A lot of people might argue that NFL mock drafts are a futile exercise. If sports content was measured in nutritional value, NFL mock drafts would probably be the equivalent of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. You know, not exactly the cornerstone of a balanced diet.

But also it should be noted that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are literally perfect. 

And so is this mock draft! It’s based on a mix of research, rumors, projections, consensus, conjecture, astrology and — like more or less any mock draft you’re going to encounter over the next few months — a ton of bullshit. 

Regardless, I still stand by my guarantee that, come draft time, this analysis will prove to be 100% correct*. 

*not legally binding, percentage may greatly vary.

#1 Las Vegas Raiders (trade with Bears): Bryce Young | QB | Alabama

A lot of mocks are currently projecting the Colts or the Texans to trade up to go after Bryce Young, but I think the Raiders moving up actually makes way more sense. The Colts and the Texans are facing longer rebuilds and adding Bryce Young wouldn’t change that. Meanwhile, the Raiders are one year removed from the playoffs and are reportedly looking to re-sign Josh Jacobs, this is in addition to already having Pro Bowlers Davante Adams and Darren Waller on the offensive side of the ball.

If Las Vegas stays put at #7 and takes Will Levis or Anthony Richardson—as a lot of mocks are projecting—they’re probably looking at a long rebuild. In a division where you’re going to have to keep pace with teams led by Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, you need a player like Bryce Young to compete.

Although he didn’t repeat as a Heisman winner last season, he was arguably more impressive—oftentimes single-handedly carrying Alabama’s offense. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in awareness and just general playmaking ability. The Raiders have a lot of draft capital, and they’re the only team that immediately becomes a playoff contender by trading up to draft far and away the best quarterback in this draft.

#2 Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr. | ED | Alabama

Everyone has CJ Stroud pegged for this spot but I really think there’s a case for the Texans going defense here. Will Anderson is really, really good. He might have been the top pick if he entered *last* year's draft. And while Stroud showed a ton of promise against Georgia and has a shot of being a great NFL quarterback—but he’s not a sure thing. The Texans are clearly in the midst of a full rebuild and, looking more long term, the truly best quarterback prospect available is currently still in college: USC Heisman winner Caleb Williams. The Texans will be bad next year. CJ Stroud likely won’t change this fact. Will Anderson Jr. gives defensive-minded head coach DeMeco Ryans a great building block. Meanwhile, Davis Mills is a perfect quarterback to tide (tank) Houston over to next year's draft. 

#3 Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson | ED | Texas Tech

I was slightly tempted to have the Cardinals trade up to secure Will Anderson. To be clear, if that does happen, I would like full credit. Buuuut if Arizona does stay put, I think they'll go with the next best pass rusher in the draft, Tyree Wilson out of Texas Tech. He was an absolute menace in Big 12 last year and should slot in nicely for the now-retired J.J. Watt.

#4 Indianapolis Colts: CJ Stroud | QB | Ohio State

It would be much funnier if they just followed the same trend of the past few seasons and trotted out another past-his-prime old dude to give it the old college try, but I don’t think Indy hired the quarterback guru from the Eagles so they could draft an offensive lineman (although they could use one of those too).

#5 Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter | DT | Georgia

Carter has found himself in some legal trouble that, as a person who took the LSAT once and did quite poorly, I’m not going to speculate on. This pick isn’t based on that, just Seattle’s glaring holes on the defensive line that he could help with immediately. 

#6 Detroit Lions: Myles Murphy | DE | Clemson

Aiden Hutchinson is going to only get better and the Lions also got 8 sacks out of 2022 6th-rounder James Houston. I think the surging Lions keep stacking up their pass-rushing arsenal, and I don’t expect them to be picking in the top 10 again anytime soon. 

#7 Chicago Bears (via trade with Las Vegas): Peter Skoronski | OT | Northwestern

The Bears successfully trade down and pick up the best offensive lineman in the draft. The only knock on Skoronski is that he has short arms, but so do T-rexes, soooooo what’s your point?

#8 Atlanta Falcons: Will McDonald IV | ED | Iowa State

He’s only recently shot up draft boards because of a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl, but college football fans have known about Will McDonald for some time. His 34 sacks are tied for the most in Big 12 history and he’s generally just one of those players who always finds himself around the ball. The Falcons had the worst pass rush in the league last season, so while McDonald might feel like a bit of a reach, he’s also a perfect fit. 

#9 Carolina Panthers: Bijan Robinson | RB | Texas

The Panthers are in desperate need of a quarterback, but based on new head coach Frank Reich’s history, I think that opening will be filled by an experienced player like Derek Carr. Bijan is widely considered the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley—and anyone who has watched his highlights will have trouble arguing against that assertion. The Panthers have plenty of holes, but after trading away Christian McCaffrey, they absolutely need a playmaker. That’s Bijan. 

#10 Philadelphia Eagles: Joey Porter Jr. | CB | Penn State

The rich get richer. Joey’s kid is an absolute stud who will plug into the Eagle's fantastic defense perfectly. 

#11 Tennesee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr. | OT | Ohio State

After letting longtime left tackle Taylor Lewan go unceremoniously and having their quarterback injured constantly, seems pretty safe to say the Titans are going O-line in this spot.

#12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via trade with Houston): Will Levis | QB | Kentucky

I’ve been told several times in multiple ways that Will Levis will be a great NFL quarterback. In terms of production, I didn’t really see it in college. But that was also the case with Josh Allen and Justin Herbert (and Jake Locker and Zach Wilson and Mitch Trubisky etc). If he does end up falling out of the top 10, I think Tampa Bay would trade up to prevent the Jets from grabbing him. And Houston, as I previously suggested, is in the midst of a long-term tank-athon, so they’ll be more than happy to compile picks.

#13 New York Jets: Anthony Richardson | QB | Florida

Similar to Levis, Richardson is a prospect with all the measurables who wasn’t overly impressive in college. Last year at Florida, he had flashes of brilliance but was hardly dominant as the team finished with a 6-7 record. Still, there just aren’t a ton of 6'5, 230 pound humans on the planet who can run a 4.4 40-yard dash and throw the ball 75 yards (at least that’s what’s rumored). I think the Jets could take Richardson here, and give him some time to develop. New Yorkers are patient, right?

#14 New England Patriots: Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia

The Pats are just… average. And that seems to be their trajectory for the foreseeable future as the AFC East continues to get better. They need help all over, but the offensive line is the most glaring and Bill loves his SEC guys.

#15 Green Bay Packers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba | WR | Ohio State

The last time we watched him on a big stage, Smith-Njigba went for 346 yards and three touchdowns in Rose Bowl. Possessing unreal route running and objectively the coolest way to spell Jaxon, Smith-Njigba is only dropping out of the top 10 because he sat out most of last season. I don’t care. Ja’Marr Chase sat out a season too. He’s turned out to be okay. 

#16 Washington Commanders: Christian Gonzalez | CB | Oregon

I’m personally very excited for the Sam Howell era of the Commanders. The team is already pretty stacked along the defensive line, so adding a quality cornerback seems logical in this spot.

#17 Pittsburgh Steelers: Devon Witherspoon | CB | Illinois

Illinois’ defense was absolutely nasty last year and Witherspoon was one of the catalysts. He gave up just 3.3 yards per attempt last year in the Big Ten and didn’t allow a single touchdown. 

#18 Detroit Lions: Michael Mayer | TE | Notre Dame

The Lions had the worst defense in the league and obviously have more holes to address there, but I think it would be hard to pass up on the top tight end in the draft in his spot. Detroit didn’t get much production from the position last year, so Mayer could create a whole new dimension to what’s already one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. 

#19 Houston Texans (via trade with Tampa Bay): Jordan Addison | WR | USC

We already know the former Biletnikoff winner will pair great with Caleb Williams, who as we already discussed, the Texans will draft next year. 

#20 Seattle Seahawks: Nolan Smith | ED | Georgia

With their second pick in the first round, the Seahawks complete their defensive line overhaul by reuniting Jalen Carter with his fellow two-time national champion-winning Bulldog teammate.

#21 Las Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers | WR | Boston College

I’m not sure if it’ll happen but I’m to manifest a future where Justin Herbert and Zay Flowers are in the same offense. If you haven’t heard of Zay, it’s because he mostly played on pretty bad college teams. But he’s arguably the most explosive player in this draft and should be on fantasy radars, especially if he ends up getting picked by a team with a great quarterback. Dude is EXPLOSIVE

#22 Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston | WR | TCU

Johnston has been on NFL radars for some time and after struggling with injuries earlier in his career, he broke out last season for TCU on their way to a playoff berth. Quentin absolutely gashed Michigan’s defense and it could be possible I have him being taken too late. That might be the case if this mock draft wasn’t 100% correct, which it absolutely is. Please dismiss the thought that it’s not.

#23 Minnesota Vikings: Keelee Ringo | CB | Georgia

Keelee has played on the same defense with so many NFL draft picks that he's essentially already an NFL player by proxy. He was previously projected to be a top-10 pick but struggled at times last year, particularly in the national championship game where he was gashed by Marvin Harrison Jr. In all likelihood, he’ll still be a very solid pro. There are plenty of great cornerbacks who have and will be gashed by Marvin Harrison Jr.

#24 Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalton Kinkaid | TE | Utah

This is a pick that makes sense whether or not the Jags re-sign Evan Engram (who is more of a glorified wide receiver anyhow). Kincaid is coming off a fantastic All-American season at Utah and would give the team yet another young weapon to surround Trevor Lawrence. 

#25 New York Giants: O’Cyrus Torrance | OG | Florida

Fantastically named, O'Cyrus, My Cyrus (workshopping nicknames here) would slot right into an offensive line that allowed the third most pressures in the NFL last season.

#26 Dallas Cowboys: Kayshon Boutte | WR | LSU

Some might call this a reach, but Boutte—similar to Jaxon Smith-Njigba—is a player who would be projected to go much higher if he played more football last season. When he has been on the field, Boutte is the most explosive player LSU has had since Ja’Marr Chase. It’s easy for me to envision Jerry Jones watching these highlights, complaining about the music being played during the highlights, then pulling the trigger. 

#27 Buffalo Bills: John Michael Schmitz | OG | Minnesota

I’m a simple man. I see a large human from the midwest with three names and assume he’ll be a competent NFL lineman for at least 15 years. That’s just how it works.  

#28 Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison | OT | Ohio State

The Bengals' front office's only job in the draft for the next 15 years is picking people who will protect Joe Burrow. That’s it. That's the job.

#29 New Orleans Saints: Hendon Hooker | QB | Tennessee 

Despite his outstanding college production—literally overseeing a full-on turnaround of the Tennessee football program—Hooker is being slept on as an NFL prospect. The Saints have other needs on the roster, but I think as the pre-draft process unfolds, more teams will remember the guy who was the best player in college football for a good chunk of last season.

#30 Philadelphia Eagles: Bryan Bresee | DT | Clemson

Oh cool, the Eagles have two first-round picks. That’s fair.

#31 Kansas City Chiefs: Jahmyr Gibbs | RB | Alabama

The Chiefs have shown a willingness to draft running backs early, as evidenced by the first-round pick they used on Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Gibbs was one of the most explosive players in the nation at Bama last season and would slot into the KC's wide-open offense perfectly. 

How will teams address their other needs? Via free agency and trades, of course. Check out (and bookmark) our 2023 NFL Free Agency Tracker to stay up-to-date on the news this offseason.

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