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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Darnell Washington, 2023 NFL Mock Draft pick 42 by the Cleveland Browns
Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (TE17) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 2

32. PIT-Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

The Steelers are severely lacking playmakers at the cornerback position, and Cam Smith would be a great complement to dynamic safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, excelling in both zone and man coverage.

33. HOU-Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The Texans have already signed Robert Woods to add to Nico Collins and John Metchie at wide receiver, so here they go with a top tight end to give Bryce Young yet another weapon.

34. ARI-Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

New head coach Jonathan Gannon is great at coaching cornerbacks and getting the best out of them, and the Cardinals need to add at the position if they want to emulate that successful Eagles defense from a year ago.

35. IND-Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern

Adebawore is another huge riser since the Combine, dominating athletically. He lacks the height and length of a prototypical edge, but he can be effective from any spot on the defensive line.

36. LAR-Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

The Los Angeles Rams are in full rebuild-mode. The offensive line has been an issue for the team for quite a while now, and should be a priority this offseason. Dawand Jones is an absolute mountain of a man, and would be a huge piece to build their line around.

37. SEA-Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

After adding Jalen Carter early in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Seahawks continue to develop the middle of their defense, adding the top off-ball linebacker, Trenton Simpson, to pair with Jordyn Brooks.

38. LV-Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

The Raiders got their quarterback, so now they need to develop their defense. They struggle against the run, so Mazi Smith can be an affective body in the middle of their defense to build around.

39. CAR-Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

After trading away lead receiver D.J. Moore and likely drafting a quarterback atop the 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Panthers need to bring in more weapons for their offense. I absolutely love Josh Downs and he will constantly be getting open for C.J. Stroud here.

40. NO-Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State

The Saints continue to rebuild their defense with a long and physical corner, battle-tested against some of the best receivers in the nation.

41. TEN-Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State

Following their fire-sale of veteran releases, the Titans need to add an edge rusher this offseason. Will McDonald IV fits their mold as an explosive speed rusher.

42. CLE-Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

The Cleveland Browns have numerous needs that they must address this offseason, and tight end isn’t exactly at the top of the list. But rumor has it that general manager Andrew Berry has been one of the most aggressive in trade talks, and likely will be in free agency. So if a crazy talented weapon like Darnell Washington ins on the board at pick 42 in the 2023 NFL Mock Draft, they can pull the trigger. The Browns will likely deploy a more spread, wide-receiver heavy offense with Deshaun Watson in 2023, but a tight end duo of David Njoku and Darnell Washington would be a nightmare in 12 personnel for opposing defenses.

43. NYJ-Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Jack Campbell is another riser who could be the first linebacker off the board. The Jets lack depth at the position and Campbell could be a long-term answer after C.J. Mosley in the middle of the defense.

44. ATL-Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Falcons, they are going to need some more receiving options to throw to. Drake London and Kyle Pitts are both dominant, big-body targets, but Jalin Hyatt would bring the speed to really take the top off of defenses.

45. GB-Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse

The Packers will also need to do everything they can to protect Jordan Love, allowing him to quickly develop while still on his rookie contract. Matthew Bergeron can play tackle or guard if asked, and could be a long-term option at left tackle with David Bakhtiari getting older.

46. NE-Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State

Cody Mauch seems like a perfect Bill Belichick-type of player. He is tough, gritty and versatile. He can play right away wherever the team asks him to and can be a dominant player, particularly in the run game.

47. WAS-John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota

Quarterback is still a question mark for Washington, but adding the top center in the draft can help out Sam Howell or whoever else the go with.

48. DET-Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

Another dynamic defender for the Detroit defense, with a player that is effective off the ball, but also excels as a pass rusher.

49. PIT-Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin

The Steelers need to get back to their “Steel Curtain” ways, and Keeanu Benton would be a rock in the middle of their defensive line.

50. TB-Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland

The Bucs released Donovan Smith (smartly, in my opinion) so left tackle is a huge need. Jaelyn Duncan is a raw player, but he is very physical and could develop into a top player with proper coaching and development.

51. SEA-Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami

The Seahawks hit a homerun with late-round corner, Tariq Woolen, a year ago. Tyrique Stevenson has the size and athleticism to be that other outside corner for a young, up-and-coming defense.

52. MIA-Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

After trading tight end Hunter Long and a third-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for Pro Bowl corner Jalen Ramsey, the Miami Dolphins give Tua Tagovailoa another dynamic weapon for their offense. Alongside Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta could add another dimension to this improved Miami offense, especially with Mike Gesicki set to hit free agency.

53. LAC-Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

The Chargers were one of the worst teams against the run last season, and I believe a big part of that was the size of their linebackers. Noah Sewell isn’t the sideline-to-sideline, fleet of foot linebacker that a lot of teams look for in today’s NFL, but he can eat blocks and tackle ball carriers in the box.

54. CHI-Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

When they were atop the 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Chicago Bears were pegged a top defender. Now, after trading down and going offensive line in the first round, Chicago adds a physical edge presence to Matt Eberflus’ defense.

55. DET-Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

After a defensive-heavy 2023 NFL Mock Draft to this point, Jared Goff and the Detroit offense land a playmaker in Luke Musgrave. Musgrave is a great, athletic tight end to take the place of T.J. Hockenson, who was traded to the division-rival Vikings last season.

56. JAC-Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State

The Jaguars add a solid piece to their offensive line, after 2022 third-round pick Luke Fortner struggled mightily at center as a rookie. Adding another interior offensive lineman like Luke Wypler could help reshape the front for Trevor Lawrence and take the offense to even another level.

57. NYG-Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

Saquon Barkley was franchise tagged by the Giants this offseason, but the sides did not agree to a long-term extension. Barkley had an excellent season in 2022, but teams are not high on paying running backs right now, and Jahmyr Gibbs is a dynamic playmaker that can complement Barkley well as a rookie, and could potentially take over for the future.

58. DAL-Steve Avila, G, TCU

Rumor has it that Dallas loves Steve Avila out of TCU. There is a good chance that he is no longer there when they pick in the second round, but in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, Avila heads to Dallas with the fast-track to becoming the starting left guard right away.

59. BUF-Andrew Voorhees, OL, USC

The Buffalo Bills have some solid pieces on their offensive line, but need to be proactive, as some are getting up there in age. Andrew Vorhees is a tough competitor who would likely be off the board already if he hadn’t suffered an ACL injury at the Combine. Even if he misses is rookie season, Vorhees can slide in as a starter in 2024.

60. CIN-Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse

The Bengals really need to bolster their secondary to hold their own in the high-powered AFC. Garrett Williams is an outside cornerback with the footwork and athleticism to hang with any type of receiver he is up against.

61. CHI-Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

After moving on from Roquan Smith last season, the Chicago Bears need a new middle linebacker. Daiyan Henley can be that sideline-to-sideline guy as the eventual captain of the defense.

62. PHI-Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

Andre Carter II would be a luxury, upside pick for an Eagles defense that led the league in sacks last season. Learning from the likes of Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, breakout star Haason Reddick and veteran leader Brandon Graham, would be huge for a long and athletic rusher like Carter.

63. KC-Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston

Nathaniel “Tank” Dell seems like a perfect fit for the Kansas City offense. With Mecole Hardman set to hit free agency, Dell can fill that speed, downfield homerun-hitter role.