We're now just hours out from the 2023 NFL Draft, and even though the countdown to the Carolina Panthers being on the clock is on, outside of Bryce Young being selected first overall, mysteries abound in this year's draft.
It now seems the draft begins at the No. 2 pick with the Houston Texans. Will they select a quarterback? And will it be CJ Stroud, or Will Levis, who has seen plenty of steam leading up to Thursday. Or, will they pass on QB altogether and then things could get really interesting?
With so many unknowns, keeping up with all the moves in the NFL Draft odds has been a combination of exciting and exhausting. Here's my final mock for the 2023 NFL Draft and t I still identify some betting value along the way.
2023 NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0
1. Panthers (trade via CHI): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Don’t believe the smoke when it comes to Will Levis going No. 1 overall. Sportsbooks aren’t. The former Kentucky Wildcat saw some action in that regard early in the week, thanks in part to a claim *checks notes* made by a reddit user? Welcome to NFL Draft betting in 2023.
Either way. Bryce Young is still the -1,600 favorite to go No. 1 overall. Young was the favorite to be the first quarterback selected before the Bears traded the first overall pick and is my QB1. Young’s arm strength, mobility, playmaking ability, and intangibles outweigh the knocks on his size. He’s worthy of the No. 1 overall pick for the Panthers.
2. Texans: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
This is where the draft really starts. It really took a lot for me to not put CJ Stroud here. At this point, I think he’s being underrated, and I think we’ve been fed a lot of misinformation about the QB out of Ohio State. I know Kentucky QB Will Levis was the favorite to land here for a bit. And I know there's buzz around Tyree Wilson, who is the +140 favorite as of writing this on Wednesday night.
But to me, Anderson is just the most talented blue-chip prospect, arguably in the entire class. He has apparently met twice with the Texans brass in the pre-draft process. The Alabama connection with DeMeco Ryans puts this over the top.
PICK: Will Anderson first defensive player selected (+125 at DraftKings)
3. Titans (mock trade via ARI): CJ, Stroud, Ohio State
Now, here is where things get really spicy. Seeing CJ Stroud still sitting there at No. 3 is enough for the Titans to make this move. Ryan Tannehill is 34 years old, entering the final year of his deal, and has had trouble staying healthy the last couple of seasons.
Stroud’s performances at the combine and his pro day were outstanding. He owns the prettiest ball in this class and the word “smooth” has been used a lot when describing him. Mix in his ridiculous stats (85 TDs in 25 starts), his performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff, and the Titans have their franchise quarterback of the future.
4. Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
All the steam on Levis in this final week leading up to the draft has been interesting, but in the end, he's still available for the Colts, who desperately need a quarterback. Levis has been linked to the Colts throughout this process and despite his faults (accuracy and decision-making), he has the arm talent of a potential franchise quarterback in the right system.
5. Seahawks (via DEN): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
This selection will come down to the remaining edge rusher and Georgia’s Jalen Carter. There are conflicting reports coming out of Seattle. Some say Pete Carrol is chomping at the bit to add Carter despite his red flags, the others that the Seahawks won’t take the former Bulldog.
The Seahawks don’t always do things by the book but they can’t pass up on a premier pass rusher in this spot. Wilson is a rare athlete with an elite combination of size, strength, and speed and has the potential to be a terror in Seattle for years to come.
6. Lions (via LAR): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Outside of Bryce Young, this feels like one of the bigger locks of round one. In fact, Witherspoon is currently the -130 favorite to be the No. 6 pick. Corner was already a need for the Lions, and then they traded former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah.
Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez is my CB1, but a lot of people are mocking Devon Witherspoon here because he’s “got that dawg in him,” and I’m following the crowd on this one. Witherspoon is now the -170 favorite to be the first corner selected and he checks a lot of boxes for Dan Campbell and the Lions.
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7. Raiders: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
I’ve had the Raiders trade up for Richardson in my previous mocks. This time they stand pat and still get the Gators QB. Yes, Las Vegas signed Jimmy Garoppolo. But it’s only $34 million guaranteed, which is nothing for a QB these days. 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 this offseason, likely has McDaniels salivating. The Raiders get their QB of the future and you get the Raiders to draft Richardson at 10/1.
8. Falcons: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
9. Bears (trade via CAR): Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
In my final mock, the Bears end up with the guy many thought they would have taken if they had stayed at No. 1 overall. Carter’s legal issues are a red flag, but his tape makes the case that he’s the top overall prospect, and at this spot, he's worth the risk for the Bears.
Carter’s draft position prop has been moved to 6.5 and with strong links to Seattle, the Over is now sitting at +290. The Seahawks really look like the only landing spot for Carter for the Under to cash. I’ve been on this bet for several weeks, so I’m sticking to it.
PICK: Jalen Carter draft position Over 6.5 (+290 at DraftKings)
10. Eagles (via NO): Christain Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The rich get richer. The Eagles managed to bring back Darius Slay, but as they found out in the Super Bowl, you need as many elite corners as possible to slow down the likes of Patrick Mahomes. And with this pick, the Eagles arguably nab 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. Cardinals (mock trade via TEN): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
If the Cardinals stayed put at No. 3 there was a chance they took Johnson there. Instead, they attain some extra draft capital and still get their guy eight spots later. Johnson is 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.
12. Texans (via CLE): Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The Texans need weapons. Smith-Njigba was my WR1 before this past season started but a hamstring injury cost him most of the year. When he was healthy in 2021 he was shattering Buckeyes receiving records on a team with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Then he showed out at the combine and his pro day. He’s a smooth route runner with great hands.
JSN has a handful of potential landing spots in this range, including the Falcons, Titans, and Texans. I’m high on JSN and the Under on his draft position at plus money is enough to get me invested.
PICK: Jaxson Smith-Njigba draft position Under 12.5 (+250 at DraftKings)
13. Packers (via NYJ): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
I almost dropped JSN a spot just so I could have the Packers select a wide receiver in the first round the second Aaron Rodgers is out the door. The thinking is, get Jordan Love as many weapons as possible. But keeping him upright is equally important.
Jones is a little inexperienced but is built like a truck. He didn’t allow a single sack for the Bulldogs last season. He can start next season on the right side before taking over for Davis Bakhtiari as the team’s left tackle. Jones has the potential to be the best tackle in this class.
PICK: Broderick Jones draft position Under 14.5 (+215 at DraftKings)
14. Patriots: Pete Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Another offensive lineman off the board. Offensive tackle is one of the biggest holes on this Patriots roster. And while Skoronski will get dinged for his short arms, having some believe he will eventually kick inside, he is the most pro-ready lineman in this class and Belichick will love his positional versatility.
15. Jets (via GB): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
It took some time, but Aaron Rodgers is finally a member of the Jets. Now, their top priority needs to be protecting the former MVP, and Mekhi Becton is still a big question mark. Wright was a beast at Tennessee this year and tested very well during the draft process. He has the size and strength to play both tackle and guard.
16. Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Commanders have a lot of needs, but cornerback may be the most glaring. Porter’s father was an All-Pro linebacker and member of the Steelers for eight seasons, and his son has a chance to live up to his dad’s legacy. Jr. has great movement for a guy with his size and length. He only had one interception at Penn State but that was because teams basically stopped throwing to his side of the field.
PICK: Joey Porter Jr. draft position Under 19.5 (+140 at DraftKings)
17. Steelers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Steelers fans will be bummed they just missed out on Porter Jr. in this scenario, but they still are in desperate need of a corner and Banks has been one of the biggest risers during this process due to his excellent testing. The former Terp is an elite athlete with great measurables who can play in multiple coverages. He’s tough and a solid tackler.
18. Lions: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
This is a dream scenario for the Lions. They likely want some combination of corner and pass rusher with their two first-round picks. They addressed corner at six with Witherspoon, and now they take the ultra-athletic and versatile Van Ness. Despite not being a starter at Iowa, he still managed 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Van Ness also has the size and power to stop the run and would be a great fit next to Aidan Hutchinson.
19. Buccaneers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Bucs need a lot. They likely want a tackle at this spot, but with the Top 4 already off the board, they fill another need by taking college football’s most dominant tight end over the last two seasons. Mayer has great hands and works the seams well. But he also has the size to be an in-line blocker.
20. Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The Seahawks completely rebuild their defensive front in the first round on Thursday. First by grabbing Wilson at No. 5 and Kancey here. The Pitt defensive tackle is another prospect who is climbing up draft boards thanks to his combination of testing and tape. Despite being a little undersized, he's an explosive pass rusher on the interior. His first step is lightning fast and so are his hands. He totaled 14.5 sacks the last two seasons at Pitt and that production should continue in the NFL.
21. Chargers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson could go much higher than this. When it comes to overall talent, Robinson is probably a Top-3 player in this draft. Unfortunately, Robinson's hurt by two things: The devaluation of the running back position over the last several years and the ridiculous depth in this year's running back class. But the Chargers stop his fall. The thought of pairing him with Justin Herbert is tantalizing, particularly since Austin Ekler has requested permission to seek a trade.
I could also see the Chargers move up to grab Robinson if they start to see him drop. If Robinson gets past the Eagles at 10, the Chargers look like the best fit, and there's value on that outcome.
PICK: Team to draft Bijan Robinson – Chargers (+1,400 at bet365)
22. Ravens: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
A wide receiver will be a strong consideration here because I’m not sure that an Odell Beckham Jr. signing solves their pass catcher problems. But cornerback is the biggest hole on the roster. Forbes is obviously lean but he has terrific instincts as a ballhawk, which is something the Ravens value. His six career pick-sixes are an FBS record.
23. Vikings: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
There's no question the Vikings need help in their secondary, but Justin Jefferson desperately needs a running mate, particularly now that Adam Thielen is gone. Flowers fits the bill. He has elite speed, is a problem after the catch, and is an excellent route runner. He just has a knack for getting open.
24. Jaguars: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
The Jaguars are one of the most interesting teams in this draft. They could go a lot of ways. I almost gave them TCU wideout Quentin Johnston here and the +2,500 odds for them to take a WR are intriguing because surrounding Trevor Lawrence with weapons is a good thing.
But I decided on Branch, who is the most versatile and pro-ready defensive back in this draft. He played in the slot, outside, and free safety for Nick Saban. He's also a sure tackler who should step in right away for the Jags.
25. Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Giants made a splash this offseason by trading for tight end Darren Waller from the Raiders, but Daniel Jones will still need a reliable pass catcher on the outside. Addison might be the most reliable in the class. He 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.
26. Cowboys: Daulton Kincaid, TE, Utah
This is another one of those spots where Jerry Jones believes a steal falls right in his lap, like CeeDee Lamb a few years ago. Kincaid is getting a ton of hype in the lead-up to the draft. He was a highly productive tight end in college and is quickly moving up draft boards due to his exceptional quickness, polished route running, and his ability after the catch. It’s not crazy to call him something in between Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce.
27. Bills: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Josh Allen and the Bills need more weapons to compete with the Chiefs and the Bengals in the AFC. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Johnston looks like a prototypical “X” wideout. He’s also got amazing burners. His draft stock rose along with the Horned Frogs' improbable title game run. But his tape showed too many drops, which is why he’s available here. He'll be an upgrade over Gabe Davis.
Johnston also makes it four wideouts in the first round and I still think there is a chance someone like Jalin Hyatt and Josh Downs goes later in the round as well. Over 3.5 wideouts take in one of my favorite bets for Thursday.
PICK: Over 3.5 wide receivers selected in the first round (-120 at bet365)
28. Bengals: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Sometimes players fall in the draft through no fault of their own. But the Bengals benefit here. Edge isn't the biggest need for Cincy but Murphy's excellent combination of size, strength, and an explosive first step will immediately improve a lacking Bengals pass rush.
29. Saints: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Bresee is going to 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. The talent and versatility are worth the risk for the Saints, who need to generate more pressure from the interior.
30. Eagles: O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
The Eagles could grab a running back here, but Roseman knows he can still grab a starting-level back later on. He uses this pick to fortify the Eagles' offensive line. 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 and can play multiple positions.
31. Chiefs: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Protecting Patrick Mahomes is the name of the game. Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie are both gone. The Chiefs signed Jawaan Taylor but he has primarily been a right tackle in his career. Harrison is a prototypical left tackle with great size and lateral quickness.