13. New York Jets – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
It is a foregone conclusion that Aaron Rodgers will be the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2023. Will No. 13 be a part of the trade? Who knows. For this mock draft, Joe Douglas finds a way to hold on to his first rounder and use it to add more offensive firepower.
Zay Flowers is electric and would form a terrifying duo with 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Garrett Wilson. Assuming Elijah Moore gets more run and the freshly-acquired Allen Lazard stays healthy, Rodgers is set up for another MVP season in his new home.
14. New England Patriots – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Bill Belichick has a long history of success finding starting cornerbacks later in the NFL Draft. But seeing Joey Porter Jr. and his insanely long arms is an itch Belichick has to scratch.
Porter brings NFL bloodlines and had one of the best interviews at the NFL Combine in March. JPJ fits the New England mold and possesses the work ethic necessary to stay on Belichick’s good side.
15. Green Bay Packers – Lukas Van Ness, DL, Iowa
A new starting quarterback; the same old draft approach. The Jordan Love era is set to begin in 2023, and while a weapon on the outside is tempting, the defense needs Lukas Van Ness more.
He is still developing his finesse game, but Van Ness displays the most dominant bullrush in the entire draft class. The Iowa lineman did not start a single game for the Hawkeyes, but his best football is ahead of him… and that’ll be in Green Bay.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via WSH) – Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
CJ Gardner-Johnson is a Detroit Lion, and Marcus Epps is a Las Vegas Raider, leaving several snaps open in the secondary. Brian Branch played in the slot and as a deep safety during his time in Alabama and can do the same for the defending NFC Champs.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
The Steelers have a decision to make with their first selection of the mock draft. Offensive line or cornerback? With my top offensive tackle still on the board (Skoronski), plus my No. 3 rated cornerback (Witherspoon), Pittsburgh cannot go wrong either way.
The offensive line ultimately wins over, as the Steelers complete the full rebuild by adding the chess piece of Skoronski. He is a franchise player at any position on the offensive line, giving Mike Tomlin the freedom to deploy the best five players on the line.
18. Detroit Lions – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
An absolute dream scenario for general manager Brad Holmes on day one of this mock draft. After landing arguably the best player in the class earlier, Detroit takes a top cornerback to finish off the facelift in the secondary.
Devon Witherspoon should come off the board earlier than this, but weird things happen every year in the NFL Draft. He lands with the Lions here and heads to Motor City with a hunger for kneecaps.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Bucs released Donovan Smith earlier in the offseason and need a new bookend opposite All-Pro Tristan Wirfs. Paris Johnson Jr. is worthy of manning that role, as he brings top-tier pass protection as a rookie and an ever-improving anchor that allows him to settle in vs. stronger opponents. He will keep Baker Mayfield’s blindside as clean as possible.