With the 2023 NFL Draft set to kick off on Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri, at 8 p.m. ET, here's my final projection for Round 1.
NOTE: The NFL announced in August that the Miami Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick following an investigation into whether the team violated league policies pertaining to the integrity of the game.
This is the pick that made the most sense to me ever since Carolina traded up to No. 1. I think Young is the best quarterback in this year’s class.
There is a lot of information swirling around this pick, but I keep coming back to common sense. Houston needs a quarterback, and Stroud’s the best one available at No 2.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS
It’s no secret that Arizona wants to trade out of No. 3, and it’s no secret that Houston is seriously considering an edge rusher with the second pick. Both teams get what they want in this scenario. Houston now has a pillar on each side of the ball.
There’s a lot of smoke connecting Levis to the Colts. They stay patient and get their quarterback.
Half of the league sources I talk to think Carter will be the pick here, while the other half has told me there’s no chance he’ll be Seattle’s selection at No. 5. I don’t know what to believe, but he would be a great fit in Pete Carroll’s defense.
One of my favorite players in the draft, Witherspoon’s style of play fits beautifully with the culture Dan Campbell has built. He’s feisty and tough.
Wilson could easily go No. 2 overall to the Texans. He slips a bit, and the Bears hit a home run at No. 9.
Seeing Flowers go this early would be a little bit of a surprise, but Tennessee’s offense is desperate for some speed and playmaking ability. Flowers fits that description.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH HOUSTON TEXANS
There’s a lot of buzz that the Cardinals could take Johnson at No. 3 overall if they stay put. They still get him at No. 12 in this scenario. He’s a plug-and-play starter for a team that gets some extra bites at the apple after trading down.
Green Bay could weigh Kincaid versus Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba here. I think Kincaid is a perfect fit in this offense, and the Packers could circle back for a receiver later, which has generally been their preferred approach at the position. They haven’t picked a WR in Round 1 since 2002.
Some players just feel like New England Patriots. Van Ness is one of them. Smart, physical and tough.
My comparison for Skoronski was Jets guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Both guys have the ability to play inside or outside. They would play next to each other one way or another with the Jets.
The Ron Rivera-led Commanders appreciate ballhawking cornerbacks, and Forbes is the best ballhawk in this draft. He’ll make plays on the ball in zone coverage for Washington.
Jones falls into the Steelers’ lap as they continue to remake their offensive line to protect Kenny Pickett.
Detroit doubles up on defense after taking a cornerback at No. 6. With Kancey added to the mix, the Lions will have one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL.
Smith-Njigba could be a top-10 pick or he could slide to this spot. The Bucs need to get younger and add more weapons offensively. He’d be a great addition.
I think Richardson could be in play at No. 5 for Seattle. He’d be a no-brainer pick for the Seahawks if he’s still available at No. 20. He can learn under Geno Smith before taking over as QB1.
Baltimore doesn’t have to travel far to find its next cornerback. The Ravens have always valued the position. Banks’ speed and toughness is a good match for them.
The Vikings love versatile receivers who are also great route-runners. That’s a good way to describe Addison, who would take over the role Adam Thielen played.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars drafted an offensive lineman here, but with Porter sliding down, he’s too good to pass up.
Branch is one of the more versatile players in this class, and Wink Martindale’s defense is built on having versatile pieces.
Dallas still has talent at tight end even after losing Dalton Schultz in free agency, but Musgrave gives them some major playmaking ability.
I could see the Bengals going with a defensive lineman or Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs here. I have them taking Benton to strengthen the front line.
I haven’t given up on my dream of Philadelphia taking Bijan Robinson if he’s available at No. 10, but this is not a bad consolation prize. Gibbs has been gaining a lot of steam late in the process, and I’ll be surprised if he’s not a first-round pick.
The Chiefs have a need at tackle, and the board falls their way. Wright is one of the top players at the position in this year’s draft.