Jeff Ratcliffe's 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
FTN's Jeff Ratcliffe puts together his Mock Draft 1.0 and how to look at it from a fantasy football perspective.
Feb 27, 2023, 4:00 PM EST
With the NFL Scouting Combine here, the 2023 NFL Draft season is officially in full swing, and it’s time for our first mock of the year. Mock drafts are an exercise in futility, as it’s essentially impossible to get even remotely close to correct on all of your picks.
So instead of worrying about that, we’re going to approach this mock as an academic exercise with a few parameters in place. First, we aren’t going to worry about trades in this mock. We’ll have trades in future mocks, but we’ll keep the board static for this one.
With no trades, our goal here is to 1) identify which positions teams are most likely to address in the first round, and 2) identify the top players likely to be on the board at the positions of need for each pick.
Jeff Ratcliffe's 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Chicago – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The Bears have many needs, but one of them is not quarterback. Justin Fields showed major potential last season, so Chicago now needs to build around him on both sides of the football. Jalen Carter is an extremely disruptive interior lineman who will step right in and make an impact at the next level.
2. Houston – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
It’s no secret that the Texans have a need at signal-caller. In Bryce Young, they land the top prospect in this year’s class. But Young is far from a sure thing. His lack of size makes him a unique option who comes with risk. Despite his unconventional stature, Young can ball with the best of them.
3. Arizona – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
The Jonathan Gannon/Monti Ossenfort era begins with a pick on the defensive side of the ball. Will Anderson stood out on a team full of studs at Alabama and showed the ability to take over games.
4. Indianapolis – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
With Bryce Young off the board, the Colts take the next-best player at quarterback in C.J. Stroud. The Ohio State product can’t stand toe-to-toe with Young in terms of football IQ, but he’s a pure passer who could step right in and give the Colts a promising future at the position.
5. Seattle – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Seahawks have a few needs, but it makes sense to go edge here given how top-heavy the position is in this year’s draft. Tyree Wilson has elite size and the explosion to give offensive linemen fits on Sundays.
6. Detroit – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Like I said, this is an impressive edge class, so the Lions follow suit with Lukas Van Ness. Sure, he didn’t “start” for Iowa this past season, but he was clearly their best defensive player. His elite athletic traits will be on full display at the Combine.
7. Las Vegas – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler said recently that the team may not have an “immediate answer” at quarterback. It’s a vague statement, but one that does not suggest the team will make a move for Aaron Rodgers. Will Levis better fits that narrative, as he will take time to develop. At the same time, his ceiling is massive if he ends up hitting.
8. Atlanta – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
While I’m not sold on the Falcons rolling into 2023 with Desmond Ridder under center, they pass on quarterback here and instead address their secondary. In Devon Witherspoon, they get a rock-solid corner who can start on Day 1 and help them get significantly younger at the position.
9. Carolina – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
He’s the most polarizing player on the board, but there are going to be teams that fall in love with Anthony Richardson’s traits. The Panthers haven’t had a viable signal-caller since the height of Cam Newton’s career, and in Richardson, they get a very similar player to Newton.
10. Philadelphia – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
James Bradberry could end up walking in free agency, so the Eagles fill that hole with the first of their two first-round picks. In Christian Gonzalez, they land a physical corner with plus size and the ability to make plays on the football.
11. Tennessee – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
There’s nothing wrong with taking a Big Ten offensive lineman. Tennessee has a major need at the position, and Peter Skoronski will give them some versatility in terms of kicking inside to play guard or having him at tackle.
12. Houston – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Admittedly, this is a moderate luxury pick for a team that isn’t in the position to make a luxury pick. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with the Texans getting Bryce Young a weapon. Jordan Addison is the most well-rounded wideout in this year’s class. He has playmaking ability for days.
13. NY Jets – Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
We have no idea who will be under center for the Jets this season, but they still need to bolster their offensive line. Paris Johnson is far from a perfect prospect, but his athleticism and size are ideal for an offensive tackle.
14. New England – Joey Porter, CB, Penn State
Corner was once a strength for the Patriots, but that just wasn’t the case this past season. In Joey Porter, not only do they get a guy with a football pedigree, but they also have a Day 1 starter who can hold his own in press coverage.
15. Green Bay – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
If this pick surprises you, get ready to start hearing a lot about Dalton Kincaid. The Utah product is off the charts from an athletic standpoint. He isn’t going to do anything as a blocker, but his ability to make plays as a receiver will have him going in this range of the draft.
16. Washington – Brian Branch, S, Alabama
While listed as a safety, Brian Branch is more of a hybrid defensive back who can also play slot corner. That’s a position of need for Washington, and there’s nothing wrong with grabbing an Alabama defender to fill a hole.
17. Pittsburgh – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The offensive line has been a major weak spot for the Steelers over the past few seasons, so they address it here. Darnell Wright isn’t the most polished player, but his massive size and ability to be a mauler in the run game make him an interesting player to draft for traits.
18. Detroit – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
With T.J. Hockenson out of the mix, the Lions turn the page on their next chapter at tight end. Michael Mayer isn’t a dynamic player like Dalton Kincaid, but he is a true two-way guy who can hold his own as a blocker and has the ability to make plays all over the field as a pass-catcher.
19. Tampa Bay – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
The Bucs address a position of need and manage to get a little value in the process. Myles Murphy isn’t a can’t-miss prospect, but his physical traits and freakish athleticism make him a very interesting draft-for-ceiling guy.
20. Seattle – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Somehow, Tyler Lockett will be heading into his age-31 season this year. This isn’t a pick to replace him, but rather to replenish the ranks in the Seattle wide receiver corps. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has a little Amon-Ra St. Brown to his game, which would complement what they currently have in DK Metcalf and Lockett.
21. Miami – Forfeited
22. LA Chargers – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
While Jaxon Smith-Njigba is arguably the better fit, the Chargers will likely be going after a wideout in this spot, as Keenan Allen’s future with the team is uncertain heading into this offseason. There’s a chance LA could move on from Allen. Quentin Johnston is not the same type of player as Allen, but he would give the team another big-bodied target for Justin Herbert.
23. Baltimore – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Ravens are old at edge, making this a likely path for them in the draft. There’s nothing wrong with taking a Georgia defender in the first round.
24. Minnesota – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Two Bulldogs in a row, as the Vikings go back to their old faithful move of taking a corner in the first round. Kelee Ringo is a playmaker who has very similar traits to current Vikings veteran corner Patrick Peterson.
25. Jacksonville – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Let’s make it a trifecta of Georgia guys. The Jags are coming off a strong 2022 season, but they need to continue to address their offensive line in order to both protect Trevor Lawrence and pave the way for a strong run game.
26. NY Giants – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Brian Daboll made things work at wide receiver this past season, but the Giants need to bring in more talent at the position. They get just that in the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner. Jalin Hyatt is blazing fast and would give the Giants a viable downfield threat.
27. Dallas – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
He has to go somewhere. Why not to the Cowboys? Ezekiel Elliott’s future with the team looks to be very much up in the air thanks to a bloated contract and declining ability on the field. Bijan Robinson is one of the most talented players in the draft, but he’ll likely slip due to the devaluation of his position.
28. Buffalo – O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
The Bills don’t have a ton of needs, but they could use some help along the interior of their offensive line. Torrence is the top pure guard prospect in the class and would give Josh Allen and company a healthy upgrade at the position.
29. Cincinnati – Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Protect Joe Burrow. That’s the mission statement in Cincinnati, so expect the team to address the offensive line. Anton Harrison can play at either tackle spot, but the Bengals need more help at right tackle. La’el Collins really struggled at the position last season.
30. New Orleans – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The Saints enter the offseason very light along their defensive interior, so this is a logical place for them to go. Bryan Bresee still has developing to do, but his physical traits are exactly what teams are looking for at the position.
31. Philadelphia – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Oh, hello. Yes, the Eagles make a luxury pick in this spot because they can. They already addressed corner earlier in the round. Now they go after another position of need, as it’s likely that Miles Sanders bounces in free agency. Jahmyr Gibbs isn’t the same caliber of player as Bijan Robinson, but his Kamara-esque skillset is very appealing in the Eagles’ fast-break offense.
32. Kansas City – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Chiefs have a type at wide receiver, and Zay Flowers is it. He’s a dynamic playmaker who you can use as a chess piece across the formation.