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  • Writer's pictureTony G.

2023 NFL Draft: Mock 2.0 (Part One)

Strategies within the top ten picks have shifted dramatically now that the free agent period has been open for well over a week. We also had our biggest splash made by the Carolina Panthers moving, from pick 9, all the way up to the 1st overall pick, forcing the other quarterback needy teams in the top 10 to determine whether or not the guy that they hope to draft will even be there when their turn to pick comes up. We had players wow scouts at the combine and pro days. We also had a player who was once the consensus number 1 prospect see his stock fall once again, after appearing overweight and out of shape for his pro day.

The theme for my Mock 2.0 is all about trades. Teams swung and missed on free agents and now had time to decide whether or not they can get the player at the top of their board or if a move up or down the board is necessary. Some are obvious. Some are bold. Some lead to bigger and better things that we dive into in other articles. Let’s see who Carolina decided was worth the jump to number 1.

1. Carolina Panthers – C.J. Stroud, Quarterback / Ohio State

Stroud showed off at the combine and had the attention of the Carolina Panthers, who sent about a dozen people to his pro day workout. We already know that the team is guaranteed to go quarterback with the pick, and seeing Stroud under center week one seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.

2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young, Quarterback / Alabama

Young left the combine still rated as the top passer in the draft, but questions about his size have caused hesitations in assuming that he will be the top pick. Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray both function in the NFL, maybe not that great last season, while being relative to Young in size. Young has better decision making and accuracy than both, so there is little risk in handing him the keys to your franchise.

3. Atlanta Falcons (via Arizona Cardinals) – Anthony Richardson, Quarterback / Florida

Atlanta jumps the QB-needy Colts and snags the most athletic quarterback in the draft. Richardson blew scouts away with his speed and explosiveness at the combine. While the NFC South is winnable for any of the four teams, Atlanta knows that they are rebuilding and can afford to be patient with Richardson’s development.

4. Las Vegas Raiders (via Indianapolis Colts) – Will Levis, Quarterback / Kentucky

The Raiders signed Jimmy Garappolo to a three year deal, but they can get out of that contract after one year with a little over $18 million in dead cap space. Levis is, in my opinion, going to be the best quarterback to come from this draft class. He does have room to improve on his decision making and sitting behind Garappolo, even for the entirety of his three-year deal, would greatly benefit Levis’ development.

5. Seattle Seahawks – Will Anderson Jr, EDGE / Alabama

Seattle benefits from the flurry of QB activity in front of them and walks away with, arguably, the best defensive prospect in the draft. Anderson adds more firepower to a defense that that was top 10 in sacks in 2022. The NFC West now is home to Anderson, Nick Bosa, and Aaron Donald. Almost makes you feel bad for Kyler Murray.

6. Detroit Lions – Tyree Wilson, EDGE / Texas Tech

Wilson impressed at the combine and is widely considered to translate into an elite pass rusher in the NFL. After taking Aiden Hutchinson in last year’s draft, Detroit now has one of the best young tandems that should wreak havoc in a division that is headlined by a 34 year old Kirk Cousins. Note: I originally had Jalen Carter in this spot but due to his off the field issues and his terrible Pro Day, I have Detroit passing on him in this mock.

7. Green Bay Packers (via Indianapolis) – Jalen Carter, DT / Georgia

In what I consider a best case scenario for Carter, his fall down the board is halted by a team that can give him the stability needed to excel in the NFL. Other teams I had linked to Carter (Detroit and Chicago) do not offer him the best surroundings, given his off the field issues. The Packers defense was not terrible last season but they did not fair too well against the run and ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks. Carter immediately impacts both of those areas and becomes a defensive anchor for a team starting fresh with a new franchise quarterback. Most interesting about this pick is the fact that I have the Colts, once thought to be in the running for one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, trading back to the middle of the first round. For more details, check out our first ever Front Office Fantasy article!

8. Arizona Cardinals – Christian Gonzalez, CB / Oregon

Arizona finally gets a replacement for Hall of Famer Patrick Peterson and, in the process, fortifies a secondary that ranked in the bottom 10 in yards per game against and second to last in opposing QBR. Standing at 6”1” and having sub 4.4 speed makes Gonzalez a problem for opposing receivers and, in a division that boasts the talents of Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, and DK Metcalf, his talents will come in handy quite frequently.

9. Chicago Bears – Paris Johnson Jr., OT / Ohio State

The Bears are betting the farm on Justin Fields being the future at the quarterback position. They traded for D.J. Moore, giving him a true number one receiver. Now they grab the man who will protect his blind side for the next 5-10 years. Johnson was not the highest rated tackle in this class but may have the most upside. Only allowing 2 sacks last season is an impressive task, coming from a loaded Big 10 conference. Not to mention his insane streak of pass blocks without allowing a sack that spanned over 600 pass block snaps.

10. Houston Texans (via Philadelphia) – Quentin Johnson, WR / TCU

Houston uses some picks from the Deshaun Watson arsenal and trades up from pick 12 to get their new franchise quarterback a number one receiver. Johnson is a talented vertical threat that will line up nicely with Robert Woods and last years 2nd round pick, John Metchie III. Houston has now built a solid young core on offense and may be a surprise team in an incredibly weak AFC South.

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