With the 2023 NFL Draft less than a month away, PFF's Steve Palazzolo presents a live mock draft using PFF's mock draft simulator, sending QB Bryce Young to the Carolina Panthers and CB Joey Porter Jr. to the New England Patriots.
1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI): QB Bryce Young, Alabama
Big board rank: 1
Big board analysis: Young is flat-out the best playmaker at the quarterback position in the draft class. He can get you a bucket. Young earned a 92.2 grade in 2021 when he won the Heisman, and he followed it up with a 91.5 in 2022.
2. Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Big board rank: 5
Big board analysis: Stroud put a stamp on his college tenure in a big way with the second-highest-graded game of his career against Georgia in the College Football Playoff. He has the accuracy and anticipation to thrive in the NFL.
3. Arizona Cardinals: ED Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
Big board rank: 3
Big board analysis: Anderson had as productive a three-year career as we’ve seen from a defensive lineman. He picked up 207 pressures over that span. He’s an explosive and fluid 6-foot-4, 243-pound blue-chip edge.
4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Big board rank: 6
Big board analysis: Richardson oozes ability. His highlight reel from his lone season as a starter rivals any you’ll see from a college prospect. He’s still a project, though, and finished with an 80.1 overall grade this past season.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): DI Jalen Carter, Georgia
Big board rank: 2
Big board analysis: Carter is neck and neck with Quinnen Williams for the best defensive tackle prospect we’ve graded at PFF (since 2014). Williams was a touch quicker, while Carter is a bit more powerful, but it’s darn close. Carter finished 2022 with a Power Five-leading 92.3 overall grade.
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
Big board rank: 7
Big board analysis: Witherspoon had one of the best seasons we’ve ever graded from a college cornerback. He was targeted 63 times in 2022 and allowed only 22 catches for 206 yards with three picks and 14 pass breakups. That comes out to 3.3 yards per target. He’s one of the feistiest cornerbacks in the class.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Big board rank: 11
Big board analysis: Gonzalez has everything you could want from a top cornerback — size, speed, length, hips and ball skills. He had a breakout 2022 season after transferring to Oregon, notching four picks and six pass breakups.
8. Atlanta Falcons: S Brian Branch, Alabama
Big board rank: 17
Big board analysis: Branch is the definition of a football player. He plays the game you wish every defensive back would. He’s also the best tackling defensive back PFF has graded, missing only four tackles on 174 career attempts.
9. Chicago Bears: T Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Big board rank: 8
Big board analysis: With sub-33-inch arms, Skoronski very well may end up a guard for some teams. At tackle, though, he was lights out this past fall. He allowed only six pressures on 474 pass-blocking snaps in his third season as Northwestern’s starting left tackle.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): DI Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
Big board rank: 13
Big board analysis: Kancey may be undersized, but he knows how to get to opposing quarterbacks. The 6-foot, 280-pound defensive tackle led all interior defenders with a 92.4 pass-rushing grade this past fall. He has the first-step quicks to still make an impact in the NFL.
11. Tennessee Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Big board rank: 12
Big board analysis: Smith-Njigba missed almost the entire fall with hamstring issues but was Ohio State’s leading receiver in 2021 as a sophomore. That year, he caught 95 passes for 1,595 yards and nine scores. He provides the uncoachable route-running ability and ball skills that will always have a role in the NFL.
12. Houston Texans (via CLV): WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
Big board rank: 10
Big board analysis: Johnston is a force of nature at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He is your vertical route tree X receiver in this class. For his college career, Johnston averaged 18.8 yards per reception.
13. New York Jets: T Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
Big board rank: 19
Big board analysis: Johnson showed out in his first season at left tackle — he yielded all of 14 pressures on 449 pass-blocking snaps. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, he ticks all the physical boxes you could want at the position.
14. New England Patriots: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
Big board rank: 18
Big board analysis: Porter is the press cornerback you want in the class. At 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, he attacks receivers at the line of scrimmage the same way his father attacked offensive tackles. He had a career year this past fall, allowing only 143 yards in 10 games.
15. Green Bay Packers: ED Nolan Smith, Georgia
Big board rank: 22
Big board analysis: Smith is a modern undersized edge-rusher who, at only 238 pounds, can be a three-down player. In fact, he earned a 90.0-plus run-defense grade over the past two seasons. He needs more power elements to his pass-rushing toolbox, but he’s a high-end athlete who can win with speed.
16. Washington Commanders: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Big board rank: 15
Big board analysis: At 240 pounds, Kincaid bridges the gap between tight end and wide receiver. You’re not going to draft him for his blocking ability, but he’s at least serviceable in that regard. No, Kincaid can be a focal point of an offense with his route-running ability after recording 70 catches for 890 yards at Utah last season.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: T Broderick Jones, Georgia
Big board rank: 26
Big board analysis: Jones is a bully of an offensive tackle. You’re not going through him, you’ll have to go around. He earned an 84.1 pass-blocking grade in his first full season starting at left tackle for the Bulldogs.
18. Detroit Lions: ED Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
Big board rank: 14
Big board analysis: Van Ness is an ascending power rusher with unique strength and flexibility. When he wants to go through offensive linemen, he almost always can. He earned an 80.2 overall grade this past fall with 46 pressures on 271 pass-rushing snaps.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Will Levis, Kentucky
Big board rank: 4
Big board analysis: Levis fought to keep his head above water week in and week out against SEC competition. He’ll be battle-tested for the NFL. Levis played through turf toe for much of the 2022 season but earned a 90.6 overall grade when healthy under former Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen in 2021.
20. Seattle Seahawks: ED Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
Big board rank: 9
Big board analysis: Wilson is a handful for every lineman who has to block him. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder will have a length advantage against almost every tackle he faces in the NFL. He has inside-outside versatility and put up 50 pressures this past season.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jordan Addison, USC
Big board rank: 30
Big board analysis: Addison was the Biletnikoff Award winner with Pittsburgh in 2021 before transferring to USC. He’s a crafty route runner with the kind of bend to run a full route tree. He caught 159 passes for 2,468 yards and 25 scores over the past two seasons.
22. Baltimore Ravens: ED Myles Murphy, Clemson
Big board rank: 23
Big board analysis: Murphy is too freaky to pass up. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder is this year’s version of Travon Walker. Murphy could stand to add some pass-rushing moves, but he still racked up 76 pressures over the past two seasons.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Josh Downs, North Carolina
Big board rank: 40
Big board analysis: Downs is a slot weapon that you can feed schemed-up targets to and watch go to work. He racked up 195 catches for 2,364 yards and 19 scores across the past two years. The only problem is that he’s probably never going to be much more than a slot at his size (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), with only 81 routes on the outside in his career.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: T Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Big board rank: 24
Big board analysis: Harrison is a nimble 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle who saw time on the left side for the Sooners ever since he was a true freshman. This past season, he allowed only nine pressures on 447 pass-blocking snaps.
25. New York Giants: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
Big board rank: 65
Big board analysis: Schmitz was the single highest-graded center in the FBS this past season at 92.4 overall. He’s on the bigger side for the position at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, yet he did his best work on the move in an outside-zone-heavy Minnesota scheme.
26. Dallas Cowboys: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Big board rank: 28
Big board analysis: Mayer is as polished a tight end as you’ll see in the draft. And he’s only a true junior. He racked up 2,099 yards and 18 scores in his Notre Dame career.
27. Buffalo Bills: LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
Big board rank: 45
Big board analysis: Campbell is as reliable as it gets at the linebacker position in this class. And at 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds with NFL-caliber range, there’s no debating whether his game will translate to the next level. Campbell finished 2022 with a 91.7 overall grade to lead all Power Five linebackers.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: T Dawand Jones, Ohio State
Big board rank: 35
Big board analysis: Jones is as big a tackle as you’ll ever see at 6-foot-8 and 374 pounds with 36 3/8-inch arms. At that size, he is one of the more refined pass protectors in the class. Jones allowed only five pressures on 419 pass-blocking snaps last season.
29. New Orleans Saints (via NO): CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
Big board rank: 31
Big board analysis: Forbes started ever since his freshman year in 2020 for the Bulldogs, improving every single year. He’s still on the skinny side for the position, but he doesn’t play like it. His ball production is tremendous, with 14 picks and 17 pass-breakups in his career.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Big board rank: 36
Big board analysis: Torrence is the top true guard prospect in the class. At 6-foot-5 and 347 pounds, he’s a big boy to try and overpower. He started for three seasons at Louisiana before transferring to Florida, where he earned an 88.0 overall grade last fall.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
Big board rank: 29
Big board analysis: Flowers is the best pure separator in the draft class. Defensive backs won't be able to stick with him across on his route breaks unless they're holding him. He racked up 1,077 yards and 12 scores this past season.