It’s that time of year again, when the college football season moves into the rearview and the sport’s top eligible prospects move into the professional ranks, with the annual crop of players heading to the 2023 NFL Draft.
To that end, mock drafter extraordinaire Mel Kiper, Jr. went to work creating his first look at how this year’s draft could shake out in the first round.
More: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 50 Prospects
It’s a lot of the usual names at the top, with two premier SEC defensive prospects on the market, in addition to a pair of high-profile quarterbacks looking to be selected high in the first round.
And, as always, there are some questionable selections that will have football fans scratching their heads when looking at the top predictions.
1. Bears: Jalen Carter
Position: Defensive tackle
What Kiper says: “Chicago’s roster needs help from top to bottom, but its defense was particularly dreadful, ranking last in the league in sacks and points allowed per game. Carter, an explosive interior pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the nod… He’s the best player in this draft.”
Scouting report: “Blessed with rare athleticism, a lightning quick first step and violent hands, the Bulldogs defensive tackle makes a living in the opponents’ backfield.” — NFL Draft Bible
2. Texans: CJ Stroud
School: Ohio State
What Kiper says: “He’s extremely accurate, can make every throw, and has excellent touch at every level of the field.”
Scouting report: “Known as the first one in, last one out, Stroud possesses all the intangibles that NFL decision-makers seek from a franchise quarterback — head coach Ryan Day has praised his work ethic and professional approach to the game on a daily basis.” — NFL Draft Bible
3. Cardinals: Will Anderson, Jr.
Position: Edge rusher
What Kiper says: “Anderson was a tackle for loss machine in college and dominated offensive tackles in both the run and pass game. Unblockable at times.”
Scouting report: “One of the most twitchy and fastest pass rushers that we’ve seen come off the edge in quite some time. His ability to convert speed to power, along with his bend and athleticism, enables him to use an array of moves to get to the quarterback.” — NFL Draft Bible
4. Colts: Bryce Young
What Kiper says: Young is a quick processor with an elite feel for the pocket and how to move around and locate his target… Spread out the offense and watch him throw darts to Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce.”
Scouting report: “A smart-accurate passer who doesn’t force throws and rarely makes mistakes. Lacks prototype size but sees the field very well, demonstrated natural feel in the pocket and can push the ball downfield with a simple flick of the wrist.” — NFL Draft Bible
5. Seahawks: Will Lewis
What Kiper says: “Turn on his tape, and you’re going to see some poor interceptions and questionable decisions. But you’re also going to see rockets that should have been caught and tight-window throws that no other passer in this class can make.”
Scouting report: “You will notice everything is ultra-quick. An up-tempo offense based on quick reads and fast decision-making. Levis gets rid of the ball in a hurry and it’s the high-octane scheme that you see many NFL teams attempting to mimic .”
Rounding out the Top 10
6. Lions: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech: “The top true defensive end in this class…can use his burst at the snap to beat offensive tackles on passing downs or use his frame to hold up against the run.”
7. Raiders: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern: “Could move to guard or right tackle at the next level. He allowed just one sack in 2022… An instant starter for a new-look offense.”
8. Falcons: Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson: “A complete defender who had 17.5 sacks in three seasons…Could even kick inside to tackle on passing downs.”
9. Panthers: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida: “I wouldn’t play Richardson in Year 1. He needs time to develop. He’s not an NFL-ready thrower. But he is an awesome talent, a raw quarterback who would be one of the league’s most electrifying runners.”
10. Eagles: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh: “Wreaked havoc the past two seasons, racking up 13.5 sacks when lined up as a defensive tackle, the most in the country.”
2023 NFL Draft Order
Ace of Championship Sunday
You can see the rest of Kiper’s mock draft here: Mel Kiper’s 2023 Mock Draft
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