Dane Massey is a second-year Digital Sports Production major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
The NFL Draft is just beyond the horizon and the top college football prospects will see their dreams come true and take center stage in Kansas City, Missouri, for the 2023 NFL Draft. However, this year’s draft adds an exciting twist that could be the secret recipe for what could be one of the craziest NFL Drafts in recent memory.
Last year’s NFL Draft featured nine trades and a ton of surprises going on just on day one of the draft weekends. Jacksonville selected Georgia defensive end Travon Walker with the first overall pick instead of Michigan edge rusher Aiden Hutchinson in what was a tight battle for who would be chosen as the first overall pick, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett was the first (and only) quarterback taken in the first round Wideouts AJ Brown and Marquise Brown were the headliners of the draft on day one as both superstars were traded (AJ Brown was traded to Philadelphia while Marquise Brown was traded to Arizona), and in a draft that three quarterbacks were supposed to be picked in the first round, only one was picked (Kenny Pickett was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 20th overall).
This year's draft offers a certain twist as for the first time in a long time, the first few picks in the draft are not certain, and it features a lot of offensive firepower with two generational quarterbacks in Alabama’s Bryce Young, and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud in the fold for the number one overall selection, which means that the number one overall pick is likely going to be a quarterback for the 16th time since 2000 and the 7th in the last nine drafts.
Chicago originally held the number one overall pick at the end of the regular season, however, the Carolina Panthers struck a trade with the Bears for the number one overall pick by sending the 9th overall pick, a 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick, and second-round pick, as well as starting wideout DJ Moore.
1. Carolina Panthers (VIA CHI)
Bryce Young, quarterback, Alabama
It was very clear what Carolina was going after when they triggered the trade to Chicago for the number one overall pick. Quarterback; and oh boy do they have a hard selection to make. It is going to be either Stroud or Young for this pick, but Panthers head coach Frank Reich is going to want the best player available. Between Stroud and Young, Young looks like the best option. With an elite ability to be a mobile quarterback and an amazing ability to extend plays, a Heisman Trophy in 2021, and a national championship under his belt, it seems like the perfect resume for Young to be named the number one overall pick. However, what is scaring a lot of teams away from Young is his size as a quarterback. Standing at only 5’10 and just over 200 pounds, many feel as though he is too small for a quarterback, however, his talent and resume say otherwise.
2. Houston Texans
Will Anderson, linebacker, Alabama
The first NFL Draft under new head coach DeMeco Ryans comes with the first surprise of the draft with Houston passing up on the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback and take the Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson with their first of two first-round picks in this draft. The Texans were not sold on any other quarterback in this draft outside of Young, and with him off the board, this leaves the Texans in a difficult situation. Houston made a lot of defensive acquisitions in free agency, so why not continue to upgrade the defense even more by taking arguably the best defensive player in the draft?
3. Tennessee Titans (VIA trade with ARI)
Anthony Richardson, quarterback , Florida
We have our first trade made with Tennessee moving up to number three overall, and the Titans have been in a lot of speculation about what to do with its draft this year. It is clear that the Titans are preparing for the future by finding Ryan Tannehill’s successor at quarterback, with them not being high on second-year quarterback Malik Willis being that successor, Richardson seems to be the move to make for the Titans. NFL Scouts see Richardson as a freak athlete who has elite size, strength, and the ability for the quarterback position that many teams are willing to gamble for. Some see the Florida product as a boom or bust prospect, however, if he booms then Tennessee will be back in contention for the AFC South crown.
4. Indianapolis Colts
CJ Stroud, quarterback, Ohio State
This would be the dream scenario for the Colts if one of the two best quarterbacks in this draft class falls on their laps, but with the Titans moving up to take Richardson and not Stroud, the answer is clear on who the Colts should take with this pick. Stroud is described by scouts as the most accurate thrower in this draft class, especially on the deep balls. His ability to throw downfield with pinpoint accuracy is second to none and should be a fine addition to Shane Steichen’s offense.
5. Arizona Cardinals (VIA trade with SEA)
Tyree Wilson, defensive end, Texas Tech
Another trade from the Cardinals as they move up from 11 to five in a trade with Seattle. With Will Anderson off the board, the Cardinals will look to add another edge rusher to their lineup. Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson’s combination of traits and athleticism should show flashes of dominant play in both phases as he continues to get bigger and stronger. Wilson is Regarded as one of the nation’s top most-impactful players during his final year as a Red Raider and shows promise to be a premium pass rusher at the NFL level.
6. Detroit Lions (VIA LAR)
Christian Gonzalez, cornerback, Oregon
After moving on from Jeff Okudah in the offseason, Detroit will look to add another corner in the draft to boost the secondary, and what a boost they will get by selecting arguably the best corner in the draft. He impressed many scouts at the combine with his performance which put him among one of the top prospects in the entire 2023 draft class with a combined grade of 6.70 (the highest was a 7.05). Gonzalez has the ingredients to be a fearful cornerback at the NFL level with his speed and athleticism, and with Dan Campbell at the helm, this pick could be a slam dunk if the Oregon Product develops.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
Devon Witherspoon, cornerback, Illinois
It’s always an interesting pick when it comes to the Raiders, and this is an interesting pick for any team. Viewed by some NFL Scouts as a boom or bust prospect, Witherspoon is a fun watch as he can be an elite corner if the scheme is right as he plays with ball-hawking eyes and a good balance from a zone coverage, and is very aggressive tackling both after the catch and in run support. Not only that but he also allowed a completion rate of just 35% on his way to becoming the first Thorpe Award (best defensive back) finalist in Illinois school history.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Nolan Smith, defensive end, Georgia
Atlanta is going to go defense with this pick and it’s either a cornerback or edge rusher, as the Falcons desperately need to add to their pass rush which ranked second to last season. Smith is an explosive player with a ton of promise as he ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash as an edge rusher which is stunning to see. Despite his small size compared to other pass rushers, Smith can make his presence known as he plays with a team-first mindset and has the agility for more creative rushing attacks in the future.
9. Chicago Bears (VIA CAR)
Paris Johnson Jr., offensive tackle, Ohio State
Chicago struck gold by trading away the number one overall pick to Carolina for an overhaul of picks as well as getting a reliable number one receiver in DJ Moore. All the pieces are coming together for quarterback Justin Fields to emerge as one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. The only piece left is to build the offensive line as Fields was sacked 55 times last season, so why not bring in an old teammate of Justin Fields to help solidify the offensive line? Johnson will most likely play on the left side and he is amazing at downfield blocking in front of his carriers which will evolve Fields’s run game.
10. New England Patriots (VIA trade with PHI)
Peter Skoronski, offensive tackle, Northwestern
The Patriots are willing to take everything to give starter Mac Jones one last shot to redeem himself as a franchise quarterback, and it starts with a trade-up with an upgrade for the offensive line. Offensive tackle Riley Reiff (who is going to be 34 at the start of next season) isn’t going to be enough to protect Jones, but adding Skoronski would give New England an elite protector who is ready to be a day-one starter, and better yet, he can play both offensive tackle or on the interior.
11. Seattle Seahawks (VIA trade with ARI)
Jalen Carter, defensive tackle, Georgia
Jalen Carter arguably might be one of, if not the best players in this entire draft, so why does he go so late? Well, you can say it was because of a roller coaster of events occurring a month and a half ago. First, it was the reckless driving charges that put him on probation. Then came him coming into the combine nine pounds heavier, and after that his awful performance at Georgia’s Pro Day. So then comes another question, why is Carter taken so high with a lot of recent issues? Some scouts say that despite this Carter is still a generational talent with “Pro Bowl potential.” Whether he can live up to that hype in Seattle which could make a splash if Carter can live up to the hype remains to be seen
12. Houston Texans (VIA CLE)
Will Levis, quarterback, Kentucky
After passing up on a quarterback with its first pick in the first round, the Texans finally fill the hole with Levis. Despite many scouts fearing his accuracy as a major problem, there is plenty of reason to believe that Levis can be a franchise player for any team. He is the most physically gifted quarterback in the draft standing at 6’4 and 229 pounds. He also has shown off his athletic ability as a passer-by having one of the strongest arms out of any other quarterback in this class. Levis has also shown that he can play in pro-style passing schemes requiring full-field reads. These talents can make him worth an investment if Houston is willing to work with it.
13. New York Jets
Broderick Jones, offensive tackle, Georgia
There’s a lot of drama when the Jets are on the clock as an Aaron Rodgers trade looms near, and with picking up an ultra-athletic tackle prospect with the size, length, and potential to develop into a plus starter on the left side, Jones should give Rodgers more of a reason to come to the Big Apple and should make Mike LaFluer’s offense even more dangerous as Jones could be an elite talent.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (VIA NO/trade with NE)
Bijan Robinson, running back, Texas
Robinson is the type of special player you would trade for. A running back who blends special traits that allow him to affect games. He is a well-built runningback with a pair of quick feet, as he ran a 4.46 in his 40-yard dash at the combine. He is especially great at getting yards after contact as he is a capable inside and outside runner with the ability to track defenders with his size to get extra yards. Robinson has been on Philly’s radar for a while as Miles Sanders departed to Carolina leaving the Eagles without a starting running back, and Robinson would fill the hole very nicely.
15. Green Bay Packers
Jackson Smith Njigba, wide receiver , Ohio State
The Ohio State standout was viewed before this year's college football season as one the best wide receivers in this draft by far. However, a hamstring injury would cut his 2022-23 campaign short and would put a strain on his draft stock. That stain would be washed away as he shined at Ohio State’s Pro Day and proved that he is still at his elite form. Green Bay is moving on with Jordan Love as the next franchise quarterback and having both Christian Watson and JSN on the outside for his first season as a starter would be an amazing fresh starting point for Titletown.
16. Washington Commanders
Joey Porter Jr, cornerback, Penn State
Porter is a big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. The Commanders have plenty of more desperate needs, but with Porter still, on the board, he is just too exciting a talent to pass up at this spot. The Penn State standout has incredible length and brings instincts in coverage, giving Washington another ball hawk in the secondary. Porter tends to be a little handsy downfield which could cause some penalty issues but his physicality is what makes him stand out.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Darnell Wright, offensive tackle, Tennessee
Before the draft, Wright was not viewed as a top-tier offensive tackle and was projected to be a day-three selection. However that all changed when he was moved to the right side which allowed him to flourish into a dominant force. You mix that with a strong Senior Bowl performance and Wright could go higher than others expect. Pittsburgh requires offensive line help to protect second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett and Wright fits that mold.
18. Detroit Lions
Daulton Kincaid, tight end, Utah
With this pick, the Lions look to draft the true successor of TJ Hockenson who they traded to Minnesota. Kincaid is a fluid route runner with the athleticism and speed to create mismatches and be a threat downfield. You throw that with the fact that he has glue-like hands and goes up and grabs contested thrown balls, and the Lions should fill the positional need with ease.
19. Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Dawand Jones, offensive tackle, Ohio State
Anyone can tell you that Tampa Bay is going through a phase of rearming after losing Tom Brady to retirement. The team brought in former first-overall pick Baker Mayfield to battle with Florida’s Kyle Trask for the starting quarterback job. The Bucs also let go of key pieces including offensive tackle Donovan Smith. With Tristan Wirfs a potential successor at left tackle, Jones could provide some strength as a day-one starter for Tampa Bay. I mean the man is a literal mountain sitting at 6’8 and 374 pounds. Some are concerned about his agility, however, if he can use his size to his advantage, then he will be one scary figure to go up against on the line.
20. Miami Dolphins
***PICK FORFEITED, NO SELECTION***
21. Seattle Seahawks
Myles Murphy, defensive end, Clemson
After taking Jalen Carter with their first pick, Seattle solidifies their defensive line by taking Clemson standout Myles Murphy. Murphy has excellent size standing at 6’5, 268 pounds, and has been consistently productive for the Tigers for three straight years. He is great at finishing when he gets inside the pocket, but Murphy isn’t known for being very explosive. Not only that but when he gets stuck, he struggles to get out. However, if Seattle can find both Murphy and Carter to work towards their strengths, Seattle could have one of the most feared defensive lines in the NFL within a few years.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Zay Flowers, wide receiver, Boston College
The Chargers are in desperate need of speed to their offense and with superstar running back Austin Ekler wanting out of Los Angeles, it decreases the speed of this offense even more. Flowers should provide just that and should be a lethal deep threat as his route running is considered to be one of the best among all wide receivers in this class. Flowers will provide quarterback Justin Herbert another weapon to throw to deep down the field with Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams as his supporting cast.
23. Baltimore Ravens
Deonte Banks, cornerback, Maryland
Although solving the Lamar Jackson dilemma is priority number one for the Ravens, there are still several holes on their roster. The biggest one is a cornerback to complement three-time pro bowler Marlon Humphrey. Banks is a hometown kid that could bring a strong blend of size, strength, and athleticism. Banks are a lot of starter potential if he can stay disciplined when challenged on 50/50 balls.
24. Minnesota Vikings
Jordan Addison, wide receiver, USC
With the departure of number two receiver Adam Theilen, the Vikings will require a second wideout. Justin Jefferson is in a league of his own in terms of how talented he is, but he cannot do it all himself. Addison brings a lot of high potential for the Vikings, as he is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country who can line up both outside and in the slot.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Lukas Van Ness, defensive end, Iowa
After a passionate run to winning the AFC South crown, Jacksonville will look to bolster its defense with its first pick in the draft, and Van Ness should be a fine addition to complement last year’s number one overall pick Travon Walker on the other side of the defensive front four. Nicknamed “Hercules” by his teammates at Iowa, Van Ness is a well-developed defensive end with excellent size and strength, and with the additional growth, Van Ness could prove to be a solid partner for Walker.
26. New York Giants
Quintin Johnston, wide receiver, TCU
The G-men would love to go with a cornerback or offensive line with this pick, but with not a whole lot to pick from both of those categories, New York will go find a number one receiver, and oh boy does Johnston fit that role. Johnston’s playmaking ability is simply one of the best in this class, and his ability to go up and get contested thrown balls makes him one of a kind player.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Michael Mayer, tight end, Notre Dame
With the departure of Dalton Schultz in free agency, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys will look to fill the hole at tight end. The Notre Dame product was ranked as the number one overall tight end coming into this draft and Jones likes stars. Mayer’s all-around talent should make an impact from day one catching passes from Dak Prescott.
28. Buffalo Bills
Trent Simpson, linebacker, Clemson
If Buffalo is going to still be in the hunt for the AFC Crown and compete against the likes of Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes, then they will need to upgrade the defense to slow them down. An upgrade at linebacker could be a start and Simpson could turn the Bills' linebacker core into a menacing force as he is a quick player that can play both inside and outside linebacker with lockdown abilities.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
Brian Branch, saftey, Alabama
With the departure of safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell, the Bengals are in desperate need of safety to fill the hole in the deep secondary. Branch is by far the best safety in this draft and provides the ingredients necessary to become a high-performing starter early in his career. He’s quick, fast and strong with the ability to match up with anyone.
30. New Orleans Saints (VIA MIA, SF and DEN)
Bryan Bresee, defensive tackle, Clemson
The Saints desperately need to rebuild the defensive line after losing David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, and Marcus Davenport in free agency. Bressee is an intriguing prospect as his ability to read blocking schemes and attack weak points is one of his biggest strengths, as well as withstand double teams up front. The only problem with Bressee is that there are a lot of unknowns as he missed some games last season as he was dealing with a kidney infection.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Emmanuel Forbes, cornerback, Mississippi State
There are a lot of unknowns with Philadelphia’s defense heading into the draft, especially in the secondary. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson left in free agency, and Darius Slay isn’t getting any younger as he is 32. The Eagles' secondary is not that deep in depth and Forbes falling to the Eagles could be the steal of the draft. Coming off of All-American and First Team All-SEC selections, Forbes brings quick instincts in coverage as well as a massive skill set of physicality.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Anton Harrison, offensive tackle, Oklahoma
One of the highest risers in the 2023 NFL Draft, Kansas City is going to need to find a way to replace star offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. after losing him in free agency. Harrison depends solely on self-awareness and does a nice job of utilizing his strengths to mask his weaknesses. Although Harrison is not a slam dunk pick, it should fill the hole with Brown gone.