NFL Mock Draft 2023: C.J. Stroud to Colts among 7 Georgia, Ohio State picks in Round 1 after Alabama duo goes 1-2

Quick Bit: In Sporting News’ sixth first-round mock for the 2023 NFL Draft, the Texans, Colts and Panthers come away with quarterbacks, while the Bears, Seahawks and Patriots get key new defensive playmakers.

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The College Football Playoff games are here. The NFL playoff game are just around the corner with only 18 teams playing into mid January.

That’s makes it another great time for a new Sporting News first-round mock for the 2023 NFL Draft. The order is getting close to being set for the top 31 picks with quarterbacks once again shining brightest in the spotlight.

Before the postseason all-star games and pre-draft scouting showcases, here’s checking on how the night of next April 27 might play out:

BIG BOARD: Ranking the top 70 players in 2023 NFL Draft

1. Houston Texans

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (6-0, 194 pounds)

The Texans, after seeing there’s no solution between Davis Mills and Kyle Allen, quarterback must be the choice right away. The only question is whether it will be Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

Here’s thinking early that Young, with the pedigree that’s help Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones become NFL starters, will provide the right combination of passing upside and little bust factor based on his intangibles and proven production.

2. Chicago Bears

Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (6-4, 235 pounds)

Should the Bears pick secon, they wouldn’t need to consider QB at all with the passing and running ceiling of big-armed Justin Fields. But they do need to get familiar pop in the defense and getting this cornerstone pass rusher in give them a new Khalil Mack is a no-brainer, after also saying goodbye to Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith on the second level. They will look to stockpile receiving help for Fields later in the draft.

3. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6-3, 310 pounds)

The Seahawks have have a pretty good versatile pass rush but need to get a linchpin such as Carter to help their reeling run defense as he helped the Bulldogs dominate in that capacity despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL in 2022. Carter is a complete all-around disruptor.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (6-5, 275 pounds)

The Cardinals need to go after some pass-rush help with J.J. Watt retiring and Murphy is another pretty explosive high-motor option with the smarts to thrive in any scheme. There’s not a significant dropoff from Anders to him.

5. Indianapolis Colts

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 215 pounds)

The Colts’ reward for an absolute QB mess between Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger in the final abbreviated season under Frank Reich is being bad enough to get in position to stop recycling veteran QBs. They can land Stroud, a smart pocket passer with the right accuracy and intangibles to thrive as their true delayed franchise replacement for Andrew Luck.

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6. Atlanta Falcons

Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame (6-4, 257 pounds)

The Falcons need to focus on revamping their edge rush for Dean Pees and Foskey would be ideal candidate with his history of strong production, combining sound technique with his power and explosiveness. He has the upside to also be solid against the run.

7. Detroit Lions (from Rams)

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-4, 251 pounds)

The Lions seem like they want to stick with Jared Goff at quarterback and having a second first-rounder with which they can address defense, they can opt for another offensive playmaker to replace T.J. Hockenson and be a key complement to Amon-Ra St. Brown and 2022 first-rounder Jameson Williams.

8. Carolina Panthers

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232 pounds)

The Panthers need to clean up their QB situation after going from Baker Mayfield to P.J. Walker before circling back to Sam Darnold in a run-heavy offense. Levis represents a solid pocket passer with the arm, accuracy and quick release to thrive with the right support system.

9. Las Vegas Raiders

Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (6-3, 225 pounds)

The Raiders must improve on the second level as several injured veterans are headed into 2023 free agency. Simpson can be the dynamic versatile clean-up man they need to disrupt all over the field and be active making plays vs. run and pass.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (6-5, 300 pounds)

The Eagles drafted big Jordan Davis in the first round in 2022, but they should think about the position early again as Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph all unsigned for next season. Bresee would be a nice complement to the big-run stuffing Davis with his quickness to get to the QB inside.

11. Houston Texans (from Browns)

Jordan Addison, WR, USC (6-0, 175 pounds)

The Texans also need to get their new franchise QB a potential new No. 1 wide receiver after the mess with Brandin Cooks. Addison makes sense to pair with Young with athleticism, speed and downfield versatility in the vein of DeVonta Smith.

12. Seattle Seahawks

Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (6-3, 250 pounds)

The Seahawks have tackling machine Jordyn Brooks in the middle of the defense but pending free agent Cody Barton is a weak link on the second level. Sewell can also boost the run defense with his sound upfield skills and has athleticism to develop into a reliable coverage asset.

13. Tennessee Titans

Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-6, 310 pounds)

Left tackle Taylor Lewan is 31 and has dealt with major knee injuries in two of the past three seasons. Fill-in Dennis Daley is a free agent. The Titans can get Johnson to pair nicely with fellow former Buckeye Nicholas Petit-Frere as the near future bookends.

14. New England Patriots

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6-0, 205 pounds)

The Patriots have had shaky cornerback play outside after losing ballhawk J.C. Jackson in free agency. Jalen Mills has been either bad or injured and Jonathan Jones is unsigned for 2023. Ringo makes as a big, physical corner with great athleticism for his size and a nose for making plays on the ball.

15. New York Jets

Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M (6-3, 195 pounds)

The Jets’ defense is now strong in the secondary with Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and Michael Carter at corner. Jordan Whitehead was just OK in his first at strong safety and a weakness has been free safety, where an upgrade in both run support and coverage is needed. Johnson provides just that.

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16. Pittsburgh Steelers

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (6-4, 315 pounds)

Dan Moore Jr. has been one of the league’s shakiest left tackles, especially in pass protection. The Steelers need a long-term rock in front of Kenny Pickett’s blind side and Skoronksi can deliver with his smooth quickness and athleticism on the edge.

17. Green Bay Packers

Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State (6-6, 313 pounds)

David Bakhtiari is starting to break down a bit at left tackle at age 31 and fill-in right tackle Yosh Nijman is a pending free agent with Elgton Jenkins back playing inside. The Packers should also be in the market for help on the outside and Fashanu, a fast riser, offers a nice blend of power and athleticism to help both run blocking and pas protection.

18. Detroit Lions

Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (6-0, 188 pounds)

The Lions are getting the desired play from one corner as first-rounder Jeff Okudah is starting to live up to his potential now that he’s healthy. Here’s an intriguing athlete with some shutdown potential to pair with him behind an improving pass rush featuring Aidan Hutchinson.

19. Washington Commanders

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (6-2, 198 pounds)

The Commanders could benefit from better size at cornerback. Porter is a physical cover man who can make big plays on the ball and can get more consistent with improved technique.

20. New York Giants

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 197 pounds)

The Giants are in desperate need of a reliable true No. 1 wide receiver to boost Daniel Jones after his most inspiring season as their starting QB. Smith-Njigba makes sense with speed, quickness and route-running reminiscent of Buckeyes NFL rookies Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.

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21. Los Angeles Chargers

Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida (6-6, 312 pounds)

The Chargers need to shore up their three-man defensive front for Brandon Staley with helping Sebastian Joseph-Day most in mind. Dexter can provide some needed run-stopping pop and is explosive enough to play at any of the positions.

22. Baltimore Ravens

Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU (6-0, 190 pounds)

The Ravens have been lost in their wide receiver corps without 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman because they have lacked another dangerous outside threat without Marquise Brown. Boutte would give them a dangerous No. 2 who has superior quickness, hands and route-running.

23. Dallas Cowboys

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (6-2, 201 pounds)

The Cowboys desperately need some cornerback help opposite Trevon Diggs given Anthony Brown is now an injured pending free agent. The nice-sized Gonzalez has the right blend of agility and physicality to complement Diggs well.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (6-4, 310 pounds)

The Jaguars unlikely to retain fading right tackle Jawaan Taylor in free agency. He has great agility and light feet made for pass protection and can continue to develop as a run blocker.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech (6-6, 275 pounds)

The Bucs need to restock their pass rush behind injured Shaquil Barrett with Anthony Nelson heading into free agency. Wilson has the size and versatility to be an effective hybrid player in their front seven.

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26. Cincinnati Bengals

Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah (5-10, 183 pounds)

The Bengals need some corner help away from Chidobe Awuzie with Eli Apple unsigned for 2023. Phillips can raise the playmaking quotient behind their solid pass rush.

27. Denver Broncos (from 49ers)

Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (6-3, 235 pounds)

The Broncos need to consider getting some pass-rush help after trading Bradley Chubb and Smith can help them whether they keep the 3-4 base or transition to more of a 4-3 look. His speed and explosiveness also are assets in run defense and coverage.

28. Kansas City Chiefs

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (6-4, 215 pounds)

The Chiefs need to get a true No. 1 wideout after getting inconsistent results with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney. Johnston deliver a huge season catching passes with Max Duggan and has ideal field-stretching speed outside for Patrick Mahomes.

29. Minnesota Vikings

Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (5-10, 175 pounds)

The Vikings need to think about replacing aging Adam Thielen in the slot and K.J. Osborn has shown only a few outside flashes opposite Justin Jefferson. Downs is the ideal complement as a short-area playmaker with great quickness and after-the-catch burst in open field.

30. Buffalo Bills

Brian Branch, S, Alabama (6-0, 193 pounds)

The Bills might not keep aging safety Jordan Poyer in free agency and Branch would be a quick plug-and-play replacement with his natural coverage skills and physical potential for run support.

31. Philadelphia Eagles

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6-0, 215 pounds)

The Eagles have gotten a Pro Bowl season from Miles Sanders but his recent fumbling issues are a concern and he’s also inconsistent. They can let him walk and replace him well with Robinson given his explosive and reliable three-down profile. He would run well playing off Jalen Hurts, too.

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