The day has come! Finally. With the 2023 NFL Draft set to begin tonight at 8 p.m. ET from Kansas City, Missouri, here's my second and final attempt at predicting Round 1.
REMINDER: As always, this isn't what I would do -- it's what I'm hearing from my sources around the league.
NOTE: 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.
He's the most polished quarterback in this class and will join one of the best staffs in all of football for a young signal-caller.
I've wavered between Anderson, Tyree Wilson and C.J. Stroud in this slot. At the end of the day, the Texans need talent all over. I've been told by an NFL general manager that Anderson is the "safest" pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and rebuilding Houston can't go wrong with that. The back-to-back reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is also an amazing kid off the field. DeMeco Ryans' Texans are poised to run a ball-control offense. If they don't absolutely love a QB, they don't need to take one here. Anderson is the pick in my final mock, despite hearing -- and saying -- plenty about Wilson at No. 2 over the past month. Ugh!
PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS
Tennessee sends Arizona its 2023 first- (No. 11 overall) and second-round (No. 41) picks, as well as a 2024 third-rounder, in exchange for this pick and the Cardinals' 2023 fourth-rounder (No. 105). Titans coach Mike Vrabel and Ohio State head man Ryan Day have a great relationship, and Day is Stroud's biggest champion. New Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort spent 2020 through 2022 as Tennessee's director of player personnel. This one makes sense with Arizona wanting to trade back. The Cards need players, players and more players. The Titans need a young QB to build around.
I've been told this is by no means a unanimous slam-dunk pick for Indy, but that there are plenty of Levis fans in the building. Enough that they hand in the card and get started with a new era of Colts football.
I'm torn here. Pete Carroll went to each of the top four quarterbacks' pro days, and yet Carter can make an immediate impact for a team that could contend this year with Geno Smith under center. Off-field issues marred the talented defensive tackle's pre-draft process. He will get tough coaching up there in Seattle -- which, by the way, couldn't be further from Athens, Georgia. Tyree Wilson was awfully enticing here, too.
Tough. Smart. Still getting better. And apparently has that warrior approach to football that is absolutely treasured in Detroit. This is Aaron Glenn 2.0.
I doubt the Raiders imagined Wilson would still be on the board at No. 7, but here he is. Vegas has needs at corner and on the offensive line, but Wilson might have the biggest upside of any player in this draft.
The Falcons get a Day 1 starter in the uber-athletic Gonzalez. He and Devon Witherspoon are both expected to go in the top 10. Atlanta has beefed up its defense all offseason; that continues here.
After trading out of the No. 1 slot back in March, the Bears do what they couldn't in free agency: land a splashy offensive tackle. Johnson has risen up draft boards in recent weeks.
The Eagles stay put and still get one of the top offensive linemen in the draft. Stoutland U gets another 'A' student.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH TENNESSEE TITANS
Arizona moves back and beefs up the O-line. Paris Johnson Jr. might be the guy the Cardinals want, but he won't be there at No. 11 if they trade with the Titans, as I've proposed here.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH HOUSTON TEXANS
The Seahawks typically trade back. In this mock, they trade up, sending the Texans No. 20 and their second Round 2 selection (No. 52) in exchange for this pick. Like I said above, Seattle was well-represented at all of the major QB pro days. The traits-rich Richardson watches and learns from veteran QB Geno Smith.
A gamebreaker who can play inside, outside and contribute on special teams. The Patriots need points, points, points. Zay helps.
I believe the Jets would love for one of the top offensive linemen to fall to them. And that could come to fruition tonight. I don't see Darnell Wright as a fit for New York. So, with Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski and Broderick Jones off the board here, Joe Douglas takes another pass rusher in Van Ness.
I'm told by those in the know that Washington is truly in on Sam Howell, so quarterback isn't a priority, even if Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker is still on the board when the Commanders go on the clock tonight. Kincaid is great after the catch and has medical clearance on his back injury, per teams I've spoken to.
Super-talented big man who carries some consistency concerns. I think he goes in the top 20, and Mike Tomlin gets the most out of him.
Smart and uber talented, Smith's suboptimal size might keep him from being a top-10 pick. I don't think he falls out of the top 20, though. Tampa passes on RB Bijan Robinson and grabs another pass rusher.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
I'll put Addison here, knowing that any of the WR-needy teams outside the top 20 could be coming up to get him. I don't think Addison escapes the top 20, though. The Texans need a WR almost as much as they need a QB. I've been told receiver might be the pick at No. 12 if they stay there. Yes, Houston could indeed close Thursday night without a new quarterback.
Mayer blocks, moves and can catch the rock. Classic plug-and-play tight end -- an awesome addition for Justin Herbert.
Forbes doesn't have an ideal frame at just 166 pounds, but holy cow does this ballhawking cover man have fans around the league's scouting community.
Bijan falls to Minnesota and an already-good offensive team gets the best offensive player in this draft.
Banks could go anywhere in the 15-to-25 range. Jacksonville seems like a good spot. I believe the Jags are going DB here.
This selection would be prime tabloid fodder in New York, but with Saquon Barkley's future in limbo, Joe Schoen gets another back in Gibbs, who can contribute on special teams and play out wide, as well.
If tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer are both gone, Dallas can look elsewhere. Iowa State's had one first-round pick in program history: RB George Amundson way back in 1973. Let's end the dry spell!
The Bills' defensive line has a bunch of expiring contracts on the docket in the next few years. GM Brandon Beane continues to build from the inside out.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Vikings trade back into the first round -- sending the Bengals a third- (No. 87 overall) and fourth-rounder (119) in this year's draft, as well as a second- and fourth-rounder in 2024 -- to land their quarterback of the future. Kirk Cousins is entering the final year of his contract, while Hooker's still recovering from November's torn ACL. The Tennessee product's age (25) isn't as big a potential concern as the college-style offense he operated in.
A player who has picked up a lot more juice and buzz of late. LaPorta and Luke Musgrave are two tight ends who could end up going near the end of the first round.
Porter Jr. could go in the top 20. With a run on other positions in this simulation, he's still on the board here for Philly. The rich get richer.