Maurice Jones-Drew 2023 NFL mock draft 1.0: Indianapolis Colts land Bryce Young 

We are ONE WEEK AWAY from the 2023 NFL Draft! It's the perfect time to reveal my one and only mock draft of the year. I'm sure my projection of the first round will raise some eyebrows, so I won't hold you up any longer.

NOTE: The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.

Pick
1
Carolina Panthers
(via CHI)
Anthony Richardson
Florida · QB · Sophomore (RS)

I know, I know. Top quarterback prospect Bryce Young canceled his remaining pre-draft visits on Monday, fueling the belief that he will be Carolina's pick at No. 1 overall, but let's think about this. While my opinion is not based on any inside information, it makes so much sense to pair the Panthers with Richardson, who should remind them of the last quarterback who took the franchise to the Super Bowl and won an MVP. And let's not forget Frank Reich's glowing review of Richardson from last month:


"Even before the combine, watching his tape, there are plays and throws all over the tape that scream top-of-the-draft pick."

C.J. Stroud
Ohio State · QB · Sophomore (RS)

After a big surprise at No. 1, Bryce Young is still on the board when Houston comes on the clock, but Stroud ends up being the apple of the team's eye. Stroud has much more size than Young, which steers the Texans toward the former Buckeye.

Bryce Young
Alabama · QB · Junior

PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS


The Colts have long searched for a quarterback. When Young becomes available at No. 3, owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Shane Steichen wisely outbid other teams, jumping at the opportunity to land their franchise quarterback.

Tyree Wilson
Texas Tech · Edge · Senior (RS)

PROJECTED TRADE WITH INDIANAPOLIS COLTS


There's been a lot of buzz around Wilson throughout the draft process and the tape matches the hype. The Cardinals land a much-needed young, explosive edge rusher to give new defensive coordinator Nick Rallis a cornerstone on the front line. 

Pick
5
Seattle Seahawks
(via DEN)
Will Anderson Jr.
Alabama · Edge · Junior

Production, production, production. Seattle strikes gold when Arizona passes on Anderson, who totaled 27.5 quarterback takedowns over the last two seasons.

Pick
6
Detroit Lions
(via LAR)
Jalen Carter
Georgia · DT · Junior

While the off-field concerns will need to be weighed, the Lions decide to shore up their interior D-line with the most dominant player in the draft.

Christian Gonzalez
Oregon · CB · Junior

The Raiders have their choice of cornerbacks and select Gonzalez, an athletic playmaker with great ball skills who should immediately upgrade the defense.

Myles Murphy
Clemson · Edge · Junior

Atlanta rebuilt its defense in free agency and now adds a dynamic pass rusher who'll benefit from playing with veterans Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree

Pick
9
Chicago Bears
(via CAR)
Peter Skoronski
Northwestern · OL · Junior

The Bears must build their offensive line to protect their franchise quarterback, who was sacked 55 times last season (tied for most in the NFL).  

Pick
10
Bijan Robinson
Texas · RB · Junior

Though Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs is my top running back in this year's draft class, the Eagles target the uber-productive Texas product. Robinson is a premier playmaker who'll take pressure off big-money quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Will Levis
Kentucky · QB · Senior (RS)

Tennessee seems to be already looking past 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis as Ryan Tannehill's eventual successor. Levis gives them a confident, big-armed quarterback who has the luxury of learning for a year or two before taking over the offense.

Pick
12
Houston Texans
(via CLE)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State · WR · Junior

The Texans draft Smith-Njigba, Stroud's college teammate. We saw how well drafting a QB-WR duo who played together in college has worked for Cincinnati. Houston gets its version to help grow an offense in need of talent. 


Side note: I couldn't live with myself if I continued this exercise without pointing out my favorite college teammate duo that was taken by a team with its first two picks. That's right, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted my guy Marcedes Lewis (No. 28 overall) and yours truly (No. 60) with their first- and second-round picks in 2006. Cue the UCLA 8-clap!

Pick
13
O'Cyrus Torrence
Florida · IOL · Senior

The Jets continue to build their offensive line with a monster in the interior who'll help protect Aaron Rodgers (assuming the trade gets done) during a deep playoff run.

Devon Witherspoon
Illinois · CB · Senior

Witherspoon is a man-to-man corner who'll fit like a glove in Bill Belichick's defense. Given how well young cornerbacks have fared recently in New England (SEE: J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones), this is a match made in heaven.

Zay Flowers
Boston College · WR · Senior

I sure hope the Packers finally select a playmaking wide receiver in the first round to aid their young quarterback. 

Paris Johnson Jr.
Ohio State · OT · Junior

The Commanders nab the 6-foot-6, 313-pound behemoth to protect the blindside of new QB1 Sam Howell.

Darnell Wright
Tennessee · OT · Senior

Another team that needs to shore up its offensive line, Pittsburgh gets a physical tackle and terrific pass blocker to put in front of second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Pick
18
Joey Porter Jr.
Penn State · CB · Junior (RS)

Another blue-chip player lands in the Lions' lap. Porter is a long cover corner who should provide immediate help on the back end of a revamped defense.

Broderick Jones
Georgia · OT · Sophomore (RS)

A poor offensive line caused the wheels to come off in Tampa last season. The Bucs add a physical blocker here to help the run game.

Lukas Van Ness
Iowa · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Last year, the Seahawks added a pair of bookend tackles (Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas) in the draft. This year, they select two top pass rushers to boost and add depth to the defensive front. 

Nolan Smith
Georgia · Edge · Senior

A lot of people want to see the Chargers select an offensive player here, but sacking the quarterback will help this team get over the hump in the playoffs. Smith brings a winning pedigree and different type of speed off the edge that will complement Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.

Jordan Addison
USC · WR · Junior

The Ravens already added Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor in free agency but need more firepower in the pass game for Lamar Jackson. They continue to load up on receivers with Addison, a do-it-all talent who can stretch the field. 

Hendon Hooker
Tennessee · QB · Senior (RS)

Hooker gets a redshirt year to get completely healthy and learn behind Kirk Cousins before becoming QB1 and leading Kevin O'Connell's offense.

Brian Branch
Alabama · CB · Junior

A versatile playmaker who can play safety or nickel, Branch will step in to help fortify the back end of a Jags defense looking to take the next step this fall.

Pick
25
John Michael Schmitz
Minnesota · C · Senior (RS)

The most important thing in this league is protecting the quarterback. Schmitz is a dominant interior blocker who'll help keep Daniel Jones upright and pave the way for Saquon Barkley in the run game.

Pick
26
Jahmyr Gibbs
Alabama · RB · Junior

With the departure of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard coming back from an injury sustained in the postseason, the Cowboys add the versatile Alabama playmaker to their backfield to aid the run and pass games. Gibbs would take a ton of pressure off Dak Prescott.

Pick
27
Calijah Kancey
Pittsburgh · DT · Junior (RS)

This talented, explosive interior rusher lands with a team that loves getting after the quarterback. It's a great fit. 

Dalton Kincaid
Utah · TE · Senior

A dynamic tight end lands in a dynamic offense. Pairing Kincaid with an explosive receiving trio gives Joe Burrow endless weapons in the pass game. Watch out for this group!

Pick
29
New Orleans Saints
(via SF through MIA, DEN)
Michael Mayer
Notre Dame · TE · Junior

The Saints add a tight end who can be an in-line blocker in the run game and a playmaker for Derek Carr in the pass game. 

Bryan Bresee
Clemson · DT · Sophomore (RS)

The rich keep getting richer as the Eagles add another strong and talented interior defender to their defensive line.

Keion White
Georgia Tech · Edge · Senior (RS)

The Chiefs find Frank Clark's replacement, nabbing a big, athletic edge rusher who is still raw but has all the tools to learn under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

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