NFL Draft First Round Projections

The NFL Draft 2023 fast approaches as it takes place on Thursday the 27th of April in Kansas City. Every college hopeful will be dreaming of their name being called -whether in the 1st round or the 7th round; whatever gives them a chance to get their foot in the door and be an NFL Player!

We’ve already had the #1 pick traded before the draft even started, will we see any more teams moving up or down the draft order on the night?

Will there be future Hall Of Famers in this year’s draft? Will it be a mediocre draft like 2013? Who will be “Mr. Irrelevant” and how many players will be a bust? Will we see a disaster similar to Ryan Leaf?

There are only 31 picks in the 1st round this year as the Dolphins were stripped of their pick due to tampering violations. Additionally the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers don’t hold a pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

There are teams who also hold multiple first round picks this year. The Houston Texans are picking #2 and #12, Seattle Seahawks #5 and #20, Detroit Lions #6 and #18 and the Philadelphia Eagles #10 and #30.

Trade Rumours: The Steelers are rumoured to be considering trading up in the draft, with Chicago the most likely trade partner.

As we head into the NFL Draft, the most exciting night on the NFL Calendar outside of the Super Bowl, we are one step closer to training camp and the 2023 NFL Season!

  1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)                       Needs: QB, WR

The Carolina Panthers are on the clock! After they traded with the Chicago Bears to get the #1 and badly needing both a franchise Quarterback and Wide Receiver help, many experts have the Panthers picking a Quarterback at #1 without a doubt.

Who will they choose though? There are a few teams looking at the position so the Panthers pick will make waves for these other teams.

Bryce Young (Alabama), Will Levis (Kentucky), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Tanner McKee (Stanford) are the top 5 prospects at the position. While many have Young going #1 in their Mock Drafts, the Panthers also have shown interest in Richardson as well. Either way at #1 they will be drafting their (hopefully) franchise Quarterback.

There has been talk around Jordan Addison (USC) going at #1 to the Panthers as the front office loves what the Wide Receiver brings to the table, but to give up on a potential future franchise Quarterback would be an insane move!

Projected Pick: Bryce Young (Alabama) Quarterback

  1. Houston Texans                                                   Needs: QB, WR, DL

Another team who is desperate to get their franchise Quarterback addressed in this year’s draft. If the Panthers select the projected pick of Bryce Young at #1 then you will leave the Texans with Will Levis (Kentucky), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Tanner McKee (Stanford) to agonise over!

While similar to the Panthers in needs, they would also be foolish to draft any position other than Quarterback at #2 as they need to secure the future of the franchise with this pick.

The majority of the expert Mock Drafts have Will Levis going at #2 while some see Anthony Richardson being selected. When you consider whoever the Texans pick is going to potentially sit for a year then this helps narrow down who the pick will be.

Projected Pick: Will Levis (Kentucky) Quarterback

  1. Arizona Cardinals                                   Needs: CB, Edge, DL

The first team on the board who is not looking for a Quarterback. The Cardinals need to build out their defence in this draft to help keep them in tight games. Following the retirement of the legendary JJ Watt they need to bolster the Edge and their Defensive Line on paper isn’t anything to write home about.

The Cardinals will have to decide between Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) Edge or Jalen Carter (Georgia) DL at #3. Whichever one they choose they will be picking up an explosive player for their front seven and a future game changer for the foreseeable.

Projected Pick: Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) Edge

  1. Indianapolis Colts                                    Needs: QB, OL, CB

And we’re back on the Quarterback hunt! The Colts have not had any kind of luck since Manning left and Luck retired. Any veteran they have brought into cover the position has left them in a terrible situation.

Based on the above projected picks they will see C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Tanner McKee (Stanford) left on the board for them to choose from. The Colts will be under the microscope as the position has been a massive issue for them for quite some time.

The majority of experts have Anthony Richardson (Florida) going to the Colts as they will be looking to draft an NFL ready or the most NFL ready Quarterback available to them. Others have C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) heading to Indy for the same reasons.

Whoever the Colts pick, look for them to be under centre no later than week 5!

Projected Pick: C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) Quarterback

  1. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)                        Needs: Edge, OL, CB, WR

The Seahawks aren’t in the Quarterback market after they gave Geno Smith his extension this offseason. They however do have a list of needs that are all missing pieces to help them remain competitive this season.

They will have some impressive prospects available at each of the positions they need to fill. Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) Edge, Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), Devon Whiterspoon (Illinois) Cornerback and Quentin Johnston (TCU) Wide Receiver.

As a team that loves it’s hard hitting, ground them out defensive players I would be surprised to see the Seahawks draft an Offensive Lineman or Wide Receiver and most of the experts also agree with this too.

Projected Pick: Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) Edge

  1. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams)                            Needs: DL, S, WR

The Lions picked up Hutchenson in last year’s draft and he made an immediate impact on their game and the Lions maybe eyeing up another Defensive Lineman to help take pressure off of Hutchenson and create chaos up front for opposing teams.

They would have the choice of Jalen Carter (Georgia) DL, Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh), Bryan Bresee (Clemson) and Mazi Smith (Michigan) to name a few. As cool as it might be to bring in a hometown player like Mazi Smith there are better prospects ahead of him in this draft.

The best player to help Hutchenson and the Defensive Line for the Lions who have to be Jalen Carter. This is why he is being Mock Drafted heavily to the Lions at #6

Projected Pick: Jalen Carter (Georgia) DL

  1. Las Vegas Raiders                                     Needs: QB, OL, CB

Just because they signed Jimmy G does not mean the Raiders are not looking for a future franchise Quarterback in this year’s draft. While they could use help with their Offensive Line and Cornerback positions, there are still highly rated Quarterback prospects available at this point in the draft.

With Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Tanner McKee (Stanford) still available at this point and a decent veteran Quarterback already signed. The Raider cannot pass up this opportunity to pick up a rookie signal caller to sit behind Jimmy G for a season.

The Raiders would benefit from selecting Richardson and letting him sit, and while a lot of experts have C.J. Stroud falling to the Raiders, I don’t see this being the case.

Projected Pick: Anthony Richardson (Florida) Quarterback

  1. Atlanta Falcons                            Needs: Edge, DL, WR

The Falcons took care of business during Free Agency making sure they secured their Offensive Line and removing a gap to fill at #8 in this year’s draft.

They however are in desperate need for game changers on the defensive side of the ball with the Defensive Line needing to be addressed, both Interior and Edge but they also badly need help at the Cornerback position which is something that a lot of teams need to address in this pass happy league.

At this point in the draft the Falcons will be looking at Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) CB, Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) Edge and Quentin Johnston (TCU) or Jordan Addison (USC) Wide Receiver.

While most Mock Drafts have Devon Witherspoon going to the Falcons here, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took Quentin Johnston or Jordan Addison to give them a deep passing threat the team needs.

Projected Pick: Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) CB

  1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina)                             Needs: DL, OL, CB

The Bears traded down in this year’s draft, they did not need to worry about the players they are considering being gone by #9 as they do not need a Quarterback which will be the main target of half of the picks before them.

They do however need help on the Offensive Line, they need to keep Fields upright and healthy and cannot expect him to be mobile every single play. They need to give him a clean pocket to get the ball out and down the field.

The Bears will be considering Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) Tackle, Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) Tackle, Darnell Wright (Tennessee) Tackle, Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) Tackle and Broderick Jones (Georgia) Tackle to name a few.

Out of all the above prospects Skoronski can play either Tackle or Guard but Tackle is the position he played his best football at and while Darnell Wright could make a case here to be selected after his impressive game against Will Anderson Jr. the Bears cannot miss the chance to draft the hometown prospect.

Projected Pick:   Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) Tackle

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)            Needs: Edge, CB, OL

The Eagles need to find a way to create havoc up front or keep the deep passing game to a minimum. While they could always use help on the Offensive Line to make sure Hurts stays healthy, after the Super Bowl it is obvious they need more help on the defensive side of the ball.

They will have prospects like Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh) DL, Deonte Banks (Maryland) CB, Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) Edge, Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) CB, Bryan Bresee (Clemson) DL and Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) CB as possible picks.

Look for the Eagles to pick someone who can put pressure on the opposing team’s Offensive Line and bring the pressure needed to prevent their secondary being burned!

Projected Pick: Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh) DL

  1. Tennessee Titans                                     Needs: OL, Edge, WR

The Titans need help on the Offensive Line, Edge and Wide Receiver and while many would argue that the Offensive Line should be the focus in the first round, don’t be surprised to see them grab a Wide Receiver or Edge rusher with the #11 pick.

The Titans might look to Quentin Johnston (TCU) Wide Receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) Wide Receiver or Jordan Addison (USC) Wide Receiver to fill the gap at deep threat they desperately need after trading away A.J. Brown to the Eagles last season. The lack of explosiveness at the Wide Receiver position would suggest they are going to draft one of the above mentioned prospects with their first round pick.

Projected Pick: Quentin Johnston (TCU) Wide Receiver

  1. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)                                      Needs: WR, DL

Assuming the Texans pull the trigger on a Quarterback with the #2 pick then they will need to address the Wide Receiver and Defensive Line positions. However with a new Quarterback, the best pairing is a new Wide Receiver and most experts agree they will pick up one at #12.

The options for Wide Receiver at this point should be Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State),  Jordan Addison (USC) or Zay Flowers (Boston College). Nothing helps a rookie Quarterback develop quicker than a rookie Wide Receiver!

Projected Pick: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) Wide Receiver

  1. New York Jets                                           Needs: QB, OL, TE

The Jets need a Quarterback and while Aaron Rodgers has publicly said he intends to play for the Jets, the trade has yet to happen. Until the trade happens the Jets would need to look at all options available.

Do they consider pulling the trigger on Tanner McKee (Stanford) Quarterback in case the trade for Rodgers never happens?

They sorely need help on the Offensive Line as well to keep whichever Quarterback they end up with safe, so they could consider Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) or Darnell Wright (Tennessee) to help bolster the line. If they go with a rookie Quarterback then they might consider Dalton Kincaid (Utah) Tight End, to give their rookie Quarterback an escape valve.

Projected Pick: Tanner McKee (Stanford) Quarterback if the trade for Rodgers falls through  or Dalton Kincaid (Utah) Tight End if the Rodgers trade happens

  1. New England Patriots                              Needs: OL, CB, WR

While the Patriots did address their Offensive Line somewhat last season they still need some additional security at the position to help out Mac Jones. While they are listed as needing a Wide Receiver in the draft, they did sign Smith-Schuster during the offseason and the biggest help they need is in the secondary.

They should have a choice between top prospects such as Deonte Banks (Maryland), Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) or Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) at the Cornerback position and Brian Branch (Alabama) at the Safety position.

Projected Pick: Deonte Banks (Maryland) Cornerback

  1. Green Bay Packers                         Needs: TE, WR, S, Edge

The Packers are moving on from Aaron Rodgers and ready to build around Jordan Love going forward. Don’t expect them to draft a Quarterback this draft as they seem fairly confident in Love’s ability after sitting behind Rodgers. They are hoping for a similar development they got with Farve to Rodgers with Rodgers to Love.

The Packers need a whole host of positions built on in the draft and while the team isn’t as bad on paper they do need to help out their defence in this year’s draft.

They might be looking at either Brian Branch (Alabama) Safety or Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) Edge to help them once again control their division. As they signed a Safety during Free Agency I don’t expect them to draft another till a later round.

Projected Pick: Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) Edge

  1. Washington Commanders                       Needs: QB, OL, CB

The Commanders are in the market for a Quarterback if available at #16 while also trying to address the glaring holes in their secondary.

If Tanner McKee (Stanford) Quarterback is available they might take him as their current Quarterback room is nothing to write home about. Don’t expect them to consider Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) Quarterback as a rookie he’ll be 25 and is coming off a torn ACL.

The more likely option for the Commanders will be a Cornerback, at this point their options would be Christian Gonzalez (Oregon),  Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) or Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State).

With the likelihood that Tanner McKee and Hendon Hooker being available in Round 2 I expect the Commanders to go with a Cornerback at #16

Projected Pick: Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) Cornerback

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers                                   Needs: OL, CB

The Steelers had a busy Free Agency addressing both the Offensive Line and Secondary and while they did sign some veteran talent at these positions they still need some help at both positions.

Would we see the son of a former Steelers legend drafted at #17? Is Joey Porter Jr (Penn State) destined to play for the same team as his father? While many fans would love this and would love a Cornerback drafted in the first round, Porter only had one career interception in college.

The other option the Steelers could go with is Brian Branch (Alabama) Safety to pair with fellow Alabama alumni Minkah Fitzpatrick.

“Come get me” is the wild card option for the Steelers, looking at the Bengals and how they paired Chase with Burrow and how well that pairing works. Could the Steelers pull the trigger and get Jordan Addison (USC) Wide Receiver, the former teammate of their Quarterback Kenny Pickett? This would be a great play by the Steelers and pairing Addison with Pickens would cause matchup nightmares for teams.

Projected Pick: Jordan Addison (USC) Wide Receiver

  1. Detroit Lions                                             Needs: S, WR

The Lions are once again on the board and following the assumed pick of Jalen Carter (Georgia) DL at #6 you can make an argument that they need to pick up a Safety or Wide Receiver at this point. Some experts even have them selecting an Offensive Lineman at #18

The Lions actually made moves during the offseason to address the depth in their secondary while they could always spend some draft capital here on an Offensive Lineman, I believe they will select a Safety.

Projected Pick: Brian Branch (Alabama) Safety

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers                            Needs: OL, WR, Edge

The Brady era in Tampa Bay is over and while they signed Baker Mayfield to a year one deal, the Buccs still could grab a Quarterback at this point. Let’s assume the trade for Aaron Rodgers goes through, the Jets don’t need a Quarterback which means that Tanner McKee (Stanford) Quarterback could fall to the Buccs at #19

While they have glaring needs on the Offensive Line the chance to grab a possible future franchise Quarterback might be too much to pass up on. However with a veteran under centre for the season the Buccs will focus on protecting him and trying to scoop up a Quarterback in the second or third round.

They will have their eye on either Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) Tackle, Darnell Wright (Tennessee) Tackle, or Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) Tackle with this pick as keeping their current Quarterback health in the worst division in the NFL (last season) is a priority.

Projected Pick: Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) Tackle

  1. Seattle Seahawks                         Needs: OL, WR, CB

The Seahawks are once again on the clock and after picking up Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) Edge at #5 they will now be looking once again at the defensive side of the ball. While they have needs at OL, WR and CB these positions could be considered needs to depth rather than actual talent.

Look for the Seahawks to add another player to their Defensive Line with this pick. At this stage they should still see Bryan Bresee (Clemson), Mazi Smith (Michigan) and Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin) still on the board.

Adding another Defensive Lineman will help their front be a match up nightmare!

Projected Pick: Bryan Bresee (Clemson) Defensive Lineman

  1. Los Angeles Chargers                    Needs: DL, WR, Edge, OL

The Chargers have a few needs this year. They need more deep threats at Wide Receiver and the Offensive Line could use the help to protect Herbert. The Defensive Line might be the focus here as when Bosa went down hurt, this unit was exposed as being average at best without their game wrecker!

Mazi Smith (Michigan) and Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin) would be the best available options for Defensive Line and if they look solely for an Edge Rusher then they should still see Will McDonald IV (Iowa State), Nolan Smith (Georgia), Myles Murphy (Clemson) and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) available.

After the Bosa injury I can see the Chargers looking to get an Edge to go opposite him so they are not hampered by injuries.

Projected Pick: Nolan Smith (Georgia) Edge

  1. Baltimore Ravens                                     Needs: CB, WR, QB(?)

The Ravens still have not got a deal worked out with Lamar Jackson and if they do not have one hammered out by the draft they would seriously need to take the Quarterback position into consideration at this point.

They did manage to lure Odell Beckham Jr to them during Free Agency and may still look at Wide Receiver at some point during the draft. However their biggest need outside of a possible Quarterback, is a Cornerback.

The Ravens will be considering Joey Porter Jr (Penn State) or Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State) at this point. One is a shutdown player, Porter only allowed 143 yards over 10 games in his final year and the other is a ball hawk, Forbes had 14 picks and 17 pass breakups.

Will the Ravens pick Porter and twist the knife into the hearts of Steelers fans or will they select Forbes? The Ravens love impact players and splash plays on defence and I believe this will lead them to pick a ball hawk player!

Projected Pick: Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State) Cornerback

  1. Minnesota Vikings           Needs: WR, CB, LB

The Vikings, like many teams in this year’s draft, need to upgrade their secondary with a Cornerback and they also require a new #2 Wide Receiver and finally they need help stopping the run from their Linebacker corps.

With players like  Joey Porter Jr (Penn State) Cornerback, Will McDonald IV (Iowa State) Edge and Zay Flowers (Boston College) Wide Receiver, the Vikings would have a good selection of top rated prospects to choose from.

The Vikings do need to focus on their defence with this draft pick and the talent pool for Cornerback and Wide Receiver looks deep this year the draw of a stud Edge Rusher cannot be ignored with this pick.

Projected Pick: Will McDonald IV (Iowa State) Edge

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars                                  Needs: CB, OL, RB

The Jaguars came into their own in the latter half of the season and they are a few pieces away from making a deep run into the playoffs. The importance of a run deep into the playoffs means you need to keep your Quarterback safe and be able to open holes for the run game.

The Jaguars are going to draft an Offensive Lineman at #24 but the question is who will they go with? At this point it comes down to Paris Johnson Jr (Ohio State) or Darnell Wright (Tennessee) both have huge upsides.

Darnell Wright held his own and put up an amazing performance against the top graded Edge Will Anderson Jr in their last meeting and Paris Johnson Jr is a mean and aggressive powerhouse of an Offensive Lineman, perfectly suited to a team looking to establish a ground and pound run game.

Projected Pick: Paris Johnson Jr (Ohio State) Tackle

  1. New York Giants                          Needs: CB, WR, S, RB

The Giants are facing an issue at a key spot. While they managed to sign Jones to a big deal they had to tag Barkely as they could not afford both. The latest seems to be Barkely is considering sitting out of the offseason program and will not sign the tag.

Now they have to be considering even looking at possible Running Back prospects due to this as well as their other needs to. Bijan Robinson (Texas) is a big bruising Running Back similar to Barkley and could see his name called by the Giants as an insurance policy for the upcoming season.

They could also look at drafting Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) Cornerback, Zay Flowers (Boston College) Wide Receiver or Cam Smith (South Carolina) Cornerback at this point as well.

Projected Pick: Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) Cornerback

  1. Dallas Cowboys                                        Needs: RB, DL

The Zeke era in Dallas is over and the Cowboys are in the market for a new Running Back to help out Pollard. The option to add to their Defensive Line is also something to consider to help them make their existing unit even more of a nightmare to handle.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) Edge, Myles Murphy (Clemson) Edge and Bijan Robinson (Texas) Running Back would all help the Cowboys build on the success they had last season to make a deeper push this season.

With the Zeke going the Cowboys will pick up his replacement, another big bruising Running Back at #26

Projected Pick:  Bijan Robinson (Texas) Running Back

  1. Buffalo Bills                                  Needs: OL, LB, RB

The Bills are always just on the cusp of the Super Bowl these past few years and will need to add some key pieces in the draft to try and finally make the push. Losing Edmunds during Free Agency means they need to fill a gap in their Linebacker corp early in the draft. While they could use help on the Offensive Line, Linebacker is the bigger need in the first round.

They will be spoiled for choice at this point with Daiyan Henley (Washington State), Jack Campbell (Iowa) and Drew Sanders (Arkansas) available.

Look for the Bills to draft the Linebacker who is NFL calibre and a big bruising powerhouse!

Projected Pick: Jack Campbell (Iowa) Linebacker

  1. Cincinnati Bengals            Needs: TE, CB, S

The Bengals currently are the only team in the AFC who can compete with the Chiefs and in order to continue to do so while it’s cheap for them (contracts are looming for key players) they need to draft smart.

They addressed a big need at Offensive Line during Free Agency so they can now focus on filling gaps at Tight End and their Secondary. Burrows will need a Tight End as a safety valve but while a ball catching Tight End is a must they also need someone who can block as well.

Sam Laporta (Iowa), Darnell Washington (Georgia) and Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) should all be available at this point in the draft.

I can see the Bengals drafting the big Tight End who’s basically an Offensive Lineman who can run routes.

Projected Pick: Darnell Washington (Georgia) Tight End

  1. New Orleans Saints  (from 49ers through Dolphins & Broncos) Needs: LB, DL, Edge

The Saints find themselve missing key players in their front seven missing due to Free Agency and desperately need to fill gaps on the Defensive Line, Linebacker and Edge positions.

With the likes of Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) and Myles Murphy (Clemson) available at Edge, Jack Campbell (Iowa) and Drew Sanders (Arkansas) at Linebacker and Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin) and Siaki Ika (Baylor) at Defensive Line available.

The Saint’s can’t pass up the chance at a powerful Edge Rusher to disrupt opposing Quarterbacks

Projected Pick: Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) Edge

  1. Philadelphia Eagles                                  Needs: Edge, CB, OL

The window for the Eagles to get back to the Super Bowl will not remain open for long. The Chiefs exposed the Eagles needs in the Super Bowl, defence, defence, defence!

The need to be able to put pressure on a Quarterback like Mahomes if they want to win the big games. While they managed to re-sign a lot of key players in Free Agency and while they are projected to pick Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh) at #10 they still need to address their Defensive Line and Cornerback positions.

Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin), Siaki Ika (Baylor), and Mazi Smith (Michigan) available for the Defensive Line and Tyrique Stevenson (Miami FL) and Julius Brents (Kansas State) available at Cornerback, the Eagles will easily be able to address the needs of their defence.

The Eagles will draft a shutdown Cornerback from the sunshine state

Projected Pick: Tyrique Stevenson (Miami FL) Cornerback

  1. Kansas City Chiefs                        Needs: OL, Edge, WR

The Super Bowl Champion Chiefs find themselves looking for depth in the draft. While it would be nice to grab a big offensive weapon to pair alongside Travis Kelce they do also need depth at Edge and Offensive Line.

Dawand Jones (Ohio State) Offensive Lineman,  is a big pass protector to help keep Mahomes upright and Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern) Edge, is a freaky fast rusher, clocking in at 4.49 in the 40 yard dash at 280+ pounds!

Following the release of Frank Clark, the Chiefs need speed off the edge for their defence to keep the pressure on opposing teams.

Projected Pick: Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern) Edge

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