2023 mock draft: 3 rounds of March madness

If we’ve learned anything from the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s that anything can happen. March Madness earned that nickname for good reason, and this year proves it.

The unpredictability extends into April for the NFL and the upcoming draft. Predicting exactly what will happen some six weeks out is like trying to fill out a perfect bracket; it’s a brilliantly fun exercise in abject futility, even if you get very close to the outcomes.

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Yet here were are with my first mock draft since taking the reins as the co-editor here at Draft Wire. This one goes three full rounds with no trades.

An explanation of how I approach mock drafts:

The picks are an attempt at predicting what the team would do in the given situation. They do not necessarily represent the choices I would make. I do one “what I would do” mock draft every year. This is not that edition.



1. Carolina Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Panthers didn’t trade up for just anyone. They had a specific target in mind, and it’s easy to see why new head coach Frank Reich would want Stroud enough to make that move. 


2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Texans jumpstart their rebuild under new head coach Demeco Ryans with the Heisman winner. Young is unusually small but that didn’t stop him from thriving in the SEC with his playmaking and leadership. 

3. Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

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Wilson brings a power-to-speed style with outstanding length and strength. He’s a natural building block for a Cardinals team in transition. A trade down here with a QB-needy team certainly makes sense.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The Courier Journal


When the owner comes out and says the team is taking a quarterback at the top, listen to him. Levis carries some legit risk but the potential reward is also very high

5. Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

[Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

The Seahawks are in the perfect position to take a developmental QB with Richardson’s record-setting athleticism. Geno Smith makes for a great bridge, one too tantalizing for GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll to resist taking the shot on Richardson. 


6. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

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Not the Lions’ biggest need, but the concept of pairing Anderson with last year’s rookie EDGE haul of Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston and Josh Paschal would give Detroit a diverse, destructive stable of young pass rushers.


7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

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Gonzalez oozes athletic potential and offers a high football IQ. He’s a potential instant impact starter in a pass-happy division for a Raiders team that needs a lot of help at CB. 

8. Atlanta Falcons: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

 It’s hard to know where Carter comes off the board after a disastrous offseason. The Falcons roll the dice on a player almost universally considered the best defensive talent in the entire draft less than two months ago. 

9. Chicago Bears: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)


Robinson might be the best offensive player in the draft, but teams don’t typically value RBs this highly. Bears GM Ryan Poles can risk it with the extra picks acquired from trading down from No. 1.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Even though he never started a game at Iowa, Van Ness has loads of athletic potential and positional versatility to help the Eagles get younger and more dynamic on defense. 

11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The Titans have a lot of holes to fill, and the well-heeled Johnson can be a foundational piece of the offense. Tennessee sure feels like a prime candidate to trade–in either direction. Staying put and bolstering the offensive line makes sense too. 



12. Houston Texans: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Ncaa Football Clemson At Syracuse

 After landing the QB with their first pick, the Texans bring in an instant starter at another position of dire need, pass rusher. Murphy is a talented player who can definitely impact the opposing offense from Day 1 in both run and pass defense. 

13. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

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This is pending the (seemingly inevitable) Aaron Rodgers trade. Making such a trade means catering to your new QB, and getting Rodgers arguably the best all-around pass protection lineman in the draft sure sounds smart, even if his length limitations force Skoronski to play guard.


14. New England Patriots: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

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15. Green Bay Packers: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

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Branch fits best into the slot but offers enough coverage skills and outstanding tackling to roam around, if that’s what the Packers desire. I initially had Michael Mayer here but the quality of the TE class changed the direction to defense.

16. Washington Commanders: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

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Banks opted to shorten his name to “Tae” at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he was one of the week’s biggest winners. No matter what you call him, he’s got high-end speed and man coverage ability that would suit the Commanders’ defense nicely.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) celebrates against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jones can step right into a starting OT role for the Steelers, but he’s much better as a long-term prospect. There isn’t a tackle in this class with higher-end potential.

18, Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

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Witherspoon is slightly built and hasn’t worked out due to a hamstring injury but offers the exact style of in-your-face man coverage that suits the Lions’ young defense.


19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee

One of the workout circuit’s biggest winners, both figuratively and literally. The 335-pound Wright can play any guard or tackle spot right away, a nice asset for a Buccaneers line with multiple positions to address.

20. Seattle Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

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An undersized but lightning-quick interior penetrator from Pittsburgh; where have we heard this before…Kancey doesn’t have the playing strength anywhere close to Aaron Donald, but his ability to instantly win as a pass rusher is undeniable. The Seahawks can use him as an impact package player right away.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Kincaid fits the mold of an oversized wide receiver playing tight end, a role the Chargers can utilize to help make life easier for Justin Herbert. The former prep basketball standout continues to get stronger and develop his blocking.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

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Addison is the first WR off the board and heads to a Baltimore team that struggled to find effective weapons to build around Lamar Jackson. The quarterback’s unresolved contractual situation leaves everything in flux, but the playmaking Addison helps whomever is running the Ravens offense

23. Minnesota Vikings: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

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Smith gets a little lost after missing the end of his final Bulldogs season with a torn pec. A team like the Vikings stops the fall for an accomplished all-around stand-up EDGE. Smith has enough athleticism and savvy to work in some off-ball LB looks too.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

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Johnston is an unusual weapon as a receiver, one Jaguars coach Doug Pederson can make good use of–a big target who is fantastic after the catch.

25. New York Giants: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

The consensus top center, Schmitz proved during Senior Bowl week he can aggressively lock up athletic pass rushers. He’s smart, seasoned and ready to step right into the center of the Giants’ young offensive line.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

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The run game is too important to the Cowboys offense to just ay goodbye to Ezekiel Elliott and not replace him with an impact playmaker. That’s Gibbs, who is an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well as a home run hitter outside the tackle box.

27. Buffalo Bills: O'Cyrus Torrence

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Torrence is a large man with a big man’s style of play on the interior. He’ll help the Bills run game in a division filled with some strong defensive lines. I would’ve slotted Jahmyr Gibbs here but he just came off the board.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Harrison can slide into either tackle spot as a pass protection specialist, though he has the feet to also play inside if needed. Adding Orlando Brown Jr. was a great move, but the Bengals best not be done upgrading the line in front of Joe Burrow.

29. New Orleans Saints: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

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Tapping into the Buckeyes WR corps worked great for the Saints in 2022, and that well is far from dry. Smith-Njigba could reunite with Chris Olave to give new QB Derek Carr a dynamic young 1-2 punch at wide receiver.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After dabbling with dumping Darius Slay, adding a cornerback early seems wildly prudent for GM Howie Roseman. I know, I know–that’s not what the Eagles do. That’s the value of having an extra pick, at least in this projection.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Bresee is an enigmatic interior talent, one dripping with athletic ability but not always focused energy. The Kansas City coaching staff has thrived with prospects like that in the past, and Bresee’s upside makes it a worthy gamble for the defending champs.

2nd round

32. Steelers: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

33. Texans: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

34. Cardinals: Clark Phillips, CB, Utah

35. Colts: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

36. Rams: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

37. Seahawks: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

38. Raiders: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

39. Panthers: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

40. Saints: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

41. Titans: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M

42. Browns: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

43. Jets: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

44. Falcons: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati

45. Packers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

46. Patriots: Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech

47. Commanders: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

48. Lions: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

49. Steelers: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

50. Buccaneers: Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State

51. Dolphins: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

52. Seahawks: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

53. Bears: Steve Avila, OL, TCU

54. Chargers: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

55. Lions: Adetomiba Adebawore, DT, Northwestern

56. Jaguars: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse

57. Giants: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee

58. Cowboys: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

59. Bills: Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M

60. Bengals: Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin

61. Bears: Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn

62. Eagles: Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC

63. Chiefs: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State


Third round

64. Bears: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

65. Texans: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

66. Cardinals: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

67. Broncos: Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State

68. Broncos: Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU

69. Rams: Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

70. Raiders: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford

71. Saints: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

72. Titans: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

73. Texans: Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston

74. Jets: Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn

75. Falcons: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan

76. Patriots: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois

77. Rams: B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

78. Packers: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest

79. Colts: Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina

80. Steelers: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

81. Lions: Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State

82. Buccaneers: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA

83. Seahawks: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn

84. Dolphins: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

85. Chargers: Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford

86. Ravens: D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan

87. Vikings: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh

88. Jaguars: J.L. Skinner, S, Boise State

89. Giants: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

90. Cowboys: Davis Allen, TE, Clemson

91. Bills: Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State

92. Bengals: K.J. Henry, EDGE, Clemson

93. Panthers: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

94. Eagles: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU

95. Chiefs: Tyler Steen, OL, Alabama

96. Cardinals: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M

97. Commanders: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami FL

98. Browns: Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas

99. 49ers: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

100. Raiders: Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama

101. 49ers: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss

102. 49ers: Tre’vius Tomlinson, CB, TCU

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire