Matching elite NFL prospects to team needs and preparing a mock draft is an exercise that can look like a mess after a few picks.
The normally heightened level of conjecture is even higher this year, when Bryce Young looks set to be the top pick by the Carolina Panthers, but at least it remains a doubt.
Few positions outside of running back (Texas’ Bijan Robinson) have the consensus best player, adding questions. One team’s best offensive player might be fourth on another team’s scoreboard, and vice versa. There isn’t a dominant wide receiver in this class, and it’s possible — maybe even likely — that one won’t be selected in the top 10.
Speculation is that the Houston Texans won’t select a quarterback at No. 2. If true, that makes selling the pick more difficult, and it’s fair to assume the Texans would want a large trade package. If the Texans struggle out of No. 2, the Arizona Cardinals could have similar problems at No. 3.
Or there could be a quick run on quarterbacks, with some teams — like the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 — clearly in need. Here are some infotainment programs in mock 3.0 form, with the real thing just a day away.
Chicago Bears pick in 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29)
- Round 1: no. 9
- Round 2: No. 53 and 61
- Round 3: no. 64
- Round 4: no. 103 and 133
- Round 5: no. 136 and 148
- Round 7: no. 218 and 258
1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago Bears): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
If GM Scott Fitterer and coach Frank Reich put the heaviest weight on the tight end, Young has to be the selection with the pick acquired from the Bears.
2. Houston Texans: Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
At 6-foot-6 and 271 pounds, Wilson is a big man with great explosiveness and the ability to play a variety of roles on the defensive line.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Ala
The Cardinals have a number of holes on a roster that needs serious work to compete in the NFC West. Getting a premier edge rusher is a good start for Arizona’s new power structure.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Accuracy is a bit of a question mark for Levis. That was one of the hits Josh Allen had coming out of Wyoming. Imagine what Levis would look like if he was surrounded by top SEC talent.
5. Tennessee Titans* (from Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos): CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Seahawks re-signed Geno Smith and could look to move down to acquire draft capital should they want to select a quarterback a year from now. Meanwhile, the Titans are rumored to be ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill at the end of the season.
6. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Lions would love to add to their defensive front, but with Wilson and Anderson off the board, they can fill a need in the secondary with a physical cornerback.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Raiders could be in the market for a quarterback, or they could choose to wait a year and work to improve the roster elsewhere. Cornerbacks are in demand in the AFC West when facing Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice a season.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Falcons spent a lot in free agency on the defensive end. The best way to give young QB Desmond Ridder a chance to succeed is to have a strong ground attack. Enter Robinson.
9. Bears (from Panthers): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Some believe Carter will be in danger of falling out of the top 10 because of questions about his makeup. The The Bears have a serious need on the defensive lineand the bet might be worth it if they think he’ll go in with a chip on his shoulder.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints): Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
Howie Roseman always seems to collect offensive and defensive linemen. Smith would give the Eagles a dynamic pass rusher along the lines of Haason Reddick, who had 16 sacks for them last season.
11. Seahawks* (from Titans): Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
The Seahawks need to improve up front on both sides of the line, and Skoronski would be a staple for years to come regardless of where they start him.
12. Texans (from Cleveland Browns): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Texans seem unlikely to draft a quarterback at No. 2, but if the super-talented Richardson slides that far, his upside might be too much to pass up.
13. Green Bay Packers (from New York Jets): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
GM Brian Gutekunst needs to equip young QB Jordan Love with pass-catching help or protection, and the Packers have a history of waiting until Day 2 to start looking for wide receivers.
14. New England Patriots: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Lots of questions about how Year 3 will shake out for QB Mac Jones. There are also questions about the secondary, and Banks has been a hot name the past two months.
15. Jets (from Packers): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Now that the Jets have landed Aaron Rodgers, they need to add protection for the quarterback they hope will turn the club’s fortunes around.
16. Washington captains: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Ron Rivera needs to add frontline help to the secondary. The Chiefs might like Banks here, but if he’s gone, Porter offers good size and power.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
The Steelers are looking to stay on one side of the trenches and there are rumors that they would like to move up. Van Ness would help right away.
18. Lions: Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
GM Brad Holmes would love to have one of the best defensive players fall into his lap at No. 6. If that doesn’t happen, he can bring Murphy here and fill another need on defense.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Bucs have needs everywhere, as that roster is a while old. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt, and Wright projects as a top-line right tackle with a chance to switch to the left side.
20. Seahawks: Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State
The Seahawks need some juice on the defensive front, and there aren’t many prospects with more athletic ability on the edge than McDonald.
(Miami Dolphins lost 21st pick)
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Justin Herbert has some nice targets on the outside, but the Chargers lack speed. Addison has a production time of 4.49 in the 40-meter dash.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
If the Ravens believe they can get a healthy and productive season out of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., they can turn their attention to the secondary. Forbes’ ability to cover men makes him an ideal target.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
The Vikings need a plan to eventually move on from Kirk Cousins, who will turn 35 before the season. Hooker could continue to recover from an ACL injury and learn from the sidelines for a year or two.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
A hamstring injury that has kept Smith-Njigba out for most of the 2022 season is affecting his stock a bit. The Jaguars can pounce on him here and add Trevor Lawrence’s options.
25. New York Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
For Daniel Jones to build a decent 2022 season, he needs to get more outside help. The Giants will have some solid options to choose from, and Flowers works well.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer has been compared to former Cowboys star Jason Witten. This is an ideal fit because Dalton Schultz left in free agency.
27. Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
The Bills lack size and strength on the interior of both lines. Bresee would immediately help the defense.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Bengals could look for interior protection for Joe Burrow or give him another weapon in an already stout passing game.
29. Saints (Broncos through Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers): Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
The Saints have needs everywhere and are especially deficient inside the defensive line. Kancey is undersized but disruptive.
30. Eagles: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
The Eagles got major production from Miles Sanders last year and can replace him with a back who would be more productive between the tackles.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Chiefs could be looking for a top player here to mitigate the loss of Frank Clark, or an offensive-minded team could give Patrick Mahomes another big weapon with playmaking skills.