Colts Take Will Levis in Latest Mock Draft
NFL Draft - I asked ChatGPT to write the introduction to this mock draft in the style of a fictionalized TV episode's 'Previously on…' and this is what it gave me, edited for brevity and content:
Previously on the NFL Draft: In 2022, we witnessed an unforgettable event as Trevor Lawrence was selected as the first overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The draft also saw a flurry of trades, with teams jostling for position to secure their preferred prospects.
But as always, the draft is full of surprises. Will any teams make unexpected trades? Which under-the-radar prospects will emerge as future stars? And who will be the lucky team to select the next generational talent? Find out now on the 2023 NFL Draft.
ChatGPT doesn't have knowledge of the 2022 draft, which is why it named Lawrence as the first overall pick. And I wouldn't describe the selection of Travon Walker as "an unforgettable moment," but that all depends on the eye of the beholder, so don't shoot the messenger, OK?
Now onto the mock—which, as a reminder, will certainly be wrong. (My GrindingTheMocks.com rankings are almost always much better.)
Here is a quick reminder about the ground rules I'm using for this mock draft:
- I'm not projecting any trades, though I expect some movement at or near the top of the draft that should make this mock even more irrelevant than usual.
- I am only taking these factors into account when formulating my mock selections:
- the player's Expected Draft Position.
- the drafting team's most mocked players and positions.
- the drafting team's history of selecting players earlier or later than expected.
- the approximate breakdown of players by Expected Draft Round for actual first-round draft selections at this point in the draft process.
- According to Grinding the Mocks' historical data, this mock should include the following:
- ~24 players with a first-round Expected Draft Round
- ~6 players with a second-round Expected Draft Round
- ~1 players with a third-round Expected Draft Round
(The first GTM Mock Draft can be found here.)
Grinding the Mocks 2023 NFL Mock Draft II
(* Pick Acquired by Trade)
1. Carolina Panthers (*): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Carolina moving into the top spot is a long time coming, and the buzz around the NFL (and the betting markets) is that C.J. Stroud is the pick. My reading of the "tea leaves" in the current moment is that while Stroud looks like the better quarterback, Young just is.
2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Here is the biggest example of why the 2023 draft feels similar to the 2018 edition: this pick could come down to the wire. It will be intriguing to see how C.J. Stroud handles the pro transition given how talented Ohio State was and how bad the Texans are.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, ER, Alabama
Arizona feels like a perfect trade-out option, but in the event that they keep the pick, they'll likely select the top-ranked defender on their draft board. Will Anderson should find himself atop the consensus draft board and plays a premium position.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Many draftniks will be surprised by my sending Will Levis to the Colts over Anthony Richardson given how new head coach Shane Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard have a history of valuing elite athletes. Levis is toolsier than people think and the more accurate passer.
5. Seattle Seahawks (*): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
People will say: "Benjamin, don't you always say that quarterbacks are the most over-mocked position in Grinding the Mocks data?" But with a high-ish floor quarterback in ninth-year breakout Geno Smith already on the roster, the Seahawks can work on developing Anthony Richardson until he's ready to be unleashed on the NFC West whether it's in 2023 or 2024.
6. Detroit Lions (*): Tyree Wilson, ER, Texas Tech
I'll save you some time and tell you that Tyree Wilson is definitely enough of a "kneecap-biter" for Dan Campbell. If the Lions can right the ship on defense and integrate wide receiver Jameson Williams on offense, I smell playoffs, even with Jared Goff at quarterback.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
One of the highest-rising prospects since the beginning of the draft process, Christian Gonzalez checks all the boxes you want in a shutdown cornerback. The Raiders' braintrust both came to Vegas from the Patriots, who value building a defense from back to front.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Now, one of my hottest draft takes is that I believe the hype around Bijan Robinson is not being captured by Grinding the Mocks data. NFL teams can't help themselves when it comes to seeing talent and ignoring positional value in the draft (see Kyle Pitts, 2021).
9. Chicago Bears (*): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Georgia's Jalen Carter was supposed to be the crown jewel of the Bulldogs' back-to-back championship-winning teams, even eclipsing Travon Walker from the 2022 draft in terms of upside. Off-the-field issues didn't scare Kansas City from talented players when Ryan Poles was there, and it won't scare Chicago either. Carter could become Poles' own Chris Jones.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (*): Lukas Van Ness, ER, Iowa
Another year, another series of mock drafts selecting positions that the Eagles never target in Round 1. Well, not this one! The trenches on both sides of the ball have always been an area of focus for the Eagles, and Lukas Van Ness is another big riser in Grinding the Mocks who has the potential to go top-10 despite never "starting" for Iowa.
11. Tennessee Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Mediocrity cost ex-Titans' general manager Jon Robinson (no relation) his job, giving new general manager Ran Carthon a clean slate. Drafting an offensive lineman with the talent and championship pedigree of Broderick Jones raises the floor for the Titans' offense in 2023 as they begin to rebuild.
12. Houston Texans (*): Jordan Addison, WR, USC
In his short stint as the Houston Texans' general manager, Nick Caserio has coveted players in the early rounds that were "overdrafted" compared to their Grinding the Mocks EDP (e.g., Derek Stingly, Kenyon Green, etc.). Given this data, a player such as Jordan Addison should come as no surprise, especially after extending Laremy Tunsil.
13. New York Jets: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
No Aaron Rodgers, no problem? The Jets should still draft like Rodgers will be the QB1, and fielding a dependable offensive line has been a strength of the Packers' under the quarterback's leadership.
14. New England Patriots: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Going off-script has always been Bill Belichick's modus operandi as a coach and de facto general manager. Adding Dalton Kincaid, the top receiving tight end in this ballyhooed tight end class, provides Mac Jones a dynamic targets after a 2022 season where he struggled.
15. Green Bay Packers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Protecting the quarterback should be a top consideration for the Packers as they enter the Jordan Love era. Darnell Wright is a solid and very technical right tackle who had an elite performance against Will Anderson to his name along with All-SEC honors in 2022.
16. Washington Commanders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Another year, another season with the team formerly known as the Washington Football Team finishing in the middle of the pack in the NFL. With Eric Bienemy revamping the offense, the Commanders can focus on strengthening their middling secondary with Devon Witherspoon, one of the most fun-to-watch players in this entire class.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
You shouldn't judge a book solely by its cover, just like you shouldn't judge an offensive lineman solely on his measurables. Peter Skoronski may not look like much, but this is what peak performance looks like, especially when you perform as well as he did at Northwestern.
18. Detroit Lions: Joey Porter, CB, Penn State
Yes, the Lions hit cornerback in free agency relatively hard and still have Jeffrey Okudah on their roster. However, that shouldn't mean they're done investing in a position group where throwing numbers at the problem is a proven methodology for raising the unit's talent.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
On the Bucs' run to the Super Bowl, a dominant secondary that had very few weaknesses was a key feature of their defense. Deonte Banks is another in that group of big risers since the beginning of the process who has a strong chance to go in Round 1.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Myles Murphy, ER, Clemson
Under the Pete Carrol and John Schneider regime, a stout defense with physical, speedy pass-rushers has been a staple. Despite being one of the biggest fallers in Grinding the Mocks post-combine (he didn't test due to injury), Clemson's Myles Murphy offers exactly what the Seahawks are looking for at edge rusher, and his pro day workout went well.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Releasing Keenan Allen seemed like a legitimate option for the Chargers until they restructured his contract last month. That shouldn't preclude them from drafting a Round 1 wide receiver who, when healthy, has the tools and profile to eventually supplant Allen once he has been fully integrated into the Chargers' offense under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Nolan Smith, ER, Georgia
When a player this good falls to the Ravens, it's easy for them to pull the trigger, especially when it's a player with elite traits like Nolan Smith. Signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a big-dollar free-agent contract makes this pick easier for me for the Ravens, but edge rusher is still a sneaky need despite previously drafting Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Will McDonald, ER, Iowa State
Reaching for talent isn't the Minnesota way, but players with Expected Draft Positions in the low 30s sometimes find themselves in the top 25. Will McDonald profiles as one of the most accomplished edge rushers in a class with plenty of talent and can add some juice to a Vikings defense looking to make a statement under new coordinator Brian Flores.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
In free agency, the Jaguars were unable to retain Jawaan Taylor, so replacing him in the draft should be a high priority, especially since Walker Little has shown so well, little. Harrison profiled as one of the best pass-blocking offensive tackles in a pass-happy Big 12 in 2022.
25. New York Giants: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
The Giants have a need for speed and the player that really tailors his game to his speed is Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt. Seeing the production that the Giants' wide receiver room was able to get despite their talent deficiencies was remarkable, but an upgrade is truly necessary.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Every year in the Grinding the Mocks era, the Cowboys have drafted players in Round 1 at their fourth-most-mocked position. In 2023, running back and linebacker are those positions, so targeting Arkansas' Drew Sanders makes a lot of sense due to his unique skill set.
27. Buffalo Bills: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Releasing the Kraken (a.k.a. Josh Allen) requires a renewed investment in the skill positions. Gabe Davis failed to be the strong WR2 that the Bills really needed to make a big playoff run in 2022, but adding Quentin Johnston to this already potent unit represents a major investment and commitment to taking Buffalo to that next level.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Sign me up for this one as a Pittsburgh alum. Because of his small stature and alma mater, Calijah Kancey has received some Aaron Donald comparisons, but he should remind Bengals fans more of their own undersized former Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Geno Atkins.
29. New Orleans Saints (*): Cody Mauch, G, North Dakota State
Now, the Saints amaze us every year with their approach to roster-building, and how they approach the draft is no different (see last year's draft night trade with the Eagles). Having used a Round 1 pick on an FCS player in Trevor Penning, the Saints should have little reason to not add some more beef to their offensive line by drafting North Dakota State's Cody Mauch, whose toothy smile and tough play Saints fans will learn to love.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
On one hand, I don't see the Eagles' keeping this selection since they regularly trade their Round 1 picks to accrue more capital in current and future drafts. On the other hand, I didn't expect them to be able to re-sign James Bradberry and Darius Slay either. But they could definitely use more talented players at the cornerback position for the future.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Derick Hall, ER, Auburn
Winning a Super Bowl and drafting for need makes this pick seem like a reach, but every year at least one player that started April in Round 3 in Grinding the Mocks data gets drafted in Round 1. Auburn's Derick Hall is the type of player who would fit very nicely into the Chiefs' defensive scheme alongside 2022 first-round pick George Karlaftis, a defensive lineman who can convert speed to power and collapse the pocket.
|Mock Draft Results
(Expected Draft Position Data as of 4/3/2023)
|1||CAR* (from CHI)||Bryce Young||QB||Alabama||2|
|2||HOU Texans||C.J. Stroud||QB||Ohio State||1|
|5||SEA* (from DEN)||Anthony Richardson||QB||Florida||4|
|6||DET* (from LA)||Tyree Wilson||ER||Texas Tech||5|
|9||CHI* (from CAR)||Jalen Carter||DT||Georgia||6|
|10||PHI* (from NO)||Lukas Van Ness||ER||Iowa||13|
|12||HOU* (from CLE)||Jordan Addison||WR||USC||24|
|13||NYJ||Paris Johnson||OT||Ohio State||8|
|18||DET||Joey Porter||CB||Penn State||16|
|21||LAC||Jaxon Smith-Njigba||WR||Ohio State||14|
|23||MIN||Will McDonald||ER||Iowa State||33|
|29||NO* (from DEN via MIA/SF)||Cody Mauch||G||North Dakota State||52|
17 comments, Last at 16 Apr 2023, 10:33pm
#8 by theslothook // Apr 11, 2023 - 7:49pm
I maintain, unless I'm getting Marshall Faulk, Brian Westbrook, or Darren Sproles level production from my rb as a receiver in addition to being a great runner; I simply would not draft a RB in the first round.
#9 by BigRichie // Apr 12, 2023 - 3:28pm
Congratulations, you've won the Politically Correct! award for today. Hope it was as good for you as it was for me.
Lessee, being a great receiver as well as a great runner. So unless the guy performs at the level of a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer, he's not worth taking in the 1st Round.
Being an Uber Analyst takes as much critical thinking as disregarding Analytics entirely.
#10 by Sifter // Apr 12, 2023 - 3:37pm
Ben thanks for putting this together, and for being brave enough to read the comments :)
I am intrigued with where those top 4 QBs go. Seattle at #5 or Detroit at #6 are interesting options. Surely can't go past Atlanta at #8 - but we make those kind of statements every year!
If I'm Tampa and there's a good QB still on the board at #7, I would pounch. Leapfrog Atlanta and grab him to stick it to their division rivals and give us all relief from hopefully not having to watch too much more Baker Mayfield...
#13 by Benjamin Robinson // Apr 13, 2023 - 1:18am
Thanks. I'm not a hero, though. I put on my pants one leg at a time just like the next guy. I don't think Atlanta is drafting a QB this year. As always the best time to draft a QB was probably in 2021 but they decided that Kyle Pitts was the better player for them at the time and not Justin Fields but that's all under the bridge now. I think Richardson has the better chance of falling outside the top 10. Tampa would be interesting. All signs point towards them pulling a "soft" tank with Baker Mayfield at QB with Kyle Trask as a rookie to run out and see what he has before throwing themselves into the Crash for Caleb or Fake for Drake movements. That's my way of saying that I think it would be very surprising for the Bucs to go all-in on this QB class with where they are in their development cycle. Tennessee seems like the team looking closely at the QBs outside of the top 10 and maybe the Ravens.
#16 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 16, 2023 - 5:13pm
I get why you'd think Bijan to ATL would make sense (run heavy team), and putting my feelings aside of how it's still too high (would be ~15th highest cap hit in year 1,and that's not including pending Dalvin Cook & Joe Mixon cuts, Saquon, Jacobs and Pollard not signing their tags. etc.), but, uh ATL is good at RB and yet further proof of RBSDM.
Looking at the same RB cap hit list you'll see Cordless Phone at 13th. Oh and of course OROTY-5 Tyler Allgeier who also got a 1st place vote (iirc by Aaron himself!). '21 5th rounder Avery Williams also still hanging around. Really don't need to add 4+1 years of a RB when they have other holes. But the league is dumb so I cant combat that point.