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Gold Sheet’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft – Predicting the First Round

The NFL Draft is finally here! Tonight, 31 collegiate athletes will see their dreams come true as they get drafted to an NFL franchise. This year’s draft is a unique one – NFL teams are lower on the players who are considered to be the best players in this class. This does not mean it is a weak draft class; this just means it is not a top-heavy class.

Also, considering the news that came out recently about NFL players gambling, the league has certainly placed an emphasis on teams’ keeping their draft secrets as close to the vest as possible. This leads us to one of, if not the, most unpredictable drafts in a long time. If you need further proof, just take a look at the betting markets over the last week or so. There is no consensus on who will be drafted at any position besides No. 1 overall.

With that being said, and without further ado, let’s take a look at Gold Sheet’s 2023 mock draft, along with potential betting opportunities for the first round. I will not be mocking any trades, though I believe there could be at least three in the first round.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

No. 1 Carolina Panthers (From CHI): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

This is a foregone conclusion. There has been some late steam indicating that maybe this isn’t a lock, but it sure is. We are not even going to list team needs for the Panthers since there is no doubt in my mind they draft Young here. If you can find a sportsbook offering you lower than -500 that Young will be the first pick, that looks like a great bet.

No. 2 Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Team Needs: QB, DL, DB, WR

The market for the No. 2 overall pick has gone wild, and there is no clear-cut selection. Houston can go about this pick a few ways, but I am settling with the Texans taking my QB2 and not looking back. Houston also has the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft so they can go after a different need in that spot.

No. 3 Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, DE, Alabama
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB

Will Anderson is falling down draft boards, and I am not quite sure why. There has been a lot of talk about his tape – he either flashes or he no-shows. He has all the counting stats you could ask for from a collegiate player, but there is still a debate about whether or not he is elite or what his ceiling actually is. I am still a believer, so if Arizona can not trade out, I think they select Anderson. Note: There is value in betting Anderson as the first defender off the board around +200

No. 4 Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Team Needs: QB, OL, WR, DL

What the Colts should actually do is draft an offensive lineman, then call up the Ravens directly after the first-round ends and trade for Lamar Jackson. However, I am going with Levis because I can see Irsay falling in love with the throws from his knees and the fact that Levis played in a pro-style offense, albeit not well, may be why teams are coveting him

No. 5 Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Team Needs: DL, WR, LB

Based on what I am seeing and reading, the only way Seattle does not select Carter is because he is not there. This pick makes too much sense. Note: I bet Carter’s draft position 5th +375 and Carter’s draft position U 6.5 

No. 6 Detroit Lions (from LAR): Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
Team Needs: DL, DB, QB

Anderson was perceived to be DE1, but Wilson has shot up draft boards over the last week plus. Will he be better than Will Anderson? Some people believe so. Based on the Lions’ needs, going for the athletic freak in Wilson makes a ton of sense.

No. 7 Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Team Needs: QB, DL, OL, DB, LB

The Raiders probably prefer a trade down, and considering Richardson is still on the board, their phone may be ringing. If not, the Raiders need a full rehaul of their offensive line, so getting their choice of offensive linemen is also a win for Las Vegas.

No. 8 Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Richardson, QB, Flordia
Team Needs: QB, DL, LB, CB

Will this happen? Probably not. Should it? I sure think so. Atlanta is in a prime position to make a huge splash for its franchise if Richardson is available at 8. Even if Ridder is the real deal, Richardson can sit for a year and learn, or you have a valuable trade asset, or Richardson is just better, and you have a franchise QB. All of those options seem like good options.

No. 9 Chicago Bears (from CAR): Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Team Needs: OL, DL, WR, DB

The Bears have needs all over, but priority No. 1 should be locking in an offensive lineman. Unless Chicago really loves a different edge rusher or a cornerback, this should be the pick. Considering the Bears need a ton of positions, as long as they hit with this pick, it doesn’t really matter where they play. Note: Skoronski’s draft position under 10.5 is worth a bet. 

No. 10 Philadelphia Eagles (from NO): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Team Needs: RB, DB

If Witherspoon is available at 10, which is unlikely but possible, the Eagles have a no-brainer pick. Yes, Bijan Robinson makes sense, and the Eagles could look to add another stud to their defensive line, but why not build on the strength of the secondary this time? This would be insane value for the Eagles.

No. 11 Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Team Needs: QB, OL, DL, DB, WR

The Titans have needs all over, so they are hard to predict. However, Tennessee taking a tackle makes too much sense – their offensive line is in shambles, and they can use a starter at all spots. Jones fills a huge need for the Titans.

No. 12 Houston Texans (from CLE) Jackson Smith-Njiba, WR, Ohio State
Team Needs: DL, DB, WR

The Texans go back to the Ohio State well and draft Smith-Njigba to give this offense a much-needed boost. Note: Smith-Njigba to be the first WR selected has a ton of value.

No. 13 Green Bay Packers (from NYJ): Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
Team Needs: QB, OL, DL, DB

The Jordan Love era is set to begin, so what will Green Bay do? Will they draft a QB, a lineman, or a wide receiver to give him help? Well, based on their draft history, probably not. The Packers settle for the best edge available and look to be one of the worst teams in the NFL next year.

No. 14 New England Patriots: Christian Gonzales, CB, Oregon
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB, QB

Gonzales has fallen down draft boards, but New England should be ecstatic to take him at 14. They need a cornerback they can develop, and Gonzales should fight right into the Patriot-way.

No. 15 New York Jets (from GB): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB

The Jets overpaid for Aaron Rodgers. If they win a Super Bowl, does it really matter? No, of course not. So, the Jets make the smart move and get someone who can help Rodgers and this offense grow and win right now. This makes too much sense. Note: Jets to take an offensive lineman with their first pick is a good bet

No. 16 Washington Commanders: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
Team Needs: QB, OL, DB, LB

The Commanders need some more juice in their secondary, and Branch can be that guy. His positional versatility matches what Jack Del Rio does on defense, so Washington making this pick could be a great one.

No. 17 Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB, LB

In back-to-back years, the Steelers will draft a great collegiate player from the state of PA. Porter Jr. had higher grades from scouts before the 2022 college football season, but I do not think he is a lost cause. This pick makes a lot of sense, and I think the Steelers will mold Porter Jr. into a great player.

No. 18 Detroit Lions: Emmanuel Forbes, DB, Mississippi State
Team Needs: DB, QB

Everyone wants the Lions to draft Bijan, but they are not a team ready to make a luxury pick like that. Forbes would be a great addition to this secondary which is much more critical to the Lions’ success in 2023.

No. 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Team Needs: QB, OL, DL, DB

How will the Buccaneers start the Baker Mayfield era? By drafting a QB in the first round. Hooker is coming off an ACL, and he is 25 years old, but Jason Leich could see this as the perfect situation for him. Do I love this pick? No, but I could see it happening.

No. 20 Seattle Seahawks: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Team Needs: WR, LB

The Seahawks are a team that does not care about consensus draft positioning – they go and get their guys. This works well for Seattle, and they have another opportunity to get a guy who will impact them immediately.

Miami Dolphins: Pick Forfeited 

No. 21 Los Angeles Chargers: Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia
Team Needs: OL, DL, LB

Smith has fallen down my board for a few reasons. For starters, he will not play a ton of snaps. Secondly, I am not sure he is big enough. Finally, the injury concerns. With that being said, if Smith can put it all together, he could be exactly what Los Angeles needs – someone who can pressure the QB and make plays on defense.

No. 22 Baltimore Ravens: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georiga
Team Needs: OL, WR, DL, DB

Ringo came into the 2022 NCAAF season as CB1, but his last year at Georiga was not great. However, given how the Ravens do with maximizing talent from their secondary, I think this is a great pick for Baltimore.

No. 23 Minnesota Vikings: Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
Team Needs: DL, DB, OL

The Vikings need an influx of talent on their defensive line so Murphy would be a great pick. The Vikings have a lot of needs on defense, so it is tough to project exactly what route they take to improve.

No. 24 Jacksonville Jaguars: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pitt
Team Needs: OL, DB, DL

This would be a home run for the Jaguars. Jacksonville has a lot of needs on defense, so locking in a threat to get pressure up the middle would be nice to pair with their defensive ends.

No. 25 New York Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Team Needs: OL, WR, DL, DB

The Giants need a WR, and this would be the best-case scenario for New York. Flowers is my WR2, so getting him at 25 would be massive for New York.

No. 26 Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Team Needs: OL, TE, LB

Unless the Cowboys don’t want to draft another Dalton out of spite, this is a great pick. Mayer has fallen down my draft board, and Kincaid has shot up as my TE1. This pick would be huge for Dallas, and it is not hard to see why.

No. 27 Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Team Needs: OL, DL, WR

If Bijan falls to 27, Buffalo would be nuts not to take him. The Bills have needs on the offensive and defensive lines, but Robinson would take so much pressure off Allen and Diggs. Again, Buffalo needs to continue to improve if they want to beat the Bengals, Chiefs, and now Jets, but this would be a massive start for the Bills.

No. 28 Cincinnati Bengals: Micahel Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB

The Bengals selecting Mayer would make a lot of sense. They could use a boost from TE, and if Mayer can block, he would help their run game.

No. 29 New Orleans Saints: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas St.
Team Needs: OL, DL, WR

The Saints lost a lot of their juice along the defensive front, so going with the best DE available seems like a no-brainer for the Saints.

No. 30 Philadelphia Eagles: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Team Needs: RB, DL

The Eagles are the only team that can afford a luxury pick in round one, and this is as close to as good as it gets. The gap between Gibbs and Robinson is not as big as people think, so this would be a nice addition for the Birds.

No, 31 Kansas City Chiefs: O’Cyrus Torrecnt, OL, Florida
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB, WR

Bolstering the trenches is never a bad idea, so the Cheifs look to do it with the last pick of the first round. The Chiefs still need defensive firepower, but they will have to wait on that.