9. Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, OL, Penn State
It appears that the Chicago Bears have found their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields. Chicago displayed that belief when they decided to move down from the number one overall pick to acquire more assets (including a proven number one, veteran wide receiver) to help Fields grow and develop.
What they have not acquired yet is a truly dynamic offensive lineman. Peter Skoronski wouldn’t have to go far from Northwestern to Chicago to be that guy for Fields and the Bears. While he played left tackle at Northwestern, many suggest that Skoronski should move inside to guard at the next level.
The beautiful thing about this pick is that Chicago can literally play him wherever they want to. At this point, I am confident in saying that, even as a rookie, Skoronski would be an upgrade at any of the five offensive line spots for the Bears in 2023. I think they may try him out at left tackle and see if he sticks, then worst case you can always bump him inside and you should have a perennial Pro Bowler from this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
I came incredibly close to pulling the trigger and selecting Bijan Robinson with this pick, something I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see happen on draft day, but the more I thought about it the more I assumed it would be someone in the trenches.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Executive Vice President Howie Roseman spent their first first-round pick last year on a Georgia defensive lineman and do the same here in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft with edge rusher Nolan Smith.
Smith absolutely turned heads at the Combine with his athletic testing. He is a known leader of the best defense in the nation the past few seasons and would fit the trend for what Philadelphia likes to do in the draft: add depth in the trenches. Smith is still a very raw pass rusher who could spend some time learning from the likes of Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick (who many compare him to) before jumping in and playing significant snaps for an Eagles team that led the league in sacks a year ago.
11. Tennessee Titans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Our final “big four” quarterback comes off the board here to the Tennessee Titans. While Tennessee drafted a quarterback a year ago in Malik Willis, it is very unclear whether he is part of the team’s future plans and they could already be looking in a different direction. They are rumored to be in trade talks to go up and grab a top quarterback, but in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, one falls into their laps.
While Willis is a very mobile, run-first quarterback, Will Levis has a rocket arm and, while an effective runner himself, could be more of a pocket passer, operating a pro-style NFL offense. Levis is far from perfect in his own right and would likely sit and learn a lot from Ryan Tannehill, but he does have a lot of physical traits and tools to succeed at the next level.
12. Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
When you have a ton of needs to fill on a roster, taking a player that can sort of stop the bleeding at multiple different spots is always a good idea. While Lukas Van Ness gives the Texans a top player at a top NFL position as an edge rusher, his size allows him to bump inside and provide some value on the interior as well. Van Ness is a physical and athletic freak that can be the Nick Bosa for DeMeco Ryans and his new-look Houston defense.