Pick Team Pos Player
The Bears should look to trade this pick ahead of draft night, but if they decide to stay put, they need to go with the top player at a position of need for them. They could consider QB Bryce Young out of Alabama, but with Justin Field’s year-two emergence, they should opt to take his teammate in Will Anderson Jr. Chicago usually prides themselves on having a shutdown defense, and taking a blue-chip prospect like Anderson would go a long ways in helping turn things around for them on that side of the ball.
Bryce Young
If nobody trades for the first pick to jump them, you can bet your bottom dollar that Houston will be rushing to the podium to take their quarterback of choice. In this case, I think they’ll be leaning towards Bryce Young over someone like C.J. Stroud or Will Levis. While he is a little undersized, he has a rocket of an arm and good improvisation that will make him an attractive candidate despite his physical shortcomings. The Davis Mills experiment flopped in a big way this year, and the Texans better pray that their improbable Week 18 win didn’t ruin their chances to get an elite QB prospect like Young.
Jalen Carter
Where do the Cardinals start? They have an injured quarterback that may not be ready for the start of the season, they have a star wide receiver that will likely be traded at some point this offseason, and they lack elite talent anywhere else to compensate for these problems. When all else fails, build through the trenches. That’s the approach Arizona takes in this scenario, grabbing a consensus top-five prospect in Carter without overthinking the pick.
C.J. Stroud
Ohio State
The Colts’ strategy of bringing in washed veteran quarterbacks has been a complete bust over the past few seasons. They haven’t had reliable play from the quarterback position since Andrew Luck surprisingly retired from football at the ripe age of 29, but they now have an opportunity to find a long-term fix for that problem with the fourth-overall pick in this year’s draft. Stroud impressed many in his 2022 campaign, and he would be a home-run pick for Indianapolis if they can get him at this pick.
Myles Murphy
I have to give credit where credit is due. I initially wasn’t the biggest fan of Seattle’s draft last year, but it’s proven to be one of the best classes in recent memory. They now have young talent on both sides of the ball, so why not add to that by taking a top edge prospect like Murphy? Seattle doesn’t have a hyper-productive pass rush, and grabbing a premier edge guy here could help get this team over the hump in a few years.
Bryan Bresee
The Lions started the year out with a 1-6 record, but they were able to turn things around in the back half of the season and end with a winning record. The offense wasn’t much of an issue all season, and the defense really came into form down the stretch with the emergence of rookie edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston. Dan Campbell and the Lions are building one of the best young units in all of football, and adding an interior lineman like Bresee could help them to dominate the trenches for years to come.
Will Levis
Derek Carr is out, so the Raiders will need to bring someone in. There isn’t much for elite veteran QB options who will be available in the offseason, so they’ll likely look to add someone in the draft. In this scenario, they grab a high-upside prospect in Will Levis. The Kentucky product would benefit from not starting right off the bat in year one, but the Raiders haven’t exactly been known to make wise developmental decisions in years prior.
Peter Skoronski
The Falcons, on paper, have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The offensive line has very few serviceable players, so that may be the first thing they look to address. Skoronski had a stellar career at Northwestern, and his versatility to play either tackle or guard will be appealing to a team that needs help at both positions like the Falcons.
Carolina will go into the draft hoping to get a quarterback, but they probably won’t reach on someone like Anthony Richardson with a top-ten pick. Instead, they will take a player that has arguably the highest potential of any receiver in this class in Quentin Johnston. Standing at 6’4/215, the TCU receiver still projects to run in the 4.4’s for his 40-yard dash time despite his large frame. His athleticism is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years, and it would come as no surprise to see the Panthers using a top pick for a prospect like him.
Joey Porter Jr.
Penn State
The Eagles have had a good secondary this year, but James Bradberry is on a one-year deal and may leave in free agency. Enter Joey Porter Jr., who is the son of former Steelers’ linebacker Joey Porter Sr. He had a terrific senior season as a Nittany Lion, and we’ve seen him improve every year of his collegiate career. He’s a true lockdown cornerback that will make an immediate impact for whatever team drafts him, and in this case, that’s the Eagles.
Paris Johnson Jr.
Ohio State
Johnson will need some polishing at the NFL level, but he’s one of the best offensive line prospects in the draft. Tennessee has a lot of needs they will have to address in free agency and the draft, but their offense is based around the run game, so they are well suited taking a big and athletic lineman like Paris Johnson.
Tyree Wilson
Texas Tech
The Texans went the safe route picking Bryce Young at two in this scenario, but now they will take one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this draft in Wilson. He stands with an imposing 6’6/275 build, but he will need to refine his technique and get more experience if he wants to turn into an effective player at the next level.
Nolan Smith
Smith is a guy that I see gaining hype before the draft. He’s got the versatility to rush the passer or drop into coverage, and he seems like the perfect multi-faceted type of player that Robert Saleh loves to develop. He may be slightly undersized as an edge, and his injury offers a little concern, but I think a team like the Jets will buy into his potential come draft day.
Simpson is one of my favorite players to watch in this class, and I think that New England will share that view. When you turn on his tape from the past couple of seasons, the first thing you notice is his speed. He’s a true sideline-to-sideline backer, and he’s also proven that he can excel in pass coverage and as a rusher. Many view him as one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, and he seems like exactly the type of explosive athlete that Bill Belichick has been missing in New England’s defense over the past three years.
This pick could definitely change depending on what happens with QB Aaron Rodgers this offseason. For now I will work under the assumption that he’s playing, and if that’s the case, I think the Packers should seriously consider drafting their first wide receiver in the first round since 2002. Addison has been arguably the most productive college wide receiver over the past two seasons, and he even won the Biletnikoff award in 2021. His speed and downfield separation would be a great compliment to Christian Watson’s size, and the Packers would find themselves with one of the best young receiving tandems if they draft Addison.
Cam Smith
South Carolina
Ron Rivera has made his hay as an NFL coach because of his expertise on the defensive side of the ball, but he needs talented players to work with. That’s exactly where Cam Smith comes in. Smith offers good coverage fundamentals and mostly-sound technique coming out of South Carolina, and he’s also a very willing and capable player in run support. There are a few smaller things he will need to fine tune for the NFL, but he has just as much potential to become an elite player as any other cornerback in this year’s draft.
It was tough luck for the Steelers this year. They came just one Miami loss away from making the playoffs as the seventh seed, but they weren’t exactly a good team overall. Najee Harris had a bad year relative to his rookie season, and Pittsburgh should be looking to solidify their sub-par offensive line before next season. Jones can help with that. He’s shown a ton of potential and room to grow over his college career, and while he may not be ready to start on day one, he could end up being a franchise left tackle for a team with a promising young quarterback.
Kelee Ringo
Dan Campbell knows that he needs to patch up the defense before next season, so Detroit won’t be shy to double up on the defensive side of the ball in the first round. Ringo struggled in coverage at various points in the season, but he possesses some of the highest athletic potential of any player in the draft and could become an elite player with proper coaching down the road.
Tampa Bay’s future holds many question marks. This pick could change if Tom Brady retires after the season, or if the team decides to move on from Todd Bowles as head coach, but for now the team will look to shore up a surprising position of weakness for them this year. Carlton Davis is on a new contract, but Jamel Dean hasn’t been great this season and we could see them move on to a cheaper and possibly better option in Christian Gonzalez.
Rookies Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas have done an excellent job securing the edges of Seattle’s offensive line this year, and now they will bring in O’Cyrus Torrence to do the same thing on the interior. The Florida product isn’t a perfect prospect or athlete, but he’s the best player at his position and would certainly help to stimulate Pete Carroll’s rushing attack with Kenneth Walker for next season.
Brian Branch
The bowl season helped Branch’s draft stock to soar up, and for good reason. He showcased dominant physical traits that will convert to the NFL level, though many think he will be better suited as a safety than a cornerback wherever he lands. Jacksonville’s offense is in good hands with Trevor Lawrence emerging as an elite quarterback, and just one good defensive draft selection could be enough to make this team dangerous for 2023.
This may be the ideal scenario for the Giants. We saw their offense taking a massive step forward in 2022, but they still lacked a true WR1. Smith-Njigba is the most pro-ready receiver in this class, and he would come in and help Daniel Jones and the Giants on day one of his rookie campaign.
Some teams would look at the 5-foot 10-inch tall Phillips and decide he’s too small to work in their defense, but the Ravens have a way of maximizing the potential in their players. At the very least, Phillips will be an above-average slot corner in the NFL, and that would be more than enough to bolster a thin Baltimore secondary.
Michael Mayer
Notre Dame
Mayer certainly isn’t the product that Kyle Pitts was coming out of college, but he is the closest thing we’ve seen. He has a proven track record of production at Notre Dame, and pairing him with emerging star QB Justin Herbert just feels right. If the Chargers end up doing this, they will certainly be in the conversation for the most loaded offense in football next season.
Trevon Diggs played lights-out for the Cowboys all year, but they are still looking to solidify the depth chart behind him. They do just that with Witherspoon. The Illinois product has excellent coverage skills in one-on-one scenarios, and he also has proven to be among the best in the class when in press coverage. Dallas already had one of the best defenses in football this season, but this move would help boost the secondary and perhaps would be enough to put them over the top into elite territory.
Antonio Johnson
Texas A&M
Jessie Bates III could walk in free agency this offseason, and the team will need to find a suitable replacement for him. Antonio Johnson provides just that. He’s a hard hitter with an ideal frame and excellent coverage abilities, but his fluidity and the tightness in his hips likely limits him to being just a safety on the next level rather than a slot corner.
Josh Downs
North Carolina
Sorry Vikings’ fans. Father time is finally catching up to Adam Thielen. He hasn’t had a game over 100 yards in over 450 days, and his time in Minnesota seems to be limited. The silver lining, however, is that they will have Josh Downs fall to them in this scenario, who has been one of the most productive college receivers over the past couple of seasons. He’s slightly undersized, but he would perfectly fit the WR2 role behind Justin Jefferson in this offense next season and beyond.
The first word that comes to mind when I think about Darnell Washington is beast. He stands with a jaw-dropping 6’7/270 frame, and he plays like an offensive tackle that can also catch the ball. He won’t have the same type of receiving value that someone like Kyle Pitts or Noah Fant offered as prospects, but his blocking is perhaps the best we’ve seen in the past decade. With no more high-caliber offensive line prospects on the board, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Denver go for a guy that can both block the edge and catch passes.
Let me get this out of the way: Bijan Robinson is an elite prospect at the running back position. However, I don’t think that teams should be taking RB’s high in the draft because it’s not a position with a lot of scarcity. With that being said, he reminds me a lot of Josh Jacobs, and he is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the class. The Bills’ offense has been one dimensional for a few years now, but they could quickly change that with taking arguably the best prospect we’ve seen at the position since Saquon Barkley.
The Eagles probably have positions that are of more need than tight end, but Kincaid is such a good prospect that I can’t see him dropping out of the first round. He excels when catching the ball, and he displayed great ability to fight for more yards after the catch at Utah. Philadelphia wasn’t shy to run two-TE sets when Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert were paired up, and they would jump on the opportunity to build another elite tight end tandem for next season.
Kansas City made a great pick in George Karlaftis on the edge in last year’s draft, and they can complete their building of a young defensive front with Ojulari. He was hyper-productive at LSU, and it’s easy to see that he lives in the backfield. The Chiefs’ offense will always be secure with Patrick Mahomes at the helm, so they will likely look to further invest in the defense this year.