Updated: Jun 16
Written by: Austin Thomas
I wanted to do something a little different on the day of the NFL 2023 Draft. This is an untraditional mock draft where I'll list the NFL prospects I believe will go in the first round instead of the standard team-by-team list with their selections. If you're looking for that sort of mock draft, you can go here to see my Mock Draft 1.0 from earlier in the month. Without further ado, here are the players I think will hear their names tonight starting at 8 PM EST on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network.
**ALL NAMES WILL BE IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER, NOT PERSONAL RANKINGS**
Pretty chalky, but I feel like these will be the only signal callers to hear their names' called in the 1st round. I do believe Hendon Hooker is gaining steam, but I think most will wait until at least the 2nd round to take a stab at the Tennessee Quarterback.
Bijan Robinson is arguably the best offensive, no, overall player in the whole draft. He's the next great elite running back and it shouldn't take long for him to hear his name. I'd be shocked if he made it into the 20s. Most teams are still in the mantra of avoiding 1st round RBs like the plague, but Jahmyr Gibbs isn't your typical running back, he's a playmaker you can line up all over the field - think of a lighter and faster Christian McCaffrey / Alvin Kamara type player. I can see a team needing or wanting an offensive spark taking Gibbs in the mid to late 20s. This is a deep RB class, but Robinson and Gibbs are special.
Might be an unpopular take, but I don't think we see the normal 5-ish WRs come off the board as many mocks have. I think there is only one team that will take a swing on one of the smaller receivers in the first round and I think Zay Flowers edges out Jordan Addison out of USC for that privilege.
Over the past six NFL drafts we've seen seven tight ends get selected in the 1st round and I think two players have the pedigree to add to that list. Michael Mayer for the longest time was the unanimous top ranked tight end in the class, but Dalton Kincaid recently has given him a run for his money. They're both tremendous talents that will give any offense a boost.
Good offensive lineman go quick in the draft. Winning the battle in the trenches is important after all. Some mockers have TCU's Steve Avila going in the 1st, but I think O'Cyrus Torrence's run blocking prowess sets him above the rest of the interior lineman and sneaks in. We typically see at least one starting caliber offensive tackle fall into day two and this year I think that's Anton Harrison from Oklahoma.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN:
This is pretty much the consensus. The biggest question regarding this group is if Jalen Carter will fall after his questionable decision-making earlier this year. Once considered the #1 overall pick to the Chicago Bears at one point might fall out of the top 10 now, or maybe not.
EDGE RUSHERS / LINEBACKERS:
LUKAS VAN NESS
As I mentioned earlier, winning the in the trenches is typically the key to success in the NFL, so seeing the pass rushers have the most amount of players come off the board compared to other positions proves that. Jack Campbell is the only player here that isn't a solidified pass rusher, however, he is the best true MIKE linebacker and that should help catapult himself into the later part of the 1st round.
The big three of Witherspoon, Porter, and Gonzalez are all interchangeable at the top spot depending on what you desire in a #1 cornerback - the real question is who goes behind them in a deep corner class? Brian Branch is a versatile player that can play nickel corner, a covering safety, or even in the box as he doesn't shy away from contact. These qualities will push him up draft boards and secure him as a 1st round player.
The NFL Draft is always a drama-filled rush of excitement for fans all around and this one will be no different. I'm excited to see the lives of these young men experience life-changing memories and see all their hard work come to fruition. Also, fans, remember these are real-life people with feelings and families, so please be considerate of that if your team doesn't select the player you wanted. Good luck to all the prospects, I hope your dreams come true.