The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and there are plenty of scenarios to be on the outlook for. Whether it is the Lamar Jackson dispute, the imminent Aaron Rodgers trade, or any other scenario, teams are destined to pivot and move around their draft boards accordingly. This year’s prospects are proving to be just as intriguing as ever after the NFL Combine and Pro Day performances. The impact of free agency has undoubtedly impacted plenty of teams along with pre-draft trades that have already taken place.
Last year’s quarterback draft class may be viewed as underwhelming by some, but it seems as though the prospects in the 2023 draft class should avoid similar opinions. Numerous teams appear to be in need of a fresh start at quarterback, so this new group should be very promising. Aside from quarterbacks, the rest of the prospects represent plenty of intrigue and talent, surely this draft class will live up to the hype.
Carolina Panthers (via Chicago Bears) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
After the blockbuster trade between Chicago and Carolina, it is hard to believe that there is any other reason why Carolina would move up to No. 1 other than their plan to take a quarterback. Choosing between the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft is quite the toss-up, but the ultimate decision to pick Young is based on his dominant reputation. Young put on a showcase performance at his Pro Day, and although he decided to forego the NFL Combine he has been able to prove that he is a player who would make a franchise very disappointed in themselves if they passed up on him.
Houston Texans – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Houston Texans have been in constant limbo at quarterback ever since the conflicts and departure of Deshaun Watson. With Houston in a position to make a big splash, taking Stroud will demonstrate that the Texans are finally ready to make the leap and not sit at the bottom of the league anymore. Stroud impressed with his NFL Combine and Pro Day performances effectively displaying his athleticism, arm strength, and proven talent. He fits in with the more typical quarterback look in terms of his size; Stroud may be exactly the answer that Houston has been searching for.
Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr., OLB/Edge, Alabama
With Carolina and Houston each expected to draft quarterbacks, Arizona finds themselves in the fortunate spot to land one of this year’s most exciting prospects. Will Anderson Jr. has been a force to be reckoned with over his time at Alabama and teams have been waiting for him to arrive. Anderson’s rare combination of superb size, speed, and power allows him to thrive all over the field, and with J.J. Watt’s retirement, new head coach Jonathan Gannon should have Anderson fall right into his lap.
Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Indianapolis represents yet another team that appears to be in desperate need of an answer at quarterback. The signing of Gardner Minshew does not indicate that this is their solution, especially the failed Matt Ryan experiment, so going after Levis is more than likely. The former Kentucky quarterback displays impressive arm strength, intangibles, and plenty of potential.
Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) – Tyree Wilson, DE/Edge, Texas Tech
After Seattle’s surprise playoff season, Pete Carroll should be focused on what really hurt their chances to make even longer of a run, that being their pass rush. According to ESPN, the Seahawks ranked 28th in team pass rush win rates, so having the chance to address that issue is more than warranted. Tyree Wilson is a big player who can play just about any position on the defensive line and with the proper coaching can be a major dominating factor in a currently average defense.
Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Detroit has been rather present and active in free agency and after last season’s surprising over .500 record and strong playoff push, Dan Campbell’s team is trying to keep the train moving. There have been some moves to address the struggles with the secondary, but the addition of Witherspoon would provide a major boost to an overall solid defense. The former Illinois cornerback can thrive in any coverage package and is not afraid of getting dirty in the run game.
Las Vegas Raiders – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
After signing Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas is onto their next attempt at finding their quarterback, therefore drafting the proper prospect to protect him is more than necessary. Skoronski may not be the biggest offensive lineman prospect but that does not matter. The Raiders find themselves in need of at least one permanent and dependable option all across the line.
Atlanta Falcons – Lukas Van Ness, DE/Edge, Iowa
The Falcons have become somewhat of a non-factor in terms of who to worry about becoming contenders. Atlanta cannot seem to put all the pieces together and return to their threatening ways ever since their Super Bowl LI fiasco. Nevertheless, adding Lukas Van Ness alongside new member Calais Campbell will be a massive upgrade to a defensive pass rush group that failed to provide an effective amount of pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Van Ness is a big and tough guy who can effectively make plays off the edge or occasionally when he is working on the inside.
Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers) – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Chicago has been active in free agency right from the jump, so perhaps they are trying to finally turn things around after too many subpar and underwhelming seasons. While there are numerous holes to fill throughout the roster, an addition to the secondary is definitely in order and in need of an upgrade. Gonzalez provides the defense with a spark wherever he lines up. He can effectively keep up with the deep threats just as much as he can cover and make plays on passes across the middle, while also not being afraid to get involved in stopping the run game.
Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints) – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
This may be a reach that Carter will drop all the way to 10, but it is not impossible by any means. Carter is coming off quite an eventful offseason involving the authorities and a somewhat disappointing Pro Day, but he is undoubtedly a top-10 prospect regardless. Philadelphia has resigned players and addressed some question marks throughout the roster, but the defensive line remains one of their more noticeable needs. Pairing Carter with Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox is quite a scary sight for opposing teams. Do not count out the possibility of Howie Roseman making a trade-up to snag Carter if he does drop.
Tennessee Titans – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
After the departure of Taylor Lewan, Tennessee’s offensive line has become even weaker. Having Derrick Henry, arguably the most dominant running back in the league, in this offense is a luxury, and addressing the disappointing offensive line play is a must. The former Buckeye possesses the desired size and strength of a day-one starter, so perhaps the Titans could see a positive turnaround with the addition of Johnson Jr.
Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) – Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
After spending their second overall pick to draft their quarterback of the future, moving on to the defense may be the right move. Houston still has plenty of holes to fill in a very shaky roster, but it is always wise to ensure the dominance of a team’s pass rush. Murphy is a player who could give other top defensive ends a run for their money and be a top-10 prospect, but his possible hamstring situation prior to the NFL Combine could impact his draft stock.
New York Jets – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
New York has had question marks across the board for multiple years, partly due to injuries and overall inconsistent play. They have not been able to figure out any dependable answers, but the search continues. Drafting Jones could be somewhat of a reach as he is a very young prospect, but coming out of the National Champion Georgia Bulldog program, it is hard to go wrong.
New England Patriots – Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The presence of Mac Jones has not exactly prompted the most productive seasons that Bill Belichick has hoped for. A lack of reliable talent throughout the wide receiver core has been a major letdown for New England’s desire to really see if Jones is the long-term answer at quarterback. Drafting Smith-Njigba to put alongside new signing Juju Smith-Schuster could be just what they need.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Proj. trade with Green Bay) – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The free agency signing of Baker Mayfield can be viewed as their attempt to find their replacement after Tom Brady’s retirement, but that is not guaranteed. Out of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class, Richardson could be the odd man out of getting drafted in the top 10 due to some ability concerns. Tampa Bay is desperate to find a quarterback to help remain as a contender and Richardson has the potential to be a real star in this year’s draft.
Washington Commanders – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
There have been reports that Washington could be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round. Yet, if somebody jumps in front of them, then a quarterback battle between Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett is upon us. With quarterback out of the question, passing up on the talent of Joey Porter Jr. is highly unlikely. Porter Jr. is a high-motor player coming out of Penn State and there tends to be a solid background on players who had fathers play in the NFL.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Pittsburgh was able to finish with yet another season above .500 with Kenny Pickett managing the offense. That does not mean that they displayed a showcase of talent or confidence as an overall team. It is always wise to reinforce the offensive line to protect a young quarterback who is still getting his bearings. Taking Wright would fit right in as the Steelers have made a couple of off-season moves to improve the offensive line already.
Detroit Lions – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Strengthening the defensive line even more after Aidan Hutchinson’s successful rookie year will bring this defense to the next level. Detroit has made some noise in free agency to improve their defense, but the defensive line play was only average. Bresee is a powerful force who can play all throughout the line and would bring the Lions plenty of options. His injury history and durability are the only aspects in question for Bresee and how dependable he could be.
Green Bay Packers (Proj. trade with Tampa Bay) – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The entire Aaron Rodgers situation is rather strange, to say the least, but it seems like Green Bay is officially moving into the Jordan Love era. Now that this may be the case, the wide receiver room is quite underwhelming, once again. After the departure of Allen Lazard, drafting Johnston will give Love an exciting option to turn to in an offense that seems to be quite unknown as of now.
Seattle Seahawks – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Geno Smith’s comeback season gave Seattle a sense of hope after their preseason expectations were set somewhat low. If the Seahawks hope to replicate and improve their production adding another weapon to their offense will assist Smith even more. Addison is a very reliable receiver who can thrive in tracking down the deep ball and bringing down contested catches. Putting him next to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett would be a dangerous trio.
Los Angeles Chargers – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The contract extension difficulties that have been taking place surrounding Austin Ekeler have not displayed a very promising or optimistic outcome. Therefore, if Los Angeles is to eventually lose out on retaining the highly productive running back it is time to find his potential replacement. Robinson is perhaps the most talented prospect in this year’s draft, but running backs are simply not as coveted, yet passing on Robinson could lead to missing out on a generational talent.
Baltimore Ravens – Nolan Smith, OLB/Edge, Georgia
The departure of Calais Campbell greatly impacts the prominence of Baltimore’s pass rush. Smith has become quite popular in this year’s draft after his NFL Combine performance including his 4.39-second 40-yard dash. The former Georgia Bulldog could be a real steal this year with his impressive speed, size, and versatility making him a difference-maker all throughout the field.
Minnesota Vikings – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Minnesota put together a strong season in 2022, but they ended up being one of the biggest pretenders instead of a real contender. Kirk Cousins has been able to take advantage of Justin Jefferson’s immense talent fully and Adam Thielen was a solid secondary option to turn to. Now that Thielen has signed with Carolina, replacing him with Flowers can be the perfect move to ensure continued offensive success.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The offensive line production in Jacksonville was solid enough to help them to make an exciting playoff run. Yet, the departure of Jawaan Taylor is notable enough to cause some unease to arise. Therefore, drafting Harrison could absolutely prove to be the perfect way to address that hole. Harrison fits the prototypical image to be a dominant tackle, but it all depends on how well Jacksonville’s coaching can ensure his success and progression.
New York Giants – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The defensive coverage over last season for New York was decent, but extremely inconsistent, especially throughout the cornerback position. Having Adoree’ Jackson as their primary option to cover the best receivers every week is not exactly the most enticing situation for the Giants. Banks is an intriguing prospect who has plenty of potential, especially when including his 4.35 40-yard dash into the conversation.
Dallas Cowboys – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Jerry Jones’ team has made some moves over the off-season to attempt to address the losses throughout the roster. One major player to depart was Dalton Schultz who was a major part of the offense. Plugging Mayer into the offense to replace Schultz would be perfect in order to help Dak Prescott ensure that he has enough weapons around him.
Buffalo Bills – Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The combination of Von Miller and Greg Rousseau is an exciting duo on the defensive side of the ball for Buffalo. The interior line play was just adequate, so adding a highly athletic and productive guy like Kancey could provide a spark. Kancey can make a major impact in the pass and run game and he has seen his draft stock rise over the last couple of months.
Cincinnati Bengals – O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
The offensive line play in Cincinnati has been rather disappointing and inconsistent over the last couple of seasons. The low-tier performances throughout Cincinnati’s Super Bowl season were well-known, but last season did not see too much improvement across the board. The Bengals believe that tackle is all set after signing Orlando Brown Jr., but the guard position is still a worry, so drafting Torrence could give them a real chance to solidify the group.
New Orleans Saints (via San Francisco 49ers) – Keion White, OLB/Edge, Georgia Tech
After losing Marcus Davenport and Kaden Elliss New Orleans may be in the market to search for another option coming off the edge. Cameron Jordan remains a dominant force week in and week out, but getting more depth is always a good plan. White can thrive as a versatile player and provide plenty of impact as a pass-rusher and run-stopper.
Philadelphia Eagles – Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Philadelphia is looking to do whatever it takes to make a run back to the Super Bowl after coming so close. The loss of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a tough blow, but it was a necessary departure after the multiple re-signings, specifically James Bradberry and Darius Slay’s new deal. The safety position is once again somewhat of a soft spot, but the addition of Branch could be the perfect way to ensure continued defensive prominence.
Kansas City Chiefs – Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin
The Chiefs’ defensive line play was rather solid throughout the year, their success was largely due to Chris Jones and Frank Clark’s presence. Now that Clark is gone, Kansas City will be looking for another addition to the defensive line to ensure its success. Benton is not a replacement for Clark but putting him in the middle next to Jones could be dangerous.
– You can reach Alex Schmidt on Twitter @schmidty_3681 or firstname.lastname@example.org