2023 NFL mock draft: New 2-round projections at the mid-season mark

Now that the NFL regular season has 18 weeks, the end of Week 9 marks the halfway point, and we’re already seeing a race developing at the top of next year’s draft board.

It looks like a five-horse race for the No. 1 overall pick right now, with the one-win Houston Texans leading the charge for the time being.

We’re also hitting the homestretch of college football season, as top prospects and sleepers alike do their best to make the most of their last few games before bowl and playoff season, hoping to put strong film out there for pro scouts to break down once the predraft process arrives.

All that considered, here’s an updated look at how the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL draft could shake out, using the latest updated order after Week 9 results:

*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. Houston Texans | Alabama QB Bryce Young

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Unless Davis Mills takes a massive leap forward in his development over the second half of the season, the Texans need to spend this pick on a franchise quarterback. Regardless of any concerns about his size, Young is the best, most complete prospect at the position in this year’s class.

2. Carolina Panthers | Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

Whoever takes over on a permanent basis for Matt Rhule will need to end the revolving door at quarterback, and this pick is the place to do it. Stroud has all the physical and mental tools to become a franchise passer at the next level, and could finally stabilize this struggling franchise.

3. Las Vegas Raiders | Alabama EDGE Will Anderson

(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

The Raiders have bigger needs at other positions, but when the top overall prospect in the entire draft falls to No. 3 overall, you take him. Especially when he’s an elite pass rusher like Anderson, who would give Las Vegas a long-term partner for Maxx Crosby beyond veteran Chandler Jones.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers | Georgia DL Jalen Carter

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A fantastic blend of need and value, Carter could rival Anderson as the top overall player in the entire draft, and the Steelers desperately need someone on their defensive front who can disrupt opposing offenses with power and explosiveness alongside Cam Heyward.

5. Detroit Lions | Florida QB Anthony Richardson

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

If you think this is too high for Richardson given his inconsistent production this season, go back and look at Josh Allen’s numbers from his last year at Wyoming. The Lions wouldn’t be taking Richardson for what he is right now, but rather for the rare skill set that could make him the kind of superstar Allen has become down the line.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) | Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy

(AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Trading for Robert Quinn helps the Eagles this year, but he’ll be a 33-year-old free agent next offseason, so a more long-term solution to their pass rush could make sense. Murphy is huge, athletic, and has a skill set that would be a perfect fit in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

7. Arizona Cardinals | Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

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This roster needs a lot of help on both sides of the ball, but the best match of need and value comes at corner, where the Cardinals desperately need a true shutdown artist. Ringo has the size, length, athleticism and ball skills to make an immediate impact against some of the league’s top pass-catchers.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars | TCU WR Quentin Johnston

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

The Jags double-dipped on defense in the first round this year, but next year’s top pick needs to be spent helping Trevor Lawrence on the other side of the ball. Johnston has the size, athleticism, physicality and ball skills to be the top receiver off the board, and would immediately be Lawrence’s new favorite target.

9. Chicago Bears | Penn State OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

This pick has to be spent on help for Justin Fields, either at wide receiver, or along the offensive line. This scenario gives the Bears better value in the trenches, with a 19-year-old stud who already looks like an elite talent with franchise-player potential at left tackle.

10. Green Bay Packers | Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski

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We’re far beyond the point of a first-round wide receiver fixing what ails the Packers. They just need as much talent as possible, on either side of the ball. This scenario gives them a chance to land arguably the best offensive lineman in the class, and Skoronski can play either guard or tackle.

11. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) | Clemson DL Bryan Bresee

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Seattle crushed the 2022 draft, and they’ve got a pair of first-rounders next year to keep building on that success. One thing they need from this class is a disruptive force for the interior of their defensive front, and Bresee would be the perfect fit.

12. Detroit Lions (from LAR) | Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

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Jeff Okudah is finally living up to his draft slot now that he’s fully healthy, but the Lions still need another top-flight corner on the opposite side of the field. The son of a Pro Bowl defender, Porter has that kind of potential himself, and has been a nightmare for opposing receivers.

13. Houston Texans (from CLE) | USC WR Jordan Addison

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The defense could use some pieces here, but after taking a quarterback at No. 1, the Texans might jump at the chance to get him an explosive playmaker like Addison with their additional first-rounder. What he might lack in size, Addison more than makes up for with smooth routes, reliable hands, and big-play abililty.

14. Indianapolis Colts | Kentucky QB Will Levis

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I’ve yet to see anything from Levis that would make me comfortable taking him this high, but it won’t surprise me if some team picking in the first round disagrees. Considering all the turnover in Indy right now, they need to start fresh with a new quarterback, and Levis has some intriguing tools.

15. Atlanta Falcons | South Carolina CB Cam Smith

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Another team that needs help just about everywhere, the Falcons find the most value on defense here. A.J. Terrell has quickly become one of the league’s best corners, but Smith would give Atlanta another young cover man with size and length to pair with him.

16. Washington Commanders | Georgia OT Broderick Jones

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No matter who ends up throwing the passes for Washington next season and beyond, that guy will need a long-term upgrade at left tackle. Jones has been impressive this season against top competition, and has all the traits to quickly develop into a quality starter at a premium position.

17. New England Patriots | Oregon LB Noah Sewell

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This defense has some solid pieces right now, but they could use a big, athletic linebacker who can make plays on all three downs. Sewell checks all of those boxes, and would give the Pats an immediate and long-term upgrade to help take this unit to an even higher level.

18. Cincinnati Bengals | Clemson LB Trenton Simpson

(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Even if the Bengals end up keeping Jessie Bates III, this defense could use another versatile, athletic playmaker who can line up all over the field. Simpson can play in the box, in the slot, and just about anywhere else, and wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Utah CB Clark Phillips III

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are both headed for free agency, so the Bucs could use another starting-caliber corner to pair with Carlton Davis III. Phillips has the size, length, and playmaking ability to be a perfect fit for Todd Bowles and this defense.

20. Denver Broncos (from SF via MIA) | Florida State EDGE Jared Verse

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The Broncos got this pick by trading away their best pass rusher in Bradley Chubb, so replacing him here would be a wise move. Verse has been one of this year’s fastest-rising prospects, and his explosiveness off the line could make him a dominant presence off the edge at the next level.

21. Los Angeles Chargers | Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.

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Rashawn Slater is already one of the NFL’s best left tackles, but the Chargers need a long-term upgrade on the right side to keep Justin Herbert protected. Johnson has a track record of success against top competition, and can play either side at an extremely high level.

22. Tennessee Titans | Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

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This offense desperately needs more playmakers in the passing game, but if you’re gonna play in this offense, you’d better be able to block. Mayer can do both extremely well, and would be a solid match of need and value for the Titans here.

23. Seattle Seahawks | Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Boye Mafe has already shown flashes of potential, but the Seahawks could use another young pass-rusher to pair with this year’s second-round pick. Wilson has rare athleticism for his massive frame, giving him limitless potential, and making him a perfect fit for what Pete Carroll covets at the position.

24. Baltimore Ravens | Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Despite the name recognition, this secondary needs all the help it can get. Gonzalez has an impressive blend of physical and mental traits, with the size, length and ball skills to make an immediate impact for a struggling unit.

25. New York Jets | Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Injuries have ravaged this offensive line, leaving the Jets with more questions than answers at both tackle spots. Duncan has tons of upside thanks to his athleticism and physical tools, and could end up playing on the right side if Mekhi Becton is able to return to full strength.

26. Dallas Cowboys | Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes

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Trevon Diggs is obviously one of the best corners in the game right now, but the Cowboys need an upgrade on the other side of the field. Forbes is a tall, long cover man who has played at a high level all year, despite facing some of the nation’s top talent in the SEC.

27. New York Giants | Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel

If there’s a worse receiver situation in the NFL right now, I’d love to see it. The Giants desperately need an infusion of talent here, and they’ve got some solid options in this scenario. Hyatt has put up huge numbers in a breakout campaign, and deserves first-round billing.

28. Kansas City Chiefs | Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison

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The Chiefs still haven’t solved their issues at right tackle, and if they head into the draft with the same situation they have currently, this pick needs to be where they find the solution. Harrison checks every box for a starting-caliber tackle prospect, and can play on either side.

29. Minnesota Vikings | SMU WR Rashee Rice

(AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)

Adam Thielen isn’t getting any younger, and the Vikings should find a younger understudy to eventually take over as Justin Jefferson’s running mate at receiver. Rice has flown up the draft board thanks to a stellar start to the 2022 season, and his size/speed combo would make him a perfect complement to Jefferson.

30. Buffalo Bills | Texas RB Bijan Robinson

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Safety is a possibility here depending on what happens in free agency, but the Bills might not be able to resist adding another dynamic weapon to their offense. Robinson might be a top-10 overall talent in this draft, but he could end up falling this far, and land in the perfect place to make a massive, immediate impact.

31. Philadelphia Eagles | Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs

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Jalen Hurts has this offensive running on all cylinders, but a versatile, explosive weapon like Gibbs could help take the unit to another level. The Georgia Tech transfer has been an absolute stud for the Crimson Tide, and one of the most dynamic players in all of college football when the ball’s in his hands.

32. Houston Texans | Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey

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33. Carolina Panthers | Alabama DB Brian Branch

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34. Pittsburgh Steelers | Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith

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35. Detroit Lions | Texas A&M S Antonio Johnson

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

36. Las Vegas Raiders | Florida OL O'Cyrus Torrence

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

37. Arizona Cardinals | Army EDGE Andre Carter II

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38. Jacksonville Jaguars | Georgia TE Darnell Washington

Syndication: Online Athens

39. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CHI) | Ohio State OT Dawand Jones

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40. Green Bay Packers | Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

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41. New Orleans Saints | Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker

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42. Los Angeles Rams | USC OL Andrew Voorhees

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

43. Cleveland Browns | Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah

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44. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) | LSU WR Kayshon Boutte

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

45. Indianapolis Colts | Tennessee OT Darnell Wright

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46. Washington Commanders | Texas A&M CB Jaylon Jones

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47. Atlanta Falcons | LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari

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48. Cincinnati Bengals | North Carolina WR Josh Downs

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49. New England Patriots | Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Baylor DL Siaki Ika

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

51. Carolina Panthers (from SF) | Oklahoma WR Marvin Mims

Syndication: The Oklahoman

52. Tennessee Titans | Minnesota OL John Michael Schmitz

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

53. Los Angeles Chargers | Stanford CB Kyu Blu Kelly

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54. Miami Dolphins | Iowa LB Jack Campell

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55. Seattle Seahawks | Utah TE Dalton Kincaid

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56. New York Jets | Arkansas LB Drew Sanders

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

57. Chicago Bears (from BAL) | Alabama LB Henry To'o To'o

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58. New York Giants | North Carolina CB Tony Grimes

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59. Dallas Cowboys | Florida DL Gervon Dexter

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60. Kansas City Chiefs | Alabama CB Eli Ricks

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61. Detroit Lions (from MIN) | Michigan DL Mazi Smith

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

62. Buffalo Bills | Notre Dame S Brandon Joseph

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63. Philadelphia Eagles | Kansas State OL Cooper Beebe

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Story originally appeared on Draft Wire