2023 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles double dip on defense
Eagles double dip with standout defensive players in latest mock draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The NFL season is over and it’s officially draft season as the combine kicks off in Indianapolis next week.
The Eagles have picks Nos. 10 and 30 this year in the first round. Plenty of opportunity to strengthen the roster.
Here’s our latest first-round mock draft:
1. Bears: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
There’s a very good chance someone calls the Bears to move to that top spot for a quarterback. But if that call never comes or if the deal isn’t sweet enough, Chicago can simply sit back and take the top defensive player on the board. There’s some question about who that is between Carter and Will Anderson. But I’ll give the nod to the elite interior defensive lineman from the Bulldogs.
2. Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Texans hired a defensive head coach in DeMeco Ryans but that franchise isn’t going anywhere until it figures out the quarterback position. Yes, Young has a slight frame and that’s not going to be for everyone. There’s a chance the Texans could like a different quarterback more. But Young is still probably the top QB in this class and the Texans get their guy.
3. Cardinals: Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
I expect there to be some movement at the top of this draft because of the quarterbacks but we didn’t include trades in this first mock. So our old buddy Jonathan Gannon sits back and lands the best edge rusher in this class. Anderson followed up an incredible sophomore season with a really strong junior year against SEC competition. In the last two seasons, he has 27 1/2 sacks and 48 tackles for loss.
4. Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
This is where things start to get tricky. Shane Steichen’s Colts clearly need a quarterback and they have some options. Levis is big (6-3, 232) and possesses all the physical tools to be a great NFL QB. He played through injury in 2022 and clearly isn’t a finished product. But Steichen is in Indy for the long haul and he grabs a QB with a ton of upside to build around.
5. Seahawks (from Broncos): Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
Wilson has been a popular pick for the Seahawks in a ton of mock drafts and it just makes a lot of sense. The Seahawks can add Wilson as a plug-and-play starter on that line. At 6-6, 275 pounds, Wilson is a long-limbed rusher who could be poised to have a long, productive career in the NFL.
6. Lions (from Rams): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Expect to see a lot of cornerbacks go in the first few rounds of the draft. There’s a chance Gonzalez could be the first. But this could also be a spot for Joey Porter Jr. or Devon Witherspoon. It’s going to come down to preference. Pairing Gonzalez with Jeff Okudah gives the Lions a really strong duo of cornerbacks.
7. Raiders: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Maybe the Raiders land a big-name free agent like Aaron Rodgers. That would mean they definitely won’t go QB in the draft. But if the Raiders don’t land a veteran, then it might be tough for them to pass up Stroud at No. 7.
8. Falcons: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
The Falcons have a few different ways they could go here, starting with quarterback. But if they’re out on the QBs, they have other options. They could go with an edge rusher but getting their pick of the offensive tackles in this class is appealing too. If the Falcons let right tackle Kaleb McGary walk, they have a chance to simply plug-and-play with Johnson, who played tackle and guard in college.
9. Panthers: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Richardson is an intriguing prospect and the best dual-threat QB in this draft class. He might not really be worthy of a top-10 pick right now but if you think you have a chance to land your QB, you don’t worry about the draft position as much. And with a ton of upside, Richardson just needs time to grow under Frank Reich.
10. Eagles (from Saints): Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
Whenever in doubt, expect the Eagles to go to the trenches. And that’s what they do here to land a really excellent edge rusher from Clemson. Murphy (6-4, 275 pounds) has size and athleticism. He’s also been productive in all three seasons at Clemson, totaling 18 1/2 sacks and 36 tackles for loss … and he’s already really solid against the run. He’s even big enough to play inside on passing downs. Expect Murphy to have a really strong showing at the combine.
There might not be a starting spot for Murphy as a rookie in Philly. But he can play in the rotation behind Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick. That third rusher is a really important spot in this defense and we’ve seen the Eagles won’t shy away from drafting a rotational player in the first round. And Murphy just turned 21 in January.
11. Titans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Titans definitely need some help on their offensive line. There’s a chance it could be Skoronski or Johnson but either would be a good pick for Tennessee. Even if the Titans spent on the line in free agency, it shouldn’t stop them from drafting one.
12. Texans (from Browns): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Texans landed their quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and now they come back and get him a receiver with the No. 12 pick. At 6-4, 215 pounds Johnston has the build to become Young’s best friend in Houston.
13. Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
In recent years, the Jets have put a lot of resources into their offensive line and it hasn’t always worked out. But that’s more about the individual players and not the strategy. The strategy is a fine one and it should continue. The Jets have a ton of questions on their line so they can try to answer one of them with this pick.
14. Patriots: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
No, the Patriots don’t have the best track record when it comes to drafting receivers but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep trying. If Mac Jones has any shot of succeeding, he needs weapons. Addison is a little undersized (6-0, 175) and some will worry about the drop-off in his production from Pitt to USC. But he was so sudden and always seems to find space on the field. He still had 59/875/8 in 11 games at USC this season.
15. Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
This might seem early to take a tight end but Mayer would be a solid pick who will step in and be a top target for Jordan Love immediately if the Packers and Aaron Rodgers part ways. Robert Tonyan is a solid player but he’s 28 now and is a pending free agent. So this would be a really wise way to replace him.
16. Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Some think Porter could end up being the top cornerback in this class and that’s not crazy at all. The son of former NFL linebacker Joey Porter, the younger Porter put together a really strong resume at PSU. Adding a corner like Porter would solidify the Commanders’ defense. They would have a strong trio of Porter, Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St. Juste. They have to figure out some way to stop the Eagles’ receivers.
17. Steelers: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
The Steelers have a couple notable defensive linemen about to hit free agency in Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley, so they can replenish here with Bresee (6-5, 305), a strong interior defender who should be able to stuff the run and eventually get at the passer in the NFL.
18. Lions: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
After landing Gonzalez with the No. 6 pick, the Lions pull off a double-dip on defense. This time they land Simpson to pair with young linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez. The Lions will have a decision to make on LB Alex Anzalone, who is set to be a free agent. Letting him walk and drafting someone like Simpson would be a nice long-term move.
19. Buccaneers: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
There’s a chance the Bucs could simply take a cornerback — there are plenty of good ones left and that’s a need too. But Branch is a special and versatile defensive player who played the star position for the Crimson Tide. Putting Branch next to Antoine Winfield Jr. is a fun thought.
20. Seahawks: O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
We had the Seahawks snagging a really talented edge player with their first pick. They come back later in the round to solidify their offensive line. While some Seahawks fans might be clamoring for a receiver, getting a big offensive guard to protect Geno Smith is more important. Torrence (6-5, 337) is a big dude who apparently had a very good showing at the Senior Bowl.
21. Chargers: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
The Chargers really missed Joey Bosa after his 2022 season was cut short. So even though they will have Bosa and Khalil Mack in 2023, they have a chance to land a really good edge player who can rotate in as a rookie and take over a starting gig in 2024. Even though Smith’s 2022 season ended early with a pec injury, he is still worthy of a first-round pick.
22. Ravens: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Smith-Njibga is going to be one of the more polarizing picks of this draft. He was the best receiver on the OSU team a couple years ago that featured Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave but then missed most of the 2023 season. So you’re banking on his getting back to that form. In the Ravens’ offense, he’d likely put up big numbers.
23. Vikings: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
It’s tricky slotting these cornerbacks because Witherspoon might very well be the best of the bunch. Very curious to see how they all test at the combine. If the Vikings move on from Patrick Peterson, they’ll need to replenish at corner and Witherspoon would be a home run pick this late in the round.
24. Jaguars: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Evan Engram was a really big part of the Jaguars offense so maybe they find a way to re-sign him. But either way, we know how important the tight end can be in Doug Pederson’s offense. Kincaid isn’t known for his blocking but that’s OK because he’s a monster in the pass game. As a senior, he caught 70 passes for 890 yards and 8 touchdowns. He had 16 touchdown catches in his final two years at Utah!
25. Giants: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
The Giants are going to try to re-sign Daniel Jones but they need to give him some legitimate weapons. Sure, Isaiah Hodgins was a nice surprise last season but Darius Slayton is set to be a free agent. Hyatt had a huge junior season for the Vols, catching 67 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. And there’s a really good chance he goes to the combine and puts up a crazy 40 time.
26. Cowboys: Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
The Cowboys are in a pretty good position as a pass rushing team but they won’t be able to pass up Van Ness. Plus, DeMarcus Lawrence isn’t getting any younger and Dorance Armstrong is entering a contract season. So nabbing an edge rusher like Van Ness to pair with Micah Parsons long-term would be a wise decision. Van Ness wasn’t a starter at Iowa and he’s a little raw but the upside is huge and he would be a rotational player in Dallas to start.
27. Bills: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
It’s not the sexiest pick but the Bills need help in the middle of their offensive line and Schmitz is a plug-and-play guy at center but is also big enough that he can play guard. The Bills have tried to piece together their offensive line for too long. This represents a chance to find an eventual replacement for Mitch Morse but to also get guard play in the interim.
28. Bengals: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
The Bengals can help out Joe Burrow and find a replacement for free agent Hayden Hurst. Musgrave was limited in 2022 because of an ankle injury but is a good athlete (he showed that at the Senior Bowl) and a pretty good blocker for a rookie coming into the league. He could be a starter immediately.
29. Saints (from 49ers): Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
You were wondering when the first running back would go. And if he lasted one pick longer, the Eagles would have to think about it. But instead, the Saints find their next running back with questions swirling about Alvin Kamara’s future.
30. Eagles: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
OK, so we don’t know exactly what the Eagles’ defense will look like in 2023 but they will likely need another starting cornerback opposite Darius Slay. James Bradberry is a free agent and it seems like it would be tough for the Eagles to pay him. Smith would be able to step in immediately and fill that void.
Smith (6-0, 188) isn’t the biggest, fastest or strongest player but he was productive and versatile during his college career after he took over when Jaycee Horn went to the NFL. In his college career, Smith had 6 interceptions and 24 pass breakups. As we mentioned, Smith isn’t the biggest guy but he has a physical style and the type of competitiveness and effort Nick Sirianni wants from his players.
31. Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU
The brother of Giants edge rusher Azeez Ojulari, BJ kind of looks like him. He’s a smallish speed rusher (6-3, 245) but he gets after QBs. Carlos Dunlap and Frank Clark aren’t getting any younger and Dunlap is set to be a free agent. Even with George Karlaftis on the roster, this would still be a good pick and we know Andy Reid won’t hesitate to draft a lineman.
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