The NFL playoffs are kicking off. The College Football Playoff is ending. That transitional period is a really perfect time to clock in with a recent 2023 mock draft.
This special edition is restricted to the highest 18 overall picks, with the order set for non-playoff teams. The exceptions the Broncos, Rams, Saints and Browns, who all have traded away their upcoming first-round selections.
In a shocking Week 18 twist, the Texans rallied to beat the Colts while the Bears were getting routed by the Vikings, giving Chicago (3-14) the highest pick over Houston (3-13-1).
Without including any potential trades, listed here are Sporting News’ projections for a way the selections will play out from No. 1 to No. 18:
NFL mock draft 2023
1. Chicago Bears
- Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (6-4, 235 kilos)
The Bears, picking first overall for the first time since 1947, shouldn’t need to think about QB with the passing and running ceiling of big-armed Justin Fields. The perfect scenario is trading down for extra first-down selection power with a team trying to jump the Texans for a selected franchise QB. If the Bears stay, they need to look to get familiar defensive pop.
Getting this cornerstone pass rusher and lively all-around playmaker is great call. Anderson would give them a recent Khalil Mack after also saying goodbye to Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith on the second level.
2. Houston Texans
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (6-0, 194 kilos)
The Texans, after seeing there is not any solution between Davis Mills and Kyle Allen, quarterback have to be the pick instantly. Although they aren’t any longer guaranteed to pick out their QB of alternative, they need to first answer the query of whether or not they prefer Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Here’s pondering early that Young, with the pedigree that is helped Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones turn out to be NFL starters, will provide the fitting combination of passing upside and little bust factor based on his intangibles and proven production.
3. Arizona Cardinals
- Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6-3, 310 kilos)
The Cardinals have a simple pick to make here with J.J. Watt retiring and Zach Allen heading into free agency. Carter is a dominant, disruptive force made to make lots of plays as an NFL base 3-4 end. He possesses Watt-like upside with pass-rush potential.
4. Indianapolis Colts
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 215 kilos)
The Colts’ reward for an absolute QB mess between Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger in the ultimate abbreviated season under Frank Reich is being bad enough to get in position to stop recycling veteran QBs. They will land Stroud, a wise pocket passer with the fitting accuracy and intangibles to thrive as their true delayed franchise substitute for Andrew Luck.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
- Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (6-5, 275 kilos)
The Seahawks needs to be enthusiastic about boosting their defensive front seven with their extra higher first-rounder. Murphy has an awesome combination of explosiveness and instincts to take care of his pass-rush production in Pete Carroll’s scheme.
6. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
- Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6-0, 205 kilos)
The Lions got some improved play from 2020 first-rounder Jeff Okudah in coverage but struggled to seek out other answers on the perimeter. Ringo has the mentality they need as he translates his size well into physical, aggressive play.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
- Jordan Addison, WR, USC (6-0, 175 kilos)
The Raiders could use some field-stretching speed and after-catch quickness to assist Davante Adams outside and Addison has a pleasant mix of each. He also can be a lovely additional playmaker to push toward a Tom Brady-Josh McDaniels reunion in free agency.
8. Atlanta Falcons
- Isiaah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame (6-4, 257 kilos)
The Falcons must put money into revving up their 3-4 pass rush and Foskey can fit the bill along with his powerful, explosive and technically sound game. He also has the potential to turn out to be more well-rounded for the NfL as he further develops as a run defender.
9. Carolina Panthers
- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232 kilos)
The Panthers need to wash up their QB situation after going from Baker Mayfield to P.J. Walker before circling back to Sam Darnold in a run-heavy offense. Levis represents a solid pocket passer with the arm, accuracy and quick release to thrive with the fitting support system.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (6-0, 188 kilos)
The Eagles stash for his or her future with their first of two picks within the round, knowing Darius Slay just turned 32 and James Bradberry goes into his age-30 season. Smith might be groomed right into a shutdown cover man and provides them a young substitute option in a 12 months or two.
11. Tennessee Titans
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-6, 310 kilos)
Left tackle Taylor Lewan is 31 and has handled major knee injuries in two of the past three seasons. Fill-in Dennis Daley is a free agent. The Titans can get Johnson to pair nicely with fellow former Buckeye Nicholas Petit-Frere because the near future bookends.
12. Houston Texans (from Browns)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 197 kilos)
The Texans must pair a dynamic pass-catcher with their recent franchise QB. Smith-Njigba can be the fitting alternative after Addison is off the board. He can follow Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson as a prized Buckeyes prospect along with his speed, quickness and route-running.
13. Latest York Jets
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (6-3, 225 kilos)
Simpson is a tricky, fast on-ball playmaker the Jets could use on the second level around Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley. He can operate well vs. each run and pass for Robert Saleh after pending free agents Kwon Alexander and Quincy Williams were limited all-around.
14. Latest England Patriots
Quinton Johnston, WR, TCU (6-4, 215 kilos)
The Patriots must try again to get a bona fide No. 1 wideout for the sake of Mac Jones with Jakobi Meyers and others heading into free agency and DeVante Parker not being reliable along with his health ahead of his Age-30 season. Johnston is right size-speed prospect for the skin within the vein of Mike Evans and Mike Williams and likewise offers route-running savvy and good hands.
15. Green Bay Packers
- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-4, 251 kilos)
Mayer is a matchup-nightmare creating receiver at his position and might slot in nicely with fellow big-play kids Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs at wideout. Robert Tonyan is a pending free agent and the Packers could a special type of athletic goal to assist Aaron Rodgers stretch the center of the sector to switch Randall Cobb.
16. Washington Commanders
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (6-5, 300 kilos)
Daron Payne is a pending free agent and the Commanders should search for a recent complement to Jonathan Allen to assist Chase Young and Montez Sweat up front. Bresee offers good technique and nimble feet as a run-stopper and likewise can boost the within pass rush.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (6-4, 315 kilos)
Dan Moore Jr. has been considered one of the league’s shakiest left tackles, especially in pass protection. The Steelers need a long-term rock in front of Kenny Pickett’s blind side and Skoronksi can deliver along with his smooth quickness and athleticism on the sting.
18. Detroit Lions
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech (6-6, 275 kilos)
The Lions could use a rangy bookend for 2022 No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Wilson is explosive and versatile for his size, able to playing multiple impact positions along a front seven.