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Way too early 2023 NFL mock draft: Who goes No.1?

The NFL regular season is right around the corner, and I know I am pumped! But I have also got one eye on the 2023 off-season.

Team building and construction is one of my favourite aspects of the NFL process and with my love of college football, it’s never a bad time to mock draft!

So, using my record projections from the season preview and the team weaknesses, I am doing a pre-season mock draft.

There are only 31 picks as the Miami Dolphins’ first round pick was taken away by the NFL due to an ongoing league investigation.

Pick 1: Houston Texans
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

As much as I like what I saw from Davis Mills at the end of last season, I’m not sure he will do enough to save himself from the Texans drafting his replacement. Stroud was the best quarterback in college last season despite Bryce Young winning the Heisman Trophy and his stats from last season are ridiculous.

Stroud threw for 4435 yards with a completion percentage of 72 per cent. He also had 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Despite Ohio State struggling to produce quality NFL quarterbacks, Stroud can be the exception and will be an awesome pro.

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Pick 2: Seattle Seahawks
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

The Seahawks thrived for a decade with an undersized quarterback and start the cycle all over again with the Heisman Trophy winner! Young was dynamic in the Alabama offence with 4872 yards and 47 touchdowns in his first full college season. Some holes in his game were uncovered by Georgia in the national championship game, but Young can improve again and be a coveted prospect.

Pick 3: Atlanta Falcons
Will Anderson Jr, Edge, Alabama

While QB is in play, Desmond Ridder has shown promising flashes and will probably get a chance beyond this season, but Atlanta shouldn’t complain! Will Anderson Jr was the most dominant defensive player in college last season, recording an unbelievable 17.5 sacks.

Atlanta have spoken all pre-season about completely rebuilding their defence and Anderson Jr would be the perfect cornerstone for the rebuild.

Pick 4: Jacksonville Jaguars
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Someone you may not be aware of considering he sat behind two first round picks at defensive tackle with Georgia last season. But Carter is yet another unbelievable Georgia defensive prospect and will get his time to shine this season in a bigger role.

He has shown the ability to play inside but in the Jaguars’ 3-4 defence can also play defensive end.

Pick 5: New York Giants
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Seems like a perfect fit, the Josh Allen comparison going to the coach (Brian Daboll) who developed Allen into a star. With size, strength, speed and football IQ, he projects to be a future star, maybe Daboll is the last piece of the Levis puzzle?

Pick 6: New York Jets
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Regarded as the best offensive tackle prospect in the draft, Skoronski would fit a big need on the Jets roster. With Mehki Becton struggling with injury, Skoronski would give them a set and forget left tackle to protect Zach Wilson and allow Becton to move to the right side.

Pick 7: Detroit Lions
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Detroit Lions have an out in Jared Goff’s massive contract after this season and if he underperforms, they are taking it! Richardson shapes as a true dual threat option at quarterback and with speed a focus in the past draft, would fit what Dan Campbell wants on offence.

Pick 8: Washington Commanders
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

The Commanders’ pass defence was an absolute disaster last season and without change, it will be the same this season. So, how to fix that? Take the best pure man coverage cornerback in the draft! Cam Smith is a shutdown corner and would provide much needed assistance in the nation’s capital.

NFL American football ball

(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Pick 9: Pittsburgh Steelers
Paris Johnson, OL, Ohio State

Johnson played last season at right guard and earned second-team All-Big Ten honours and will move out to tackle this season, expanding his versatility. With the Steelers’ offensive line struggling last season and already this pre-season, Johnson can be a pure Mr Fix-it, playing anywhere on the line.

Pick 10: Carolina Panthers
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Banking on Baker Mayfield playing well enough to earn a contract extension, getting him another weapon would be huge! Robbie Anderson has been unpredictable and what a weapon Smith-Njigba would be. Had a ridiculous season at Ohio State, recording 95 catches and 1606 yards, including 347 in a single game against Utah. This guy is crazy!

Pick 11: Philadelphia Eagles (Via NO)
Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

With ageing defensive linemen in Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, Murphy would be a perfect fit. He is 6’5 and 275 pounds and could make an impact straight away for this Philly defence.

Pick 12: Chicago Bears
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

The Bears desperately need help for Justin Fields offensively and Boutte would be an awesome fit with Darnell Mooney. With a bunch of cap room, expect the Bears to upgrade the offensive line during next free agency and top off the new-look offence with this offensive weapon.

Pick 13: Houston Texans (Via Cleveland)
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

The Texans have a big hole at line-backer and get the best pure off-ball guy in the draft. Simpson has amazing size, speed and instincts, covering the middle of the field like a hawk!

Pick 14: Tennessee Titans
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

The Titans have had troubles with pass protection so will put a giant 6’6 309-pound offensive tackle in to protect. Harrison would need to produce on his potential to be inside the top 15, but I like the fit.

Pick 15: New England Patriots
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

If Ringo is available at the Patriots’ pick, they will sprint to hand in that card. They have a massive hole at CB now with JC Jackson gone and Ringo is in the argument for best corner in the draft.

Pick 16: Arizona Cardinals
Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

Transferred to Alabama from LSU and he will shine this season! The Cardinals need secondary help badly and with Smith and Ringo gone, need to pull the trigger on Ricks.

Pick 17: Cincinnati Bengals
Tony Grimes, CB, North Carolina

The run of cornerbacks continues! The Bengals could use a lockdown guy opposite Chidobe Awuzie, and Grimes could be that. He has the athletic traits and despite not much ball production, he looks like he could be great!

Pick 18: Minnesota Vikings
Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia

Another Georgia defensive lineman who is bound to breakout due to his championship teammates going to the NFL. Smith made big plays in limited time, with three forced fumbles showing he has that X-factor.

Pick 19: Las Vegas Raiders
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

People are calling Bijan the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley and I can see it. He has unbelievable physical gifts and with Josh Jacobs out of contract, they could upgrade through the draft.

Pick 20: Dallas Cowboys
Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M

Johnson would give the Cowboys a do-it-all chess piece in the secondary. He is 6’3 so can play safety and line-backer, but also athletic enough to play cornerback.

(Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Pick 21: Seattle Seahawks (via Denver)
Brian Bresee, DE, Clemson

He just seems like a Seahawk player. He is big, fast and strong, which will make him a force along the Seattle defensive line. He is coming off a serious injury which is the only reason he is this low.

Pick 22: Miami Dolphins (via SF)
Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

The Dolphins got a defensive star in Jevon Holland from Oregon last draft and now get another. Sewell will fit perfectly next to Jerome Baker off the ball and if you recognise the name, yes, he is the brother of Detroit Lions OT Penei.

Pick 23: Indianapolis Colts
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

They have the big bodies in Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce at wide receiver, now they have the dynamic deep threat in Josh Downs. He has breakneck speed and athleticism.

Pick 24: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami

Surely this is Tom Brady’s last season and despite taking Kyle Trask in the 2021 draft, Van Dyke is a much better prospect. He would stay close to home and be a steal for Tampa.

Pick 25: Kansas City Chiefs
Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State

McDonald IV had 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles last season at Iowa State and would be another nice pass rusher for a defence looking to increase pressure rate.

Pick 26: Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

Battle would fit a big need at safety for this Eagles secondary. He was projected to be a first round pick last season but went back to Alabama.

Pick 27: Baltimore Ravens
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Johnston would give the Ravens an offensive weapon across from Rashod Bateman and with a 6’4 frame and massive catch radius, would fit perfectly in Baltimore.

Pick 28: Detroit Lions (via LA Rams)
Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

Pairing Wilson on the other side of Aiden Hutchinson? My goodness! His combination of height, weight, speed and arm length are scary good and don’t be surprised if he rises throughout the college season.

Pick 29: LA Chargers
Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

It’s actually frightening how big Ika is. 6’4 and 358 pounds would be a massive help in run defence for this defence that struggled in that area last season.

Pick 30: Green Bay Packers
Jordan Addison, WR, USC

One of the highest profile transfers of the college off-season, Addison was amazing for Pittsburgh. If he goes off again at USC, he will be a first round pick. Surely the Packers finally take a first round WR!

Pick 31: Buffalo Bills
Demarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

A really fun player to finish off the mock draft, the Bills can use help at line-backer. Overshown can do a little bit of everything at the position and would be an instant impact player for Buffalo.

Let me know if there are any college players I missed and who you want your team to draft. Hopefully you learnt something today about the incoming college class and will keep up with the content throughout the NFL season.

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