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Ric Serritella's Sports Illustrated 2023 Mock Draft
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Carolina Panthers (via Bears) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: An organization still in search of their first Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Panthers are braced to make the single most important decision in franchise history to date. New head coach Frank Reich loses out on the power struggle, as Carolina takes the top signal-caller on the board in Young. The 5-foot-10 quarterback is the exception to the rule but durability is a real concern.
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Houston Texans – CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State: It’s getting late, early, in Houston. The Texans are seemingly running out of options at quarterback. To trot out Davis Mills as the week one starter again would be more criminal than Michael Jackson. With the veteran market dried up, Houston will be in wait-and-see mode for the ‘next best’ rifleman. The time is now for this team to build and grow with a young gunner at the helm.
Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson, OLB, Alabama: What a wonderful new toy for defensive-minded head coach Jonathan Gannon to play with! In Anderson, the Cardinals get a blue chip hybrid pass-rusher capable of getting after the quarterback as a down lineman, or standing up. Gannon can exploit mismatches with Anderson much like the role he employed Haason Reddick in during his time in Philadelphia.
Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky: The game of musical chairs in Indianapolis lands on Levis who has NFL teams salivating over his arm velocity, mobility and charisma. While the Wildcats quarterback was less than spectacular this past season, battling through various ailments, he possesses the type of traits that an offensive mastermind such as Shane Steichan can mold and build a scheme around.
Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos) – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida: Bringing back Geno Smith on a two-year contract feels like the ultimate setup to groom the polarizing Richardson. Blessed with size, speed, athleticism and a howitzer for an arm, the league has yet to see a specimen such as ‘AR44.’ The question remains whether or not he can put it all together. If he does, look out!
Detroit Lions (via Rams) – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia: With a strong leadership presence in tact, Detroit should be in position to select Carter, if they feel comfortable with his recent legal transgressions. Pairing Carter with last year’s rookie sensations in Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston would be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Carter can help the Lions take the next step as legitimate playoff contenders.
Las Vegas Raiders – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois: The Raiders are a wildcard in the draft, as they have multiple needs and have been linked to numerous prospects at this spot. Help in the secondary is one glaring need. The physical and aggressive Witherspoon can step in immediately to provide quality lockdown coverage as a dependable CB1 from day one.
Atlanta Falcons – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon: It’s evident that the Falcons need a fire extinguisher on the backend—their secondary has been lit up like a Fourth of July fireworks display the last few seasons. Adding the lengthy, speedy Gonzalez at cornerback will bring some much-needed stability. It would also be the fourth consecutive year the Ducks have had a player chosen in the top ten (Herbert/Sewell/Thibodeaux).
Chicago Bears (via Panthers) – Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech: The Bears already seem to be big winners of the draft before they even arrive to this selection. By moving down from the first overall pick, adding additional draft equity, plus a 1,000-yard receiver in DJ Moore, GM Ryan Poles is set to build a foundation. Nabbing Wilson, who some have deemed the top pass-rusher in the draft, feels like gravy on top.
Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints) – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern: Two things Eagles GM Howie Roseman believes in; one, building from the inside-out and two, planning for the future. Skoronski is the most polished offensive lineman in the draft and could fill the void at right guard left by Isaac Seumalo (Steelers) and eventually take over for Lane Johnson at right tackle down the (short) road.
Tennessee Titans – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State: Despite internal attempts to upgrade from Ryan Tannehill and move on from the Derrick Henry contract, it appears that the Titans have to re-load around that tandem for at least one more year. New GM Ran Carthon will be rebuilding on the fly and adding the top weapon in the draft is the best way to do that. Smith-Njigba instantly becomes their top playmaker.
Houston Texans (via Browns) – Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa: The Texans addressed their biggest need at number two with Stroud. Their second biggest need is finding someone who can get after the quarterback. By plucking Van Ness, Houston comes out with two cornerstone players to build around after great success in past drafts under GM Nick Caserio stockpiling complimentary parts up and down the mid-to-late rounds
New York Jets – Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State: As the NFL universe awaits the arrival of Rodgers on Broadway, the Jets will continue to stack pieces around their new savior. More beef is needed up front, as it has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride at the tackle position. Dependable blockers will be vital for the ultimate success of A-Rod and Johnson fits the bill.
New England Patriots – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia: It may be hard for New England to find a better alternative than Mac Jones at this stage, so the next best option is to find a way to enable him to win. The tackle Jones can help the quarterback Jones stand upright. In addition, the long, athletic bruiser has his best football ahead of him, as he has not reached his full potential yet.
Green Bay Packers – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee: The Packers find themselves in a similar situation to many other teams selecting in the middle of the pack. Uncertainty at quarterback and in need of protection, or weapons. Based on recent comments by Green Bay head coach Matt LeFleur, expectations have already been simmered in Titletown. Wright is one of the cleanest and safest prospects in this year’s draft class.
Washington Commanders – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State: A best player available meets team need scenario, the addition of Porter Jr. to the Commanders defense fits right in with the team identity. A lengthy, physical defender who has shown a propensity for making game-changing plays, Porter Jr., following in his father’s footsteps, has superstar written all over him.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland: At some point in the middle of the first round a run on corners is to be expected. The Steelers have prepared for this by doing their due diligence on this year’s cornerback class. The explosive Banks, who wowed at the NFL Scouting Combine, has been linked to Pittsburgh on multiple occasions with both formal and informal meetings.
Detroit Lions – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame: Does Dan Campbell see a bit of himself in Mayer? Would the former, feisty, scrappy tight end allow the Lions war room to submit a draft card into the league office with any player other than Mayer on it? This seems to be a great fit, another bonafide target for Jared Goff, who can also help out in the run game and a player who fits the blue collar DNA inside the locker room.
Tampa Bay – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: The most disrespected draft prospect in our lifetime, Robinson may very well be the best player in the 2023 draft class. He’ll alleviate the transitional pain expected at the quarterback position after the real retirement of Tom Brady and don’t be surprised to see Robinson amongst the league leaders in rushing as a rookie. Enter, Bijan, new captain of the pirate ship. Arghhh!
Seattle Seahawks – Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia: Leave it to Seattle to find position-less players with rare traits and create an effective role for them. Look at what a splendid track record Pete Carroll has proven throughout the years with similar such players. In Smith, the wizard could look to utilize his exceptional athleticism in pass-rush situations on the edge.
- Miami (pick forfeited)
Los Angeles Chargers – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College: By adding a Ferrari in the slot such as Flowers, the Chargers offense would be running on premium high octane. With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the boundary and Flowers inserted into the slot, Flowers would be the luxury item for Justin Herbert with his ability to blow the top off a defense. Can you smell the aroma?
Baltimore Ravens – Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee: Only Baltimore and Lamar Jackson know for sure if contract negotiations have reached a point of no return. The Ravens have been wise during the draft process to do some due diligence on quarterbacks including Hooker, who is coming off a torn ACL. A developmental prospect who could flourish with time, the pick would make a lot of sense.
Minnesota Vikings – Brian Branch, FS, Alabama: One of the more versatile players in the draft, Branch could fill a rover-type role for the Vikings at nickelback, safety, or linebacker and eventually take over full-time at for the 34-year old Harrison Smith, who is expected to be a cap casualty sooner, rather than later.
Jacksonville Jaguars – O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida: The sudden upstart Jaguars proved that a little tinkering can go a long way. Building on top of what has become a dangerous offensive attack, Jacksonville is expected to continue to add inside the trenches. A plug-and-play talent such as Torrence elevates the attack even further.
New York Giants – Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State: Despite a lanky frame and thin lower-half, Forbes is as physical as they come on the island, in addition to be a threat to score with the ball in his hands. Waiting on a cornerback until Day Two is the difference between finding a starter, or getting a backup. The Giants must act swiftly if they want to pursue one of the top cover corners available in the draft.
Dallas Cowboys – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah: Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Kincaid has been linked by the local media so often, it has been hard to ignore the noise—he has also been in Dallas on a top 30 visit. With the departure of Dalton Schultz (Texans) and the Cowboys interest to add another weapon to the pass-game, the move seems to make logical sense, we’ll roll with it.
Buffalo Bills – Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina: The lack of quality and depth at cornerback has shown up repeatedly for the Bills come playoff time. Despite a plethora of corners already off the board, Smith is still a value play here due to his size, experience and resume. Entering the season with the current rank could be extremely dangerous and Smith adds bonafide starting pedigree.
Cincinnati Bengals – Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia: Adding a sixth offensive lineman and a big-play pass-catcher for quarterback Joe Burrow would seem like a slam dunk with this pick. Washington is a rare find at 6-foot-7, who takes tremendous pride in his blocking prowess but has also proven to be an agile vertical threat. This move could potentially make Cincinnati the most lethal offense in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints (via 49ers thru Dolphins and Broncos) – Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh: This would be great value, as Kancey could emerge as a top ten player in this year’s draft. The Pitt Panther people-mover also addresses a major need for the Saints who had one of the more formidable defenses in the league last season. They should look to add onto their strength, as they will win with defense and a strong run game.
Philadelphia Eagles – Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson: The Eagles will be leaning on some aging veterans once again in Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox on the defensive front. Murphy demonstrated that he can play up and down the defensive line during his time at Clemson, so he would be able to provide a blow to either player as a rookie and eventually slide into a starter role in time.
Kansas City Chiefs – Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State: It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kansas City add an offensive tackle, or a wide receiver here. However, the addition of the twitchy McDonald IV to pair opposite of ‘Furious’ George Karlaftis is an offer too good for Andy Reid to refuse. The edge rush tandem would make for an exhilarating ‘Thunder and Lightning’ pass-rush duo.
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Steelers (via Bears): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Texans: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Cardinals: Jalen Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Colts: Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
Rams: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Seahawks (via Broncos): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Raiders: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Panthers: Chris Smith, SS, Georgia
Saints: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Titans: Joe Tippman, C, Wisconsin
Jets (via Browns): Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
Jets: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Falcons: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Packers: Antonio Johnson, FS, Texas A&M
Patriots: DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
Commanders: John Michael-Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Lions: Cody Mauch, OG, North Dakota State
Steelers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Buccaneers: Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
Dolphins: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Seahawks: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Bears (via Ravens): Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
Chargers: Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
Lions: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Jaguars: Sydney Brown, SS, Illinois
Giants: Warren McClendon, OG, Georgia
Cowboys: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
Bills: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
Bengals: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
Bears (via 49ers): Derick Hall, DE, Auburn
Eagles: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Chiefs: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
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