Many NFL teams will choose to address their biggest roster holes in free agency, but for the purposes of this exercise, we'll attack those needs through the 2023 NFL Draft, with the help of both Sam Monson's biggest offseason needs for all 32 teams and PFF's Mock Draft Simulator. As such, not all picks here will be realistic — for example, the Jets almost certainly will not be selecting yet another quarterback in the first round despite that being their biggest need.
Note: To make things more interesting and varied, outside of the quarterback position, none of the players here were drafted to more than one team.
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The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Murphy “is this year’s version of Travon Walker” but “could stand to add some pass-rushing moves,” according to PFF's Mike Renner. He is the Falcons' first-round pick in Marcus Mosher's most recent mock draft.
Baltimore is desperate for wide receiver help, and the 6-foot-4 Johnston is a clear fit. He averaged 18.8 yards per reception during his TCU career. While Johnston may not be on the board when Pick No. 22 rolls around, PFF's WR1 slips to the Ravens in this simulation.
Torrence transferred to Florida for the 2022 season after spending the previous three years at Louisiana, and he didn't lose a step. PFF's top guard prospect earned an 88.0 overall grade and let up all of eight pressures across 355 pass-blocking snaps.
Richardson, considered a “project” by PFF's Mike Renner, still has first-round talent and comes in at No. 11 on PFF's big board. Renner and Marcus Mosher have Richardson going to the Panthers at Pick No. 9 in their most recent mock drafts.
There is plenty of chatter about the Bears trading out of the No. 1 overall pick, but assuming they don't for the purposes of this exercise, they draft PFF's top non-quarterback prospect. Carter's 92.3 overall grade in 2022 led the Power Five.
The red “F” grade from the Mock Draft Simulator sticks out like a sore thumb, but fear not: Jones is one of the biggest draft risers after a handful of Senior Bowl practices. He allowed only five pressures across 419 pass-blocking snaps in 2022. So, while he is the No. 88 player on PFF's pre-Senior Bowl big board, he very well could sneak into Round 1.
“If someone wants to take him at the backend of the first round, I don't think that's the craziest draft pick I've ever seen,” PFF's Mike Renner said on It's Just Football following Day 3 of Senior Bowl practices.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 2, 2023
PFF's Sam Monson noted that three of the Browns' four interior defenders who played at least 200 snaps in 2022 earned an overall grade of 41.6 or worse. And that makes Smith, who racked up 46 pressures across the past two seasons, an excellent target for Cleveland with its first draft pick.
Addison may not fall this far come April, but the NFL draft is unpredictable. PFF's John Owning has the Cowboys addressing their need at wide receiver in the second round, which seems far more reasonable, but for the purposes of this exercise, Dallas targets Addison at No. 26. The former Biletnikoff Award winner earned 80.0-plus PFF grades in each of the past two seasons.
The Broncos' first 2023 NFL Draft pick doesn't come until Round 3, so filling this need will take some patience. But Ojomo is an excellent option after he earned an elite 90.6 grade in 2022 — the fifth-best mark among Power Five interior defenders.
Witherspoon has climbed his way into the CB1 position on PFF's big board. He surrendered just 22 catches and 206 yards on 63 targets in 2022. PFF's Trevor Sikkema has Witherspoon landing with the Lions at Pick No. 6 in his latest mock draft.
As PFF's Sam Monson puts it: “A story as old as time itself — Green Bay and the need to add more weaponry for their passing game.”
Mayer is the top tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft class, and for good reason. His 17 contested catches in 2022 were the most among tight ends and the eighth most among all pass catchers. PFF's Mike Renner has Mayer going to the Packers in his latest mock draft.
The Texans may need to move up to No. 1 come April to ensure no other teams leapfrog them for their desired quarterback. In this exercise, though, they secure PFF's top overall prospect at Pick No. 2 and begin their offensive rebuild in style. Young earned 90.0-plus grades in 2021 and 2022 while ranking in the top 20 in big-time throw rate and turnover-worthy play rate this past season. PFF's Trevor Sikkema and Marcus Mosher both have the Texans snagging Young in their most recent mock drafts.
Levis, PFF's QB2 in the draft class, is not everyone's cup of tea as a top quarterback prospect. Still, he averaged 9.2 yards per attempt on 82 pressured pass attempts in 2022 and finished 2021 as the Power Five's 10th-highest-graded signal-caller. The Colts are likely done taking swings on veterans under center, and so here they finally turn to the draft to address the need. PFF's Trevor Sikkema and Marcus Mosher have the Colts selecting Levis in their most recent mock drafts.
Smith broke up 14 of the 70 targets into his coverage over the past two seasons and intercepted four others, making him one of this class' top defensive backs in terms of ball production. He is CB3 on the PFF big board.
In his offseason needs piece, PFF's Sam Monson writes, “Somehow, the Chiefs still have very little in the way of an edge threat outside of Chris Jones. They have taken several swings at the position, whether by trade (Frank Clark), first-round draft pick (George Karlaftis) or free agency (Carlos Dunlap), and while each player has made contributions, none has been the consistent threat Kansas City has been looking for.”
Ojulari may not be a first-round pick when all is said and done, but he is the top edge rusher on the board when No. 30 rolls around.
Derek Carr won't be back for the Raiders in 2022, and while many believe the team could address its quarterback need in free agency, it would be hard to pass up Stroud at Pick No. 7. The Ohio State signal-caller's 7.0% big-time throw rate ranked fifth among Power Five passers in 2022. Stroud lands with the Raiders in both Mike Renner's and Marcus Mosher's most recent mock drafts.
The No. 21 pick is probably too early to draft Ika, but it's slim pickings after the top interior defenders — Georgia's Jalen Carter and Clemson's Bryan Bresee — are off the board. The 358-pound Ika is the No. 32 prospect on PFF's big board after earning 70.0-plus grades in each of his past two seasons at Baylor.
Wright let up just eight pressures in 2022 at right tackle en route to the first 80.0-plus grade of his four-year career. The Rams do have Rob Havenstein locked in at right tackle, but Wright brings to the table a season's worth of experience at left tackle and could slot in there.
Bergeron slots in as the Dolphins' future left tackle after earning a career-high 75.2 PFF grade in 2022. Miami lacks the early picks to truly bolster their offensive line through the draft, but Bergeron is a battle-tested Day 2 prospect.
“He faced the likes of Yasir Abdullah, YaYa Diaby, Myles Murphy, Isaiah Foskey, Habakkuk Baldonado and Jared Verse [in 2022]. That murderers' row will prepare anyone for the next level. And through it all, Bergeron allowed all of 12 pressures on 392 pass-blocking snaps for an 80.9 pass-blocking grade,” PFF's Mike Renner writes in his offensive tackle prospect rankings.
The interior defender class falls off after Georgia's Jalen Carter and Clemson's Bryan Bresee, so the Vikings reach a bit here to take Kancey. It hardly seems like a reach when looking at his PFF numbers, as he earned an elite 92.4 grade in 2022 that led all interior defenders. His 6-foot, 280-pound frame is the main concern.
Jakobi Meyers was New England’s best receiver in 2022, and he now heads to free agency. That leaves the Patriots in need of retooling at the position, and Smith-Njigba is an elite prospect whose stock continues to drop due to an injury-marred 2022 season. His 91.7 PFF grade in 2021 ranked second among all FBS wide receivers.
McDonald is a Senior Bowl riser who, at the moment, is considered a Day 2 pick. But that might change after all is said and done in Mobile, Alabama. Here, he sneaks into the first round to inject more pass-rush prowess along the Saints' defensive line.
Not many pass rushers have gotten past Darnell Wright this week, but @CycloneFB edge rusher Will McDonald has a few win against him.
McDonald has been using his speed effectively against’s Wright’s outside shoulder, which set up this nice inside counter. Good week for McDonald pic.twitter.com/sHbN1sQfVA
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 1, 2023
The Giants are an anomaly in this exercise. They need to address the interior, but there's no point in reaching for the top remaining prospect a full round ahead of where they're projected. So, New York uses its second-rounder to grab Schmitz, whose 92.2 overall grade in 2022 ranked first among FBS centers.
McKee comes in as QB5 on the PFF big board, and while the Jets almost certainly won't use yet another first-rounder on a quarterback (see: Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson), we have no choice but to address the need in this exercise.
“McKee is already well-equipped to operate an NFL offense given what he was asked to do at Stanford,” per PFF's Mike Renner. “He’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the class and pairs that ability with lightning-quick processing.”
James Bradberry is a pending free agent, and so the Eagles draft Gonzalez, the CB2 on PFF's big board. He recorded four interceptions and six pass breakups in 2022 after notching eight combined breakups in his prior two seasons. PFF's Trevor Sikkema has the Eagles taking Gonzalez at No. 10 in his latest mock draft.
Porter's father was a standout edge rusher across eight seasons with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh is developing a reputation for targeting local high-level prospects — including Kenny Pickett and Pat Freiermuth in recent years. Porter lands with the Steelers at No. 17 in Marcus Mosher's most recent mock draft.
It's quite the challenge to even semi-accurately address the 49ers' biggest need using the PFF Mock Draft Simulator, as their first pick isn't until the end of the third round. Nevertheless, South Carolina's Zacch Pickens is the choice. His 11.5% pass-rush win rate in 2022 ranked above the 75th percentile among interior defenders.
The Seahawks used a second-round pick in 2022 on edge defender Boye Mafe, but their defensive line needs persist. Enter, Tyree Wilson. In 2022, he secured a career-high 50 pressures and recorded a 10.0% run-stop rate — a top-20 mark among FBS edge defenders. Wilson joins the Seahawks in Trevor Sikkema's latest mock draft.
While not a top prospect on some boards, McKee comes in as the No. 28 overall prospect on PFF's big board. His 1.5% turnover-worthy play rate in 2022 was a top-10 mark among FBS signal-callers.
“McKee is already well-equipped to operate an NFL offense given what he was asked to do at Stanford,” according to PFF's Mike Renner. “He’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the class and pairs that ability with lightning-quick processing.”
As PFF's Mike Renner writes on his big board, “Johnson showed out in his first season at left tackle. He didn’t allow a sack on 449 pass-blocking snaps and yielded all of 14 pressures. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, he ticks all of the physical boxes you could want at the position.”
PFF's Trevor Sikkema has Richardson going to the Commanders at No. 16 in his most recent mock draft. Here's his analysis, in part, of the pick:
“Richardson’s numbers might scare teams, but his tape shows more promise than the raw data. In his lone year of starting, he recorded 19 big-time throws and 13 turnover-worthy plays with just a 63.1% adjusted completion percentage (ideally, would want to be over 70%). But in a world of what could be, Richardson is as physically gifted as they come with his arm talent and his rushing ability. The ceiling is there, it’s just a bit inconsistent. This is a true home-run swing that could change everything in Washington.”