You know it’s officially draft season when the entire NFL universe descends upon Mobile for the Senior Bowl, and that’s where we find all the action again this week, as many of this year’s draft hopefuls test their mettle against top competition.
After a few days of practice, with NFL coaching and pro decision-makers in the audience, we’ll no doubt see many prospects sending their draft stock in either direction.
Taking all that into consideration, here’s an updated look at how the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL draft could shake out:
NOTE: The Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick in next year’s draft as a result of the NFL’s investigation into tampering violations.
The Colts still make the most sense as a trade partner for the Bears, as they could fall in love with one of this year’s top quarterback prospects, and want to jump the division-rival Texans (with at least an additional first-round pick and second-round pick going to the Bears, and likely more) to make sure they get their man. While that should be Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, it won’t surprise me if the become enamored with Levis’ physical tools, looking past his flaws and inconsistencies in favor of the upside.
This would be a massive win for the Texans, who lost out on the No. 1 pick at the last second, but still end up with the best quarterback prospect in the draft. Whatever Young might lack in ideal size, he more than makes up for by passing every other franchise quarterback test with flying colors.
This is the ideal scenario for the Cardinals, who see two quarterbacks come off the board before their pick, leaving them to choose between the two best overall prospects in the entire draft at No. 3 overall. They can’t go wrong either way, but we’ll give Anderson the nod here over Jalen Carter.
What a win for the Bears, who move down three spots, load up on additional pick, and still land one of this year’s top overall prospects at a huge position of need. Carter is a disruptive force at the point of attack, and would give the Bears an immediate cornerstone around whom they can rebuild their once proud defense.
The Russell Wilson trade is the gift that keeps on giving for the Seahawks, who are headed to the playoffs, and still have a top-five pick at their disposal. This is a perfect spot for them to help out their defensive front, either along the interior or on the edge, and Wilson is a high-upside prospect who is a perfect fit for what Seattle wants at the position.
Tom Brady’s finally retiring (for real, this time), and the Bucs’ brass won’t be interested in a full rebuild. What they could do, should a polished, pro-ready franchise quarterback like Stroud make it to this spot, strike a deal to move up ahead of the equally QB-needy Raiders and Panthers to snatch him. It’ll likely cost at least next year’s 1st-round pick and this year’s third-round pick (probably more), but it would give the Bucs a quality restart at the game’s most important position, on a cheap rookie deal.
Derek Carr is obviously on his way out, but even if the Raiders bring in a veteran quarterback, spending this pick on a high-upside passer wouldn’t be a bad idea. Richardson may take some patience, but he’s got many of the same traits that eventually made Josh Allen a superstar.
This is a great scenario for the Falcons, who need help along the entire defensive front, and have multiple options from the same program that could fill that need in different ways. We’ll have them go with the edge player in Murphy, giving them a complete defender who can anchor against the run as well as rush the passer.
With all four of this year’s top quarterback prospects already off the board, the Panthers take a couple of mid-round picks from the Pats to move down five spots to regroup. New England fills their biggest need with this year’s most pro-ready offensive line prospect, jumping ahead of multiple teams that could be targeting a versatile, plug-and-play blocker like Skoronski.
After landing a top-10 pick from last year’s draft-day deal with the Saints, the Eagles get to fill their biggest need with the top prospect at the position in this year’s class. Witherspoon checks every box from a physical standpoint, and his film shows a polished cover man ready to make an immediate impact from Day 1.
This offensive line desperately needs help, both inside and out. With Skoronski off the board, the Titans opt for a battle-tested prospect who has played both tackle spots as well as guard, all with a track record of success against top competition.
After landing this year’s top quarterback prospect at No. 2, the Texans grab the best pass-catcher in this year’s draft to help him out. Even with a new head coach in DeMeco Ryans who comes from a defensive background, Houston could still give Bryce Young a massive target with tons of length, athleticism and big-play ability.
The Jets’ biggest need is offensive tackle, but with both Skoronski and Johnson already off the board, they take a mid-round pick from Washington to move down a few spots and get better value. The Commanders know the Panthers might be targeting a top corner at No. 14, so they jump ahead to grab this Colorado transfer with and elite combination of size, length, and ball skills.
After trading back and adding some extra picks, the Panthers are still able to address a big need on defense with a perfect fit, and get better value in the process. Porter has the same kind of size/length/physicality combo that made Carolina spend a top-10 pick on Jaycee Horn two years ago, and they’d make a dominant tandem.
It’s easy to keep mocking pass-catchers here, but at some point, we’ve got to realize the Packers tend to prioritize other positions in the first round, particularly on the other side of the ball. Van Ness is a versatile defender who can line up all over the trenches, with impressive physical traits that give him a sky-high ceiling.
After sliding back a few spots, the Jets are able to get better value while filling their biggest need at offensive tackle. Jones has a great blend of athleticism, physicality, and polished technique, and would bring plenty of championship experience to a promising roster.
Offensive tackle is the bigger need, but the value’s just not there in this scenario, and this Steelers regime just don’t spend first-round picks at that position. They do invest in corners from powerhouse programs who bring the kinds of physical tools that Ringo does to the table.
Detroit’s defense already has some promising young weapons, but they could still use a hybrid defender with the versatility to line up in the slot or at either safety spot. Branch is the perfect fit, having handled a similar role in Nick Saban’s defense with great success.
After getting another first-round pick in next year’s draft (and more) to drop out of the top 10, the Lions are still able to get solid value at a position of need here. Bresee’s injury history and consistency might give some teams pause, but his upside is too much to pass up here.
Patrick Mahomes didn’t need Tyreek Hill to have another MVP season, but free agency could leave the receiver cupboard bare heading into next season. The Seahawks have a history of trading down in the first round, and the Chiefs are more than willing here to send their second-rounder to Seattle in return for jumping ahead of multiple WR-needy teams to grab an explosive playmaker in Addison.
Justin Herbert already has a pair of big, physical receivers who can win in contested-catch situations all day long (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams), but he could use one who can separate consistently. Hyatt’s breakout season was fueled by his explosive, big-play ability, which is exactly what this offense needs.
The Ravens’ offense isn’t doing Lamar Jackson any favors these days, both in terms of their limited scheme that lacks balance, and the absence of explosive weapons in the passing game. Flowers may be undersized, but he’s a polished pass-catcher with elite quickness and route-running ability that could instantly help Jackson take this passing game to another level.
Minnesota’s terrible defense eventually caught up with them in the postseason, sending them to an early exit. They need to address it at just about every level this offseason, and the best value in this scenario comes at corner. Opposing quarterbacks learned quickly to test Smith at their own risk, and he dominated despite facing top competition on a weekly basis in the SEC.
There are bigger needs on defense, but even if Evan Engram re-signs, giving Trevor Lawrence another weapon for the passing game wouldn’t hurt. In addition to his receiving ability, Mayer’s blocking prowess would also bring an element to the offense it doesn’t currently have in Engram.
If there’s a worse receiver situation in the NFL right now, I’d love to see it. The Giants desperately need an infusion of talent here, and despite missing most of the 2022 season due to injury, Smith-Njigba’s 2021 tape was impressive enough to warrant first-round consideration.
Free agency could deplete the Cowboys’ starting lineup at the second level of the defense, so linebacker could be an early-round target in this draft. A former five-star recruit and Alabama transfer, Sanders has the versatility and athleticism to line up all over the defense, and making big plays from any spot.
The offensive line is a bigger issue, but if Robinson falls to this spot, the Bills might not be able to pass him up. He’s in the same echelon of prospect as Saquon Barkley was coming out of college, and if Buffalo can bolster the offensive trenches in free agency or later in the draft, he could immediately bring much-needed balance to this offense.
It feels unfair to give Joe Burrow another weapon, but most of this tight end room is headed for free agency this offseason, and the position is vital when it comes to taking advantage of the attention paid to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Washington’s massive frame, rare athleticism, and blocking ability would make him an instant-impact playmaker in this offense.
I’ve been projecting this trade for weeks now, and it finally came to pass, with Sean Payton heading to Denver in return for a package that includes this pick. The Saints need a franchise QB, but without one available, they’ll bolster the offensive line instead with this year’s top interior prospect.
After moving back and adding another second-round pick, the Seahawks continue their defensive rebuild/reload with one of the most pro-ready defenders in the entire draft. Phillips may be undersized, but he’s got all the makings of a dangerous nickel/slot weapon, something this defense needs to take their unit to the next level.
I’ve been mocking this pick for a while now, and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. This offense is already one of the most dominant and entertaining in the league, so adding a versatile weapon like Gibbs would just make it downright unfair.