NFLMocks’ 5 for 5: 2023 NFL Draft Sleepers, NFL MVP Favorites, and More!

Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Washington Commanders during the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Washington Commanders during the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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C.J. Stroud, 2023 NFL Draft, 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus DispatchNcaa Football Wisconsin Badgers At Ohio State Buckeyes /

Headline #2: Dream Prospect-Team Pairings in the 2023 NFL Draft

•No. 1: QB CJ Stroud – Detroit Lions

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is as real as it gets in sports, but I have a hunch that the Michigan fans would be able to look past this if the Detroit Lions get a chance to take Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft.

There’s still a stigma around the Lions franchise, but general manager Brad Holmes is making his presence felt in year two. His hiring of Dan Campbell is not a championship-winning hire, but to get to that point, they must shed the perennial loser label. Campbell has his shortcomings as a coach, but he was born to be a leader of men.

Quarterback Jared Goff accepted the trade to Detroit with open arms, and did well to serve as the bridge quarterback in 2021. He’s assuming the same role this season, but with the roster starting to show promise, it’s time to add the signal-caller of the future. Enter CJ Stroud.

The reason I love this pairing is two-fold. The main argument is that the team and Stroud have the same developmental window. Detroit’s roster is young and their best days are likely still a couple of seasons away. The same can be said about Stroud, who would not be under pressure to win a division in year one.

The other argument is how stacked of a cast Stroud would have on offense. Some scouts hold it against him that he’s been surrounded by so much talent at Ohio State. Well, imagine he gets drafted to a team with Penei Sewell-Amon’Ra St. Brown-D’Andre Swift-Jameson Williams-TJ Hockenson! This is my favorite landing spot for CJ Stroud.

•No. 2: DL Jalen Carter – Houston Texans

There’s not as much to be said about Jalen Carter. He is a fit for any team in the NFL and will immediately become one of the best players in the league on that side of the ball. He is that good.

The Texans were heavily connected to his former teammate, Jordan Davis, before trading down in the 2022 NFL Draft and allowing the Eagles to take him instead. If the opportunity presents itself again in 2023, Houston should stay put and take a superior prospect in Jalen Carter.

Carter can line up all across the defensive line and gives a defensive coordinator so many options. Head coach Lovie Smith is a defensive specialist after all. Will Anderson Jr. would be cool here too, but Carter’s ability to create pressure from the interior is something you rarely see.

•No. 3: CB Joey Porter Jr. – Pittsburgh Steelers

This prospect-to-team pairing pretty much writes itself. Joey Porter Jr. is one of the best cornerbacks in the entire nation and he’s proven it in each game that he’s taken the field. Porter Jr. welcomes the challenge from each opponent’s best wide receiver and more often than not he comes out on top.

The reason the pairing is so ideal draws back to Joey’s father — Pittsburgh Steeler legend Joey Porter Sr. The hard-hitting linebacker patrolled the middle of the field in Pittsburgh from 1999-2006. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro in his seven seasons with the franchise.

The Steelers desperately need a true No. 1 cornerback on the outside. Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Levi Wallace are fine, but none possess the elite upside that Porter Jr. would bring with him to the positional group. This one makes too much sense not to happen.

•No. 4: RB Bijan Robinson – Dallas Cowboys

Here is one that is unlikely to happen, but it’s impossible to ignore the merchandising opportunities that would come with Bijan Robinson donning the Star on his helmet after starring for the Texas Longhorns the last few years.

Jerry Jones is never shy to make the splashy move over the safer move. This aligns with his M.O. and if the team uses the out in Ezekiel Elliott’s contract this offseason, there’s a chance the Cowboys are looking for a starting running back. Tony Pollard could be brought back to take over the role, but even he is a free agent after the season.

Robinson can’t fix the offensive line himself, but his style of running would benefit the squad in a bunch of different areas. His elite vision, otherworldly ability with the ball in his hands, and underrated standing as a pass catcher would help take Kellen Moore’s offensive unit back to the top of the NFL.

Is it smart? No, not really. Is it possible? Definitely. Bijan Robinson’s rookie contract would pay for itself with all the support he already has in the Lone Star State. It’s fun to dream about this pairing.

•No. 5: QB Will Levis – New York Giants

I’ll get this out of the way quickly so no one can accuse me of saying it; Will Levis is not Josh Allen. Okay, now that we have that settled, let’s address why the Kentucky gunslinger is an ideal quarterback for the New York Giants.

New head coach Brian Daboll is largely credited with helping Josh Allen reach his full potential during his time as the play caller in Buffalo. Daboll has won each of the first two games with the Giants, but Daniel Jones is not a long-term answer for Big Blue.

Daboll will surely be looking to get his own guy next offseason, and I see Will Levis as the perfect prospect. He has a rocket launcher for an arm, runs a pro-style offense at Kentucky, and possesses a picture-perfect frame for a quarterback.

Levis needs to work on his decision-making and clean up inconsistent mechanics both in this throwing motion and pocket presence. These are similar issues to what Josh Allen dealt with coming out of Wyoming.

Daboll will have the opportunity to develop a quarterback of his choosing going forward, don’t be surprised when it is Will Levis.