Indianapolis Colts (via Arizona)

6'3" 218 lbs.

Ohio State Quarterback

With our first mock trade, the Colts move up one spot to guarantee their QB of the future. This move comes after the Bears promise not to trade down and the Cardinals start getting offers from teams. The Colts are in desperate need of a QB and are willing to trade their first round pick and fourth round picks next year along with the number four pick to move up one spot.

C.J. Stroud is one of the elite QBs in college football, having thrown 85 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in his two seasons at Ohio State. Stroud's size and pocket presence give him one of the best prototypes to come out of the draft since Joe Burrow.

The Colts have a better than average offensive line and a pair of explosive playmakers in Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. to get Stroud started turning around this offense, which ranked 27th in total offensive and 31st in points.


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4. Jalen Carter

Arizona Cardinals (via Indianapolis)

6'3" 311 lbs.

Georgia Defensive Line

After trading down one spot while accumulating multiple picks next year, the Cardinals take the number 1B prospect in this year's draft. If Will Anderson Jr. was the best edge rusher, Jalen Carter is the best defensive lineman, putting these two players head and shoulders above the rest of this very talented crop of defensive prospects.

Jalen Carter is a large and strong defensive tackle who can rush the passer and stuff the run. Carter graded a 92.7 PFF grade this year ranking second in the country. To pair with one of some of the most dominant physical abilities at DT, Carter's hands showed a lot of improvement with his ripping and swimming abilities against top SEC competition this year.

The Cardinals defense already has Byron Murphy Jr., Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins, Zach Allen and Myjai Sanders who are all 25 years old or younger. Adding Jalen Carter to that will make Arizona the best young defense in the NFL.


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5. Will Levis

Carolina Panthers (via Seattle)

6'3" 232 lbs.

Kentucky Quarterback

Here we have another mock trade where the Panthers trade up with the Seattle Seahawks. They gave up the number nine pick and forty-one pick this year, with their second and fourth-round picks next year for the number 5 pick and a fifth-rounder next year.

The Panthers somehow traded Christian McCaffrey and got better last season with a revolving door at QB barely passing by. With new Head Coach Frank Reich under helm, the QB specialist will be wanting to solidify the spot and Will Levis is a perfect man for the job.

While still needing time to work on his pocket skills, Levis' arm is one of the best talents in this draft and combining with his size and speed, projects to be a solid starter in this league. With proper patience and tutelage, Levis and Reich will be scary.


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6. Tyree Wilson

Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)

6'6" 275 lbs.

Texas Tech Edge Rusher

As part of the Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions got the number six pick to go along with the 18th. Head Coach Dan Campbell has used his top draft picks bolstering the Lions frontlines, with Penei Sewell and Aidan Hutchinson. Both are perennial Pro-Bowlers, and here's another to add to their list.

Tyree Wilson is long and explosive coming off the edge and can pair up with Hutchinson to establish a ridiculous 1-2 punch of edge rushers. At Texas Tech, Wilson produced back-to-back seasons with 13+ tackles for loss and 7 sacks. His ability to play the 5-hole or 7-hole makes his versatility very appealing for a coach like Campbell.


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7. Peter Skoronski

Las Vegas Raiders

6'4" 315 lbs.

Northwestern Offensive Tackle

The Raiders will most likely look for a Quarterback in Free Agency based on their win-now-type roster. One of the biggest needs this team has besides QB is the O-line, who gave up more than 2 sacks allowed per game last year.

Peter Skoronski isn't as talented as some other Top-10 drafted lineman but his pass-blocking and hands is as elite for a tackle as you will see coming out of college. Skoronski would be a top-5 pick if not for his short arm length, which may cause NFL teams to project him at Guard.


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8. Bryan Bresee

Atlanta Falcons

6'5" 300 lbs.

Clemson Defensive Line

The Atlanta Falcons have a very interesting Free Agency ahead of them. With a lot of new rumors surrounding this team with Lamar Jackson talks, this mock draft lives in the universe where the former-MVP lands in Atlanta. The Falcons had a much better performance from their team than expected this year and in their lackluster division, could be just a few pieces away from contending for a division title.

We've seen many teams like the Lions crawl back from top-10 pick "honors" by building their defensive line, and that's exactly what the Falcons should do. Breese is a former #1 recruit out of high school and a 3-year starter at Clemson. He will instantly become a leader on this defense.


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9. Anthony Richardson

Seattle Seahawks (via Carolina)

6'4"236 lbs.

Florida Quarterback

The Seahawks have one of the best trade arsenals in the NFL right now thanks to the Russell Wilson trade and added value with the mocked trade with Carolina. They have the potential to disregard QBs this year and trade 5+ picks to get the #1 next year and draft Caleb Williams, which I believe is a solid option, but let's play along like Pete Carroll doesn't want to rebuild for two years.

Anthony Richardson is the biggest gamble in this draft, at least if he's drafted this high. He may have the most upside of any QB, standing 6'4" with a great arm and more than good athleticism outside of the pocket. He needs a lot of work against pro-defenses, patience in the pocket and other NFL tools, but Pete Carroll just may be the man to do it. With Geno Smith's explosion this year, it's clear Caroll is a QB whisperer. Geno will turn 33 at the beginning of next season and would be a perfect mentor for the future of Seattle's franchise.


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10. Myles Murphy

Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans)

6'5" 275 lbs.

Clemson Defensive Line

Rounding out the top-10, the Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia Eagles have a chance to add to a roster many would call flawless with a premiere pick. The Eagles are looking to reload this year as they attempt to get back to the big game for the third time in six years.

The Eagles have this pick after trading two first-rounders to the Saints last year in a move that brought them the #18 pick last year and #10 this year. The end results of this trade, Saints receive Chris Olave and Trevor Penning and Eagles receive A.J. Brown and #10 pick this year. WOW.

Myles Murphy will add to the best pass rush in the league and will take Brandon Graham's spot when the legend retires. Murphy's size and speed is a horrifying combo especially under the tutelage of this daunted Eagles D-line.


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11.Paris Johnson Jr.

Tennessee Titans

6'6" 310 lbs.

Ohio State Offensive Tackle

With the top ten picks solidified, the Tennessee Titans are the next up to the podium. The team lost their last 7 games to lose the AFC South title to the Jaguars and end their season in huge disappointment.

Malik Willis seemed to take the reigns of the team as Ryan Tannehill is on his way out. For a young quarterback who likes to get outside of the pocket, one of the most important pieces a team can surround him with is his offensive line. The Titans gave up the 5th most sacks last year and seem to be moving on from Taylor Lewan.