NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Mock Draft: What would the first round look if all college football players were eligible?

Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) in action during the game between the USC Trojans and the Tulane Green Wave in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

• The Bears take Caleb Williams first overall: Even with Justin Fields, Chicago can’t pass up the reigning Heisman winner with the first pick.

• The Texans select Drake Maye second: Houston “settles” for the North Carolina quarterback, who will challenge Williams for QB1 in the 2024 class.

• The Lions form one of the most exciting receiving corps in the league: Marvin Harrison Jr. falls into Detroit’s lap and gives them arguably the NFL's most exciting receiving corps.

Estimated Reading Time: 12 mins

The NFL is different from the other major sports leagues in that a player isn’t eligible to be drafted until they’re three years out of high school. 

What would the draft look like if the league adopted the NBA’s policy and allowed players to declare after just one year? 

Well, here's how we think the 2023 NFL Draft would pan out if every player in college football was eligible.

(Note: This mock only includes players who are eligible for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 drafts. Incoming freshmen are not included. No trades were predicted.)

1. Chicago Bears: QB Caleb Williams, USC Trojans (2024)

This is by no means an indictment of Justin Fields, who still could become a franchise quarterback.

However, rumors are already swirling that the Bears may take Bryce Young in the actual 2023 NFL Draft and trade Fields. If that’s the case, then selecting Williams here is a no-brainer. The reigning Heisman winner led all quarterbacks when throwing outside of structure in yards (707), touchdowns (seven) and big-time throws (10). He’ll have teams tripping over themselves to draft him in 2024.

2. Houston Texans: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina Tar Heels (2024)

The Texans “settle” here for Maye, who is the biggest challenger to Williams’ early QB1 title in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The redshirt freshman was college football's most valuable player this past season, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. He couples a big arm with impressive mobility. Maye’s 45 big-time throws in 2022 were 10 more than the next closest FBS quarterback, and he also tied for second with 56 combined rushing first downs and touchdowns. 

3. Arizona Cardinals: DI Jalen Carter, Georgia Bulldogs (2023)

The first 2023 prospect in this mock, Carter could very easily find himself in Arizona come April.

He’s the best defensive tackle prospect since at least Quinnen Williams and will inject some much-needed juice into the Cardinals’ pass-rush unit. The junior was the only interior defensive lineman in college football over the past two seasons to earn 90.0-plus grades as both a pass rusher and a run defender.

4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide (2023)

Colts owner Jim Irsay has already tipped his hand that he’s open to a trade-up to No. 1 to draft Bryce Young.

This is a sprint-the-card-in scenario for the Colts, who haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck retired before the 2019 season. Aside from height, Young has nearly everything else you’d want in a quarterback prospect.

5. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama Crimson Tide (2023)

Seattle’s 44% pass-rush win rate in 2022 ranked fourth lowest in the league. To say they need help along the defensive line would be an understatement.

Anderson will most likely not be available by Pick No. 5 in the actual draft, but he falls into the Seahawks’ lap here. The junior’s 206 career pressures are the most by any defender since PFF began charting college football in 2014.

6. Detroit Lions: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes (2024)

While not necessarily a need, the Lions can’t pass up Harrison here.

Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison’s son was both the highest-graded and most valuable wide receiver in the country this season by PFF's wins above average metric. Against single coverage, the sophomore’s 878 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns led all FBS wide receivers.

The trio of Harrison, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams could be the best in the league sooner rather than later.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2024)

The Raiders need to shore up their offensive line, and Alt looks like he could be the best offensive tackle prospect since Penei Sewell.

The sophomore was both the highest-graded and most valuable tackle in the country by PFF’s wins above average metric. His 91.0 run-blocking grade led all FBS tackles, while his 99.0 pass-blocking efficiency score ranked fifth.

8. Atlanta Falcons: LB Harold Perkins Jr., LSU Tigers (2025)

The Falcons desperately need defensive help, especially along the front seven.

Perkins is Micah Parsons-esque in that he played mostly off-ball linebacker but also lined up as an edge defender and can rush the passer. If he puts on more weight (currently 220 pounds), he could fully transition to the edge like Parsons did. As a true freshman, he led all Power Five linebackers with a 91.0 pass-rushing grade and ranked second among all linebackers in college football with 18 quarterback knockdowns (sacks/hits).

9. Carolina Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes (2023)

New head coach Frank Reich is building a terrific coaching staff in Carolina. Now he just needs a quarterback. Stroud's 26.7% rate of perfectly placed passes since 2021 leads all FBS quarterbacks over the span.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Will Johnson, Michigan Wolverines (2025)

James Bradberry outperformed his one-year deal with the Eagles and is now likely priced out of Philadelphia this offseason. He ranked third among all cornerbacks this season with a 54.2 passer rating allowed.

Johnson is a similarly big cornerback (6-foot-2) and locked down his opposition in his true freshman season. The former five-star recruit ranked first among Power Five cornerbacks with a 91.1 grade in man coverage.

11. Tennessee Titans: OT Will Campbell, LSU Tigers (2025)

The Titans need to attack the offensive line early in the draft. Neither Nicholas Petit-Frere nor Dennis Daley was among the 64 highest-graded tackles in the NFL last season.

As a true freshman, Campbell thrived at left tackle in the SEC. His 85.6 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets ranked third in the country and trailed only Peter Skoronski among Power Five tackles. He gave up pressure on only 2.7% of his 515 pass-blocking snaps.

12. Houston Texans: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia Bulldogs (2024)

Now that the Texans have their quarterback of the future in Drake Maye, selected at No. 2, he'll need some weapons to throw to.

Brock Bowers has the potential to go down as the best tight end in the PFF College era. As a true freshman in 2021, he was the highest-graded and most valuable — per PFF wins above average — Power Five tight end in college football. He was once again the most valuable tight end in the nation this past season and led the position in receiving yards (942), yards after the catch (479) and receiving yards after contact (274).

13. New York Jets: OT JC Latham, Alabama Crimson Tide (2024)

Quarterback will be a top priority for the Jets this offseason, but so will finding protection for their new signal-caller. Both of New York’s tackles, Duane Brown and George Fant, graded below 60.0 this past season. The team's 2020 first-rounder, Mekhi Becton, has played one game over the past two seasons due to injuries.

Latham was an elite pass protector as a sophomore at right tackle. His 84.5 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets ranked fourth among all tackles in college football. On 486 pass-blocking snaps, Latham didn’t allow a sack and gave up only one hit.

14. New England Patriots: WR Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State Buckeyes (2024)

The Patriots need to provide Mac Jones with some playmakers, especially if Jakobi Meyers leaves in free agency.

Outside of teammate Marvin Harrison Jr., Egbuka was the most valuable Power Five wide receiver last year by PFF’s wins above average metric. Only Harrison finished with more receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last year than Egbuka among returning Power Five receivers. Egbuka’s 2.98 yards per route run ranked third in that same group, as well.

15. Green Bay Packers: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech Red Raiders (2023)

The Packers love freak athletes on the defensive line, and Wilson fits that to a tee. His 25 run-defense stops and 12 tackles for loss or no gain in 2022 tied for the most among Power Five edge defenders. Wilson’s 20.7% pressure rate ranked third in that group, as well.

16. Washington Commanders: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida Gators (2023)

Head coach Ron Rivera and new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy notably covet tools at the quarterback position. Rivera was the Panthers’ coach when Carolina drafted Cam Newton in 2011, and Bieniemy had been the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator since Patrick Mahomes became the starter in 2018.

So it only makes sense that if Richardson — who boasts arguably the best tools among quarterback prospects since Newton — falls to this pick, Washington pulls the trigger.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois Fighting Illini (2023)

The Steelers ran press coverage on more than 65% of their plays in 2022, and there isn’t a better press cornerback in this all-eligible class than Witherspoon.

On 107 press coverage snaps this past season, the junior allowed a grand total of one yard.

18. Detroit Lions: QB Will Levis, Kentucky Wildcats (2023)

Levis’ 65.8 passing grade this season doesn’t paint a pretty picture, but it also doesn’t paint the whole picture. His supporting cast at Kentucky in 2022 was among the worst in college football.

That would change if he lands in Detroit. There, he’ll have a brilliant offensive coordinator in Ben Johnson, one of the best offensive lines in the league and the most exciting receiving corps in football with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams and Marvin Harrison Jr., who was selected at No. 6 in this mock. 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama Crimson Tide (2024)

The Buccaneers' first order of business is to find Tom Brady’s replacement. However, there isn’t a remaining quarterback currently worthy of going off the board this early.

Instead, the Buccaneers boost their secondary with Kool-Aid McKinstry, PFF's top returning cornerback for 2023. The sophomore was a PFF first-team All-American this past season and tied for second in the country with 18 forced incompletions. With Jamel Dean potentially leaving in free agency, McKinstry will be a viable replacement.

20. Seattle Seahawks: CB Benjamin Morrison, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2025)

The Seahawks found a diamond in the rough in rookie Tariq Woolen, a fifth-round selection in 2022, as he earned a 71.6 grade to jumpstart his NFL career. But Seattle’s other cornerbacks all finished with sub-60.0 grades this past season.

Morrison was excellent as a true freshman for the Fighting Irish. His six interceptions tied for the most among Power Five cornerbacks, and his 29.2 passer rating allowed ranked third among that same group.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU Horned Frogs (2023)

Get. Justin Herbert. Weapons.

That needs to be the Chargers' top priority. Johnston is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in years, with the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder having previously clocked in at more than 20 miles per hour.

22. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes (2023)

It remains to be seen if Lamar Jackson will even be in Baltimore next season, but the Ravens need to add pass catchers, regardless. Smith-Njigba played only 60 snaps this season as he dealt with a nagging hamstring injury, but his sophomore tape was special. He led the Power Five with 1,595 receiving yards in 2021 on a team with Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka.

23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison, USC Trojans (2023)

The Vikings have the reigning Offensive Player of the Year in Justin Jefferson, but he needs a running mate with Adam Thielen being a potential cap casualty.

Addison won the Biletnikoff Award in 2021 while at Pittsburgh and led the Power Five with 2,468 receiving yards over the past two seasons.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Kalen King, Penn State Nittany Lions (2024)

Tyson Campbell locks down one side of the field for the Jaguars, but they need some help on the other half of the field.

On a Penn State defense that featured projected first-round cornerback Joey Porter Jr., it was King who stood out in the secondary. In single coverage, the sophomore led all cornerbacks in college football with a 93.3 grade and an 18.3 passer rating allowed. His 15 forced incompletions in single coverage tied for third among FBS cornerbacks, as well.

26. New York Giants: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern Wildcats (2023)

The Giants don’t necessarily need another tackle. Andrew Thomas posted a 90.3 grade in just his second season, and New York selected Evan Neal in the top 10 of the 2022 draft.

They do need help on the interior, which is where Skoronski could fit in best with his length. His 93.0 pass-blocking grade this season led all tackles in college football, and his 1.3% pressure rate allowed placed second. Plus, if Neal doesn’t work out, the Giants could always move Skoronski to right tackle and kick Neal inside.

27. Dallas Cowboys: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College Eagles (2023)

This postseason confirmed that the Cowboys need to find a secondary receiving option to CeeDee Lamb. Flowers is one of the best separators in this class and wins at every level of the field. His 861 yards on deep throws over the past two years ranks fourth in the Power Five.

28. Buffalo Bills: OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes (2023)

Buffalo needs to shore up its offensive line, as it’s arguably the team's weakest position group.

Johnson can replace the struggling Spencer Brown at right tackle or fill in at left guard for impending free agent Rodger Saffold. He was the fourth-highest-graded Power Five tackle this year (83.1).

29. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State Nittany Lions (2024)

Cincinnati has to keep investing in the offensive line. This past season, left tackle Jonah Williams tied for the most sacks allowed (12), while right tackle La’el Collins earned the fifth-lowest pass-blocking grade (44.2) among tackles.

Fashanu didn’t allow a sack and surrendered only one hit on 281 pass-blocking snaps. His 84.7 pass-blocking grade placed sixth among Power Five tackles.

30. New Orleans Saints: QB Quinn Ewers, Texas Longhorns (2024)

The Saints haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Drew Brees retired.

Ewers earned only a 72.4 grade in his first year as a starter, but he flashed the arm talent that made him one of the highest-rated quarterback recruits ever. His 6.3% big-time throw rate ranked 11th among Power Five quarterbacks this season. This pick is a swing for the fences, but one that is worth taking at the end of the first round here.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State Nittany Lions (2024)

If soon-to-be 35-year-old Brandon Graham retires this offseason, the Eagles could afford to add some youth to their defensive line.

As a true sophomore, Robinson led all Power Five edge defenders in overall grade (90.6) and pass-rushing grade (92.4). His 23.6% pass-rush win rate ranked fourth in that same group.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Mykel Williams, Georgia Bulldogs (2025)

Aside from Chris Jones, the Chiefs didn’t have an edge defender or interior defensive lineman grade above 70.0. As such, they need to bolster their defensive line.

Williams’ 75.9 run-defense grade in his true freshman season ranked fourth among SEC edge defenders and led all FBS true freshmen edge defenders. His six sacks tied for the most among all true freshmen in college football, while his 33 pressures tied for the second most.

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