Tom Brady retired and there’s a chance another titanic move could come of Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers weighs dropping the curtain or embracing relocation.
The 2023 NFL Draft features multiple quarterback prospects viewed as potential franchise fixtures, but only a handful of teams are in position to add Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Kentucky’s Will Levis.
Note: The Miami Dolphins forfeit their first-round pick following the NFL ruling the team violated league policies governing the integrity of the game.
Here’s a look at projections for the first round of the 2023 draft:
1) Chicago Bears (projected trade with Colts) DE Will Anderson, Alabama Anderson has traits for days and almost never rushed the passer against single blocking in the SEC. Trade suitors offer general manager Ryan Poles great and greater options for pushing a rapid rebuild into hyperdrive. He hooks up with old Chiefs scouting department officemate Chris Ballard in a deal with the Colts that likely brings a first-rounder in 2024 just to slide down three spots. A Poles double-deal in the top 10 is entirely possible with QB-craving teams anxious to get to No. 4 (where the Bears move in this projected trade) and willing to overpay to keep Seattle from getting the third-ranked QB in this class.
2) Houston Texans QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State Stroud brings stability to the organization and gives new coach DeMeco Ryans a building block to compete in the sagging AFC South as soon as the 2023 season.
3) Arizona Cardinals DL Jalen Carter, Georgia If there’s a reason the Bears would balk at the Colts’ offer, it’s this man. A massive and dynamic athlete in the mold of Colts DT DeForest Buckner, the Cardinals get an anchor for the defensive line following J.J. Watt’s retirement.
4) Indianapolis Colts (projected trade with Bears) QB Bryce Young, Alabama In a move up to No. 1 with the Bears, the Colts take Young with the expectation he brings the franchise what Andrew Luck did before his premature retirement — a franchise quarterback capable of competing for the Lombardi Trophy.
5) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) QB Will Levis, Kentucky Predicting how GM John Schneider might spend this pot-of-gold pick from the Broncos as part of the Russell Wilson trade is bound to be one of the biggest variables all the way up to the April draft. Trained by Ron Wolf in Green Bay, Schneider knows how to find a quarterback. He also knows this pick will hold.
6) Detroit Lions (via LAR) TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame With the two premium defensive linemen gone, the Lions lean into another pick courtesy of the Rams to replace TJ Hockenson (traded to the Vikings) and give QB Jared Goff an inside option. Mayer had 18 career TDs and makes “wow” catches in traffic.
7) Las Vegas Raiders DE Myles Murphy, Clemson Quarterback and offensive line are needs, but value is on the edge and the Raiders get Maxx Crosby some help in the mission to beat Mahomes and Herbert.
8) Atlanta Falcons OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern When the Falcons selected Jake Matthews with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, pundits felt Matthews wouldn’t hold up at left tackle in the NFL and was destined to play inside at guard. Skoronski hears some of the same conjecture regarding arm length and his fit on the left side, but the Falcons continue their rebuild with a prospect would could start at any of the five OL positions.
9) Carolina Panthers DE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech At 6-feet-6, 270, the Panthers have the makings of a menacing front pairing with DT Derrick Brown and pass rusher Brian Burns.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon James Bradberry figures to be a prominent free agent, which means he’ll fetch a prominent payday. The top corner in the class has the speed and length to check No. 1 receivers as a rookie.
11) Tennessee Titans OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State The future of Taylor Lewan, who turns 32 in June and ended his 2022 season on IR in September, is very much tenuous in Tennessee. A natural left tackle some view as a top-five caliber prospect, the Titans waste little time jumping for Johnson as a commitment to re-establish dominance in the trenches.
12) Houston Texans (via CLE) WR Jordan Addison, USC The Texans are tempted by the multiple matchup defensive backs on the board and pass-rush help before swinging for Addison, who becomes the lead receiver for CJ Stroud.
13) New York Jets DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson Health and durability questions top the list of negatives on Bresee’s scouting report. A green light on the medical evals puts him in the middle of the Jets’ defense next to Quinnen Williams.
14) New England Patriots CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State Porter plays a physical style that will endear him to Bill Belichick and give the Patriots better personnel in a division of top-end receivers.
15) Green Bay Packers OT Broderick Jones, Georgia GM Brian Gutekunst restocked the offensive line with middle-round picks in recent years and left guard Elgton Jenkins has played tackle, but knee injuries, age and salary indicate it’s time to move on from David Bakhtiari.
16) Washington Commanders QB Anthony Richardson, Florida Boom-or-bust based on raw skills but inconsistent results, Richardson’s ceiling as a potential-packed athlete is limited only by questions about whether he can evolve as a true passer.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers TE Darnell Washington, Georgia Secondary help and reinforcements on the defensive line are higher priorities. Washington’s size, willingness to block and potential as a passing-game target are enticing for coach Mike Tomlin and a slow-growing offense.
18) Detroit Lions S Brian Branch, Alabama A defense with few playmakers gets one. Cracking the Crimson Tide secondary as a freshman gets you on the NFL radar early, and Branch has the proven versatility to rise up draft boards in the coming weeks.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas Cap constraints limit how far the Bucs can go in free agency and whether they can pull Lavonte David back in for another season. Sanders suits the Bucs’ scheme with speed and range.
20) Seattle Seahawks CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia A size-speed prospect capable of helping inspire Legion of Boom comparisons.
21) Los Angeles Chargers WR Quentin Johnston, TCU Mike Williams and Johnston (6-4, 213) would be a physically imposing tandem for Justin Herbert, even if Keenan Allen returns for his 11th season.
22) Baltimore Ravens CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois Marcus Peters, a free agent, will be difficult for the Ravens to afford while navigating negotiations with QB Lamar Jackson. Witherspoon represents a big value in this spot, continuing the Ravens’ tradition of catching higher-rated prospects late in the first round.
23) Minnesota Vikings WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State One spot later than the Vikings stole Justin Jefferson out of LSU in 2020, the Vikings jump at the explosive playmaker.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars CB Cam Smith, South Carolina Contending in the AFC requires points but also playmakers in the back half of the defense.
25) New York Giants OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida Investing in QB Daniel Jones without addressing pass protection would be a miserable approach for the Giants, who know the depth of their skill-position needs entering free agency and could be a player in the trade bidding for Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins.
26) Dallas Cowboys S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M A No. 2 cornerback tempts the Cowboys as do potential replacements for TE Dalton Schultz, one of whom went off the board earlier, pushing Dallas to a high-impact safety with coverage skills for a nickel role.
27) Buffalo Bills RB Bijan Robinson, Texas Robinson adds a playmaker to the Buffalo offense and getting him the ball regularly adds life to QB Josh Allen’s career while complicating scheme decisions for defenses.
28) Cincinnati Bengals LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson The latest versatile defender produced by the Tigers, Simpson played multiple positions in the Clemson front and the ability to change his stripes with the Bengals makes this the perfect fit.
29) New Orleans Saints (via DEN) WR Zay Flowers, Boston College A fine fit and complement to standout rookie Chris Olave, Flowers helps an offense in the midst of a hard reset. The Broncos trade this pick for the right to hire head coach Sean Payton.
30) Kansas City Chiefs DE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa Frank Clark and Chris Jones have weighty contracts and the Chiefs began to restock with left defensive end George Kalaftis with the 30th pick in 2022.
31) Philadelphia Eagles TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State Size (6-5), speed (4.5s), power and athleticism are winning traits for Musgrave, whose stock will rise as he proves to be over the knee injury that ended his final season in September 2022. Luxury pick helps running game and gives Dallas Goedert a running mate in two-TE sets.
*Picks 30-31 will be determined by the outcome of Super Bowl LVII.
–Field Level Media
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