The 2022 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, so it’s time to turn our attention to the 2023 class.
It’s almost impossible to create accurate player/team matches this far in advance, so don’t get too caught up in arguing whether your team would select this prospect over that prospect. Instead, treat this mock draft like a watch list 一 in some order, these are the 32 players I feel have the best chance to come off the board in the first round next April.
The draft order is based on the current 2022 Super Bowl odds.
All stats are from the Sports Info Solutions Data Hub.
Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Pos. College 1 Texans C.J. Stroud QB Ohio State 2 Jets Will Anderson Jr. EDGE Alabama 3 Lions Bryce Young QB Alabama 4 Jaguars Jalen Carter DT Georgia 5 Giants Spencer Rattler QB South Carolina 6 Panthers Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State 7 Falcons Kelee Ringo CB Georgia 8 Bears Kayshon Boutte WR LSU 9 Seahawks B.J. Ojulari EDGE LSU 10 Steelers Paris Johnson Jr. OT Ohio State 11 Commanders Cam Smith CB South Carolina 12 Vikings Bryan Bresee DT Clemson 13 Eagles Isaiah Foskey EDGE Notre Dame 14 Raiders Colby Wooden EDGE Auburn 15 Patriots Zion Tupuola-Fetui EDGE Washington 16 Eagles f/NO Noah Sewell LB Oregon 17 Titans Ali Gaye EDGE LSU 18 Dolphins Eli Ricks CB Alabama 19 Cardinals Anton Harrison OT Oklahoma 20 Colts Josh Downs WR North Carolina 21 Bengals Garrett Williams CB Syracuse 22 Ravens Dawand Jones OT Ohio State 23 Texans f/CLE Trenton Simpson LB Clemson 24 Cowboys Jammie Robinson S Florida State 25 Chargers Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame 26 Seahawks f/DEN Sedrick Van Pran IOL Georgia 27 Dolphins f/SF Bijan Robinson RB Texas 28 Lions f/LAR Cameron Brown CB Ohio State 29 Packers Connor Galvin OT Baylor 30 Chiefs Myles Muphy EDGE Clemson 31 Buccaneers Jordan Addison WR Pittsburgh 32 Bills Jalen Catalon S Arkansas
1. Houston Texans, Top Draft Pick Prediction: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud brings a little of everything to the table, but it’s his accuracy to all levels of the field that makes him stand out as an early favorite to go No. 1 overall in 2023.
Key stat to know about C.J. Stroud
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Stroud was the second most accurate Power 5 quarterback last season with an on-target rate 7.7% above expected.
2. New York Jets, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Anderson, the 2021 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was arguably the most dominant defender in the country last season. He’s been unblockable from the moment he took the field as a true freshman, racking up 141 pressures through two seasons with the Tide.
Key stat to know about Will Anderson Jr.
Generated a 19.9% pressure rate, ranked third among Power 5 pass rushers.
3. Detroit Lions, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young is undersized, but has the athleticism to help compensate. If he continues to develop as a downfield passer, he’ll likely join Stroud near the top of the draft.
Key stat to know about Bryce Young
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Young was the third most accurate SEC quarterback last season with an on-target rate 3.3% above expected.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Jalen Carter, iDL, Georgia
Georgia placed five defenders in the first round, and yet the best player from their national championship defense returns. Carter is a versatile weapon along the defensive line, but his pass rush skills as a three-tech tackle are what makes him special.
Key stat to know about Jalen Carter
Led SEC with 13.6% pressure rate as an interior defensive lineman.
5. New York Giants, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
Rattler’s sophomore year at Oklahoma did not go as expected 一 he was eventually benched for Caleb Williams 一 but his accuracy, arm strength, and athleticism still places him among the most talented draft-eligible quarterbacks. If his play returns to a consistent level, he’ll remain in the first-round conversation.
Key stat to know about Spencer Rattler
Ranked seventh among Power 5 quarterbacks with a 62.1% on-target rate on throws 15 or more yards downfield.
6. Carolina Panthers, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The next Ohio State receiver to enter the league may be the best in recent memory. Smith-Njigba is slightly bigger and more physical than Garrett Wilson, but brings a similar versatile skill set.
Key stat to know about Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Caught 20 of 24 catchable passes (83.3%) on targets at least 15 yards downfield, including six touchdowns.
7. Atlanta Falcons, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
The run on Georgia defenders isn’t over. The 6’2” Ringo is a former five-star recruit who saw his first action as a redshirt-freshman last season, and was immediately among the most dominant corners in the SEC.
Key stat to know about Kelee Ringo
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Ringo allowed a catch rate 12.2% below expected in 2021.
8. Chicago Bears, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Prior to a season-ending ankle injury (which has required multiple surgeries), Boutte was among the most explosive playmakers in the nation in 2021.
He’ll need to get back on the field to prove he’s the same player post-injury, but if he returns to form, he’ll challenge Smith-Njigba to be the top receiver off the board.
Key stat to know about Kayshon Boutte
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Boutte produced 41% more yards after catch than expected.
9. Seattle Seahawks, Top Draft Pick Prediction: B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
The younger brother of Giants edge-rusher Azeez Ojulari has been an impact pass rusher from the moment he took the field as a true freshman. Through two seasons, he’s already compiled 74 QB pressures and 11 sacks.
Key stat to know about B.J. Ojulari
Generated 15.3% pressure rate as an edge-rusher, ranked second among returning SEC defenders behind Will Anderson Jr.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Johnson was a five-star recruit and the top-ranked tackle in the class of 2020. After a dominant season at right guard, expectations are high as he takes over for Titans third-round pick Nicholas Petit-Frere at left tackle.
Key stat to know about B.J. Ojulari
Generated a 0.9% blow-block rate in pass protection at right guard in 2021.
11. Washington Commanders, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Smith stepped in for Jaycee Horn and admirably filled the shoes of the Panthers’ 2021 first-round pick. Though slightly smaller than Horn, he displayed similar ball-hawk ability in the Gamecocks secondary.
Key stat to know about Cam Smith
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Smith generated a ball-hawk rate 123% higher than expected, the highest rate among Power 5 cornerbacks.
12. Minnesota Vikings, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Bryan Breese, iDL, Clemson
Bresee, the number-one overall recruit in 2020, is returning from a season-ending torn ACL. Obviously he’ll need to prove he’s back to full strength, but he showed enough as a true freshman in 2020 to generate early first-round expectations as an interior pass rusher.
Key stat to know about Bryan Breese
Generated an 11% pressure rate when lined up on the interior defensive line through 16 career games.
13. Philadelphia Eagles, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Foskey may have been in the first-round conversation had he entered the 2022 draft. His production on the edge gives him a chance to be Notre Dame’s first pass rusher selected in the first round since the Jaguars took Renaldo Wynn way back in 1997.
Key stat to know about Isaiah Foskey
Generated a 16.5% pressure rate on third downs in 2021.
14. Las Vegas Raiders, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Colby Wooden, DL, Auburn
Wooden’s versatility will be his best asset, as he’s already demonstrated an ability to impact the game on the interior defensive line and the edge. Any defense using multiple fronts will find Wooden’s skill set appealing.
Key stat to know about Colby Wooden
Generated an 11.6% pressure rate as an interior pass-rusher, ranked second in the SEC behind Jalen Carter.
15. New England Patriots, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington
If not for a torn Achilles last summer, Tupuola-Fetui may be in the NFL right now. Incredibly, Tupuola-Fetui returned to the field just six months after the injury, but his production didn’t quite match his stellar 2020 campaign.
Assuming he returns to full strength, he should be among the most dangerous edge rushers in this class.
Key stat to know about Zion Tupuola-Fetui
Generated a 15.8% career pressure rate 一 peaked at 19.8% in 2020.
16. Philadelphia Eagles, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
If the 2023 draft produces another Micah Parsons, it will likely be Sewell. Although he primarily lines up as an off-ball linebacker, Sewell is built like an edge defender and his production on blitzes is a key part of his game.
Key stat to know about Noah Sewell
Blitzed on 21% of pass-game snaps, generating a 29.3% pressure rate.
17. Tennessee Titans, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Ali Gaye, EDGE, LSU
The 6’6” Gaye had generated 15 pressures through four games in 2021, before an upper-body injury (presumed to be a shoulder issue) knocked him out of the year.
Assuming a return to form, the former JUCO transfer will have a chance to join his teammate Ojulari in the first round.
Key stat to know about Ali Gaye
Generated a 19.6% pressure rate on third downs in 2021.
18. Miami Dolphins, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
While at LSU in 2021, Ricks suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and entered the transfer portal shortly thereafter. Over NFL draft weekend, Ricks was arrested on charges of speeding, driving without insurance, and possession of marijuana 一 so he currently has injury and off-field concerns on his resume.
That said, Ricks is 6’2” and has been playing at a high level in the SEC since his true freshman year 一 with his talent, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt.
Key stat to know about Eli Ricks
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Ricks generated a ball-hawk rate 51% above expected during his two seasons at LSU.
19. Arizona Cardinals, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Harrison, who has one season under his belt as the Sooners’ starting left tackle, is one of the best athletes in the country at his position.
Inconsistency and penalties have been an issue, but it’s easy to envision an athlete of his caliber landing in the first round even if he’s viewed as a bit of a project.
Key stat to know about Anton Harrison
Oklahoma averaged 7.6 rushing yards per attempt running to Harrison’s gap (team average 5.5 yards per attempt overall).
20. Indianapolis Colts, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
The emergence of Josh Downs was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing 2021 season for the North Carolina offense. Downs is listed at 5’10” but his blazing speed 一 he was already running in the 4.4s in high school 一 makes him a dangerous weapon down the field and after the catch.
Key stat to know about Josh Downs
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Downs led ACC wide receivers with 21.8% more yards after the catch than expected.
21. Cincinnati Bengals, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
As a redshirt freshman in 2020, Williams shared the secondary with Ifeatu Melifonwu (Lions 2021 third-round pick) and was arguably the more consistent corner in coverage.
A hamstring injury limited Williams in 2021, and contributed to his decision to return to school. If he returns to his freshman form, he could be the first player from Syracuse selected in the first round since Justin Pugh in 2013.
Key stat to know about Garrett Williams
Generated as many pass breakups (nine) as catches allowed when targeted 10 more yards downfield.
22. Baltimore Ravens, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Listed at 6’8”, 360 pounds, Jones is a unique prospect. He won’t fit the profile every offense is looking for, but anyone in the market for a menacing run-blocker at right tackle will have their sights set on Jones.
Key stat to know about Dawand Jones
Ohio State averaged 7.1 rushing yards per attempt running to Jones’s gap (team averaged 5.5 yards per attempt overall).
23. Houston Texans, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Simpson is a linebacker/safety hybrid, who typically lines up in the box or the slot 一 similar to Isaiah Simmons’s role during Clemson’s 2018 championship season.
On passing downs, offenses never know what to expect, as he’s equally dangerous in coverage and on blitzes.
Key stat to know about Trenton Simpson
Blitzed on 28% of pass plays, generating a 36.5% pressure rate.
24. Dallas Cowboys, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
Robinson is a remarkably versatile defensive back, who primarily played in the slot in 2020, but then moved all over the field in 2021.
His ball skills are great (six career interceptions) but Robinson is equally reliable against the run, making him trustworthy in the slot, the box or the deep secondary.
Key stat to know about Jammie Robinson
Generated a 6.0% missed/broken tackle rate, the third-lowest rate among ACC defensive backs.
25. Los Angeles Chargers, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
We don’t see a lot of tight ends in the first round these days, but Mayer is likely to crack the top 32. Although he doesn’t stretch the field like Kyle Pitts, Mayer does offer a well-rounded skill set comparable to T.J. Hockenson.
Key stat to know about Michael Mayer
Mayer has a 72.3% catch rate on catchable targets during his two-year career.
26. Seattle Seahawks, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia
Van Pran was the top-rated center in the 2020 recruiting class and immediately became one of the SEC’s most reliable interior linemen upon stepping into a starting role for Georgia in 2021.
At 6’4”, Van Pran likely has position versatility, though his production at center provides little reason to move him off that spot.
Key stat to know about Sedrick Van Pran
Generated a 1.2% blown block rate in pass protection in 2021.
27. Miami Dolphins, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson is a powerful running back with just enough speed to turn the corner. His place in the first round may hinge on his 40 time, but there’s no doubt he has the tools to be a workhorse in the NFL.
Key stat to know about Bijan Robinson
Averaged 7.3 broken/missed tackles forced per 20 carries, the highest rate among Power 5 running backs.
28. Detroit Lions, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Cameron Brown, CB, Ohio State
Brown is an explosive athlete 一 he recorded a 40-inch vertical in high school 一 who emerged as a star in Buckeyes secondary in 2021. With that leaping ability, it’s no surprise his ball-hawk skills stand out as a strength in his game.
Key stat to know about Cameron Brown
Based on route-adjusted metrics, Brown allowed a catch rate 27.4% below expected in 2021, the best rate in the Big Ten by over 10 percentage points.
29. Green Bay Packers, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Connor Galvin, OT, Baylor
Although his athleticism is ordinary, Galvin has developed into one of the most dominant pass blockers in the college game. At 6’7”, Galvin’s length makes it tough for pass-rushers to turn the corner on him.
Key stat to know about Connor Galvin
Generated a 0.9% blown block rate in pass protection in 2021, with zero holding penalties.
30. Kansas City Chiefs, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Through two seasons, Murphy, a top-10 recruit in the 2020 class, has already played nearly 1,000 snaps as an anchor of Clemson’s defensive line.
He’ll need to show more consistency as a pass-rusher to cement his place in the first round, but his size/athleticism combination is clearly first-round caliber.
Key stat to know about Myles Murphy
Generated an 8.3% pressure rate when lined up on the edge in 2021.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh
Rumors are swirling about Addison’s 2022 destination, but wherever he lands it will likely be for just a few months before entering the NFL draft. Addison lacks ideal size, but his speed makes him a dangerous weapon from the slot.
Key stat to know about Jordan Addison
75% of Addison’s targets came from the slot, where he averaged 11.1 yards per target.
32. Buffalo Bills, Top Draft Pick Prediction: Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas
If not for a shoulder injury cutting his season short, Catalon may have turned pro after the 2021 season. Catalan is a ball hawk in the deep secondary, but also has experience in the slot and the box.
Key stat to know about Jalen Catalon
Made a play on the ball once every 30.1 snaps in coverage, the sixth-best rate in the SEC.
Some thoughts on the 2023 quarterback class
As you’re looking around at early 2023 mock drafts, you’re probably seeing a lot of quarterbacks 一 maybe as many as seven or eight in the first round.
It’s certainly true that next year’s class will be better than the one that just landed a single quarterback in the first two rounds. However, it’s awfully optimistic to think every talented quarterback progresses as expected over the next 12 months.
As of this moment, only C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young are solidly in the first round conversation 一 they likely would have been the first two quarterbacks selected in this year’s draft if eligible.
The rest of the group requires a lot of guesswork. Someone will develop and join them 一 I took a shot on Spencer Rattler in this mock draft 一 but it could also be:
- Florida’s Anthony Richardson 一 if his accuracy improves.
- Kentucky’s Will Levis 一 if he continues steady development after the loss of offensive coordinator Liam Coen.
- Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke 一 if he can become a more reliable decision-maker under pressure.
- Stanford’s Tanner McKee 一 if he can develop his decision-making to an elite level, so his lack of mobility isn’t a concern.
- Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall 一 if he can maintain his elite production following the losses of Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely.
- Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec 一 if he can dramatically improve his accuracy to all levels of the field.
Or maybe it will be someone who isn’t even on this list 一 Joe Burrow likely would not have cracked such a list in 2020.
It’s common for early mock drafts to be loaded with quarterbacks 一 a year ago at this time most mock drafts featured at least four in the first round 一 but history tells us most of these prospects will not take the necessary steps to reach that level.
A more realistic expectation for 2023, would be for only one or two others to join Stroud and Young.