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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Defensive Linemen Dominate Round 1

Read below to see the latest 2023 mock draft.

It may be hard to believe, but some college teams have already played a month's worth of games in this 2022 season. That means we're getting closer to draft time and the build-up that comes with it. The best way to prepare is to read up on the rising prospects making noise throughout the year. That is the purpose of this mock, emphasizing one of this year's deepest position groups, the defensive line. 

1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama 

Young is a generational talent at the position. His combination of arm angles, anticipation and second reactionary movements make him one of the cleaner pure prospects in a while. His main issue is his diminutive size, which carries concern as he transitions to the NFL. This notion can be mitigated by playing in a division like the AFC South, whose warm weather or temperature-controlled environments suit Young and his play style.  

2. Atlanta Falcons: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama 

Back-to-back Alabama selections point to the team in Tuscaloosa this year, with Anderson leading most boards as the best overall prospect. The Falcons have spent a better part of the last 15 years attempting to draft edge players. Still in search of a dominant pass rusher, Anderson could end the struggle of Atlanta and Falcons fans alike. 

3. Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State

A polished passer with prototypical size, Seattle may not have to wait long between franchise quarterbacks with the selection of Stroud. With their top pass catchers still under contract and two rookie offensive linemen making strides, the offense is ready to ascend under the guidance of a young signal-caller like Stroud. 

4. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, Interior Defensive Lineman, Georgia

If you thought Georgia's defensive front had some rare talents last year, none are more dominant than Carter. His ability to win against interior linemen with size, speed and power leaves offensive coordinators sleepless. Carter becomes a plug-and-play, Day-1 impact player for the Bears defense. 

5. New York Giants: Bryan Bresee, Interior Defensive Lineman, Clemson

One way the Giants can help ensure Kayvon Thibodeaux is an impact player is to provide support along the interior. Presence from the inside helps free up edge rushers and boy is Bresee a presence. Displaying usage as a run stopper and pocket pusher, Bresee will bring the Giants closer to the ways of their past defenses. 

6. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame 

The Panthers have a solid player on one edge in Brian Burns, but lack true threats elsewhere. You can never have too many pass rushers, especially ones that carry the physical profile like Foskey. His length, burst and production leaves little to criticize and could transcend the Panthers defense starting as soon as 2023. 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayshon Boutte, Wide Receiver, LSU Tigers

Jacksonville will certainly continue building around Trevor Lawrence next offseason, starting with a true vertical threat on the perimeter. The Jags still lack a player of this caliber and would be wise to draft and acquire free agents with said skillset. Boutte fits the bill and can immediately open up an offense hamstrung by less dynamism. 

8. Detroit Lions: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky

The Lions are looking to make strides under head coach Dan Campbell this season. While Jared Goff is a solid bridge, no one screams Detroit culture like Levis. The rocked-up gunslinger from Kentucky may be rough around the edges, but his elite physical traits make him a viable top-10 selection and a perfect fit in Detroit. 

9. Washington Commanders: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech 

A toolsy player that is raw in pure technique and from a production perspective, teams will covet Wilson's ability to threaten pocket width from edge alignments. If Chase Young can return to form, pairing him and Wilson going forward will make for a formidable front in the nation's capital. 

10. New York Jets: Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida

The Jets will be back on the quarterback carousel in 2023, with Richardson being the new man in the big apple. Zach Wilson's inability to stay on the field will plague his tenure in New York and potentially force a change across the board. Richardson's size and arm talent will make him coveted in the draft process. 

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaelyn Duncan, Offensive Lineman, Maryland

Pittsburgh desperately needs help up front with a second year of poor line play limiting the offense. They can start fixing things with the smooth mover that is Duncan. His ability to redirect and counter rushers while maintaining his anchor will be something teams acknowledge in the draft process. 

12. Tennessee Titans: Myles Murphy, Defensive End, Clemson

The Titans believe in size and physicality at every position, but particularly along the defensive line. Luckily for them, Murphy is still on the board here and happens to excel in those exact traits. You can expect head coach Mike Vrabel to coach up Murphy and get the most out of the apparent talent in this prospect. 

13. Houston Texans (Via CLE): Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU 

Houston will double up on offensive players, providing Young with a deep threat in this mock similar to the ones he had at Alabama. Johnston's blend of size and speed make him a prototype as a boundary X receiver. The Texans lack a vertical presence in their offensive scheme and thus this pick makes perfect sense for Houston. 

14. Arizona Cardinals: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU Tigers

The Cardinals lost Chandler Jones during the 2022 offseason and will look to fill that void with another productive pass rusher. That's where we Insert the athletic edge defender from LSU. Ojulari is a high-end speed rusher with the bend and athleticism needed to excel from wide alignments. He would fit in great in Arizona's system. 

15. New England Patriots: Kelee Ringo, Cornerback, Georgia 

Ringo is an impressive talent that can surely provide immediate production at the next level. This is help that New England may desperately need after the departure of J.C Jackson. There are many questions surrounding the team that dominated the league over the past two decades, but Ringo would help shore up the ones in the secondary. 

16. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Smith is a disruptive run defender that can man the point of attack and hold the edge with intent. His pass-rush prowess still needs to develop, but he has the traits to take it there. Travon Walker was viewed in a similar fashion last year and he turned out to be the first overall pick and has made a statement early in his rookie campaign with the Jaguars. 

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17. Minnesota Vikings: Trenton Simpson, Linebacker, Clemson 

The Vikings have an offensive-minded head coach looking to deploy a high-flying offense. They have been successful thus far and have many key positions in place. That means they could look to continue to refine the defensive side of the ball. No one in this class displays more defensive versatility than Simpson. His ability to play in multiple alignments and positions will leave teams clamoring for his services. 

18. Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr., Offensive Lineman, Ohio State

Vegas may be significantly hampered by their offensive line play this season. The weaponry is there as seen early in the season, but the ability to hold up and regularly push the ball downfield is inept thanks to the o-line. Johnson has experience at both guard and tackle and will be an immediate upgrade for the Raiders. 

19. Dallas Cowboys: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Lineman, Northwestern

The Cowboys are currently ravaged by injuries and underwhelming play up front. If they want to return to the ways of the '90s or early 2010s, it starts with the big guys. Skoronski will provide fitness and strength to the unit, potentially developing into a Pro-Bowl caliber player under the tutelage of Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. 

20.  Seattle Seahawks (Via DEN): Michael Mayer, Tight End, Notre Dame

Mayer will round out the receiving options in Seattle and add to its aggressive run game. His ability to stretch the seam as a vertical threat and displace defenders in-line as a blocker leave him widely regarded as tight end No. 1 in this class. This skill set works great anywhere, but especially in an offense with a first-year starter in Stroud (mocked above).

21. Indianapolis Colts: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

The Colts need more pass catchers to pair with Michael Pittman Jr. His role as the No. 1 receiver will continue to expand, but there is a lack of certainty behind him in the receivers room. Smith-Njigba will immediately provide a security blanket thanks to his route running and excellent hands. If he is still around at this point, expect the Colts to sprint the card in. 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas

The best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley is finally off the board to the Eagles in this mock. If this draft was a decade earlier, you could imagine Robinson having trouble making it past the top 10. Positional value and the cyclical nature of offensive schemes may have dropped Robinson, but his physical traits and versatility will leave him making an immediate impact for Philadelphia. 

23. Baltimore Ravens: Joey Porter Jr., Cornerback, Penn State 

Baltimore played against Joey Porter and that vaunted Steelers defense of the 2000s for the better part of a decade. Knowing the impact his dad had against them, the Ravens select his son and add immediate depth and talent to the corner position. Stop me if you've heard that the Ravens like long physical corners (see Marlon Humphrey) and you'll know why this pick makes perfect sense. 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Morris, Defensive End, Michigan 

Morris takes over for two elite pass rushers including the second overall pick in 2022, Aidan Hutchinson. Michigan consistently churns out productive and freakish edge players and that will continue with Morris. His ability to play up and down the line will fill in holes along the defensive front in Cincy. 

25. Miami Dolphins (Via SF): Gervon Dexter, Interior Defensive Lineman, Florida

The Dolphins will look to beef up their defensive front as we stick with the theme of this draft. Dexter is an outrageously large human being whose size and movement skills will intrigue teams. Pair this with an offense that is rich with talent and you can see how Dexter fits in South Florida. 

26. Detroit Lions: Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, USC

Addison is an elite receiver who can stretch the field from the slot or flexed out on the perimeter. His size may throw some teams off, but his speed, hands and route-running ability are intriguing. Adding his skillset to a receiver room that has Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown and there would be a trio that scares defenses. 

27. Green Bay Packers: Brian Branch, Safety, Alabama

Branch is a versatile defender who has the requisite movement skills and aggressiveness to play high-level defensive football. The Packers have a good defense, but most of the players excel at their positional requirements. Adding Branch will allow the Packers to be more multiple in their scheme and disguise their calls easier. 

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Luke Musgrave, Tight End, Oregon State 

Musgrave may not currently be a household name, but by the time we approach the pre-draft process, his elite traits will have many raising him up their board. Adding a consistent piece at tight end would take a great offense and make it elite in Los Angeles, providing even more explosiveness for the Chargers. 

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Henry To'o To'o, Linebacker, Alabama

The Chiefs and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo are known for running complex and ever-evolving schemes. That means they need players who can play fast both physically and mentally. This is where To'o To'o shines as one of the nation's most instinctive players, regardless of position. 

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Downs, Wide Receiver, North Carolina

The Buccaneers believe the more the merrier when it comes to offensive skill positions, particularly at receiver. If Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still producing at similar levels, adding Downs will give this offense a feel reminiscent of their 2020 Super Bowl team. 

31. Buffalo Bills: Jordan Battle, Safety, Alabama 

The Bills have a terrific duo of safeties in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. The length at which they continue to play at similar levels in Buffalo is up for question, so inserting an experienced ball-player like Battle could provide dividends. His time at Alabama has been fruitful and gives him a distinct resume' come the draft. 

*Miami Dolphins forfeited their 2023 first round pick

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