NFL Draft News & Analysis

Way-Too-Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Alabama's Bryce Young lands with the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall

Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) celebrates after defeating the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This one is for the true NFL draft degenerates.

Being a year away, this way-too-early 2023 NFL mock draft serves as more of a talent projection than a selection of true team-player fits. Still, it’s fun to see which prospects have already put themselves on the NFL radar.

The draft order comes courtesy of the current Super Bowl 57 betting odds. We start at No. 1 overall with the Houston Texans, who select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

1. Houston Texans: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

We’ll have a full year to debate Young’s size, but there’s no debating how the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner plays the quarterback position. Last season, the sophomore not only earned a 92.2 overall grade in his first season as a starter, but he also earned by far the highest grade of anyone against Georgia’s loaded defense — 89.0 in the SEC Championship.

2. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Will Anderson, Alabama

Anderson led the country in total pressures (81) as a sophomore in 2021. The 6-foot-4, 243-pounder may be a touch undersized, but he has the frame to add muscle. Even if he doesn't, he’s lightning-quick enough to get by in the league at his size.

3. New York Jets: DI Jalen Carter, Georgia

On that vaunted Georgia defense, Carter earned the highest pass-rushing grade (90.0). That also happened to be the highest of any Power Five defensive tackle. He’s a twitchy 6-foot-3, 310-pounder you can pencil in at the top half of Round 1.

4. Detroit Lions: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Stroud picked up right where Justin Fields left off last season. After some early-season struggles and a shoulder injury, he was lights out when he returned after sitting against Akron. He went for 300-plus yards in every single game from Week 5 on, with 36 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Arik Gilbert, Georgia

After Kyle Pitts was billed as a generational tight end prospect just a year ago, we may not have to wait another generation for another tight end in that mold. Gilbert sat out the 2021 season for personal reasons after transferring from LSU. However, as a freshman in 2020, the 6-foot-5, 248-pounder hauled in 35 balls for 368 yards with nine broken tackles.

6. Carolina Panthers: QB Tanner McKee, Stanford

The former top recruit didn’t have much to work with at Stanford in his first year as a starter last season. His footwork is tremendous in the pocket, but he is firmly a pocket passer. He’ll need to take a step forward with his decision-making to get into the first-round conversation, but he has the talent to do so.

7. New York Giants: DI Jaquelin Roy, LSU

Get ready for a much stronger defensive tackle class next season. While I mentioned that Jalen Carter led the Power Five in pass-rushing grade, it was Roy who finished second in that regard (89.6). The kind of pop he has in his hands for a sophomore is special.

8. Seattle Seahawks: QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Levis opened a lot of eyes with his emergence after transferring from Penn State to Kentucky last season. He finished with a 90.6 overall grade in now-Rams offensive coordinator Liam Cohen’s offense. Levis has easy arm talent for a 6-foot-3, 232-pound signal-caller.

9. Chicago Bears: WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU

Now it’s not fair to put the Ja’Marr Chase comp on him by any means, but at 6-foot and 205 pounds wearing number 1 for LSU, Boutte's explosiveness makes you think you’re watching 2019 tape at times. Look no further than his 308-yard performance as a true freshman against Ole Miss.

10. Washington Commanders: S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

While we’ve already had a Kyle Pitts impersonator come off the board, here comes a Kyle Hamilton-esque safety. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Johnson is a long, physical slot corner for the Aggies. He allowed only 228 yards on 62 targets last season.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

Harrison is an athletic 6-foot-5, 309-pounder who has already shown well in pass protection. In his first year as a full-time starter, Harrison earned an 85.6 pass-blocking grade.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (Via NO): CB Cam Smith, South Carolina

Smith took over for Jaycee Horn and didn’t miss a beat. Last year, he allowed only 15 catches from 32 targets for 184 yards, with three picks and nine pass breakups.

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia

Smith was the former No. 1 overall recruit in the 2019 class over Kayvon Thibodeaux. You see that high-end athleticism on tape consistently. He still needs to add some weight and add some moves as a pass-rusher, but he’s got elite tools.

14. Minnesota Vikings: DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson

The No. 1 overall recruit in the 2020 class, Bresee just has to stay healthy. He earned an 81.2 pass-rushing grade as a true freshman in 2020. He played only 152 snaps in 2021 before tearing his ACL.

15. New England Patriots: Edge Andre Carter, Army

There’s little doubt in my mind that Bill Belichick would love to be the one to select the highest-drafted service academy player since Mike Wahle was a second-round supplemental pick in 1998 (Belichick’s father, Steve, was a scout at Navy for 33 years). Carter has that kind of talent at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds. He broke out in a big way as a junior last year with a 93.4 pass-rushing grade.

16. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson

Simpson is a former 2020 five-star recruit who showed out in his first year as a starter in 2021. He has sideline-to-sideline ability at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. As it stands now, his best reps come as a blitzer, where he had 31 pressures last season.

17. Miami Dolphins: CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia

Yet another 2020 five-star. Ringo was impressive in his first year as a starter for the Bulldogs in 2021. He’s got 4.3 speed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. His pick-six in the National Championship Game sealed the win for Georgia.

18. Tennessee Titans: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

Skoronski took over for Rashawn slater as a true freshman in 2020 and the offense barely missed a beat. He’s earned overall grades of 81.4 and 83.8 in his two seasons as a starter.

19. Arizona Cardinals: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

In the loaded Buckeyes receiving corps, it was JSN who led the team in catches (95) and yards (1,595) last season. He’s been a slot-only so far, so it will be interesting to see if his role expands next fall.

20. Indianapolis Colts: CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

Abrams-Draine is an intriguing name to watch after he put up an 83.0 overall grade last season playing all over Missouri’s defense. He played 395 snaps in the slot and 118 snaps out wide, earning an 80.3 run-defense grade and 83.1 coverage grade. He did it all after switching from wide receiver to cornerback just last year.

21. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh

Addison was the Biletnikoff Award winner as a sophomore in 2021 after a 100-catch, 1,593-yard performance. He’s a sudden route-runner at 6-foot-0, 175 pounds, who still needs to add more weight. His future is still up in the air, though, as he’s rumored to be a potential transfer this offseason.

22. Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson

Murphy is one powerful dude for a true sophomore. At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, he earned an 84.1 run-defense grade last year and racked up 42 pressures. You’d be hard-pressed to see someone with Murphy’s physical tools drop too far in the draft.

23. Houston Texans (Via CLV): RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Don’t just think of Robinson as a running back. This dude can run routes like a wide receiver, too. His 79 broken tackles on only 195 carries was the third-most in the country last year.

24. Dallas Cowboys: CB Eli Ricks, Alabama

Ricks did the unthinkable this offseason by transferring from LSU to Alabama. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound corner earned an 85.6 coverage grade as a true freshman in 2020 before a shoulder injury cut his sophomore season short.

25. Seattle Seahawks (Via DEN): DI Gervon Dexter, Florida

The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder gives Javon Kinlaw vibes with just how massive he is playing defensive line in the SEC. As a sophomore last year, he racked up 24 pressures on 229 pass-rushing snaps.

26. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

Jones was a five-star recruit in 2020 who split time at left tackle in 2021. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder earned a 78.8 overall grade on 438 snaps filling in last season.

27. Miami Dolphins (Via SF): RB Devon Achane, Texas A&M

The fastest running back in the draft goes to the fastest offense in the NFL. Achane has a 100m personal best of 10.14 seconds, and it shows on the football field. In all, 27 of his 130 carries last season went for 10 or more yards. He’s earned elite rushing grades both seasons with the Aggies.

28. Detroit Lions (via LAR): OG Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Beebe has graded out exceptionally well at left tackle for the Wildcats, but his tools project better on the interior. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder earned an 85.4 overall grade and allowed only 10 pressures last season.

29. Green Bay Packers: TE Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

Bell is more jumbo running back than true tight end at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. The Gamecocks even utilized him as such, with seven carries for 40 yards last season. He’s very dynamic post-catch for a man that size. He shed 13 tackles on 30 receptions in 2021.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Johnston is a 6-foot-4 long-strider with some real speed. He’s been a big-play threat in his two seasons with the Horned Frogs, averaging 19.8 yards per catch over the course of his career.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Devin Leary, N.C. State

N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren called Leary the best quarterback in the country on the Tailgate podcast last month. While I wouldn’t go that far, Leary had himself one heck of a 2021 season. He earned an 85.1 passing grade with 31 big-time throws and only nine turnover-worthy plays as a redshirt junior in 2021.

32. Buffalo Bills: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State

Johnson will be Ohio State’s left tackle this season after starting at right guard in 2020. That’s the position where the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder is a more natural fit. He earned a 79.1 overall grade as a redshirt freshman in his first year as a starter in 2021.

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