NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Mock Draft: C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and Bryce Young go top three, Quentin Johnston lands with Texans as WR1

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) looks to pass the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions go with Bryce Young at No. 1: The Alabama signal-caller seems to be the clear top quarterback prospect in the 2023 class.

Will Anderson Jr. is the first non-QB off the board: The Pittsburgh Steelers take the Alabama edge defender at No. 4 overall.

Houston Texans make Quentin Johnston WR1: The TCU product goes off the board at No. 9 after a sensational 2022 season to date.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 mins

Almost halfway through the 2022 NFL season, we thought we’d let two of PFF’s draft analysts go back and forth playing general manager for all 32 teams. Mike Renner took the odd picks, while Trevor Sikkema took the evens for PFF’s first 2023 mock draft based on each team’s actual record through eight weeks.

1. Detroit Lions: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

Renner: I’m not sure this pick is changing from now until April, even if the team selecting at the top might. Young’s performance hasn’t dropped off substantially despite him losing two top-50 draft picks at wide receiver to the NFL. His 91.5 passing grade is still the best mark among all FBS quarterbacks.

2. Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Sikkema: Stroud has the statistical edge over the rest of the quarterbacks in the class. While some of that is due to the offense and talent around him, Stroud is also tremendous at working the pocket to find receivers on schedule. His 13.2% career pressure-to-sack conversion rate is nearly half that of Justin Fields‘ mark coming out of Ohio State.

3. Carolina Panthers: QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Renner: Levis is a pure tools projection. He possesses the best combination of arm strength and mobility in the draft class. NFL evaluators will also like that he’s played under two different NFL offensive coordinators. He just needs to improve his accuracy.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

Sikkema: There's no need to overthink this one. Anderson is the best non-quarterback in this draft class. He led the nation in pressures last year (82) and ranks fifth in pressures this season (37). At only 243 pounds, he’s also a tremendous run-defender, earning grades of 89.6 and 86.7 in that facet the past two seasons.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia

Renner: This Jaguars' defensive line has the potential to be scary. Carter has been hampered some by an injury this season but still has 11 pressures on only 58 pass-rushing snaps. Last season, Carter led the Georgia defensive line with a 90.0 pass-rushing grade.

6. Las Vegas Raiders: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

Sikkema: Skoronski is a safe pick for an offensive line that could desperately use a player of his caliber. Even if he’s a guard with sub-33-inch arms, Skoronski will be a massive upgrade in pass protection. He’s allowed only four pressures on 362 pass-blocking snaps this season.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson

Renner: Murphy will get Travon Walker comparisons for good reason. You won’t find many 6-foot-5, 275-pounders with his level of explosiveness. While it hasn’t translated to elite pass-rushing production in college, Murphy has found more success than Walker did, racking up 62 pressures since the start of 2021.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints): EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

Sikkema: Verse is one of the biggest risers in the draft class after transferring from Albany to Florida State last offseason. He packs a ton of juice off the edge, and we saw that in full force when he tallied seven pressures against LSU earlier this season. He’s still a little wild in his play style, but he has the juice the Eagles covet.

9. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Renner: Johnston is far from the polished product we’ve come to expect from WR1 prospects in recent years, but man, can he do some freaky things on a football field. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is a mismatch nightmare with speed to stack vertically and elusiveness to take screens to the house. He’s already broken 15 tackles on 42 receptions this season (650 yards).

10. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos): DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Sikkema: The Seahawks need all the help they can get along their defensive line. Bresee has interior versatility with his combination of size (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) and strength. We’ve seen it in action at Clemson, where he’s earned a 78.5 pass-rushing grade this season.

11. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

Renner: Yet another toolsy projection, Wilson has started to put it together in 2022. As a redshirt senior this season, Wilson has more pressures already (40) than he did in all of 2021 (37). With his over 85-inch wingspan at 6-foot-6, defensive line coaches will be beating down his door to work with him.

12. Chicago Bears: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State

Sikkema: Unlike Teven Jenkins, who’s been moved to guard and excelled for the Bears, Johnson has been kicked out to tackle and excelled for the Buckeyes. He moved from right guard to left tackle this season and hasn’t allowed a single sack or hit on 257 pass-blocking snaps. 

13. Green Bay Packers: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

Renner: The Packers' offense is in desperate need of a reliable receiver for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And you won’t find someone who fits that bill better than Mayer in the class. He’s hauled in 13-of-20 contested catches this season to go along with a lowly 6.4% career drop rate. He’s racked up 580 yards on 47 catches and six scores for the Irish in 2022.

14. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia

Sikkema: Smith’s torn pec will drop him down boards some, but that was from an already lofty status as a potential top-10 pick. His first-step quicks and physical play style are why he’s earned 90.6 and 82.4 run-defense grades the past two seasons despite tipping the scales at only 235 pounds (6-foot-3).

15. Indianapolis Colts: QB Tanner McKee, Stanford

Renner: Beggars can’t be choosers at the quarterback position this late into the first round, but McKee is a solid consolation prize. He’s the most NFL-ready passer outside of the big three at the top of the draft, with a propensity for protecting the football. His 1.8% turnover-worthy play rate is 11th-best in college football and better than the quarterbacks taken ahead of him here. That’s something Colts fans would love. 

16. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Olu Fashanu, Penn State

Sikkema: Fashanu has been rocketing up draft boards in his first season as a starter. Flip on the Ohio State tape, and it’s easy to see why. He didn’t allow a pressure in that game and has allowed only seven on 299 pass-blocking snaps this season. He’d allow the Bengals to kick Jonah Williams to guard and solidify their front five. 

17. New England Patriots: CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia

Renner: Bill Belichick will be chomping at the bit to get a talent like Ringo in his defense with what the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is capable of physically. For his career, Ringo has allowed only 38 catches on 86 targets (44.2%) for 559 yards. He’s a press-man cornerback who can be a matchup weapon in Belichick’s defense.

18. Washington Commanders: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Sikkema: If you like press cornerbacks, Porter is your man. He’s allowed only 13 catches on 28 targets for 123 yards with nine pass breakups this season. In three seasons as a starter, Porter already has 270 snaps in press under his belt. 

19. Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Renner: The Falcons are currently the run-heaviest team in football, toting the rock on 52.7% of offensive snaps so far. That’s Arthur Smith’s ethos, and in such an offense, the running back will still be coveted. Robinson is one of the best prospects we’ve graded at PFF and leads all FBS backs with 65 broken tackles this season. 

20. Denver Broncos (via San Francisco 49ers via Miami Dolphins): OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

Sikkema: Jones is precisely what you think of when you imagine a Georgia offensive lineman: a bully. In 2022, his first full season as a starter, Jones has allowed all of four pressures. He can bring some stability to the right tackle position in Denver.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jordan Addison, USC

Renner: The Chargers need some speed and separation ability in their receiving corps. That’s what Addison brings to the table. They have more physical players on the roster to do the dirty work, but the former Biletnikoff award winner and his over 15.0-yard per reception average the past two seasons will lead to explosive plays.

22. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Byron Young, Tennessee

Sikkema: Young’s path from not even playing college football to starring for the No. 1 team in the country is a wild one. His 33 pressures this season have already bested his pressure total from 2021 (32). The arrow is pointed up for the explosive edge rusher.

23. New York Jets: LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson

Renner: After a hot string of drafting, the Jets will roll into the 2023 NFL Draft without a lot of holes to fill. Linebacker will qualify as one of them, though. Simpson can be head coach Robert Saleh’s New York version of Fred Warner with his ridiculous range. Simpson’s 28 targets faced this season have resulted in only 144 yards for opposing offenses.

24. Miami Dolphins (FORFEITED)

25. Baltimore Ravens: CB Cam Smith, South Carolina

Renner: The Ravens continue to stock up in the secondary. You won’t find many stingier cornerbacks than Smith since the start of last season. He’s been targeted 51 times over that span, allowing only 23 catches for 255 yards with 13 pass breakups and four picks. Getting your hands on passes a third of the time is an insane rate at that position.

26. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

Sikkema: The Chiefs are no stranger to Sooners offensive linemen. Harrison has plug-and-play pass protection ability and even made a start at right tackle, where he’d likely slot for Kansas City. He’s allowed only five pressures on 275 pass-blocking snaps in 2022.

27. Dallas Cowboys: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Renner: Gonzalez is a long, physical cornerback at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, and he goes to a Dan Quinn defense that covets just that. He’s already set a career high with six pass breakups for the Ducks this season.

28. New York Giants: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Sikkema: JSN led the Buckeyes in receptions (95) and yards (1,595) a season ago but has been limited to only 60 snaps so far with hamstring issues. He’s a high-floor player for a receiving corps in need of such a talent.

29. Tennessee Titans: EDGE B.J. Ojulari, LSU

Renner: The Titans have a ton of money invested in their edge defender corps, but odds are both Bud Dupree and Harold Landry III’s cap hits won’t be carried into 2023. Ojulari has improved his all-around game as a rusher this season with 31 pressures in six games and an 84.2 pass-rushing grade. 

30. Minnesota Vikings: CB Clark Phillips III, Utah

Sikkema: Phillips may not fit your positional cut-offs, but he’s a damn good football player. He’s picked off five passes already this season and earned an 84.1 coverage grade in the process. After loading up in the secondary last year, the Vikings continue that trend.

31. Buffalo Bills: OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

Renner: The Bills' starting guards at the moment have pass-blocking grades of 51.4 and 50.2. Torrence and his 90.7 overall grade for the Gators this season can provide stability to what’s been a rotating door at guard for Buffalo as of late.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: DI Siaki Ika, Baylor

Sikkema: The Eagles' embarrassment of riches along the defensive line continues — that's how dominant defenses stay dominant. Ika is a nimble 350-pounder who can get after opposing quarterbacks, racking up 45 pressures since the start of 2021.

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