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NFL Mock Draft – Analyzing an Expert’s Opinion on the 2023 NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is at the end of the month, so of course, every pundit under the sun needs to give their analysis about which team should select who. Well, at the GoldSheet, we are taking a different approach this draft season. Today, we are taking a look at Todd McShay of ESPN’s latest mock draft. Below are his picks from his latest mock draft. Which picks do we agree with? Which picks are blasphemous? Let’s take a look at how one of the analysts from the “World Wide Leader in Sports” thinks about the 2023 draft.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1. Carolina Panthers (from CHI)
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

This is a situation where the only way to know who will be the No. 1 pick in the draft comes from insider information. According to Michael Lombardi on the “GM Shuffle” podcast, the Panthers are enamored by Bryce Young, and he should/will be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Stroud is the betting favorite and, in my opinion, the better player, but if in upcoming weeks the odds shift, just know McShay does not have inside info for this pick.

2. Houston Texans
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama 

Again, unless you have insider information, there is no way to tell how the board will fall in the NFL Draft. If the Texans fall in love with Young, will they move up one spot to lock him in? Are they content with either? Do they want someone else? All we know is a QB will be taken, and which one that is can be determined by movements in the betting market leading up to draft night.

3. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with AZ)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Colts need a QB like we need air to survive. Is Ballard, a GM who should on the hot seat, willing to risk his career in Indy for an unproven guy? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. The Colts are the odds-on favorite to land Lamar Jackson, and that makes much more sense to me than Indy trading up a spot to take a proven athlete but an unproven QB. Unless Jim Irsay makes the final call (which is entirely possible), I am not sure how much sense this makes for Indy. But they need a QB, and are desperate. We shall see.

4. Arizona Cardinals (mock trade with IND)
Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama

If Arizona does not trade down, that would be malpractice. McShay having this in his mock should be accurate. How far down are they willing to go? In my opinion, it should not matter, as long as they get a boatload of picks, since I expect AZ to be drafting in the top-five again next season. If they move back one spot, Will Anderson from Alabama is a no-brainer.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN)
Jalen Carter, DT, Georiga 

No disagreements from me here. Unless teams who met him determine he actually has character issues or a lack of a drive to be great, Carter to Seattle makes too much sense and would be a slam dunk of a pick.

6. Detroit Lions (from LAR)
Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

I agree that defense needs to be the pick here, but is Wilson really the second-best pass rusher in this class? The Athletic agrees he is EDGE2, and I can’t really say I like any other edge much better. The Lions should take Wilson if they have him as EDGE2, or they can easily take Christian Gonzales, my CB1.

7. Las Vegas Raiders
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

After signing Jimmy Garapolo, I agree that Vegas will not move into the top-3 to secure a passer. Why would they? Besides durability issues, Garapolo does everything you want for a QB. He makes easy reads, he has a strong arm, he can move in the pocket, and he is a leader. Ideally, the Raiders trade back to recoup more picks if a QB-needy team wants to make their move, but Vegas taking a cornerback or a defender, in general, makes a lot of sense and gets no argument from me.

8. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

If Gonzalez is sitting here at eight, Falcons fans can rejoice. This pick makes all too much sense and would be one of the easiest picks to make all night. Atlanta needs help on defense, and while they can maybe take an edge or hope for value with a corner later, Gonzalez would help bolster this terrible pass defense immediately.

9. Chicago Bears (from CAR)
Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern

Another pick that makes too much sense – it is also one of the easier picks any team can make. The Bears’ offensive line is putrid, and Skoronski is the OT1 in this year’s class. Trading back from No. 1 to No. 9 to then select the OT1 makes too much sense, and McShay not getting cute here is a good sign.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO)
Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa

It must be nice to lose in the Super Bowl and still have two first-round picks in the ensuing draft. The Eagles prioritized the trenches last season and in years past, and it paid dividends last season. The Eagles lost some juice on the defensive line, so adding a great edge would certainly bolster this defense. I like this pick for Philly.

11. Tennessee Titans
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

This is a reach. I agree that Smith-Njigba is the best wide receiver in the class, and he is a top-15 talent. However, the Titans do not need to put the 11th pick into a wide receiver, especially with the Treylon Burks pick last season. Vrabel and the Titans need to rebuild without tearing everything down, so instead of trying to add a skill player, they should add an offensive lineman who will protect whoever is under center for the foreseeable future.

12. Houston Texans (from CLE)
Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia

The Texans’ needs on defense are gigantic, but wouldn’t you want to add a Smith-Njigba type here? In fairness to McShay, Njigba is assumed to be picked, but I think he is off. The Titans should go offensive line, leaving the door open for the Texans to draft Smith-Njigba.

13. New York Jets
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

This would be a home run pick, though I still think the Titans should snag him at 11. Johnson is a massive human who looked pro-ready in college. The Jets ideally can make this pick, but I am not so sure the board can or will fall this way.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (mock trade with NE)
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

It would be hilarious to see the Buccaneers go from Jameis to Brady, to Baker for a few games, then to Levis. Some people swear by this kid, but I do not see it. Will he still get drafted in the first round? Probably. Will he be good? I do not think so. The Buccaneers’ fast track back to being horrible starts with this trade.

15. Green Bay Packers
Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

The Packers’ needs now are gigantic, so this pick is easy for Green Bay: Select whoever the best player on your board is. The Packers’ pass rush was not great last year, but with Gary coming back from injury, and if Murphy is the pick and he pans out, this pick could be great for Green Bay.

16. Washington Commanders
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

This is a safer pick, but it makes too much sense and could be exactly what happens on draft night. The Commanders need a cornerback or an offensive lineman at this spot, and Porter was the No. 1 corner for a while – until he wasn’t. The Commanders also run more of a zone scheme, so unless they have plans for changing Porter’s style, this could also not work out. Either way, it seems McShay’s head is in the right place

17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Washington should select Jones if he’s there, but if not, this would be a slam dunk for Pittsburgh. How do you help out your young QB when you already have solid weapons around him? Bolster the offensive line. Jones is shooting up boards so he may not be here, but if so, this pick is perfect.

18. Detroit Lions
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I understand that Robinson, in terms of pure talent, is probably a top-10, if not top-5, player in this class. If Detroit wants to take Robinson, or any team for that matter, trade back if you can. Having club control for up to five years would be nice, but we know the story of running backs going in the first round. Detroit would actually be a great place for Robinson, but for a team with more needs than at running back, Detroit should use their resources elsewhere.

19. New England Patriots (mock trade with TB)
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The Patriots trade back here and go with an offensive lineman. My issue with this if I do not think Tampa actually trades up to get Levis. If they do, the Patriots certainly have a need in the trenches, so now it just comes down to who the Patriots think can be a stalwart tackle for them for a long time. If it’s Wright, this pick makes sense. Either way, from a positional standpoint, this is spot on.

20. Seattle Seahawks
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

This is around where I expect Flowers to go, and I think McShay slotting Flowers here makes a lot of sense. Seattle has a few more needs on defense, but they could certainly use an influx of weapons on the outside. I do not think this is too rich, and I actually applaud McShay for only having two wide receivers drafted in the top-20 of this year’s draft.

21. Los Angeles Chargers
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

This pick makes sense. Los Angeles has not addressed its run defense at all, which is abysmal, so maybe the Chargers are targeting a tackle in round one. I think the Chargers are better off securing an edge here like BJ Ojulari, but this makes sense on the surface. Positional value concerns come up here, but I do not love or hate slotting Kancey here.

22. Baltimore Ravens
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Ravens need a wide receiver badly, but I am not sure Johnston is the answer. Baltimore has failed to solidify this position for a while, and their WR draft picks have mostly not panned out whatsoever. Johnston is a big body and he would help Lamar if he stays, but if Lamar is not on this team, Baltimore should not use the 22nd pick on a wide receiver. Again, there is no doubt WR is a need, but there are too many other factors at play to justify this pick. I see Johnston falling to the New York Giants at 25.

23. Minnesota Vikings
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

I see the chatter of Hendon Hooker getting a bunch of top-30 visits with teams. His numbers in the past two seasons were impressive, and he looked to have poise in the pocket. However, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. Hooker is 25 years old already, and he did not play in a pro-style system. McShay claims teams he spoke with have Hooker over Levis on their board. Who cares? Neither should be drafted in round one.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

I completely understand opinions on players changing over the course of the draft process. Teams get to know players, their drive, their habits, their mindset, and much more. Skill is not the No. 1 thing teams look for in players. Michael Mayer has been the consensus No. 1 TE for a while, so why would the Jaguars not take him if they want a TE? McShay notes that Kincaid is “a better blocker”, but I’m not so sure Doug Pederson cares. Take the better prospect (Mayer) and move on.

25. New York Giants
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

The Giants, despite being a playoff team last year, have a lot of needs. Their secondary is weak, they are shopping on the bargain rack for receivers, and their offensive line, while much improved last year, still need work. McShay opted to go with a corner here so the Giants can get a receiver later, which is fine, but I would go about things the other way in this spot. I expect Johnston to fall, and be selected by, New York.

26. Dallas Cowboys
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

What to say about this pick? It’s a slam dunk, but is it realistic? I could see Detroit taking Mayer with their second pick, but there is some sort of possibility for Dallas to sit tight here and snag Mayer. Sure, there’s a need, and yes, this is possible, but I am not sold Mayer will be here at 26.

27. Buffalo Bills
Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Addison’s combine numbers do not impress me, and to be honest, neither did his senior season. The tools and traits he currently possesses do not seem NFL-ready, and it will be hard for his body to hold up with the increased physicality of the NFL. There is no doubt Buffalo needs a wide receiver, and a cheap one would be ideal, but the Bills may need to wait in the draft and hopefully hit in a later round or make a splash for a veteran to really improve.

28. Cincinnati Bengals
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Cincinnati going after a cornerback makes sense. They have a need on the outside, and their defense, which is great, could use a boost after losing two safeties. No disagreements from me. I just wonder if Banks is the guy since he was not overly productive in college.

29. New Orleans Saints (from SF/MIA/DEN)
Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE/DT, Northwestern

The Saints lost a bunch of their pass rush/defensive line this Winter, so seeing New Orleans add to its pass rush is not a shock and is probably the best thing they can do. The Saints are aware of how important the trenches are, so this pick makes a ton of sense. The question here is just if this is a player New Orleans would target – they are a team who beats to their own drum on draft night.

30. Philadelphia Eagles
Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State

If Robinson is still on the board, Philly is one of the few teams that could go that direction (from a talent level, Howie won’t value a running back that high). Doubling up on pass rusher, as McShay has it, is a good strategy. For a team as loaded as the Eagles, they have options, so I cannot say this would be too good or too bad.

31. Kansas City Chiefs
Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State

To cap off the first round, I like where McShay went with this pick. The Chiefs certainly can use a boost to their pass rush, and I like the skillset that Anudike-Uzomah brings to the table. If Kansas City can hit on a plus end at the end of the first round, that would be a major win for the defending Super Bowl champions and make them better immediately.