• Young, Stroud go Nos. 1 and 2: The Colts trade up to No. 1 to select Bryce Young, while the Houston Texans draft C.J. Stroud at No. 2.
• Anthony Richardson makes it into top three: The Florida signal-caller is on the rise and goes to the Carolina Panthers, who trade up to draft him.
• Seahawks land Will Anderson Jr.: Seattle takes advantage of the early run on quarterbacks, and Anderson falls into their lap at No. 5.
Estimated Reading Time: 16 mins
One of the most exciting events on the NFL calendar is here: the scouting combine. The combine is not only significant because of on-field athletic testing, it also provides intel about what teams are thinking when it comes to the draft class and their premium picks.
With plenty of 2023 NFL Draft prospects to look out for this week, both at the podiums for interviews and in their athletic testing, here is a two-round, pre-combine 2023 NFL mock draft.
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1. Indianapolis Colts (via CHI — mock trade): QB Bryce Young, Alabama
- 2022 PFF Grade: 91.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 1
To quote Colts owner Jim Irsay, “The Alabama guy doesn't look bad, I tell you.”
With the Colts sitting just a few picks down the draft order, they can present the Bears with the most favorable trade package to come up and get the top quarterback in this draft.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: An offensive coordinator will have to do some things to scheme around Young's height, but it's a small price to pay for everything else he brings to the table.
2. Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
- 2022 PFF Grade: 88.9
- PFF Big Board Rank: 5
If it’s not Bryce Young, it’s C.J. Stroud. Until I hear otherwise, that’s the order I’m projecting for Houston's big board. Stroud is a highly productive pocket passer who left college football on a high note with an incredible performance in a near-upset of the Georgia Bulldogs and their elite defense in the College Football Playoff.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: As a passer, Stroud is nothing like the other two first-round quarterbacks who came out of Ohio State before him. And that bodes well for his NFL prospects.
3. Carolina Panthers (via ARZ — mock trade): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
- 2022 PFF Grade: 80.1
- PFF Big Board Rank: 11
The Panthers could be just as aggressive as the Colts in moving up for a quarterback. The problem is, even if the Panthers are willing to give up more, asking the Bears to move from No. 1 to No. 9 could be a deal-breaker. Instead, they can make sure they get one of the top quarterbacks by calling Arizona at No. 3.
Richardson going this high would be a big-time risk considering the inconsistencies in his game. But there’s no denying the great pocket play we’ve already seen from him. Carolina has put together an all-star coaching staff that could be the key to unlocking that. Sign a veteran quarterback and groom Richardson for the future.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: High-end play wins Super Bowls, and no one has a higher end in this class than Richardson. Now, what are the chances he reaches that or even comes close?
4. Chicago Bears (via IND — mock trade): DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
- 2022 PFF Grade: 92.3
- PFF Big Board Rank: 2
I expect the Bears to move down — but not too far as to lose out on their perfect prospect pairing in Jalen Carter. He can be the engine that makes Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 defensive front go.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Carter is as good a DT prospect as we've seen since we started grading college in 2014. A complete prospect.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
- 2022 PFF Grade: 83.6
- PFF Big Board Rank: 3
This is the Seahawks' dream pick. Look for them to have the phone lines open to trade back, but they won’t move if Anderson is still on the board.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Elite production and elite tools — that's an easy combination to draft early on.
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR): CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
- 2022 PFF Grade: 81.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 10
This is a popular spot for Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon. But for as much as I love Witherspoon, I wonder if there will be some size concerns with him, especially when the debate is between him and Gonzalez, who boasts ideal measurables at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. You can’t go wrong with either, but I opted for Gonzalez as the top cornerback off the board in this mock.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Gonzalez is the total package physically. He has All-Pro tools but just needs a little refinement to get there.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: QB Will Levis, Kentucky
- 2022 PFF Grade: 68.6
- PFF Big Board Rank: 4
With Derek Carr out the door, the Raiders will need to invest in a quarterback Josh McDaniels can hitch his coaching wagon to. I don’t think that will come in the form of a quarterback available in free agency or via trade (don’t think they’ll make a big move for Aaron Rodgers). Levis at least gives them some significant upside to buy into.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Levis' tape has so much to like from a tools and NFL-readiness standpoint, but his accuracy — or lack thereof — is borderline untenable at this point.
8. Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
- 2022 PFF Grade: 75.1
- PFF Big Board Rank: 7
The Falcons have to address their lack of pass rush this offseason. They brought in Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone last year but need to add a bigger body to their edge defender group. And such players don’t get much bigger than the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Wilson.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: No edge prospect manhandled offensive tackles more than Wilson last year. That's a defensive lineman who can play for any scheme.
9. Arizona Cardinals (via CAR — mock trade): CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
- 2022 PFF Grade: 92.0
- PFF Big Board Rank: 6
The Cardinals’ roster looks like it’s in full rebuild mode. They could go a handful of different directions, but if they moved down, acquired future draft capital and selected a prospect like Witherspoon — one of the best overall players in this class — that’s a big step in getting back on track.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Witherspoon may not have an elite physical skill set for the position, but his senior-year tape was as good as we've seen in our nine years of college grading.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
- 2022 PFF Grade: 83.0
- PFF Big Board Rank: 13
The Eagles have made a living out of using their priority picks in the trenches. With their bonus first-round pick, that’s where I think they look. They have Landon Dickerson and Cam Jurgens to give them depth and versatility on the interior, and Paris Johnson Jr. can do the same at offensive tackle.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: You can expect some growing pains early on due to Johnson's limited experience, but that's the nature of the tackle position. If he's dedicated to his craft, he'll be a stud.
11. Tennessee Titans: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
- 2022 PFF Grade: 89.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 15
After Taylor Lewan’s release, the Titans’ offensive tackle need is that much more glaring. Perhaps they use some cap resources on the offensive line in free agency, but even if they do, the very reliable Skoronski will be right in their wheelhouse.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Skoronski has the highest floor of any offensive lineman in the draft class. It may just come at guard, though.
12. Houston Texans (via CLE): WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
- 2022 PFF Grade: 76.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 8
Though the WR1 is far from a consensus pick in this class, Johnston’s 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame allows him to stand out among the other potential first receivers off the board. The Texans don’t have that type of receiver on the roster right now.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: It's all there. Johnston has every uncoachable physical tool.
13. New York Jets: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
- 2022 PFF Grade: 78.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 18
Offensive tackle has long been a target for the Jets in the first rounds of mock, and that likely won’t change between now and draft day. I predict they’ll make their splash at quarterback in the trade or free agency markets, then turn their eyes to a top offensive tackle prospect in the first round.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Another year of seasoning could have made Jones a top-five pick. He still may end up close to that range with his dominant physical skill set.
14. New England Patriots: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
- 2022 PFF Grade: 75.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 22
Bill O’Brien is now the offensive coordinator in New England, so the Patriots will likely prioritize getting a short-area stud receiver who can theoretically play inside and out. They could wait until Day 2 for such a player, but if they want the best fit for that description, Flowers could be a target at No. 14.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Want to add dynamism to your offense? Flowers is your guy.
15. Green Bay Packers: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
- 2022 PFF Grade: 90.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 25
The Packers will need some new offensive weapons, and while Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is a common selection, Kincaid's superior athleticism in the passing game gives him the nod here.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: You'd like him to be a little bigger to make defenses respect him as a blocker, but Kincaid is the best receiving tight end in the class.
16. Washington Commanders: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
- 2022 PFF Grade: 73.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 21
The Commanders need offensive line help, but with the big three offensive tackles off the board, they look to their biggest defensive need and shore up their cornerback room with the uniquely sized Porter, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Porter is a high football IQ cornerback with the kind of size and physicality everyone is looking for. If he was a slightly better athlete, he'd be a top-10 pick.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
- 2022 PFF Grade: 71.4
- PFF Big Board Rank: 71
A former five-star recruit, Wright had a fantastic Senior Bowl at his home base of right tackle. The Steelers could draft Wright, then flip Chukwuma Okorafor to his former position of left tackle, which he played at Western Michigan.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Wright is an ascending tackle with a ton of experience against top competition in a class chock-full of inexperienced tackles.
18. Detroit Lions: DB Brian Branch, Alabama
- 2022 PFF Grade: 89.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 9
The Lions are attacking the secondary with their first-round picks in this mock. It’s not a common outcome for them, but considering how depleted their secondary looked last season and the kind of talents Gonzalez and Brian Branch are, it would be an immediate upgrade.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Branch is a very high-floor defender with a skill set that can fit into every defense in the NFL.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia
- 2022 PFF Grade: 83.8
- PFF Big Board Rank: 26
This is becoming a common selection for the Bucs in mock drafts, and it's because they need to add speed to their pass-rush profile. Smith was a former No. 1 overall recruit for his athleticism and is one of the best sub-240-pound run defenders you’ll see.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Smith is unique in so many ways with a lot of projectable NFL traits. He'll likely be a more productive pass rusher in the NFL than he was at Georgia.
20. Seattle Seahawks: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
- 2022 PFF Grade: N/A
- PFF Big Board Rank: 20
Tyler Lockett isn't getting any younger. He's certainly not cooked, but drafting a route-running savant in Smith-Njigba creates a great receiver trio with Lockett and jumpstarts a smooth transition over the next few seasons for this passing attack.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: If you don't have a well-defined slot role in your offense, JSN isn't worth a first-rounder. If you do, he should be your WR1.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: DL Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
- 2022 PFF Grade: 80.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 12
Van Ness is still budding as a pass rusher. His go-to style is his speed-to-power bull rush, which can be deadly for a player with a lot of explosiveness out of his stance. But he was never a consistent starter for the Hawkeyes, so his production remains a projection. All that is to say he’d be a versatile player for the Chargers to groom in their pass-rush rotation.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Van Ness has one of the weirder prospect profiles in the draft class, but it's one to bet on.
22. Baltimore Ravens: CB Clark Phillips III, Utah
- 2022 PFF Grade: 85.2
- PFF Big Board Rank: 92
With Marcus Peters likely on the way out in free agency, Baltimore will need a cornerback with ball skills. Phillips brings that with a ton of confidence as a smaller-sized outside cornerback. He had six interceptions and seven forced incompletions in 2022.
23. Minnesota Vikings: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
- 2022 PFF Grade: 72.0
- PFF Big Board Rank: 23
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Banks stands out as a man coverage outside cornerback. He does lack consistency when it comes to mirroring off press coverage, but when he’s in sync, he’s one of the best cover cornerbacks in the class. The Vikings need to invest in a player like that on the outside.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Banks has all the physical traits of an All-Pro cornerback. He just needs to be more consistent with his technique.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
- 2022 PFF Grade: 92.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 28
With Evan Engram potentially out of Jacksonville following a career year, the Jaguars would love to add a reliable player like Mayer to continue emphasizing the tight end passing game as quarterback Trevor Lawrence ascends in Doug Pederson’s offense.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Mayer is one of the highest-floor players in the draft. You know you're getting a complete, productive tight end at the next level. However, can he separate enough to be a true difference-maker?
25. New York Giants: WR Jordan Addison, USC
- 2022 PFF Grade: 81.5
- PFF Big Board Rank: 17
The Giants would probably favor a big-bodied wide receiver in the first round, but you can only pick from the players left on the board. There just aren’t a lot of those laying around in this class. Using the term “settling” for Jordan Addison would be an insult to his production over the past few years. He’d be a potential WR1 for that offense, despite a smaller size at 6-foot and 180 pounds.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Addison has one of the higher floors among receivers in the draft class due to his blend of route-running chops and all-around athleticism.
26. Dallas Cowboys: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
- 2022 PFF Grade: 95.3
- PFF Big Board Rank: 27
Tony Pollard is coming off a leg injury going into contract negotiations, so who knows if he’ll be back. Ezekiel Elliott’s contract also gets flexible this offseason for the first time. The Cowboys could move on from both and instead invest in a talented running back on a rookie deal.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Robinson is about as well-rounded a back as you'll see in the draft. He's one of the highest-floor players in the class.
27. Buffalo Bills: OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
- 2022 PFF Grade: 88.0
- PFF Big Board Rank: 34
The Bills must get more reliable along the interior offensive line. In his first year as an SEC player, Torrence showed he was one of the best interior players in the country against the best competition.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Torrence is a plug-and-play guard who's best suited for gap schemes, but he doesn't need to be pigeonholed.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
- 2022 PFF Grade: 72.6
- PFF Big Board Rank: 30
Harrison is a battle-tested offensive tackle prospect who shows an impressive feel for pass protection. He needs to improve his strength, but he allowed just five sacks in three years as a starter.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Harrison could have really upped his draft stock with another year in a college weight room. He may have to be “redshirted” out the gate, but he should be a plus pass protector in time.
29. New Orleans Saints (via DEN): EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
- 2022 PFF Grade: 79.0
- PFF Big Board Rank: 19
At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds with a ton of athletic potential, Murphy fits the bill for the type of player the Saints gravitate toward on the defensive line. His lack of production is a concern, but his combine performance will likely lock him into the first round.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: The guy we saw as a freshman was a lock top-10 pick — where'd he go?
30. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
- 2022 PFF Grade: 91.8
- PFF Big Board Rank: 14
There’s a lot to like about Kancey's pass-rush profile. The 6-foot, 280-pounder has some of the fastest hands and burst off the snap you’ll see. But that’s because he is smaller in overall size, which goes into some of the give and take of his scouting report. Putting him next to a space eater like Jordan Davis might form a magical pairing.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: He may have to start off as a designated pass rusher, but he can truly excel in that role. There's little doubt he's going to impact quarterbacks at the next level.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
- 2022 PFF Grade: 79.1
- PFF Big Board Rank: 31
The 6-foot-3, 241-pound McDonald is a speed-rushing stud. After a stellar Senior Bowl performance as one of the top edge rushers at the event, a good combine could solidify him as a first-round selection.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: McDonald's tape is inconsistent, but it's because he was grossly miscast. Watch him purely as a stand-up edge, and you'll see a top-50 player.