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Thursday, May 26, 2022

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Will Anderson Jr. goes No. 1, C.J. Stroud first of six QBs off the board in Round 1

Alabama

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 243 lbs

If Will Anderson was in the 2022 NFL Draft, he would’ve been the first player taken. Of course, a year ago, Kayvon Thibodeaux was the slam-dunk, write-it-in-Sharpie No. 1 overall player and then Travon Walker came on the scene late. Whatever happens on April 27, 2023, Anderson is a special talent and was dominant for Alabama last season.

Georgia

• Soph

• 6’3″

/ 310 lbs

Our colleague Pete Prisco said it all weekend during the ’22 NFL Draft: Jalen Carter might end up being the best player from that Georgia national championship squad. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Ohio State

• Fr

• 6’3″

/ 218 lbs

Who knows how this QB class ends up? A year ago, we had Sam Howell, Spencer Rattler, Kedon Slovis and Desmond Ridder going in Round 1 and only Kenny Pickett ended up finding his way into the top 32, with none going in Round 2, and Howell falling all the way to Round 5, getting drafted after Bailey Zappe. So yeah.

Georgia

• Fr

• 6’2″

/ 205 lbs

Ringo is a long corner who moves well in space, and in Jacksonville, the team continues to build around Trevor Lawrence by … beefing up the defense. Again, who knows what this — or any — roster will look like 12 months from now, but there’s no denying that Ringo is one of the best CBs in college football.

Kentucky

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 232 lbs

OK, here we go. Daniel Jones will have the 2022 season to prove himself and if things don’t work out the team will almost certainly be looking for a QB. Levis is tough and can absolutely spin it. A good campaign in the fall will have him in the first-round conversation.

Ohio State

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 198 lbs

Wide Receiver U continues to pump out wide receivers. Smith-Njigba is a silky smooth playmaker who was every bit as effective as Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

Alabama

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 194 lbs

The Panthers wisely passed on a QB at the top of the ’22 draft, bolstered the offensive line with Ickey Ekwonu, and were still able to get Matt Corral in Round 3. But the team also used a third-round pick on Will Grier a few years ago and he’s no longer with the team. The point: We like Corral, and he may get a chance to play next season, but if the team loves any of the QBs in this class you’d have to think they’d target one.

Georgia

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 235 lbs

The Falcons had a good ’22 draft but need to continue to add Dudes, and Nolan Smith qualifies as one. Again, it’s hard wrap your brain around how good that Georgia team was last season.

Miami (FL)

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 224 lbs

Is Drew Lock the answer? The Seahawks didn’t take a QB in the ’22 draft and if Lock balls out, the team can focus on other needs here. If not, quarterback will be big need and Van Dyke will be on NFL radars this fall.

Notre Dame

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 251 lbs

Imagine, if you’re Carson Wentz, a pass-catching group that includes Terry McLaurin, (assuming the Commanders can keep him), Jahan Dotson and the most complete tight end in college football in Michael Mayer.

Pittsburgh

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 175 lbs

Addison played with Kenny Pickett at Pitt and why not reunite them with the Steelers? Addison is a home-run threat at all three levels and if Pittsburgh doesn’t want to pay Diontae Johnson, targeting a WR here makes sense.

Clemson

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 300 lbs

‘Steady as she goes’ feels like the draft philosophy of the new Raiders regime, which is noteworthy days after the team chose not to exercise the fifth-year options of any of their three first-rounders from the 2019 class. Either way, Bresee solidifies the middle of the defensive line in a division where getting off the field is at a premium.

Clemson

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 275 lbs

The Eagles had a fantastic draft even without targeting pass rusher. Frankly, it’s not a huge need but could be a year from now and Murphy is a speed-to-power player off the edge.

Ohio State

• Soph

• 6’6″

/ 315 lbs

Again, the Eagles absolutely crushed the ’22 draft, and if Jalen Hurts can prove he’s the long-term answer at QB, the team can continue to build around him. Johnson can play inside or out, though his NFL future will likely be at guard.

LSU

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 190 lbs

Adam Thielen will be 32 in August and although the Vikes drafted Jalen Nailor on Day 3, Boutte is a special talent. Plus, in today’s NFL, you can never have enough pass catchers, especially with the escalating WR salaries (see Justin Jefferson, should he want to get paid).

Oregon

• Fr

• 6’3″

/ 251 lbs

Yep, that’s Penei’s brother, and yep, he plays exactly like you might imagine except instead he’s manning the linebacker position.

Miami (FL)

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 316 lbs

Nelson made an appearance in this space a year ago but he returned to school for another season. It was a smart decision; for as athletic as he is, Nelson’s also incredibly raw, but if he puts it all together he’ll be in the first-round mix.

Notre Dame

• Soph

• 6’1″

/ 192 lbs

Joseph opted to return to school — though he transferred from Northwestern to Notre Dame for 2022 — but he had top-100 buzz in the fall. He’ll have a chance to improve his stock with a strong fall campaign.

Maryland

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 217 lbs

The Titans shipped A.J. Brown to Philly and drafted Treylon Burks, but there’s room for more playmakers at the position. Whether it’s Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis at QB, Demus would be a welcome addition to the WR room.

Northwestern

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 294 lbs

Skoronski feels like a Colt. He’s not the biggest tackle but his athleticism jumps off the screen at you. Doesn’t hurt that Rashawn Slater, who also played at Northwestern, was considered undersized coming out of college and was only one of the NFL’s best rookies in ’21.

TCU

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 201 lbs

The Ravens crushed the ’22 draft though Lamar Jackson didn’t quite enjoy it perhaps as much as he would’ve liked because the team shipped Hollywood Brown to Arizona. The team gets him a 6-foot-4 weapon here.

Arkansas

• Soph

• 5’10”

/ 200 lbs

Catalon was draft eligible this year but returned to school. He’s a middle-of-the-field thumper who will look to improve his stock with a strong ’22 season.

Alabama

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 195 lbs

Ricks and No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley were former teammates at LSU and are reunited in Houston in Lovie Smith’s defense. Ricks transferred to Alabama ahead of the ’22 season and has the physical tools that translate to the next level, he just needs more experience.

Oklahoma

• Soph

• 5’11”

/ 177 lbs

The Cowboys keep adding skill position players to fuel this high-powered offense and Mims, while not a burner, is an incredible athlete with great hands.

North Carolina

• Soph

• 5’10”

/ 180 lbs

Downs was one of the few bright spots on the ’21 Tar Heels squad and while the lack of firepower played a role in Sam Howell falling to the fifth round, it put Downs on the draft radar because he consistently made plays. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he’s undersized but he’s electric with the ball in his hands.

Penn State

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 192 lbs

Yep, that’s Joey Porter’s son but unlike the former Steelers pass rusher, junior is a long, lanky cornerback with ball skills.

Oklahoma

• Soph

• 6’1″

/ 200 lbs

If Tua can’t make it work next season the Dolphins may look elsewhere. Rattler was in this space 12 months ago and, well, he had a forgettable ’21 season at Oklahoma. He’s since transferred to South Carolina and if it all clicks for him in Columbia he could be among the first QBs drafted.

LSU

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 230 lbs

Ojulari, who had 7 sacks and 12 tackles for loss last season, is explosive off the edge and consistently finds his way into the backfield. Those players will always be in demand at the next level.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 324 lbs

Who knows what Aaron Rodgers’ future holds beyond the ’22 season but whomever ends up under center will benefit from consistency along the offensive line.

Texas

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 214 lbs

No running backs went in the first round of the ’22 draft but two went the year before, and one went the year before that … when the Chiefs took Clyde Edwards-Helaire. K.C. doesn’t have a ton of needs but if any RB is a likely first-round target, it will be Robinson.

Boston College

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 226 lbs

Jurkovec returned to BC after an injury disrupted his ’21 season. He’s a Notre Dame transfer who layers the ball well to all levels and has a lot of the traits NFL teams look for in their signal callers.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 210 lbs

Battle was another player who returned to school even though he was draft eligible. He doesn’t possess otherworldly athleticism but he’s incredibly consistent, and right-place, right-time players are coveted at the next level.

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