With the free agency frenzy slowing down a bit and pro day season in full swing, here's my initial projection for Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri). We know trades will alter the outlook come April, but for this exercise, I am not making any swap projections.
- The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.
- Check out NFL+ for live coverage of Alabama pro day at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 23.
After their bold move to the top of the draft, the Panthers select the smooth-throwing Buckeye. Stroud immediately dives into Frank Reich’s playbook with Carolina expecting him to be the Week 1 starter.
Young is my top-ranked quarterback in this year’s draft. Houston turns the card in the moment NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finishes announcing the first overall pick.
New Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort gets his tenure off to a great start by picking the top-rated pass rusher.
Colts GM Chris Ballard and new head coach Shane Steichen have already added a trusted veteran quarterback in Gardner Minshew, but this gifted young signal-caller is their future.
I expect Wilson to get a lot of consideration from Arizona at No. 3, but the Seahawks are thrilled he makes it here. He looks and plays like a prototypical Pete Carroll edge rusher.
After putting on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine, Mr. Smith packs for the Motor City to give Aidan Hutchinson a tag-team partner. Cornerback is also a consideration here.
This feels like a potential quarterback spot. Will Levis, perhaps? It would make sense to draft a passer even after the recent signing of Jimmy Garoppolo. However, the Raiders’ defense needs plenty of help, and slowing down the aerial attacks of the division-rival Chiefs and Chargers requires skilled cover guys.
Edge rusher has been a screaming need for the Falcons for a couple of seasons. It's an easy trip to Atlanta from Clemson for the talented Murphy.
The top-rated player in the draft on many boards prior to the NFL combine (off-field issues/poor pro-day workout), Carter's "slide" stops here ... with the team that may have selected him at No. 1 overall if it had not traded the pick.
I know we don't typically see RBs go early anymore, but have you seen the Eagles play under coach Nick Sirianni? They RUN THE BALL. Robinson is the best running back in this draft class and is a perfect fit for Philadelphia, especially with Pro Bowl RB Miles Sanders now in Carolina.
The Titans could go in a number of directions here, including quarterback, but new GM Ran Carthon was a running back during his playing career and he undoubtedly understands that rebuilding the offensive line is a must. I think Skoronski is a terrific choice to replace three-time Pro Bowl LT Taylor Lewan.
Smith-Njigba is a smooth, sharp and decisive route runner with easy hands. He is the first wide receiver off the board and will team well with the Texans’ new QB from Alabama.
A team that is strong on defense gets stronger. The comparisons to all-world DT Aaron Donald (size, style, school) continue, with Kancey being selected in the exact same spot as Donald, nine years later. I know the Jets already have Quinnen Williams inside, but Robert Saleh has always valued depth for his D-line rotation.
The Pats still need a dynamic perimeter threat, and they have to hope that last year's draft choice, Tyquan Thornton, becomes that guy. Offensive tackle play was inconsistent in 2022, and this young man from Ohio State is capable of starting on Day 1.
Tight end is a trendy pick for the Packers here, and I concur. So the best pure receiver at the position heads to Titletown.
He dominated the Sun Belt at Louisiana, and he dominated the SEC at Florida. Now he gets to take on the best DTs in the NFC East. Despite the fact that Washington appears to be set at guard, Torrence is more than worth taking here. He will help out the run game and a young potential starter in Sam Howell. Sometimes you just can’t turn down talent.
Sometimes it's best not to overthink things: Big position need, Steelers legacy player and excellent prospect. Porter has the size, physicality and competitiveness to play in Pittsburgh.
Despite signing several new DBs in free agency, the Lions again look to bolster a secondary that has to deal with Minnesota's Justin Jefferson twice per season.
The Bucs need an offensive tackle after parting ways with Donovan Smith. Jones will help protect whoever wins the job to succeed Tom Brady.
Last year's "project" pick of Tariq Woolen worked out beyond expectations. Here's his new running mate, and both run 4.3 or better.
The Chargers need a speedy weapon to complement their other wide receivers. Also, I would still be looking for help at right tackle even after re-signing Trey Pipkins.
Just because the Ravens (admittedly) have not nailed picking this position in recent years, they shouldn't shy away from a potential game-breaker like Addison, who would improve their overall offense.
Finally! Teams picking as high as No. 4 overall will likely consider the big-armed passer from Kentucky, but he lands with QB-friendly coach Kevin O'Connell in Minnesota as the franchise's signal-caller for the future. And if Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker had not suffered an ACL tear late last season, a HEAVY debate would be had about the former Volunteer being picked in this spot, or others, in Round 1.
Jacksonville could use a player who can help unleash its pass rushers off the edge. I expect Bresee to make a quick impact with his toughness and determination.
With QB Daniel Jones locked in long-term, it's time to get him some help on the perimeter. Johnston is a big target who should fit well in the Giants’ physical offense. With Julian Love departing in free agency, a defensive back like Brian Branch might also make sense here.
Van Ness should fit right in with what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn likes to do in getting after QBs. The former hockey player, who accumulated way more penalty minutes than goals scored, will be relentless.
Buffalo continues to fortify the offensive line. Wright provides immediate competition for Spencer Brown at right tackle.
Mayer does everything well and is extremely dependable. Bengals QB Joe Burrow values and utilizes the TE position.
Marcus Davenport is now in Minnesota, and ultra-productive defensive end Cam Jordan needs a bookend. Similar to the seven-time Pro Bowler Jordan, Anudike-Uzomah not only harasses quarterbacks but creates deflections and takeaways, too.
The Eagles never neglect the trenches. Fletcher Cox is back on a one-year deal, but Javon Hargrave left in free agency while veterans Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph remain on the open market. Jordan Davis is headed for a bigger role, but he wasn’t a full-time player as an NFL rookie or during his time at Georgia. Smith fills a need at defensive tackle.
A breakout season in 2022 earned him the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top WR. With plenty of speed to rip the top off a defense, Hyatt allows Kansas City to put the long ball back in the game plan.