3-Round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Who Will the Panthers Take at 1?

Jan 31, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports /
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Will Levis, 2023 NFL Mock Draft seventh pick by the Las Vegas Raiders
Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (QB08) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

5. SEA-Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

With one more “top” quarterback prospect still on the board, the Seattle Seahawks could go a variety of directions at this point in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Even after signing Geno Smith to a three-year extension, they could take the quarterback themselves and groom him to be the future starter. They could trade down with a different team looking for that difference-maker under center and acquire more valuable draft capital. Or they can stay at five and pick one of the most talented defenders in the draft.

Jalen Carter is now dealing with some off-the-field concerns leading up to the draft that could affect his draft stock, but as long as teams are comfortable that the situation will get sorted out, drafting Carter can transform a team’s defense.

In today’s NFL, creating pressure inside and pushing the pocket is essential for success. There aren’t too many players that are able to do that at a very high level, and Carter is one of them. Carter is a physical freak who can be a three-down, impact player for a Seattle defense that is lacking up front. If they want to take advantage of this window that they believe they have under Smith, the Seahawks need to shore up their defense, and Carter is the perfect prospect to do so.

6. DET-Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Devon Witherspoon to the Detroit Lions seems like one of the most obvious pairings in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, to me. Under Dan Campbell, this Detroit team is looking for tough, hard-nosed players across their roster. Weatherspoon brings just that.

Now, obviously, to be a top-six pick, you have to be more than gritty. Weatherspoon is as talented as they come. He uses his length, physicality and athleticism to make an impact on every play. He excels in man coverage, is great in the box against the run and is athletic enough to ballhawk in zone coverage.

The Detroit offense thrived last year under hot head-coaching prospect, Ben Johnson. If the Lions want to truly compete in the NFC, they need to transform their defense, and do it quickly. That will be a trend in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, and there is no better place to start than the best cornerback in the class.

7. LV-Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Finally, the last of the “big-four” quarterbacks comes off the board, with Will Levis heading to Vegas. The only quarterback that the Raiders have on their roster right now is Chase Garbers, as Jarrett Stidham is a free agent, and Derek Carr has already signed with the New Orleans Saints.

This situation could be best-case scenario for a player like Levis. While many of the traits are there, Levis is far from being an NFL-ready quarterback, at this point. He has the arm to make any NFL throw, and is a tough player and leader, but the mechanics and decision-making need to drastic improvement.

With the Raiders, given their current quarterback situation, it is unlikely that they would draft Levis and just roll his out as the clear starter for week one. The team will clearly need to add some sort of veteran presence, as well, likely allowing Levis a bit of time to learn and grow as a quarterback.

Even with drafting Levis this high, with the hopes of him potentially being their guy, fellow Tallmadge, Ohio native, general manager Dave Ziegler would certainly have Vegas in the market for a player like Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Jacoby Brissett or Andy Dalton to bridge that gap to a raw player like Levis.

8. ATL-Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

While Atlanta may be in or out of the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes, depending on the report, at this point in the 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the top quarterbacks are off the board. Do the Falcons stick with Desmond Ridder? Do they trade this pick for Jackson? That remains to be seen.

Here, the Falcons address one of the MANY needs that plague their roster. A trade down could make sense with the holes they have on their roster, but adding a player like Tyree Wilson is never a bad thing.

Wilson is an elite pass rusher with great size, athleticism and upside. Atlanta has tried their hand at finding dynamic edge rushers in the past early in drafts, with varying levels of success (Vic Beasley, Tak McKinley, Dante Fowler, just to name a few), but nothing has truly stuck long-term. Wilson could be that player.