5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
I thought about going quarterback here, as the Seattle Seahawks met with each of the top prospects prior to the draft, or edge rusher, but Jalen Carter is just too talented to pass up. I know he has some character concerns, both personal and football-related, but as long as Seattle is confident that they can keep his head on straight and that he will be on the football field, they could have landed a steal here at pick five in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
Carter is about as dominant as anyone can be on the defensive line. He is big and physical to eat double teams and power through blockers with the quickness and athleticism to shoot gaps and chase down ballcarriers and quarterbacks in the backfield. There really isn’t a weakness to his game when he is on the field and his motor is active, but those are the two concerns with Carter. Ultimately, the talent outweighs the concern that Seattle starts to build their defensive front to help round out an impressive roster that could make some noise in 2023.
6. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
This pairing was natural in nearly every 2023 NFL Mock Draft I did leading up to free agency. The Detroit Lions clearly needed to reshape their defense this offseason if they want to compete for an NFC North title this season and cornerback seemed to be the clearest weakness on that side of the ball.
With Jeff Okudah already on the roster, the Lions went out and signed two other veteran cornerbacks, Cam Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley, while also landing C.J. Gardner-Johnson to potentially play in the slot (or at safety). After these free agent deals, it seemed less likely that Detroit would go corner this early in a 2023 NFL Mock Draft. But recently, Detroit traded Okudah to Atlanta for a fifth-round pick, and with two of these three free agents receiving one-year deals, the Lions need a cornerstone for the future of their secondary. Enter Devon Witherspoon.
Witherspoon is a perfect pick for a Dan Campbell-led football team. He is physical, gritty and embodies the “knee-cap biting” mentality that they love in Detroit. Witherspoon can tackle and take on blocks in run support and is physical throughout the route and at the catch point but don’t underestimate his coverage ability and his athleticism to turn his hips, and his speed to stay glued to his receiver down the field.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Las Vegas Raiders have a ton of options at this point in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft and decide to go with the best player on the board in Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Where Witherspoon is more physical and maybe a bit more well-rounded, Gonzalez is likely even more athletic and toolsy with impressive ball skills and crazy upside.
Gonzalez can come in and be cornerback number one on this Raiders roster, still with a very high ceiling and untapped potential. If Las Vegas wants to compete with the high-flying offenses in the AFC West, not only will they need to transform their offense into one themselves, but they have to at least be able to slow them down a bit. An elite corner like Gonzalez can do just that.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Man, this would be a slam-dunk pick for the Atlanta Falcons in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. That front office has been working overtime completely reshaping the team’s defense for 2023 and beyond and Tyree Wilson can be one of the final key pieces to have them performing at a very high level moving forward.
Atlanta has been terrible at getting to the quarterback in recent years. They have swung and missed numerous times on first-round edge rushers with tons of upside, but Wilson may be the home run they’ve been searching for. He is a physical specimen that can win in a variety of ways against opposing tackles. Sure, the team just signed Bud Dupree, but that does not stop me from taking the best player on the board, at a big position of need, here with pick eight.