NFL Draft Notebook: Colts, Texans, and Panthers Draft Franchise QBs in Latest Mock Draft

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 10: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Georgia Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 10: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Georgia Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Now that we have entered the official NFL Draft season — with the NFL Scouting Combine starting this week — it is time for me to release my first mock draft of the season. In this mock draft, I have several teams trading up to get a quarterback of the future, the Chicago Bears loading up on draft picks and even more surprise picks.

Along with taking a look at a mock draft, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also includes:

-A mid-round prospect for the Houston Texans

-Top five offensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft

-And more!

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Colts trade No. 4 (2023) and No. 79 (2023), along with a future first-round pick in 2024 to move up to No. 1 in this mock draft. With this selection, Indy takes the top quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, Bryce Young.

2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
All signs point to the Texans taking a quarterback with this pick, and that selection will likely be C.J. Stroud if Bryce Young is already off the board. Stroud is a classic pocket passer who has the arm strength, accuracy, and overall football IQ to be a long-time starter in the NFL.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, DE, Alabama
One of the reasons Jonathan Gannon had such success in Philadelphia was his ability to generate pressure on the passer, resulting in his unit leading the NFL in sacks. He picks up the best pass rusher in the draft this year with his selection of Will Anderson. Last season, Anderson recorded 10 sacks, and in 2021, he racked up 17.5 sacks.

4. Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Chicago Bears decided to pick up even more draft capital after the Cardinals select Will Anderson. Chicago trades down with the Carolina Panthers, picking up No. 9 (2023), No. 39 (2023) and No. 114 (2023) in exchange for No. 4 overall. The Panthers get a quarterback who has unlimited potential that can develop under new coach Frank Reich.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
To say the least, Seattle is excited to see Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter fall in its lap with the No. 5 overall pick. Carter is the perfect combination of size, speed, and power and should develop into an All-Pro at defensive tackle.

6. Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Detroit Lions seem happy with Jared Goff at quarterback and need to address the defense with this pick. Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez is a big corner who should fit well in Detroit’s defense.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
After the release of Derek Carr the Raiders are tempted to go with Anthony Richardson, but instead stick with the safer choice of Paris Johnson Jr. The OSU alum is the top offensive tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft class and would be an upgrade over Kolton Miller.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
The Atlanta Falcons have already stressed how they will be looking to upgrade the pass rush this season, which is exactly what happens with the selection of Tyree Wilson. Wilson has shown an ability to get to the quarterback by registering 50 pressures and seven sacks last season.

9. Chicago Bears: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Sure, the Chicago Bears would love a player like Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter, but by trading down they pick up a boatload of picks and still get the top receiver in this mock draft. When healthy, Smith-Njigba is an elite route runner and shows the skills to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

10. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The New York Jets decide to move up in the 2023 NFL Draft when they see Peter Skoronski still on the board. The Jets only give up No. 74 (2023) and land a player who could be a day-one starter at either guard or tackle.

11. Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Tennessee Titans are likely entering a rebuilding stage and one of the first orders of business is to address the offensive line. Jones has experience playing both left and right tackle, which should give Tennessee some flexibility in terms of where he fits in next season.

12. Houston Texans: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
After taking a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, Houston gives him a big target at No. 12 of this mock draft. Johnston, who comes in at 6-foot-4, is terrific at pursuing the jump ball, and he also has the speed to be a vertical threat, which is exactly what C.J. Stroud needs.

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Eagles could lose James Bradberry this offseason and Darius Slay next offseason, so addressing the secondary would be a wise move. Witherspoon would be a good replacement for either player and is a good value at this point in the mock draft.

14. New England Patriots: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Patriots’ offense has been at its best when it had a standout at the tight end position; why not take the best one in this mock draft? Mayer is a complete tight end who has the soft hands to consistently be a threat in the passing game and the strength to open running lanes.

15. Green Bay Packers: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
The Packers had trouble getting to the passer last year, and with Rashan Gary coming off a torn ACL, addressing the defensive line is a must. Murphy is a good-sized defensive end who was named Bruce Feldman’s No. 3 freak athlete going into the season.

16. Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
The Commanders don’t have much in terms of depth at the cornerback position behind Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller. Due to this, they decide to draft Kelee Ringo, one of the best athletes in the NFL Draft and has the potential to develop into a high-quality NFL defender.

17. Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Seattle sees Anthony Richardson falling in the draft and decide to trade No. 20 (2023) and No. 84 (2023) to move up to get him. Richardson will be able to sit behind Geno Smith for a couple of years before taking over the starting job.

18. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
The Lions use the first two picks on defense, taking Christian Gonzalez with the No. 6 pick and then Bryan Bresee at No. 18 in this mock draft. Bresee is a good pass rusher who — when healthy — was one of the top defensive linemen in college football last year.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Buccaneers will likely be in for a down year now that Tom Brady has retired for good. While quarterback might be the biggest question for Tampa Bay, it also needs to address the cornerback spot. South Carolina’s Cam Smith is my top cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft and would be a great value at No. 19 in this mock draft.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
One of the biggest Steelers needs this offseason is cornerback and they fill this need with the selection of Joey Porter Jr. Porter is a well-built corner who plays the physical style of football Steelers fans will love.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Chargers need to add some playmakers at the wide receiver position, especially if Keenan Allen is cut. Boston College’s Zay Flowers is one of the most dynamic players in the draft and should give Justin Herbert a go-to target.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Ravens must improve a passing game that finished 28th in the NFL. In order to do this, they will need to add some reinforcements at wide receiver. USC’s Jordan Addison is a polished receiver who should be able to make an impact on day one.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
The Vikings could lose Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson to free agency, and even if they both return, the team should look to upgrade these positions. Clark Phillips is a smaller cornerback but has elite ball skills, coming away with six interceptions last year.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
While safety is not one of Jacksonville’s biggest needs, Alabama safety Brian Branch is just too good to pass up at this point in the mock draft.

25. New York Giants: Trenton Simpson, OLB, Clemson
The Giants had trouble at the linebacker position most of the year and need to add a versatile defender who can play either inside or outside linebacker. Trenton Simpson played multiple roles in the Clemson defense and would be a good fit in Wink Martindale’s defense.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
The Cowboys need a deep threat after trading away Amari Cooper. Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt is one of the fastest receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft and should be able to threaten NFL defenses vertically.

27. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Buffalo needs to take some pressure off of Josh Allen, and the best way to do so is to add a high-quality running back. Texas superstar Bijan Robinson is one of the best running backs to come out of college over the past five years and will make the Bills a more balanced team.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
Last year the Bengals gave up 2.8 sacks a game (ranked 26th in the NFL), so adding some protection for franchise quarterback Joe Burrow is a smart move. O’Cyrus Torrence is a massive-sized offensive guard who still shows the ability to hold up well in pass protection.

29. New Orleans Saints: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
The Saints cannot be happy with former first-round pick, Payton Turner, who only has three sacks in two seasons. They draft his replacement in Lukas Van Ness, a powerful run defender and a player who can play either defensive end or defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
The Philadelphia Eagles love pass rushers and add another one in Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith. Smith reunites with former teammates Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

31. Kansas City Cheifs: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Starting right tackle Andrew Wylie is scheduled to become a free agent, so adding a replacement could be a big draft need. Tennessee’s Darnell Wright did not allow a single sack last year and is a strong run blocker.

2023 NFL Draft: Houston Texans Would Be Wise to Add Olusegun Oluwatimi

One of the main focuses of the 2023 NFL Draft will be to upgrade the offense in Houston. The unit ranked 30th in the NFL in scoring and 31st in yards per game during the 2022 season. Look for most of the Texans NFL Draft picks to go towards adding playmakers at the skill positions. However, Houston will also need to address its offensive line in the middle of the draft.

One position the team will need to address is the center position. This is a major need as Scott Quessenberry was rated as the worst center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. There is also a good chance the team will cut Justin Britt this offseason, which means the Texans must start from scratch at this position.

A player who could fill this role is Michigan’s Olusegun Oluwatimi. Oluwatimi was the leader of one of the best offensive lines in college football the past two seasons, evident by this unit being the first offensive line to win the Joe Moore Award in consecutive years. The trait that really stands out with Oluwatimi and makes him someone who could start on day one is his high football IQ. This understanding of the game allows him to make all the line calls, identify potential blitzes easily and should allow him to pick up an NFL offense quickly.

If Houston was to select Oluwatimi at No. 65, it would be able to provide its rookie quarterback with a smart center who can take some of the pressure off of him when it comes to identifying defenses and can provide protection for him for years to come.

Top Five 2023 NFL Draft Offensive Tackles

1. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
After playing offensive guard the past two seasons at Ohio State, Paris Johnson Jr. looked right at home this year at left tackle. In addition to earning All-Big Ten honors, Johnson was also named a Consensus First-Team All-American and proved he is worth a high first-round draft selection. The trait that stood out with him is how well he moves. He has the agility to block in space or recover if beaten initially by his defender. One area he can continue to improve is his strength, especially after initial contact.

2. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Another Big Ten standout offensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft is Peter Skoronski. What stands out with Skoronski is his fundamentally sound play. In this area, he shows elite footwork and also some of the better hand use in this year’s class. This fundamentally sound play and high football IQ should make him a top-15 pick come April.

3. Broderick Jones, Georgia
A player who helped his NFL Draft stock is Georgia offensive tackle, Broderick Jones. Jones was a full-time starter for the first time this year and has impressed enough to earn a late first-round grade. The trait that really stands out with him is his physicality, displaying the grip strength to control his man once he gets his hands on him. One area he will need to continue to work on is his consistency in both footwork and hand use.

4. Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is your classic NFL right tackle. He is a perfect fit in this area due to his impressive strength and overall tenacity. When run blocking he shows the strength to move his man off the ball and once he gets his hands on the defender he is very rarely beaten. He also holds up well in pass protection, highlighted by the fact he didn’t give up a sack this season.

5. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison is a prospect with ideal size and impressive athletic ability for his frame. This combination should allow him to play left tackle at the next level and could be enough for him to slide into the late part of the first round. However, in order to live up to his potential, he will need to get stronger, especially when it comes to run blocking.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— Florida A&M wide receiver Xavier Smith turned heads at the HBCU NFL Combine recently. He impressed scouts with his blazing speed when he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, which will make him one of the fastest receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft. Smith also has the production to go with his game-breaking speed, as he was named an HBCU All-American after recording 87 catches for 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns. With his strong play on the field, and outstanding testing numbers, Smith could be a sixth or seventh-round draft pick.

— One team that could be the ideal fit for Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright is the Chicago Bears. Wright has the physicality and overall mentality general manager Ryan Poles likes to see in his offensive lineman. The Bears will also be looking to add a right tackle in free agency and the NFL Draft which is the ideal position for Wright. If Chicago can add an early second-round pick by trading down in the first round look for it to give Wright strong consideration.

— A player who could be a great value on day three of the 2023 NFL Draft is Baylor’s Connor Galvin, who currently carries a seventh-round draft grade according to Mock Draft Database. What makes Galvin a great value day-three pick is his combination of length — coming in at 6-foot-7 — and his impressive mobility. Galvin does a terrific job of blocking in space and also has the quick feet to play left tackle in the NFL. Scouts will also like his experience, as he broke the Baylor school record by starting 50 games during his career.

Quote of the Week

“This guy has it all. He’s a 40+ game starter at Tennessee, All-SEC, and he’s had an unbelievable week. I think he’s working himself into the first round. You put on the Alabama tape; he was dominant, and you’re seeing more of the same here. He’s a smooth mover, long arms, strong, great fundamentals. I don’t see any holes in his game. When you look to project to the next level, he has the prototypical size and skillset to be a frontline offensive tackle.”

– ESPN Analyst and former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum on Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright and his Senior Bowl performance