2023 NFL Mock Draft: QB picture as muddled as ever; Bucs target passer; Eagles land two offensive weapons – CBSSports.com

Another weekend of college football means another week of trying to figure out what it means for this quarterback class. Bryce Young is who we thought he was, and C.J. Stroud continues to make his case as QB2, at least based on production.

But Will Levis remains the wild card, the “huge upside but there are a bunch of reasons we’re not quite seeing it right now” franchise passer who is battling a toe and shoulder injury, a porous offensive line, and young, inexperienced wide receivers. At the end of the day, none of that matters because when you’re a top-10 pick, the expectation is that you can overcome adversity, even if it dog-piles you all at once. NFL evaluators will spend the weeks and months between now and the draft trying to figure out what a healthy Levis, with pieces in place around him to help him succeed, might look like at the next level. The issue, of course, is that, typically, teams picking at the top of the draft don’t have those things.

The other mitigating factor is that Bryce Young is closer to 5-foot-10, 185 pounds than 6-foot, 200 pounds. And if you look back at all the quarterbacks who have played in the league since 2000, two names come up who were close to that size and weight: Seneca Wallace and Joe Hamilton. That’s it. Wallace, who was a fourth-round pick in 2003, measured 5-foot-11, 196 pounds at the combine. Hamilton, a 2000 seventh-rounder, measured 5-foot-10, 192 pounds. Put another way: Young, never mind as QB1 just as a first-rounder, will be a precedent-setting selection. I think he’s worth it, undoubtedly, but there will be skepticism around the league.

Which reminds me … starting on Monday, Nov. 28, CBS Sports will be rolling out the “With the First Pick” NFL Draft podcast. To start, the plan is to have weekly episodes, and I’ll be joined by Rick Spielman, former Vikings general manager who had more than 30 years in the league before joining CBS Sports HQ this spring. As we get closer to the draft, we’ll have several shows a week with CBS Sports NFL Draft analysts Josh Edwards, Chris Trapasso and Emory Hunt, as well as other folks in the CBS Sports family. You can follow me on Twitter at @ryanwilsonCBS for updates and reminders.

As for this latest mock, keep in mind, there are only 31 selections because the Dolphins were stripped of their first-round pick due to tampering.

One other thing, and this is important: the draft order below was determined using SportsLine’s Super Bowl odds but in reverse order. We know folks are going to be very angry about why we have their team picking so high, but it’s not our fault. These are your team’s current odds of winning a Lombardi Trophy.

NFL Mock Draft
Alabama

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 194 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

1st

Bryce Young might be historically undersized by successful NFL QB standards, but we don’t care. He’s been that good for Alabama, dragging that team to victory just about every week. And he’s doing it with none of the playmakers who made life so much easier for Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones in previous years.
Round 1 – Pick 2
Projected Team
POSITION RNK

1st

The Bears moved on from Robert Quinn before the trade deadline, so they’ll be in the market for an edge rusher in the offseason. They could also target an offensive lineman here to help Justin Fields, but Will Anderson Jr. is in the same pre-draft conversations as Chase Young and Nick Bosa when it comes to best non-QB players in a class.
Round 1 – Pick 3
Kentucky

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 232 lbs

Projected Team
PROSPECT RNK

5th

This is going to be controversial in much the same way that folks couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that Mac Jones was a first-rounder. Levis has a better arm, is a better athlete, and has a better frame, but he has had an abysmal senior season. In part, because Kentucky’s o-line has struggled, but mostly because Levis has battled turf toe and shoulder injuries for much of the year. That said, owner David Tepper desperately wants a long-term answer at QB and he may be willing to take a chance on Levis.
Round 1 – Pick 4
Georgia

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 300 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

1st

Jared Goff has exceeded expectations in Detroit, to the point that it’s hard to imagine a rookie QB would be a better option in ’23. And if the Lions are of the same opinion, Jalen Carter, who was arguably the best defender on a ’21 Georgia D that had five first-round picks, would fill a huge void in Detroit.
Round 1 – Pick 5
Penn State

• Soph

• 6’6″

/ 321 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

2nd

Fashanu won’t be 20 years old for a few more weeks and while we are hesitant to talk up underclassman because, well, there’s a lot of noise out there that can influence a player’s decision to head to the NFL, it’s hard to overlook the season he’s having. Fashanu is athletic, strong and consistent, all things you’d expect from a grizzled veteran, not a first-year starter. He’s only going to get better.
Round 1 – Pick 6
Clemson

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 275 lbs

POSITION RNK

4th

Murphy won’t be 21 until next spring, and while we’d like to see him play with more consistency … he won’t be 21 until next spring. On top of that, when he’s on, he’s hard to stop, which makes him such an interesting prospect. Of course, things are so dysfunctional in Las Vegas, every position could be on the table with this pick.
Round 1 – Pick 7
Ohio State

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 218 lbs

POSITION RNK

2nd

Since Andrew Luck’s retirement, the Colts have had little success turning to QBs nearing the end of their careers, and it’s safe to assume that owner Jim Irsay will be looking for the team’s next face of the franchise. Young is our clearcut No. 1, but Stroud has had a strong season for Ohio State.
Texas Tech

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 275 lbs

Wilson is a high-motor player who consistently finds his way into the backfield, and the Seahawks, for as good as they have been on offense, have struggled to pressure the quarterback.
TCU

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team
The Eagles don’t have many needs, so they give Jalen Hurts another deep threat. Johnston’s an above-the-rim playmaker whose athleticism and contested-catch abilities remind us of a more consistent Chase Claypool.
Round 1 – Pick 10
Georgia

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team
The Georgia-to-first-round pipeline continues. A year after five Bulldogs went in Round 1, expect a handful this time around, too. Ringo is a long, physical corner who has matched up against some of the best players in the country.
Northwestern

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 315 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

1st

Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he’ll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard. We think he can play tackle, but wherever he ends up, he’ll make the Texans offensive line better.
Round 1 – Pick 12
USC

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 175 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

3rd

Addison isn’t a big target, but he’s one of the most dynamic players in the country who can line up anywhere. Plus, there’s room for a shifty, yards-after-the-catch machine given that the Falcons have used previous first-rounders on Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Now coach Arthur Smith needs to see what he has in Desmond Ridder, if Marcus Mariota isn’t going to be asked to push the ball down the field.
Round 1 – Pick 13
Oregon

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 201 lbs

Projected Team
Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support.
Round 1 – Pick 14
Johnson, who plays left tackle for the Buckeyes this season, also has experience on the interior; either way, he is a Day 1 starter on the outside.
Florida State

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 248 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

2nd

The Lions defense has been hard to watch at times this season, and while they’ve improved in recent weeks, it’s hard not to like the idea of adding Jalen Carter and Jared Verse with their two first-rounders. Verse, an Albany transfer, has been electric in ’22, even when overcoming a knee injury. At full health, he’s a real problem, especially when he’s lined up opposite someone like Aidan Hutchinson.
Round 1 – Pick 16
Tennessee

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 185 lbs

POSITION RNK
Hyatt wasn’t in the first-round conversation heading into the season, but he’s a great example of a player taking advantage of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker’s Heisman Trophy campaign. Hyatt is a bona fide deep threat who consistently stacks defensive backs who have been helpless to do much about it all season.
Round 1 – Pick 17
Ohio State

• Sr

• 6’8″

/ 359 lbs

POSITION RNK
This Jets team feels a lot like the 2010 version, which had a second-year QB and relied on a good running game and a dominating defense. With injuries to the team’s two recent first-round O-linemen, maybe the team targets this unit again in ’23. Jones is a behemoth of a man who is a right tackle-only at the next level, but he’s a dominant run blocker who has made huge strides in pass protection in 2022.
Round 1 – Pick 18
POSITION RNK

2nd

Smith-Njigba has been battling injuries all season, but that shouldn’t take away from his game-changing talents when he’s healthy. The Giants are a different team under Brian Daboll, but they’re still in search of a No. 1 wide receiver after the Kadarius Toney experiment lasted just over a season.
Round 1 – Pick 19
Porter is the prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield, but he checks many of the boxes teams look for when drafting DBs.
Round 1 – Pick 20
Florida

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 347 lbs

Projected Team
Torrence transferred from Louisiana and didn’t miss a beat. He’s been dominant for Florida, and in Seattle he’ll join a young group that includes rookie standouts Charles Cross and Abe Lucas.
Round 1 – Pick 21
Notre Dame

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 265 lbs

Mayer is more Gronk than Kelce, but that’s not a bad thing. And in Los Angeles, he’ll get plenty of opportunities with Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Josh Palmer.
Round 1 – Pick 22
Maryland

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 320 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

11th

The Bengals made a point to fix their offensive line through free agency last offseason, and the results have been mixed so far. Duncan flashes special talent at times, and if the Bengals can get him to buy in, he’ll quickly upgrade a unit that has struggled in the Joe Burrow era.
Round 1 – Pick 23
LSU

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

1st

Boutte had a slow start to the season but has been warming up in recent weeks — right along with the LSU offense. He’s not in the same conversation as former Tigers Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase (duh), but he was an impact player in ’20 and ’21, and his numbers have improved over the course of the ’22 campaign.
Round 1 – Pick 24
Florida

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 232 lbs

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

4th

Does Tom Brady finally retire after the season? Even if he does, Kyle Trask can run the offense in ’23 and then Anthony Richardson could take over the starting job. Richardson could end up returning to Florida, but whatever happens, he’s one of the most exciting prospects in this class. Yes, he’s short on experience, but his physical tools are rare.
Round 1 – Pick 26
Arkansas

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 233 lbs

Sanders is a former five-star who transferred from Alabama after the 2021 season, and all he’s done is show out for the Razorbacks. He was an edge rusher for the Crimson Tide, but he lines up all over the defense for Arkansas and has been a one-man wrecking crew when he’s on the field.
Round 1 – Pick 27
Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 195 lbs

POSITION RNK

1st

Johnson flies around the field like he’s shot out of a cannon, looks to run through the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage and is a wrap-up tackler in space. He can line up in deep centerfield or near the line of scrimmage, and that versatility makes him one of the best defensive backs in this class.
Round 1 – Pick 28
South Carolina

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 188 lbs

You wouldn’t have known it to watch Patrick Peterson against the Bills last week, but he’s 32 and on a one-year deal. Cam Smith is a first-round talent who can be a Day 1 contributor.
Georgia

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 310 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

5th

Garett Bolles is out for the season with an injury, and the Broncos offensive line hasn’t been good — Russell Wilson is the third-most sacked QB in the league through 10 weeks. Jones is coming off a strong ’22 campaign for the Bulldogs, where he has faced some of the best defensive players in the country every day at practice for the past two years.
Round 1 – Pick 30
Alabama

• Jr

• 5’11”

/ 200 lbs

Projected Team
POSITION RNK

2nd

The Eagles haven’t taken a RB in the first round since 1986 (!), but we said the same thing about Andy Reid and RBs right until the moment he selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire a few years ago. And while CEH may not be the best example of why Philly might consider a back here, Gibbs has drawn comparisons to Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara as both a runner and a receiver. He could essentially be yet another weapon for Jalen Hurts in this offense.
Round 1 – Pick 31
Georgia

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 270 lbs

PROSPECT RNK

81st

POSITION RNK

3rd

Arik Gilbert was the Georgia tight end to watch coming into the season, but it’s been Darnell Washington who has gotten scouts’ attention. He’s listed at 6-7, 265 pounds (he actually plays bigger than that), and while he’s growing into his role as a receiver, he’s essentially another offensive tackle when he’s inline. Basically, he’d serve two roles in Kansas City: receiver in a high-powered offense and an extra blocker.
Round 1 – Pick 32
Alabama

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 193 lbs

Projected Team
PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Branch isn’t the first name you hear about when the conversation turns to Alabama’s defense, but maybe he should be. He’s a sure tackler, can blitz off the edge and is solid in coverage, and if Nick Saban trusts him, that’s all you need to know about his NFL prospects.

This content was originally published here.

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