Excitement is building for the 2023 NFL Draft, and our team communities have you covered with all of the predictions, analysis, and scouting reports you need to get ready for the big weekend. That includes our SB Nation Team Communities Mock Draft.
If you’ve somehow missed the past 16 years of this mock draft, let’s get you up to speed: Our 32 NFL communities (well, the ones that cover teams with first-round picks, anyway) select the player(s) they think make the most sense for their teams to draft and share the thought process behind those picks. We collect all of those picks here, linking out to the full analysis on each site.
Following the Panthers’ blockbuster trade with the Bears that put them in the No. 1 spot for the 2023 draft, Cat Scratch Reader held the No. 1 pick. We know the Panthers are going to take a quarterback, but which one?
No. 1: Panthers select C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
While the Panthers are mum on who they want to take at No. 1 as of this writing, we believe they already have their minds made up, and that’s for former Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud. Stroud posted a stat line of 575 completions on 830 attempts for 8,123 passing yards and 85 touchdowns with only 12 interceptions as pretty much the consensus best pocket passer in this draft. One of the main concerns with Stroud pre-draft is making plays outside of structure and using his legs, however he demonstrated there’s more to his game there against Georgia in the Peach Bowl last season. – Brian Beversluis, Cat Scratch Reader
No. 2: Texans select Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
… he could flourish placed behind the highest paid left tackle in the NFL, Laremy Tunsil, and protected by the rest of the rebuilt Houston offensive line. Handing the ball off to the 1-2 punch of Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary. Throwing the ball to Nico Collins, John Metchie and whomever the Texans draft after Young. Hitting his safety valve Dalton Shultz in stride for major first downs. It’s time to finally imagine a potent Houston Texans offense, and drafting Bryce Young makes that vision possible. – Mike Bullock, Battle Red Blog
No. 3: Cardinals select Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
The 21-year-old Anderson is one of the most productive pass rushers in college football history and had one of the single best seasons in 2021 when he posted an astounding 17.5 sacks, 31 tackles for loss and 101 total tackles and finished fifth in the Heisman voting.
No. 4: Colts select Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
It could be really bad. He has very little starting experience at Florida and will likely need time to adjust to the NFL game and the complexity of NFL schemes. His accuracy has been discussed consistently. Those reviewing the tape often conclude that those issues are overstated, but perhaps that’s easy to do with such an impressive athlete. …
His ceiling? Lamar Jackson joined Tom Brady as a unanimous NFL MVP in his second season. Richardson is unlikely to get to that level so fast, but he is bigger and stronger than Jackson, has the same kind of athleticism, has a bigger arm than Jackson, and could become a better player than Jackson. If Jackson won an MVP, it’s not outlandish to suggest that if Richardson reaches his ceiling, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for a long time. – Brett Mock, Stampede Blue
No. 5: Seahawks select Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
They need defensive linemen, dammit!
Seriously! They let go of Shelby Harris, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, and (thus far) haven’t re-signed Poona Ford. Their only defensive linemen are Myles Adams, Bryan Mone (out with a torn ACL), Jarrod Hewitt, Dre’Mont Jones, and Jarran Reed.
They’re not short on outside linebackers (e.g. Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, Uchenna Nwosu) but I don’t think Wilson best projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I can’t imagine being this thin along the defensive line and not using at least one first-round pick at that position. – Mookie Alexander, Field Gulls
No. 6: Lions select Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Blessed with an elite combination of power and athleticism, Carter has the unique ability to be impactful as both a pass rusher and run defender. He possesses a next-level first step and is quickly into his first pass rush move while the offensive lineman is still working to get out of his stance. He is devastatingly accurate with his hand placement and his lower body power complements this in a beautiful symphony of destruction.
While on the field, Carter is a clean prospect, recent off-the-field events—misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in an incident that involved two fatalities, as well as a poor performance at his pro day—have raised potential red flags surrounding his character. The Lions have scheduled Carter for a top 30 visit, and his explanation of the events could go a long way in determining if he stays on the Lions’ draft board. – Erik Schlitt, Pride of Detroit
No. 7: Raiders select Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
“When you talk about certain players that you’re trying to add to your roster, you know, explosive players on offense or defense, I mean, that’s what our league is now. … It’s more of an ability to make plays with the ball in your hands or to create disruptive plays on defense.”
Gonzalez also has excellent ball skills outside of just creating turnovers. He racked up seven pass breakups in Eugene last fall, which is something else the Raiders’ defensive backs are lacking. – Matt Holder, Silver & Black Pride
No. 8: Falcons select Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Adding Bijan to Atlanta’s offense would give the Falcons three potential stars: Kyle Pitts at tight end, Drake London at wide receiver, and Bijan Robinson at running back. He wouldn’t have to carry a massive workload as a runner thanks to the presence of Tyler Allgeier—who should still receive a good portion of the snaps. That should help extend his career as opposed to the traditional “run him into the ground” method employed by most teams. Bijan would bring so much dynamic athleticism to the backfield and the receiving game. Given Arthur Smith’s creative usage of Cordarrelle Patterson, I have no doubt that Bijan would get plenty of opportunities in the passing game.
It’s not the biggest need for the Falcons, and it’s not the best “value” on the board in a traditional sense. But Bijan is, objectively, the most talented player available and would slot right into an offense that would take full advantage of his talents. No other offensive player would “move the needle” for the Falcons offense more than Bijan Robinson in 2023, and I can’t think of a better way to take pressure off of Desmond Ridder than to give him the NFL’s best RB tandem. – Kevin Knight, The Falcoholic
No. 9: Bears select Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Johnson manned the left tackle spot for the Buckeyes in 2022, but in 2021 he started 13 games at right guard, and he played in five games at guard as a true freshman in 2020. His length means he’s most likely an NFL tackle, but his versatility is a plus, as is an entire season working from a right-handed stance. The Bears were comfortable with rookie Braxton Jones at left tackle a season ago, but they aren’t married to the notion that he stays on the left with a rookie starting on the right side. …
If Johnson is Chicago’s first-round draft pick, he’d immediately slot into a starting tackle spot, and whether it’s the right or left side, he’ll have a full offseason to hone his technique and get ready for the 2023 season. – Lester Wiltfong Jr., Windy City Gridiron
No. 10: Eagles select Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
There are some questions about how Smith projects to the NFL considering his size. But he’s only an inch shorter and eight pounds lighter than Micah Parsons’ listed measurements from the NFL Combine. Smith’s actually an inch taller than Haason Reddick and just two pounds lighter. There’s reason to believe he can follow in their footsteps and utilize his elite athleticism to wreak havoc as both a pass rusher and run defender.
There’s also reason to believe in his character. The Eagles have made good bets on prospects like this in recent years. Jalen Hurts is a dog. DeVonta is a dog. Those are just two examples of dudes you do not want to bet against. They ooze Big Winner Energy. By all accounts, Smith checks all the boxes in that regard. Just look at the intensity and passion he plays with. He’s fearless. That’s a guy you want on your team. – Brandon Lee Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
Stay tuned for the rest of our first-round picks!