2023 NFL mock draft: 1st-round projections heading into divisional round

With one week of NFL playoff action already done, that means draft week is one week closer, and we know it sneaks up on everyone fast.

This year’s class looks as good as any in recent memory, and will provide a boost at multiple positions in the first round, including at the most important position in the league.

Multiple mock drafts have has as many as five quarterbacks taken in the first round, and it has become quite the headliner of this class. Could this be the first class since 2018 to make that happen?

Let’s find out in my latest first-round projection for the 2023 NFL draft:

NOTE: The Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick in next year’s draft as a result of the NFL’s investigation into tampering violations.

1. Chicago Bears | Alabama EDGE Will Anderson

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There is of course a lot of speculation that this pick could be moved for the right price, to a team willing to move up and grab a franchise signal caller. That said, this mock draft doesn’t have any trades, so that simply won’t happen here.

Realistically, Chicago could very well not get the asking price needed to pass on an all-star edge rusher such as Anderson, who many consider to be a franchise player in the mold of a Myles Garrett. He is the most productive defensive player in the country, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go here.

2. Houston Texans | Alabama QB Bryce Young

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Texans should be running this card to the podium giddy that the best quarterback in the class negated the fact that they lost out on the No. 1 overall pick.

Young has proven time and time again that he is the best quarterback in college football, and while there is some concern about his size, he is simply too talented and too refined at the most important position to pass on him. Houston gets their signal-caller for the next decade.

3. Arizona Cardinals | Kentucky QB Will Levis

(AP Photo/John Amis)

Shocker!

With a departure from the head coach and GM who drafted him, it may be time to hit the restart button on Kyler Murray. Arizona might want to start what could be a quick rebuild, given they get an immediate replacement plus tons of draft capitol for whoever ultimately trades for Murray in this instance.

Levis is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the class, with a big, physical build, snappy rocket arm, and enough experience to start from Day 1.

4. Indianapolis Colts | Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Another quarterback goes off the board in the top five with Stroud, who has been one of the most productive passers in the country over the last two seasons.

He’ll be be a perfect fit in Indianapolis for a team that has been playing musical chairs at the quarterback position since the retirement of Andrew Luck.

Stroud could bring the steadiness this team needs to find success in the playoffs with a loaded roster, as his accuracy and experience make him ready to go from the start

5. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) | Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Pete Carroll and company have had great success taking ultra-talented players with a high ceiling and turning them into high-level contributors early on, such as with Tariq Woolen.

Seattle desperately needs edge help, and they get perhaps the most talented edge rusher of the class here to do it. Wilson is a long, rangy pass rusher who can also play the run effectively, and has a high enough ceiling to consider him a potentially 12-plus sack guy every season.

6. Detroit Lions (from LAR) | Georgia DL Jalen Carter

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit gets richer once again by simply allowing the board to fall to them. With three quarterbacks in the top five, and two edge rushers being preferred to interior help, the Lions pick up potentially the best player in the entire class.

Carter was an unstoppable machine the majority of the season, and was constantly double-teamed to no effect. He would bring an immediate boost to an already young and dangerous Detroit defensive line.

7. Las Vegas Raiders | Northwestern OT Peter Skoronksi

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

While the Raiders are ultimately moving on from Derek Carr, it does not mean they should jump at the first chance to replace him in the draft. Especially if the player does not fit the grade, and they can’t properly protect or develop him

That leaves them with the next best option, and elite left tackle in Skoronski.

He has been one of the best and most physical tackles in college football, and while he does not quite stack up to the likes of Ikem Ekwonu, from the last class, he is easily worth a top-10 selection here. He’ll be a locked in as the blindside protector for the next decade for whoever is under center in Vegas.

8. Atlanta Falcons | Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy

(AP Photo/Stew Milne)

The Falcons are littered with holes on the defensive side of the ball, and need to get the best guy available here.

Murphy is a big, physical edge defender with enough upside, production, and experience to warrant a top-10 selection.

He should start right away and help Atlanta in their defensive rebuild.

9. Carolina Panthers | Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

While it is fair to say that Carolina desperately needs a quarterback, it would be a tough sell to take one here that either does not fit the draft slot, or needs at least a year of development.

The Panthers have shown they have a very competitive roster, but have some holes on their ultra-talented defense, and could use a starter opposite of Jaycee Horn.

So, why not take another Pro Bowl defender’s son in Porter, who has a similar skill set to Horn, and can guarantee the dominance of this Carolina defense for years to come.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) | Texas RB Bijan Robinson

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

This is a bit of a luxury pick for an Eagles team that is stacked at nearly every position for the next few years, so why not take what is considered a luxury position in running back.

Robinson is undoubtedly worthy of a top ten selection, and is every bit of the prospect Saquon Barkley was when he came out and was drafted much higher.

He makes an already elite running game in Philly even more unstoppable with this selection.

11. Tennessee Titans | Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Titans’ offensive line showed some clear signs of wear and tear this season, struggling in both protecting whoever was behind center and establishing a normally dominant running attack.

Johnson will help them get younger at the position, can start right away at either tackle spot, or kick inside to guard, if needed. He’s a proven and battle-tested player who can be molded into the ideal blindside protector.

12. Houston Texans (from CLE) | TCU WR Quentin Johnston

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans got their franchise quarterback earlier in the draft, so they might as well provide him with the top wide receiver in the draft, as well.

While Houston does have some younger receivers on the roster, there’s not a clear-cut No. 1 guy, and Johnston would immediately fill that role to give Houston their very own dynamic duo.

Johnston would make Bryce Young’s ability to extend plays even more dangerous, given Johnston’s extreme catch radius and athleticism.

13. New York Jets | Alabama OT Tyler Steen

(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

The Jets are likely losing their right tackle this offseason, and still have question marks at the left tackle spot, which will make life difficult for whoever ends up behind center next season.

Steen is an experienced starter who played in 45 straight games, can come in and start at either tackle spot right away, or kick into guard if needed. He’ll will help shore up a shaky offensive line unit, and remove some of the inconsistencies it has faced.

14. New England Patriots | Georgia OT Broderick Jones

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots had some very mixed play from their offensive line last season, and could face losing their left tackle to free agency, so addressing that here makes the most sense.

Jones helped sustain one of the top offenses on the best team in the country the past two seasons, and is one of the better run blockers in the entire draft, which should help him should fit well in this offense.

15. Green Bay Packers | Alabama S Brian Branch

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers desperately need help at the safety position, with zero long term answers on the roster, and they could get it here with one of the most versatile defenders in this class.

Branch played all over the field for Alabama, including safety and nickel. Green Bay could be creative with how they use him, and his presence would help what was an inconsistent secondary right away.

16. Washington Commanders | Florida QB Anthony Richardson

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The Commanders still haven’t found the answer at the quarterback position, with yet another experimental run with Carson Wentz last year.

They will be able to find the long-term solution here with the ultra-talented Richardson, who can do some of the things a young Cam Newton was able to accomplish during Rivera’s tenure with Carolina.

He will likely need a year to develop, but this team has a good bridge quarterback on the roster, and can practice patience until Richardson is ready.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers | Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers desperately need to fix their offensive line, which notably struggled to create a reliable running game nor protect their rookie quarterback for most of the season.

They can help do that here with an experienced blocker in Harrison, who nabbed the starting job during his freshman season. He may be able to kick into guard early if needed, but can develop into the long-term solution at left tackle.

18. Detroit Lions | Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Lions get yet another steal here, in a move to bolster what was a shaky defense for the majority of the season.

Witherspoon is a fierce and physical corner who fits the Dan Campbell profile nicely, and will help establish an improved, nasty secondary for this young Lions team.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

The Bucs are set to lose two of their starting corners to free agency this offseason, and did not have stellar play at the position last year, making this an immediate need for the team.

Gonzalez is a high-ceiling corner with excellent physical traits and burner speed, but will need some coaching up to meet his potential at the position.

20. Seattle Seahawks | Tennesee WR Jalin Hyatt

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel

Seattle already has quite the stacked wide receiver core with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But with Lockett getting up there in age, and no real No. 3 threat on the roster with Dee Eskridge not panning out yet, landing the deep ball-threat in Hyatt could bring a real boost to an already dangerous offense.

Hyatt exploded onto the scene this season, and proved to be a big-play machine for the Vols. He can make this Seahawks team one to fear every time they drop back to pass, with such a stacked group of speedsters.

21. Los Angeles Chargers | Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

While the Chargers do have Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on the roster, the injury to Bosa during their midseason slump showed they need more )and younger) depth at the position.

Van Ness is an athletic superstar who can fit either on the edge or play some along the interior. He’ll ensure the Chargers do not want for a pass rusher should an injury happen, or can fill Morgan Fox’s current role on the line.

22. Baltimore Ravens | USC WR Jordan Addison

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

One has to assume that the Ravens will find a way to sign their MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal. If they do, one way to help him out would be to add an additional weapon on the outside.

Already boasting one young pass-catcher with size in Rashod Bateman, Addison’s skill set would be the perfect match to help take this passing game to another level. Addison should go higher than this given his skillset, so Baltimore hits the lottery in another weapon for Jackson.

23. Minnesota Vikings | Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings found fireworks this season under new head coach Kevin O’Connell in what turned out to be Kirk Cousin’s best year yet. So, it makes sense to build upon your strengths, and add a running mate for your All-Pro wide receiver in Justin Jefferson.

Smith Njigba missed the majority of this season with injuries, but his 2021 campaign was astonishing, and should project him well to the NFL. While he’s more of an inside receiver, he has the ability to play outside, as well, and would create a dangerous trio in Minnesota.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars | Clemson DL Bryan Bresee

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have a lot of talent at the edge positions, but lack on the interior part of their line. Bresee would bring a big boost to this defensive line, and force teams to stop applying constant double-teams to their edge rushers.

Bresee could go much higher than this, but if he makes it this far, the Jags would be wise to snatch him up.

25. New York Giants | Georgia TE Darnell Washington

Syndication: Online Athens

The Giants just miss out on a wide receiver after the mid-round run, but they can’t be mad at adding an exceptionally talented tight in in Washington.

His 6-7 frame and athletic skillset will be a perfect comfort blanket and red zone threat for Daniel Jones, and he could very well develop into much more of a deep threat with time.

26. Dallas Cowboys | Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The idea of pairing someone with Smith’s skill set with the All-Pro talent of Micah Parsons could be too tempting for the Cowboys to pass up on here.

Smith was injured for much of the 2022 season, but is seriously talented with great length and speed, and has shown enough so far in his career to warrant first-round consideration. Opposing teams will have trouble defending the two speedsters off the edge with Smith in town.

27. Cincinnati Bengals | Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals’ offensive attack is about as stacked as it gets with the three receivers they have on the team, but what they’ve been missing in Joe Burrow’s career is an elite receiving tight end.

Mayer is there to answer that call, after racking up over 800 yards and nine touchdowns for the Fighting Irish this past season. His skill set should fit right in with this explosive passing attack.

28. Denver Broncos | Florida OL O'Cyrus Torrence

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

It was obviously a disaster of a season for the Broncos and Russell Wilson, and Denver needs to do everything possible to ensure they protect him to have any odds of a quick resurgence.

Torrence is a massive human being at 6-5 and 350 pounds, and would slide in at guard right away, bolstering what was a laughably bad running attack and putting another big body in front of Wilson to give him a bit more time.

29. Buffalo Bills | Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

While the Bills have addressed the edge position in Von Miller and Gregory Rosseau in recent years, the former is 34 years old and coming off a torn ACL in November, while the latter while has not been the force they thought he could become.

Depth and talent at the edge position is never a bad thing, and Anudike-Uzomah gives the Bills just that. He could be the a power rusher and run stopper to compliment Rosseau going into next season until Von Miller gets healthy, and can potentially be the long-term solution at that position.

30. Kansas City Chiefs | LSU WR Kayshon Boutte

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

While the Chiefs did everything they could to try and do the impossible with replacing Tyreek Hill, none of the receivers they added truly shined in this explosive offense, as All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce was the obvious bright spot of the season.

Adding Boutte could help the Chiefs mix it up once again, as he competes with Kadarious Toney and company for that No. 1 receiver spot. Boutte’s skill set would fit well in the Chiefs’ attack, as he has some serious speed to add to the already large collection of speedsters in Kansas City.

31. Philadelphia Eagles | Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Eagles took a luxury pick earlier in the draft with Bijan Robinson, so they hit on a bit more of a need here at the cornerback position with Ringo.

He’s a big, aggressive corner in one of the nation’s top defensive units, and can start opposite Darius Slay. He’l need to work on some stiffness and tackling, but there is serious potential with Ringo, who will fit right in with his aggressive playing style.

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire