NFL mock draft 2023: Panthers snag Stroud, Colts land Levis

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Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud is the No.  1 overall pick in my latest mock draft.  File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud is the No. 1 overall pick in my latest mock draft. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, March 23 (UPI) — CJ Stroud is the projected No. 1 pick, going to the Carolina Panthers, while Anthony Richardson lands with the Washington Commanders, after a trade, in my second 2023 NFL mock draft of the off-season.

Hundreds of elite college players showed off their skills and interviewed with teams earlier this month at the NFL scouting combine.

Prospects will continue to try to impress talent evaluators — and improve their draft stock — at college pro days and individual workouts over the next month.

The 2023 NFL Draft will be held from April 27 to 29 in Kansas City, Mo. The Chicago Bears entered the off-season with the No. 1 overall pick, but traded it to the Carolina Panthers.

The Bears were unlikely to select a No. quarterback. 1 overall, but Stroud could now land in Charlotte, NC, based on the Panthers’ need for an elite passer.

The Ohio State Buckeyes star put nearly all of his pass attempts on target at the combine. He also put on a show at Buckeyes pro day Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. Stroud worked alongside wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, another top prospect.

More than 10 members of the Panthers organization, including coaches and front office members, attended the Buckeyes’ pro day, a potential indication of their interest in Stroud.

This year, the first round will feature just 31 choices instead of 32 because the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick. The NFL stripped that pick in August when it determined the Dolphins violated league policies.

My entire mock draft is below.

2023 Mock Draft 2.0

1. Carolina Panthers

CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

2. Houston Texans

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Young remains the projected No. 1 overall pick in many mock drafts, but I believe Stroud’s impressive Buckeyes tenure and showcases for scouts are among the reasons Stroud will go No. 1 overalls.

Young also measured in at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds at the combine, which is undersized compared to most NFL quarterbacks.

Look for the Texans to snag the former Alabama star at No. 2 overall, ahead of Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

4. Indianapolis Colts

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Levis is a great fit for the Indianapolis Colts. The Kentucky star, who measured at 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, has the ideal size for an NFL quarterback. He also showed off his terrific arm strength in off-season workouts.

Levis, who has been compared to Josh Allen, also has running abilities. His size and specific skillset should be attractive to new Colts coach Shane Steichen. who was offensive coordinator last year for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Steichen helped that offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, ranking third in points and yards. His ability to work with a young, dual-threat quarterback with a similar size and skillset should make Levis an attractive target.

5.Seahawks Seahawks

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

6.Washington Commanders (trade with Detroit Lions)

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Richardson wowed talent evaluators and fans with a terrific performance at the combine. The Florida star logged a 40 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump, setting combined records for a quarterback.

Richardson is still somewhat raw as a prospect, and admits that he needs to work on his accuracy, but his ceiling could be the highest of this quarterback class.

Commanders coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner worked previously with dual threat quarterbacks Cam Newton. Richardson told reporters he modeled his game after Newton and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

I expect the Commanders to trade with the Lions to acquire this pick, which could turn around the franchise if it proves to be a success.

7. Las Vegas Raiders

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

8. Atlanta Falcons

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

An arrest warrant was issued for Carter during the combine. He was booked into jail the next day, but later released. The former Georgia star, who was a popular projected No. 1 pick, was sentenced last week in Athens, Ga., to probation, a fine and community service, as well as a driving course, stemming from charges related to a fatal car crash.

That incident is likely to impact his draft stock, but I still expect a team to select Carter inside the Top 10 in the first round.

The Falcons could opt to address other team needs, including quarterback, or trade this selection, but Carter could be of good value if they opted to keep the pick.

9.Chicago Bears

Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

10.Philadelphia Eagles

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Robinson is widely expected to be the first running back selected in the draft. The Eagles own two first-round picks and may opt to trade one of them to acquire additional assets.

If they keep this pick, Robinson should be one of their targets. The Eagles lost starting running back Miles Sanders in free agency.

They signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny this off-season, but that deal wasn’t too pricy. Penny’s previous durability issues and Sanders’ departure could make Robinson a great option to add to this run-heavy offense.

Robinson, who said he visited the Eagles earlier this week in a social media post, will likely be a Top 15 selection.

11.Tennessee Titans

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

12. Houston Texans

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

13. New York Jets

Devon Witherspoon, DB, Ill

14. New England Patriots

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

15. Green Bay Packers

Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

16.Detroit Lions (trade with Washington Commanders)

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

18. Detroit Lions

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Luke Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

20.Seahawk Seahawks

Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

22. Baltimore Ravens

Jordan Addison, WR, USC

23.Minnesota Vikings

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

24.Jacksonville Jaguars

Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

25. New York Giants

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

26.Dallas Cowboys

Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

27. Buffalo Bills

Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

29. New Orleans Saints

Cody Mauch, OT, North Dakota State

30.Philadelphia Eagles

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

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