DailyMail Mock Draft 1.0: Our writers predict the first round picks

DailyMail Mock Draft: Our writers predict how the first round of this week’s NFL Draft will play out… so where will Bryce Young go? And which QB will Panthers take with first pick?

  • The debate between which quarterback goes first overall remains to be solved  
  • Elsewhere, top defensive talent and elite offensive weapons are there for picking
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft where the fortunes and futures of the league’s 32 franchises will be changed is just days away.

Only 31 selections will be made this round, as the Miami Dolphins were forced to surrender their pick due to being found guilty of tampering.

With plenty of talent to choose from, some franchises will be changing their luck in future seasons with the selections made – with multiple NFL-ready quarterbacks on offer alongside elite receivers, reliable offensive blockers, and deadly defensive weapons.

DailyMail.com alternated picks going back-and-forth throughout the first round. The odd numbered picks were selected by Tyrell Feaster while the even numbered picks were taken by Jake Fenner. 

With the first round of the draft beginning in a matter of days, this is the DailyMail.com prediction for how the first 31 picks will shake down.

CJ Stroud’s physical stature should give him the edge necessary to be taken No. 1 overall 

1. CAROLINA PANTHERS (via CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Carolina Panthers made it clear that they were planning to select a QB when they traded up nine spots to obtain the No. 1 overall pick.

Stroud was a contender for the Heisman and has one thing on his side that Bryce Young will not, which is size.

Stroud measures in at a stout 6-foot-3, 214 lbs and Panthers new head coach Frank Reich has had a long track record of preferring bigger signal callers for his teams.

2. HOUSTON TEXANS: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

With Stroud off the board, the Texans will seemingly get the quarterback they’ve always wanted in Bryce Young.

Young has some downsides to his build (5-foot-10) but his decision making is sound and he takes care of the football, having thrown only five interceptions last season alongside 32 touchdowns through the air (plus four on the ground).

It seems that the Panthers and Texans can’t go wrong with selecting either of these quarterbacks. They’re locks for the top two.

You can’t go wrong with either of the top two QBs in this draft, but Houston gets Bryce Young

PROJECTED TRADE: Indianapolis moves up one spot

With both of the top two QBs off the board Indianapolis and erratic owner Jim Irasy decided to move up one spot in the draft to secure their QB of the future.

From the Cardinals point of view the move allows them to not only secure future draft capital but also remain in a prime position to take whoever they consider the best non-QB in the draft.

3. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (via proj. trade w/ARI): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Richardson has shown the most potential of any gunslinger in the draft due to his unearthly athleticism and running ability but his skills in the pocket will need refinement.

Colts new head coach Shane Steichen has proved he can develop athletic Qbs and recently worked wonders with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. If the Colts allow Richardson time to learn under veteran Gardner Minshew they may walk away with the best player from this years class.

Anthony Richardson’s dual threat ability gives him the highest ceiling of any QB in the draft

4. ARIZONA CARDINALS (via proj. trade with IND): Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama

Arizona needs a defensive upgrade in a big way and a move down one spot won’t result in them losing the best defensive prospect in this draft. 

Anderson is great off the edge and was one of the best defensive players in the nation for the last two seasons when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.

As new head coach Jonathan Gannon tries to remake this team, he’ll start on the side of the ball he has the most experience in and take arguably the best player in the draft.

Even trading down a pick, the Arizona Cardinals get the best player in the draft: Will Anderson

5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (via DEN): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

A large portion of Carter’s pre draft process has been focused around his off-the-field behavior after he was involved in a car accident that saw two fellow students at the University of Georgia students, along with other run-ins with police due to traveling at unsafe levels of speed.

Despite this, one thing that remains about Carter’s play is that when the pads were on last season he appeared to be the most dangerous defender in college football.

Carter’s talent level is too high for the driving issues to sending him legitimately tumbling down draft boards before a coach decides that he is too good to pass up.

More importantly the Seahawks have several needs on defense including the DT position and head coach Pete Carroll has been known to take chances on players with colorful personalities before.

Carter’s overall talent will prove to out-weigh his off the field issues and see him taken early

6. DETROIT LIONS (via LAR): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

When Detroit moved former third overall pick Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons, that should have been all the indication needed that they’ll be taking a cornerback with this pick.

With Okudah gone, Cameron Sutton and Chase Lucas are projected as Detroit’s starting corners, so it makes sense to take the top CB in the draft in Christian Gonzalez.

In terms of raw athleticism, Gonzalez may be the best defensive secondary prospect in this draft. As far as intangibles go – ability to monitor the QB, knowing when to make a move, and sixth sense when it comes to keeping receivers in front of him – Gonzalez has those in spades as well.

After trading Jeff Okudah, the Detroit Lions need to take a corner like Christian Gonzalez

7. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

The Raiders like most teams in the top 10 have a long list of needs and cornerback just happens to be the biggest one in Las Vegas. Scouts have heralded Witherspoon’s exceptional technique and footwork making him by far the best CB left with Gonzales off the board.

Vegas finished in the bottom third of pass defenses in the NFL last year as the pass coverage often resembled a black hole at times.

A look through the team’s depth chart also shows a list of names that should say ‘help wanted’ at the CB 1 and probably even CB 2 positions.

Witherspoon’s footwork and technique have drawn rave reviews from both scouts and analysts

8. ATLANTA FALCONS: Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia

The Falcons get to curry some hometown favor by drafting a Georgia Bulldog that missed out on playing in the national championship.

That was due to injuries – which still raise concerns among NFL general managers across the league. But when healthy, Smith is arguably as good an athlete as someone like Anderson and is excellent off the edge when it comes to pressuring QBs.

With Smith fully recovered, it’s just a question of whether or not a franchise is willing to take the gamble that he’ll go where he was projected prior to the injury. Atlanta seems like just the franchise to try and make that bet as he can learn from Calais Campbell and Grady Jarrett.

This might be a reach, but keeping Nolan Smith in Georgia would be great for the Falcons

9. CHICAGO BEARS (via CAR): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Bears made a very clear decision to commit to Justin Fields as their QB of the future and picking the player unanimously agreed to be the top offensive lineman in the draft will go along way to allowing Fields to flourish.

Along with an exceptional skill set as both a run and pass blocker, Skoronski also provides positional versatility and the ability to play both the tackle and guard positions.

Some scouts believe his arm length may limit has ceiling as a tackle to being above average at best but feel sliding him to guard may allow him to flourish into an All-Pro caliber left guard.

Peter Skoronski has shown the skillset to be successful as a OT and elite if he moves to guard

10. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (via NO): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Why not make the top offensive line in the NFL even better by drafting an OT that will keep the line young and intact for years to come?

With Jason Kelce (35) and Lane Johnson (32) approaching the end of their careers, drafting someone like Paris Johnson is a savvy move that will allow him to age alongside the younger pieces of the Eagles OL like Cam Jurgens, Landon Dickerson, and Jordan Mailata.

Philly has another first-round pick to use. They can choose to upgrade their defense then. There’s no offensive line prospect as good as Johnson is that’s within their pick range later, so take him now.

Paris Johnson Jr. will help the Eagles keep their great offensive line unit staying young

11. TENNESSEE TITANS: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

With the other top four quarterbacks already on their way to new homes, Tennessee selects the heir apparent to Ryan Tannehill. 

The Titans took their first swing at preparing for life after the 34-year-old Tannehill last season when they selected Malik Willis out of Liberty with a mid-round pick but reports emerging from Tennessee say the team has soured on the young signal caller already.

Levis has perhaps the most uncertain future of the top four QB’s after some scouts will point to his tape from two seasons ago when he played well enough to draw comparison’s to Josh Allen, while others have said his 2022 shows multiple red flags highlighted by his lack of accuracy and touch on a wide array of passes. 

Kentucky’s Will Levis has drawn the most mixed reviews of any QB in this years draft class 

12. HOUSTON TEXANS (via CLE): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

This seems like a late-night infomercial deal: ‘if you call and order your franchise quarterback now, we’ll throw in the top wide receiver in the draft absolutely free!’ 

There are plenty of defensive line prospects further down the draft (something the Texans need), but what isn’t available later is a pass-catcher that matches the quality you get in Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Despite a nagging hamstring injury he dealt with all season, he’s quick off the line and has shown great hands. Plus, he’d work well with either of the top-two QB’s in this draft – especially considering he’s been catching passes from Stroud the last two seasons. 

A wideout like Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be a great prize for whichever QB Houston picks at #2

13. NEW YORK JETS: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

If there is one thing that the New York Jets have turned into a theme under general manager Joe Douglas, it’s using first-round picks to build up the offensive line and this year will be no different.

Former first-round pick Mehki Becton has missed all but one game in the last two seasons due to back-to-back operations on his right knee and it remains a question how much of an impact he will be going forward.

Aside from this the other tackle spot has been a rotating cast of veterans like Duane Brown who have also ended up hurt, or bottom of the roster players with minimal regular season experience. 

If or when the team does eventually trade for Aaron Rodgers, they will need to ensure they can keep the 38-year-old QB upright and Broderick Jones has displayed the raw athletic profile to do just that.

Broderick Jones posses the athletic profile to fill in a starting tackle quickly with solid coaching

14. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

If you have the chance to take someone as explosive off the edge as Tyree Wilson, you take him. 

He’s a massive player both in size (6-foot-6, 275 pounds) and in wingspan, and Wilson can accelerate quickly off the snap. Wilson could provide the explosion off the edge the Patriots have been missing since Rob Ninkovich retired and Trey Flowers departed in free agency. 

Then again, Bill Belichick used his first-round pick last season to draft an offensive lineman from UT-Chattanooga over 50 spots before he was projected (a move which worked for the Patriots), so who knows what New England is going to do with this selection.

Could Bill Belichick hold onto his pick at 14 and take a great edge rusher like Tyree Wilson?

15. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

It seems the universe has been calling for the Green Bay Packers to use a first-round pick on a wide receiver for the better part of a decade and it’s time to finally answer those prayers.

Though a tight end like Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid would make sense here as well given the departure of Robert Tonyan, however a wideout of Jordan Addison’s caliber would make Packers QB Jordan Love’s life much easier in his first season as starter.

A depth chart of Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and a possession receiver with the route running capabilities and strong hands of Addison would give Green Bay a tremendous amount of young talent to grow alongside Love to start a new era in Lambeau.

Jordan Adison has shown the route running skills and hands of a possibly elite possession WR

PROJECTED TRADE: Baltimore moves up from 22 to 16

To put it simply, with Chase Young on the Commanders, Washington doesn’t need another edge rusher – and there’s an elite one sitting right here for the taking.

Baltimore could do with adding some firepower to their defensive line as Justin Houston remains a free agent and the Ravens lost Calais Campbell. 

With a potential generational talent available – and Washington’s needs lying elsewhere – the Ravens could do well by moving up to the 16 spot.

16. BALTIMORE RAVENS (via proj. trade with WSH): Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

While the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency is not a solution to Baltimore’s need for a wide receiver, the Ravens could be able to get themselves a good prospect late in the draft.

Options like Jalin Hyatt, A.T. Perry, or Cedric Tillman could be available to Baltimore when they pick again in the second round.

But with the chance to immediately improve their defensive line sitting at their fingertips, why wouldn’t they draft a player like Murphy – who had 6.5 sacks for Clemson last season.

A possible generational talent in Myles Murphy is worth the Ravens trading up

17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

It seems the stars are aligning for Joey Porter Jr. to dawn a Steelers uniform much like his legendary father once did.

Not only does this pick provide the perfect amount of sentimentality to provide a smile for all those who love the draft but more importantly fills a major need in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh finished with the fourth worst pass defense in the league to end the seasons and a big, bodied CB like Porter is exactly what the defense could use on the other side of newly acquired veteran Patrick Peterson. 

Jory Porter Jr. being drafted to his father’s old team would be a poetic story to warms hearts

18. DETROIT LIONS: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Even after missing two games last season, Johnston still managed to rack up over 1,000 yards and averaged 17.8 yards per catch.

He played a key role in TCU’s run through the Big 12 with a 14 catch, 206 yard game against Kansas that showed the world the Horned Frogs were legitimate contenders.

Johnston’s reliability as a deep threat would be tantalizing. Put him on one half of the field with Amon-Ra St. Brown on the other half – and with Marvin Jones Jr. as a slot receiver – and the Lions would have one of the deadliest receiving corps in the NFL. 

TCU wideout Quentin Johnston could make Detroit’s receiving corps truly elite

19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Brian Branch, S, Alabama

The Buccaneers defense saw multiple departures at the safety position and spent minimal resources replenishing the position. Last season the Bucs saw starting safety Jordan Whitehead depart in free agency and this year have seen replacements Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan walk out the door this year.

This summer Tampa Bay only inked former Seahawk Ryan Neal to a one-year deal worth just over $1 million.

The stage seems set for the team to select the player who is far and away the No .1 safety in the draft and has been heralded as an incredibly smart, instinctive, and versatile player.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles has already displayed a willingness to spend a prime draft pick on a safety to ensure the backend of his defense remains strong back when he selected Jamal Adams in the top five during his time with the New York Jets.

Brian Branch has displayed a versatile skillset Bucs’ coach Todd Bowles loves to see in safeties 

20. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Time for the Seahawks to do something for Geno Smith that they never did for Russell Wilson: get offensive line help. 

Darnell Wright spent all of last season protecting the blind side of Hendon Hooker and he did a good job at it too – not allowing a single sack.

He’ll be a great addition for Smith – who is also a mobile quarterback like Hooker – and might help the Seahawks get over that hump after finishing last season tied for the ninth most sacks allowed in the NFL.

Tennessee’s Darnell Wright could provide offensive line help for Seattle QB Geno Smith

21. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

If Bijan Robinson is in fact still on the board by the time the Chargers are on the clock, LA should make this selection in less time than it takes to run a 40-yard dash.

Robinson has universally been declared one of the most talented players in this year’s draft class regardless of position and many believe he may be a more talented running back than Saquon Barkley who was selected No. 2 by the New York Giants only a handful of years ago.

There have been very loud whispers that Robinson may find his way into the top 10 despite the devaluation of the running back, specifically the No. 10 selection which is owned the Eagles.

In this situation however adding Robinson to the Chargers backfield would allow them to either replace talented veteran Austin Ekeler who has requested a trade due to an impasse in talks for a contract extension, or even to build the league’s most dangerous backfield behind stud QB Justin Herbert.

Texas RB Bijan Robinson has received rave reviews as on the most talented players in the draft

22. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (via proj. trade with BAL): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Washington was in the top-ten for times their quarterback was pressured in 2022, and with second-year passer Sam Howell set to take over, the Commanders need to protect what could be a long-term investment.

Enter Anton Harrison, a powerful offensive line prospect who should help the Commanders OL unit that was named the fifth-worst in the league by ProFootballNetwork.

Harrison is also a DC native – making it a great story if the lineman comes in to help his hometown team.

DC native Anton Harrison could go to his hometown team and help their struggling O-Line

23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

If the NFL draft gods do indeed leave Hendon Hooker on the board when the Vikings are on the clock with the No. 23rd overall pick, the former Tennessee Volunteer would have the best chance for long-term success out of any QB this year.

There is a large contingent who believe if not for the fact he has been rehabbing a torn ACL, Hooker would be rated much higher than as the fifth QB in this year’s class. 

With Kirk Cousins firmly entrenched as the Vikings starter heading into the season it would allow Hooker a full year to get his knee back to full health while adjusting to life in the NFL behind the veteran who will be 35-years-old once the season starts.

Cousins is also in the final year of his contract with the team feels Hooker can step in and produce at a high enough level to keep the team competitive as the move into a new era under center. 

Hendon Hooker would likely be ranked much higher if not for a torn ACL he suffered last year

24. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

With the budding Tyson Campbell starting at corner already, if the Jaguars can take another cornerback in this draft, they’ll officially lock up their defensive secondary.

As Andre Cisco and Rayshawn Jenkins lock down the safety position, Jacksonville will do well by drafting the explosive Deonte Banks.

Despite having only two interceptions across his whole college career, Banks is an excellent cover corner whose ability to stay tight to receivers lands him in the first round.

Deonte Banks could be the final piece in the puzzle for the Jaguars defensive secondary

25. NEW YORK GIANTS: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

While some Giants fans may moan about adding another undersized wide receiver to a receiving core that already includes several players of similar size, the consensus opinion is that the team needs more explosive weapons on offense.

Flowers possess outstanding quickness, ball skills, and a high-level of production when lining up on the outside. 

His feel for working his way open through zone coverages combined with an innate ability to make defenders miss, make him a big play threat no matter where he is lineup up as long as the ball makes it’s way to his reliable hands.

Zay Flowers has showcase the most explosive talent of the wideouts in this year’s class

26. DALLAS COWBOYS: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Even though swapping Dalton Schultz for Dalton Kincaid is the Dalton-for-Dalton transition we’ve been waiting for, the Cowboys should take Michael Mayer if he’s available.

Mayer is by far and away the top tight end prospect in the draft and many mocks have him going to either the Packers at 15 or to the Cowboys with this pick.

Green Bay is in desperate need of wide receivers, tight ends, and anyone who can catch the ball. Dallas is relatively set in the WR department, so Mayer’s great pass-catching abilities alongside his efficiency as a blocker should prove to be attractive for the Cowboys.

Michael Mayer is likely the first tight end off the board, but he drops to 26 and the Cowboys

27. BUFFALO BILLS: Lucas Van Ness, DE, Iowa

Lucas Van Ness has the potential to add the pass rush threat opposite Von Miller that Buffalo’s defense has been begging for.

The Iowa defensive end possess a mix of incredible strength, quickness around the edge, and the type of prototypical physical frame that defensive coaches often dream about.

Van Ness showcased his ability as more of a splash player than a consistent game-wrecker off the edge, but if there is any player who can help him elevate his game from that of a situational pass rusher to a threat on all three downs Miller would be the perfect player to learn from.

Lucas Van Ness has the physical profile and potential that defensive coaches salivate over

28. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Keelee Ringo, CB, Georgia 

The Bengals need an upgrade to their defensive secondary as a whole after losing a number of starters from last season. 

Safety Jesse Bates is gone, as is the occasionally error-prone Eli Apple – so it’s time to bring in reinforcements. Why not start with a great physical corner like Ringo.

Not only is he great with his hands off the line of scrimmage, but he’s strong enough to be a reliable run-stopper as well. He’s a great utility corner who could help the Bengals going forward.

After staff turnover in the secondary, Kelee Ringo should be a welcome sight for the Bengals

29. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (originally SF): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

After drafting Chris Olave to be the team’s future at wide receiver last season it would behoove the Saints to give newly signed franchise QB Derek Carr another weapon in athletic tight end Dalton Kincaid.

Not only do the Saints have what seems to be a huge need at the position, Carr was incredibly successful over when throwing to tight end Darren Waller while the duo were both with the Raiders.

Seeing as Saints coach Dennis Allen previously worked with Carr while with the Raiders it would make all the sense to help keep the Saints new QB in his comfort zone by giving him a premium talent with an impeccable talent for hauling in 50/50 balls. 

Dalton Kincaid displayed incredibly fluid athleticism and a great catch radius at Utah 

30. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

As mentioned earlier, there’s more than enough defensive talent for Philadelphia to feast on later in the draft. Here’s one of those players. 

Bresee is excellent on the defensive interior with great power with his upper-body strength – especially when it comes to getting past blockers either by sliding past them or by running over them.

Wherever he goes, Bresee should be a menace for years to come – so Philadelphia would be smart in taking him here.

Bryan Bresee could be the next great offensive line threat for the Philadelphia Eagles

31. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Calijah Kancey’s combine performance should have solidified him as a first-round talent and he would be a steal for the Chiefs if he lasted until the final pick in round one as has happened here.

Kancey garnered multiple All-American honors and was named a finalist for the Nagurski and Outland Trophies.

Despite his short and compact build which leaves him somewhat undersized compared to other DTs Kancey has excelled at winning his battles with quickness and leverage like fellow Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald.

He also performed better at the combine than Donald when he ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a DT in 17 years at 4.67.

Calijah Kancey has shown signs of being an Aaron Donald clone due to similar build and style

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