Projecting all 31 first-round picks
Tom Brady has retired and there’s a chance of another titanic move coming from Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers is weighing in to drop the curtain or embrace relocation.
The 2023 NFL Draft features several quarterback prospects considered potential franchise matches, but only a handful of teams are able to add Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Will Levis of Kentucky.
Note: The Miami Dolphins lost their first-round pick following the NFL’s ruling that the team violated league policies governing integrity of play.
Here’s a look at the projections for the first round of the 2023 draft:
1) Chicago Bears (projected trade with the Colts)
OF Will Anderson, Alabama
Anderson has traits for days and has almost never rushed the passer against a single block in the SEC.
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Trade suitors are giving general manager Ryan Poles big and bigger options to push a speedy hyperdrive rebuild. He connects with former Chiefs scouting department colleague Chris Ballard in a deal with the Colts that likely brings a first-rounder in 2024 just to slip three spots. A double deal from the Poles in the top 10 is entirely possible with QB-seeking teams eager to reach No. 4 (where the Bears play in this projected trade) and willing to pay too much to prevent Seattle from get the third ranked QB in this rank.
Stroud brings stability to the organization and gives new coach DeMeco Ryans a building block to compete in the declining AFC South as early as the 2023 season.
If there’s one reason the Bears would balk at the Colts’ offer, it’s this man. A massive, dynamic athlete in the mold of the Colts DT DeForest Buckner, the Cardinals get an anchor for the defensive line after the retirement of JJ Watt.
4) Indianapolis Colts (projected trade with Bears)
In a climb to No. 1 with the Bears, the Colts take Young on in hopes he brings to the franchise what Andrew Luck did before his untimely retirement – a franchise quarterback capable of competing for the trophy Lombardy.
5) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Predicting how general manager John Schneider might spend that Broncos pot of gold pick in the Russell Wilson trade is bound to be one of the biggest variables leading up to the April draft. Trained by Ron Wolf in Green Bay, Schneider knows how to find a quarterback. He also knows that this choice will hold.
6) Detroit Lions (via LAR)
TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
With the two premium defensive linemen gone, the Lions are looking at another pick through the Rams to replace TJ Hockenson (traded to the Vikings) and give QB Jared Goff an inside option. Mayer has had 18 career touchdowns and wows in traffic.
The quarterback and offensive line are needed, but the value is borderline and the Raiders get help from Maxx Crosby in the mission to beat Mahomes and Herbert.
OT Peter Skoronski, North-West
When the Falcons selected Jake Matthews with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, pundits believed Matthews would not stand up to left tackle in the NFL and was destined to play inside at guard. Skoronski hears some of the same speculation regarding arm length and his fit on the left side, but the Falcons are continuing their rebuild with a prospect who could start at any of OL’s five positions.
OF Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
At 6-foot-6, 270, the Panthers have the makings of a menacing forward duo with DT Derrick Brown and setter Brian Burns.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
James Bradberry is a top free agent, which means he’ll be getting a big payday. The top corner of the class has the speed and length to check No. 1 receivers as a rookie.
OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State
The future of Taylor Lewan, who turns 32 in June and wrapped up her 2022 season on IR in September, is very shaky in Tennessee. A natural left tackle, considered a five-gauge prospect, the Titans waste little time jumping for Johnson in an effort to reestablish dominance in the trenches.
12) Houston Texans (via CLE)
The Texans are tempted by the multiple defensive backs on the board and the passing assist before swinging for Addison, who becomes CJ Stroud’s lead receiver.
Health and durability issues top the list of negatives in Bresee’s scouting report. A go-ahead on medical evaluations puts him in the middle of the Jets defense next to Quinnen Williams.
CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
Porter plays a physical style that will endear him to Bill Belichick and give the Patriots better personnel in a high-end receiver division.
OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
General manager Brian Gutekunst has replenished the offensive line with mid-round picks in recent years and left guard Elgton Jenkins has played tackle, but knee injuries, age and salary indicate it’s time to leave David Bakhtiari.
16) Washington Commanders
QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Boom-or-bust based on raw skill but inconsistent results, Richardson’s ceiling as an athlete full of potential is limited only by questions about whether he can develop as a true passer.
TE Darnell Washington, Georgia
Secondary help and reinforcements on the defensive line are higher priorities. Washington’s size, willingness to block and potential as a passing play target are attractive to coach Mike Tomlin and a slow-growing offense.
A defense with few playmakers gets one. Cracking the Crimson Tide secondary as a rookie puts you on the NFL’s radar early, and Branch has the proven versatility to ride draft boards in the weeks to come.
LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
Cap constraints limit how far the Bucs can go in free agency and whether they can bring Lavonte David back for another season. Sanders suits the Bucs scheme with speed and range.
A size-speed perspective capable of helping inspire Legion of Boom comparisons.
Mike Williams and Johnston (6-4, 213) would be a physically imposing tandem for Justin Herbert, even if Keenan Allen returns for his 11th season.
CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
Marcus Peters, a free agent, will be hard to afford for the Ravens while navigating negotiations with QB Lamar Jackson. Witherspoon represents great value there, continuing the Ravens tradition of catching higher-rated prospects late in the first round.
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
A spot later than the Vikings robbed Justin Jefferson out of LSU in 2020, the Vikings are jumping on the explosive point guard.
BC Cam Smith, South Carolina
Fighting in the AFC requires points but also playmakers in the back half of the defence.
OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Investing in QB Daniel Jones without addressing pass protection would be a miserable approach for the Giants, who know the depth of their skill needs going into free agency and could be a player in the trade bidding for the Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins.
S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
A No. 2 cornerback is tempting the Cowboys, as are potential TE replacements Dalton Schultz, one of whom left the board earlier, pushing Dallas to a high-impact safety with coverage skills for a nickel role .
Robinson adds a point guard to Buffalo’s offense and regularly giving him the ball adds life to QB Josh Allen’s career while making pattern decisions more difficult for defenses.
LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
The latest versatile defenseman produced by the Tigers, Simpson has played in multiple positions on the Clemson front and the ability to switch up his stripes with the Bengals makes him the perfect fit.
29) New Orleans Saints (via DEN)
WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
A perfect fit and complement to standout rookie Chris Olave, Flowers assists an attack in the middle of a hard reset. The Broncos traded that pick for the right to hire head coach Sean Payton.
Frank Clark and Chris Jones have big contracts and the Chiefs have started restocking left defensive end George Kalaftis with the 30th pick in 2022.
TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Size (6-5), speed (4.5s), power and athleticism are winning traits for Musgrave, whose stock will increase as he proves to be on the knee injury that put ends its final season in September 2022. The luxury pick helps run the game and gives Dallas Goedert a running mate in two TE sets.
*Picks 30-31 will be determined by the outcome of Super Bowl LVII.