2023 NFL Mock Draft Version 2: Top Quarterback Shifts With No. 1 Pick Changing Hands

Chicago traded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Panthers, who appear to be leaning CJ Stroud's way as opposed to Bryce Young. See where those top guys will land in Version 2 of Andrew Caley's NFL mock draft.

Mar 15, 2023 • 16:52 ET • 4 min read
CJ Stroud Ohio State Buckeyes NFL Draft
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

When the Carolina Panthers traded with the Chicago Bears to acquire the first overall pick in April's NFL Draft, they shook up not just the draft board but the NFL odds for the first overall selection as well.

With the Panthers’ big move, the NFL combine in the rearview mirror, and free agency in full swing, it’s time for the real NFL mock drafts to begin.

In Version 2.0 of my 2023 NFL mock draft, the Panthers get their guy... but is that guy Bryce Young? The NFL Draft odds aren’t so sure — and neither am I.





2023 NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0

1. Panthers (trade via CHI): CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Carolina Panthers made their move to get their guy, and sportsbooks certainly believe Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is that guy. Stroud went from +375 post combine to the -350 favorite to be the first overall pick in the draft.

Stroud balled out at the combine, looking like the best QB in Indianapolis. Between that, his ridiculous stats (85 TDs in 25 starts), his performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff, and the fact he’s a perfect fit for Frank Reich’s system lead me to believe this is the way to go at No. 1.

2. Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

In a way, this may be the best-case scenario for the Houston Texans. In Version 1.0 of my mock draft, I had the Texans trading up one spot to secure Young. Now he falls into their laps at No. 2 without having to give up any extra draft capital. Young was unsurprisingly knocked for his size but his arm strength, mobility, vision, and intangibles all make him a worthy franchise QB for DeMeco Ryans and the Texans.

3. Raiders (mock trade via ARI): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida 

Yes, the Las Vegas Raiders just signed Jimmy Garoppolo, but it’s only $34 million guaranteed — that's nothing for a QB these days. It also makes this a perfect situation for Richardson to land here at +275.

Josh McDaniels can groom him while he sits behind Jimmy G for a year or so. And Richardson’s talent which he showed in droves at the combine  likely has McDaniels salivating. The Raiders get their QB of the future.

4. Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Let’s make it 4-for-4 with quarterbacks to start this mock draft. Jim Irsay will say Levis is the guy who was the No. 1 signal caller on their board during the whole draft process, but I would exercise some caution with the former Wildcats QB.

Levis has a big arm and is arguably the best arm talent in this draft class, but he sometimes battles his accuracy, and his decision-making was not the best at Kentucky, resulting in plenty of turnovers. There is potential with Levis, but he’ll need some work.

5. Seahawks (via DEN): Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

The Seattle Seahawks resigned Geno Smith, so I’m betting quarterback is off the table and I imagine Pete Carrol will happily take Anderson here. He'll be the best player in this class for some teams.

With elite power and speed, he'll be a cornerstone on defense for any team that selects him. Jalen Carter’s legal troubles make Anderson an easy choice as the first defender off the board. In fact, he’s the -275 favorite to be the first defensive player taken.

6. Lions (via LAR): Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

Carter will be an interesting case leading all the way up until his name is called in April. Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions will believe their culture is the right place for Carter to land and his talent will be too much for them to pass up considering it's also a position of need for Detroit.

Carter was the potential No. 1 overall pick when the Bears owned the pick prior to his legal issues. He’s a dominant interior lineman and of all the outstanding Georgia defenders drafted the last couple of seasons, there's a great to be made that Carter is the best.

7. Cardinals (mock trade via LV): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

The Arizona Cardinals traded down in this scenario, stockpiling picks, and still getting a replacement for J.J. Watt.

The former Texas Tech defensive lineman had a breakout season for the Red Raiders recording seven sacks, but it’s Wilson’s measurables that will have teams salivating for his services. He’s 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds with great speed and strength.

8. Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Murphy continues the tradition of great Clemson defensive linemen. Here's yet another edge rusher with an excellent combination of size, strength, and speed. He has an explosive first step and will be an immediate upgrade for an Atlanta Falcons team that ranked next to last in the NFL in sacks this season.

9. Bears (trade via CAR): Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

The Chicago Bears did two things by trading the No. 1 pick: they stocked up on assets and addressed one of their biggest needs by adding wide receiver DJ Moore.

Now, they need to give quarterback Justin Fields more time to deliver the ball to Moore and drafting Johnson is a good start. He's athletic with great size and allowed just two sacks all season. He also has positional versatility as he played right guard for the Buckeyes before kicking out to tackle last season.

10. Eagles (via NO): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

This is a dream scenario for the Philadelphia Eagles. It sounds like Darius Slay’s days in Philly might be numbered, so why not replace him with arguably the best cornerback in the class? Gonzalez has elite size and athleticism with fluid hips and great ball skills. Simply put, he’s a traditional lockdown corner.

11. Titans: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

Taylor Lewan is officially out the door. So, a tackle is certainly a need for the Tennessee Titans.

Skoronski is an interesting prospect, having excelled at Northwestern against some of the top pass rushers in the country with some scouts believing he's the most pro-ready. However, his arm length has some thinking he’ll have to kick inside to guard. Either way, he immediately improves this offensive line.

12. Texans (via CLE): Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Houston Texans now need a wide receiver to pair with their new franchise quarterback Bryce Young. This year’s wideout class is an interesting one... to me, it looks deep with potential NFL starters but there'ss no Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson in the group.

Smith-Njigba was my WR1 before the season started, but a hamstring injury that cost him most of the season dropped him down some team's boards. Either way, he showed out at the combine and is a smooth route runner with great hands.

13. Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Let’s assume the New York Jets figure out this Aaron Rodgers thing. They have several great young weapons for Rodgers to work with and why not do everything you can to keep the former MVP upright as much as possible?

Jones is a big, mean tackle that moves well and didn’t allow a single sack for the Bulldogs last season. He can start next season on the right side but also has the potential to be the best tackle in this class.

14. Patriots: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The New England Patriots need help all over the place. The offensive line might be the most pressing need but with the top three tackles off the board in this mock, they instead grab a true No. 1 wide receiver in Johnston.

At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Johnston looks like a prototypical “X” wideout, but he’s also got amazing burners. His draft stock rose along with the Horned Frogs' improbable run to the national title game.

15. Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Despite Utah’s Dalton Kincaid rising up some draft boards, Michael Mayer has been the best tight end in college football for the past two seasons. He's got great hands and works the seams well, but he also has the size to be an in-line blocker. He could be a great security blanket if Jordan Love actually does take over the Green Bay Packers offense.

16. Commanders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

I had Anthony Richardson falling to the Washington Commanders in my last mock, but he’s long gone in this version. Plus, apparently, Ron Rivera believes in Sam Howell.

We’ll find out if that’s a smokescreen soon enough, but for now, the team addresses one of its many holes with one of the best defensive backs on the board. Witherspoon is a little undersized but plays much bigger. He’s fantastic in man coverage and has great instincts.

17. Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

This is a match made in heaven. Porter’s father was an All-Pro linebacker and a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for eight seasons and his son has a chance to live up to his dad’s legacy.

His son has great movement for a guy with his size and length. He only had one interception at Penn State but that's because teams basically stopped throwing to his side of the field.

18. Lions: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama

The Detroit Lions addressed their interior line needs by taking Carter at No. 6 and they’ve improved their corner play by signing Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. Now they sure up the back end by drafting Branch.

Branch is the most versatile defensive back in this draft. He played in the slot, outside, and free safety for Nick Saban. He's also a sure tackler that Dan Campbell will love.

19. Buccaneers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a lot... starting with a quarterback. There isn’t one worth taking at this spot so instead, they’ll look to reinforce their defensive line with one of the standouts at the combine.

Despite not being a starter at Iowa, Van Ness still managed 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons and also has the size and power to stop the run.

20. Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Addison won the Biletnikoff Award (best WR in the country) at Pitt before transferring to USC. Despite not having ideal size, Addison has great speed, elite route running, and great hands. Put him with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and all of a sudden Geno Smith has one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. 

21. Chargers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Robinson could go higher than this if the right team trades up and when it comes to overall talent, he's probably a Top-3 player in this draft. Unfortunately, Robinson's hurt by two things here: the devaluation of the running back position over the last several years and the ridiculous depth in this year's running back class.

However, the thought of pairing him with Justin Herbert is tantalizing, particularly since Austin Ekler has recently requested permission to seek a trade.

22. Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

It seems crazy to me that the Baltimore Ravens aren’t 100% sure who will be throwing the football for them next season, but whoever's under center is going to need more weapons to throw to. Flowers would look great opposite Rashod Bateman. He has great speed, is a problem after the catch, and is an elite route runner with a knack for getting open.

23. Vikings: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

There is no question the Minnesota Vikings need help in their secondary and Ringo can step right in and start. He has all the physical traits you'd want in a cornerback and he tested well as expected at the combine.

Some worry about the fluidity in his hips, particularly on quick routes, but he always seemed to show up in Georgia’s biggest games. On top of that, he’s a ball hawk.

24. Jaguars: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Keeping Trevor Lawrence healthy should still be priority No. 1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars and after watching right tackle Jawaan Taylor walk out the door in free agency, Wright is the perfect player to step in and fill that role. Wright was a beast at Tennessee this year and showed out at the Senior Bowl. He has the size and strength to play both tackle and guard.

25. Giants: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

The New York Giants made a splash this week by trading for tight end Darren Waller from the Raiders, addressing one of their biggest needs by getting a playmaking pass catcher for Daniel Jones to throw to.

So, here the G-Men turn their attention to their secondary and happily snatch up Smith. He’s a little lean but that doesn’t take away from his physicality. He also has great length and instincts and is as quick as they come.

26. Cowboys: O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida

The Dallas Cowboys know they are at their best when their offensive line is dominant, but they need help on the interior and they’ve had plenty of success drafting lineman in the first round in recent years.

They keep that tradition going by electing the big man out of Florida. Torrence has great size and is a powerful run blocker. He was not credited with a single sack allowed in four years as a starter for the Gators.

27. Bills: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

The Buffalo Bills need to give Josh Allen more weapons to keep up with the Chiefs and the Bengals in the AFC and that's exactly what Washington is.

Yet another in the long line of Georgia freak athletes, a guy his size should not move the way he does. Only two guys ran a better 20-yard shuttle than him and he uses his body perfectly to shield defenders when making a catch and is a great run blocker. Bills Mafia will fall in love with him immediately.

28. Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

The Cincinnati Bengals counter the Bills' move by drafting a tight end of their own. Kincaid was a highly productive tight end in college and is quickly moving up draft boards due to his exceptional quickness, polished route running, and ability after the catch. It’s not crazy to call him something in between Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce.

29. Saints: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

The New Orleans Saints solved their quarterback problem by signing Derek Carr and they can now focus on stopping the slide of Bresee, who will be one of the most polarizing figures in the draft.

He's the former No. 1 overall recruit out of high school who has a rare combination of athleticism and versatility, but some injury issues and questions about his production at Clemson linger. Either way, the talent is worth the risk for the Saints at this spot.

30. Eagles: Jamyhr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

With Miles Sanders entering free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles are likely salivating to get their hands on Bijan Robinson but they’ll likely have to move up from here to get him.

That said, Gibbs isn’t a bad consolation prize at the bottom of the first round. He did it all for Alabama last year, with explosive speed off the edge and great vision. He’s also a weapon in the passing game, which makes him a great fit for the Eagles.

31. Chiefs: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Oh, look... another Georgia player who balled out at the combine. A 4.39 40-yard dash time was jaw-dropping but while Smith is a little undersized, he makes up for it with his quickness and athleticism. With Chris Jones on the inside and opposite George Karalaftis, the Kansas City Chiefs suddenly have built a terrific defensive line.

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