NFL mock draft 2023: First round projection with order set after college football title game

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NFL mock draft 2023: First round projection with order set after college football title game

NFL mock draft 2023: First round projection with order set after college football title game

With the end of the regular season, half of the NFL is now turning their eyes to the draft and landmarks like the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and other draft scouting events.

This is the fourth iteration of SB Nation’s mock draft, and in this one there are more names that haven’t been on, and some that have dropped out of round one.

This year is very similar to the 2016 NFL Draft, with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz being the top two QBs off the board, but the top players in the draft class were guys like Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey and DeForest Buckner. Alabama QB Bryce Young and Ohio State QB CJ Stroud are at the top of the QB class, but the top players are DL Will Anderson and Jalen Carter.

You can’t really go wrong with Young or Stroud, but Young is my first QB off the board. Despite being around 6’0 and 194 pounds, Young has exceptional accuracy and the ability to hit throws in the intermediate and short areas of the field. The standout ability of Young is his spatial awareness. You see plays like this all the time over Young’s film:

His ability to create outside of structure and improvise is the best in the draft class, and it makes up for his lack of height. While I have questions about Young’s top end arm strength and his tendency to drift back in the pocket rather than forward or outside the pocket, his ability to create out of structure and use his legs places him at the top of the QB class for me.

When you look at CJ Stroud, he’s a prototypical pocket passer, with accuracy to all three levels and a great processor pre and post snap. When everything is in line and he can get through his reads, it’s pretty to see:

One of the biggest criticisms of Stroud was his ability to create out of structure and use his legs. Stroud is a good athlete, but often chose not to run or extend plays with his feet. He answered that question emphatically against Georgia in the CFP Semifinal however, showcasing every tool in the toolbox.

Idk if a single game has ever influenced my opinion of a player like this performance from CJ Stroud

Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson is flying up draft boards, and it’s not hard to see why. The senior defensive lineman is built like an Avenger, first of all.

Second, it’s hard to find many guys at 6’6 and 270 plus pounds who can move the way he does. He’s already a very good run defender, who can explode off of blocks with raw power. He’s got heavy hands and the versatility to slide inside on passing downs, where he can take advantage of other guards.

I'm not as high on Tyree Wilson as most, but I understand the infatuation. The power he can generate when he locates his hands properly and explodes through a blocker is truly impressive. He's late out of his stance a lot as well, like on this play

Wilson isn’t the quickest or fastest player on the defensive line, and probably won’t wow with explosion, but the power he packs in his hands is second to none. I have him going fifth overall in my mock to the Seattle Seahawks, who can use his versatility and power as a nice complement to Darrell Taylor and Boye Mafe on the edge.

Alabama S Brian Branch is in this latest mock draft, and I probably should’ve had him on here earlier. Branch is a versatile and disciplined defensive back from the Nick Saban school of amazing DB play, and has worn multiple hats for the Tide defense. He led all DBs in tackles for loss, and with his ability to tackle and play near the line of scrimmage makes him a need for multiple teams.

Branch is also good in underneath zone coverage, making him one of the safer defenders to take in this draft. I have him going to the Buffalo Bills, where he can fill in for Taron Johnson at nickel, or provide depth at safety. Either way, he’ll make an impact sooner rather than later.

The top wide receiver in this draft class is going to be a fun discussion. Starting off the year it seemed like WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be the first wideout taken, but as the regular season ends, it’s a two-man race between TCU WR Quentin Johnston and USC WR Jordan Addison.

Johnston is the leader in most clubhouses, but I think I lean towards Addison right now as my first receiver. He’s not the biggest or strongest, and probably won’t run a blazing 40 yard dash, but he just knows how to get open. He’s a very nuanced route runner who can create separation with short bursts or exploiting blind spots, and has good hands as well.

He missed the rest of the season due to an ankle injury that’s a very real concern, but Addison can come in and be a great WR2 or WR1. I have him headed to Tennessee, where his play style complements WR Treylon Burks very well.

Right on his heels however is TCU WR Quentin Johnston. Johnston is bigger at 6’4, and he can FLY. His ability to stretch the field and run past defenders while also being able to go up over defenders is an added bonus at that size.

He’s also getting better at route running, and his fluidity when breaking down routes is an underrated part of his game. I have him going to the Houston Texans and pairing up with Bryce Young.