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NFL Mock Draft
NFL Draft

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Crabbs 1.0

  • Kyle Crabbs
  • August 1, 2022
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Is it really that time of year? The 2022 football season has arrived. We’re welcoming college football back later this month and NFL franchises across the country are strapping on their pads for the first time this week. We celebrate here at The Draft Network the only way we know how, with an NFL mock draft!

Being charged with running through an iteration of an NFL mock draft this early in the year is about two things: giving all of you some insight into how we perceive the prospects and how we perceive the current rosters available across the league. I couldn’t possibly tell you all the things we’re going to see happen over the next seven months of football—many of which will completely change what we think we know. But I can tell you that the last three months for us at TDN have been committed to a deep dive inspection of both fronts. And I’ve used that information to try to piece both realms of football together in this mock.

The draft order set for this NFL mock draft is courtesy of BetOnline’s Super Bowl odds as of this weekend. Any and all comments complaining about the unrealistic nature of the order should be written on paper and then promptly crumbled up and thrown in the trash. Let’s have some fun. After all, it’s football. That’s what it is all about.

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Crabbs 1.0

1. Houston Texans

Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama

The Houston Texans may or may not have their answer at quarterback in Davis Mills. If they end up with the first overall selection, odds are things didn’t go well with the second-year quarterback from Stanford. Regardless, I don’t know how you look at this roster and think that this team is ready to invest in another quarterback without getting more stability from the rest of the roster first. Needing a quarterback is one thing, but forcing a pick at the position when the team isn’t ready to support that player’s needed development is just as deadly of a mistake. And for that reason, I’m mocking the Texans the best overall player in this year’s draft: a defensive terror that torments opposing offenses and wreaks havoc in backfields each and every Saturday.

With Derek Stingley Jr. and now Will Anderson Jr. on the defense, you can start to feel as though Houston’s infrastructure is in a good place to start turning the corner with their talent. And sit tight—the Texans pick again at No. 14 courtesy of the Cleveland Browns.

2. Atlanta Falcons

Jalen Carter IDL, Georgia

Much like the Texans, I’m not sure the Falcons are in a position to draft a quarterback early right now. If there were a slam-dunk signal-caller in this year’s draft? Sure. But I do think Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, and Kentucky’s Will Levis all have significant questions about their respective resumes as my top three quarterbacks eligible for this year’s draft.

Atlanta’s decision from 2021 to sit tight and draft Kyle Pitts at No. 4 looms large here as the team looks to retool and rebuild but does so without a lot of extra draft capital at their disposal. And without a lot of extra assets to speed up the process, I’m simply taking the best player available for the Falcons instead of putting Young, Stroud, or Levis behind a line that is set to feature a few major question marks along it. That player is Jalen Carter.

3. Chicago Bears

Peter Skoronski OT, Northwestern

Ah, yes. Drafting for need. I’m sure this is what you were expecting for the third pick of this NFL mock draft after seeing how the first two picks went. Chicago, unlike Atlanta and Houston, has a young first-round choice with ample physical tools at quarterback in Justin Fields. And as much as I may not like the raw value of this selection, I can’t bring myself to draft anything other than the top offensive tackle for the Bears to try to give Fields some damn help on offense.

Chicago made the decision to draft defensive players with each of their first two picks in 2022. Defensive-minded coach in Year 1? Okay, sure. But now let’s tighten up this offensive line with someone other than Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield. Peter Skoronski plays in the Bears’ backyard, so you know they’ll get plenty of looks at his ability to protect. I don’t love the value but I love the process of helping Fields with a supporting cast.

4. Carolina Panthers

CJ Stroud QB, Ohio State

Could it be? The Carolina Panthers are in a position to draft a quarterback? You already know owner Dave Tepper is tickled at the chance to get a top draft choice in the building (and not one from four years ago, either).

The focus on Carolina has been all about making a splash, and I think CJ Stroud’s style of play fits the brash, aggressive attitude this team has exuded in their quarterback search.

5. New York Giants

Will Levis QB, Kentucky

I have a confession to make. If I could have my choice of any of the quarterbacks eligible based on what we know right now, I think I’d be taking Will Levis. The traits are tantalizing and he’s only scratching the surface of what he can be as a quarterback. Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen hit big the last time they were a part of a bet-on-traits decision at the quarterback position—and you see some parallels in the physical skills of Levis and Josh Allen. I’m sure they’d love to get ahold of his potential as the next franchise quarterback of the Giants.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State

Jacksonville has gone out and added a bunch of players this offseason but I still think the wide receiver room is an area that needs attention. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a nice foil to the vertical receiving ability of Christian Kirk and gives Trevor Lawrence a smooth and nuanced route-runner with plus ball skills. So long as Smith-Njigba runs well, he will have a strong chance to claim the WR1 role he holds in this NFL mock draft in the real one next April.

7. Detroit Lions

Bryce Young QB, Alabama

The Lions’ long-awaited commitment to a quarterback is over! Detroit has played things patiently with the rebuilding effort of Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes, allowing two offseasons to play out without overcommitting on a quarterback. They appear ready to reap the benefits of that approach now as they secure Bryce Young with their first of two first-round draft choices in 2023.

Young doesn’t have the biggest arm or the sturdiest frame, but he does have the kind of pocket poise and quick release to create some big plays within the pocket. As the Lions have re-tooled their pass-catchers, I’m sure Jameson Williams will be happy to see Young as the next-in-line passer for the Lions.

8. Seattle Seahawks

Kelee Ringo CB, Georgia

Something, something the Seahawks don’t take cornerbacks high. Got it. Sure. But have you SEEN Kelee Ringo? Sidney Jones, Artie Burns, Coby Bryant, Tre Brown, and Tariq Woolen are not stopping me from adding a player of this stature and talent level to the Seattle secondary.

There’s a fair chance the pass rush unit ends up in good hands with Boye Mafe, Alton Robinson, and Darrell Taylor, and I don’t really love the interior offensive line value this early. Add in the run on quarterbacks early and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm to go get a position the team may not traditionally covet highly despite the need.

9. Washington Commanders

Cam Smith CB, South Carolina

Washington’s cornerback depth behind their top three isn’t particularly good and we are not sure what Benjamin St-Juste is going to be in the NFL just yet. As a result, seeing a player like Cam Smith on the board to play behind Washington’s fearsome front seven really moved the needle for me. He’s got size, physicality and instincts—a rare blend that should position him to be an impact player in the NFC East fairly quickly.

10. New York Jets

Paris Johnson Jr. OT, Ohio State

The Jets’ current commitment to both offensive tackles doesn’t appear to be overly stable—the team has moved Mekhi Becton to right tackle in favor of George Fant. Fant himself was good last season but does not have a long-term contract and is an expiring player after this season.

Those positions being in flux leaves a lot to be desired with a developing quarterback, so let’s go ahead and continue to invest in toolsy players on the offensive line to ensure Zach Wilson has every opportunity to succeed.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

Eli Ricks CB, Alabama

Johnson Jr. coming off the board right in front of Pittsburgh is a bit of a bummer to me, as I’d have loved to have made that selection for the Steelers. Alas, no such luck. And as a result, I’ll make an investment into Pittsburgh’s suddenly in-flux secondary.

Gone is Joe Haden, replaced with Levi Wallace. Wallace was a fine player as a system starter for the Buffalo Bills, but your CB1? Pittsburgh has some dynamic route-runners in the division to worry about between Amari Cooper, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins (plus maybe Rashod Bateman?), so let’s get an athletic, big cornerback who can help bring some more upside to the group.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)

Bryan Bresee IDL, Clemson

Man, I love this value for the Eagles. Philadelphia is a team reported to be evaluating their options at quarterback but I don’t love their options here with their first pick, which comes courtesy of the New Orleans Saints and last year’s draft pick swap. Instead, the team lands Bryan Bresee as a high-tools interior defensive lineman with positional versatility. Bresee can step into the shoes of both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave as penetration types up front—neither of which are currently under contract for the Eagles beyond the 2022 season.

13. New England Patriots

Myles Murphy IDL, Clemson

Surely the Patriots wouldn’t pass on a standout pass rusher who fell into their laps, right? Myles Murphy might be every bit as good as 2022 first-overall selection Travon Walker but with more bend.

Matthew Judon was a big-money free agent addition but he could certainly use some help in the Patriots’ front. And as the Patriots adjust to life without star cornerbacks, they’d likely benefit from some more standout play and versatility up front. Murphy gives you all of the above.

14. Houston Texans (via CLE)

Kayshon Boutte WR, LSU

First and foremost, best wishes to Texans rookie wide receiver John Metchie III, who will miss his entire rookie season after being diagnosed with leukemia this summer. We look forward to seeing Metchie III back on the field sooner rather than later, so much so that I’m picking him a long-term running mate to pair with Brandin Cooks to give Houston the supporting cast needed to really evaluate a quarterback and potentially support a new one down the road.

Cooks is a vertical receiver with good speed. Metchie III is a shifty player who is super quick at the top of the route. And Kayshon Boutte? He’s creative with the ball in his hands and plenty explosive himself. Sprinkle in the size of Nico Collins and Houston’s wide receiver room is actually looking pretty impressive. We just need Boutte to take the next step in 2022 and Metchie III to make his triumphant return to the gridiron when he’s ready.

15. Arizona Cardinals

Jordan Addison WR, USC

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but have you honestly looked at the Cardinals’ wide receiver situation for their $230.5M quarterback? You have a former first-round pick in Hollywood Brown. Great (although he needs a new contract). You also have a former first-round pick in DeAndre Hopkins (who is suspended for the first six games this season after missing seven games in 2021… and just turned 30). You ALSO have a former first-round pick in A.J. Green (in 2011). Forgive me if Rondale Moore, Andy Isabella, and Greg Dortch don’t move the needle beyond Brown in a contract year and Hopkins while also serving a suspension.

Jordan Addison, though? Yeah, that’ll play in this offense. Sign me up.

16. Tennessee Titans

Andrew Vorhees IOL, USC

So you want to run the football? Here’s a great place to start. Bring in Andrew Vorhees and run the ball behind him. Vorhees between Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones is a FUN projection so long as you’re projecting the USC Trojan to play inside at guard. He’s played tackle during his time with the Trojans but inside I can see him being a major difference-maker, especially for a team that wants to play physical and set the tone up front like the Titans.

17. Miami Dolphins

Bijan Robinson RB, Texas

[Editor’s note: The Dolphins have since been forced to vacate this selection. However, the player-team fit presists.]

Dolphins fans have been hoping… no, praying… nay, PINING for some level of commitment to the running game. This offseason the team rewarded their cries with not one, not two, but three new running backs. But Raheem Mostert is here on a one-year deal, as is Sony Michel. The team does have Chase Edmonds under contract for 2023 but no further, leaving Miami ripe to continue to tweak their offensive backfield.

Bijan Robinson feels like the perfect player to insert into head coach Mike McDaniel’s system as a zone runner. Robinson is physical enough to run between the tackles and explosive enough to catch the edge. He also gets bonus points for contributions in the passing game.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

Kyu Blu Kelly CB, Stanford

Philadelphia’s secondary got an added boost after the offseason signings of Jaquiski Tartt and James Bradberry, but their long-term outlook is still murky—the team has both new additions plus safety Anthony Harris coming off the books in 2023. So, yeah. Let’s add a toolsy cornerback into the mix to get the Eagles the kind of coverage partner they need alongside Darius Slay to keep this pass defense stingy.

19. Minnesota Vikings

Michael Mayer TE, Notre Dame

Minnesota has bid farewell to both Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin in recent years. While I’d like to think that Irv Smith Jr. can eventually be a quality starting tight end in the NFL, we haven’t seen enough production to prevent me from going out and getting a more impressive and dynamic player anyway.

Michael Mayer is the prototype at the position; an in-line player with receiving chops to match. He gives Smith more flexibility to move around and would give the Vikings ample chances to run 12-personnel alongside receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, too. For a team that is as committed to running the ball as Minnesota has been, having two competent tight ends is a heck of an opportunity to stress opposing defenses.

20. Indianapolis Colts

Isaiah Foskey EDGE, Notre Dame

Isaiah Foskey is just about the perfect candidate to step in for Yannick Ngakoue in 2023. Ngakoue is an expiring contract who came to the Colts after signing a two-year, $26M contract with the Raiders and he offers speed and bend off the edge. So does Foskey. And, like Ngakoue, Foskey has the kind of ball-hawking skills in a pass rusher to really move the needle and create big plays. I love his fit amid all of the versatile defensive linemen that the Colts can offer to move up and down their front.

21. Las Vegas Raiders

Gervon Dexter IDL, Florida

You know all about Maxx Crosby. Perhaps you’ve seen that the team added Chandler Jones, too. But have you seen this defensive interior? I have. And that’s why I’m mocking them an athletic disruptor in Gervon Dexter to play inside and try to create some interior havoc to offer a more complementary pass rush group.

Honestly, who among Bilal Nichols, Tyler Lancaster, Vernon Butler, Andrew Billings, Kyle Peko, and two day-three rookies (including a nose tackle in Neil Farrell Jr.) worry you to push the pocket? No comment.

22. Dallas Cowboys

Trenton Simpson LB, Clemson

OK, so hear me out. You know what is better than one freakish linebacker with the ability to contribute in a slew of ways? How about two?

This selection did give me pause to ask if Noah Sewell is a better fit to complement Micah Parsons. However, I’m going with Trenton Simpson and the understanding that if Dallas wants a secure run-fitting MIKE, they can run base personnel and achieve that security, too. Simpson is a speedy, long defender with the ability to play in coverage and even rush off the edge. His passing down skill set pairs with Parsons to give Dallas a pair of terrifying mismatch defenders on the second level.

23. Miami Dolphins (via SF)

Jaelyn Duncan OT, Maryland

Miami’s defensive infrastructure continues to look good, so we’re going to come back with the Dolphins’ second first-round choice to address the other big Achilles heel on the roster: right tackle. Miami currently has 2020 first-round choice Austin Jackson penciled into that spot and while Jackson has the athleticism to make it work in McDaniel’s wide zone system, his pass protection has been woeful through two seasons in the NFL. Something dramatic would have to change with Jackson’s play this season to inspire the Dolphins to not want better out of the right tackle spot, especially given that is the blind side for their current quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. Jaelyn Duncan knows all about blocking for a Tagovailoa—Tua’s brother Taulia is Maryland’s quarterback.

24. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)

Tanner McKee QB, Stanford

Seattle was just on the outside looking in for the quarterback run at the top of the first round, seeing Stroud, Levis, and Young all go off the board in three of the four picks immediately in front of their selection at No. 8 overall. That’s tough. But drafting a blue-chip talent and then coming back to land a high-tools pocket passer like Tanner McKee isn’t a bad way to progress either.

The team is looking for answers from either Geno Smith or Drew Lock this season, but McKee feels like the kind of player that can keep giving you big plays from newly paid DK Metcalf and fellow WR Tyler Lockett while staying true to his DNA as the quarterback of a run-heavy offense.

25. Cincinnati Bengals

Brandon Joseph SAF, Notre Dame

We gonna pay Jessie Bates III, Mike Brown? Go ahead and make that happen and then we can talk about picking something other than a glaring need at free safety.

I’m giving the Bengals Brandon Joseph in part because I think Joseph is the best true free safety in this year’s class. Antonio Johnson is a better tackler and does well playing low in the hole, but I like the ball skills we’re getting with Joseph to step in for Bates III if the team ends up not securing a long-term contract.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Quentin Johnson WR, TCU

No Hollywood Brown, no problem? Maybe and maybe not. But I can tell you this, if the Ravens are going to continue to be strongly committed to their current pay distribution on the roster while simultaneously fitting a big-money contract at quarterback, then we are going to need to have good (but cheap!) labor at wide receiver. Rookie contracts are good for that sort of thing. I like the fit of Quentin Johnston as a vertical passing game target but someone who offers size on the outside and should, theoretically, be able to contribute in the running game as well.

27. Detroit Lions (via LAR)

Noah Sewell LB, Oregon

You want kneecap eaters, Dan Campbell? I got you. No problem. Noah Sewell is a bit of a throwback in this regard; he’s a monstrous linebacker with size who is an absolute missile as a tackler. Sewell stepping in to play linebacker for a team that has to defend Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon and Dalvin Cook in the division sure feels like the right kind of fit.

28. Green Bay Packers

Jordan Battle SAF, Alabama

Green Bay has a heck of a defense set for this upcoming season, but Adrian Amos as a long-term option may be nearing the end of the road as an expiring contract this spring. With the Packers committed to so much on the payroll with Aaron Rodgers’ contract, transitioning away from a veteran and absorbing a late first-round rookie contract as a plenty capable replacement for Amos’ skill set is how teams extend their winning window.

29. Los Angeles Chargers

Tyler Davis IDL, Clemson

This selection is a bit of a projection but Tyler Davis has all the physical tools to be a disruptive presence on the interior. If he’s able to stay healthy in 2022, I think he’s got a real shot at making a push for this kind of stratosphere as a player. Plus, the Chargers sure could use some interior push to go with all that heat off the edge in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.

30. Kansas City Chiefs

Nolan Smith EDGE, Georgia

Sure, the Chiefs drafted George Karlaftis in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. And sure, the team has Frank Clark under contract for 2023 (albeit for $21M in cash). Clark has averaged six sacks a year in three seasons with the Chiefs; I don’t think bringing in more pass rush options is a bad thing. And apparently neither do the Chiefs, who just added Carlos Dunlap to the fray this past week.

Nolan Smith is a hybrid player who could be weaned into a role in the front seven throughout his rookie season before taking on a bigger role and hopefully adding more pass rush upside.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Christian Gonzalez CB, Oregon

Sean Murphy-Bunting. Jamel Dean. Logan Ryan. Mike Edwards. Keanu Neal. These are the defensive backs that the Buccaneers currently have under contract who are set to become free agents in the spring. That is a lot of names. Not just names but notable names.

Where I like the fit of Antonio Johnson is his ability to play low to the line of scrimmage and his ability to serve as a movable player in the secondary. That level of versatility can help the Buccaneers absorb the potential losses of Edwards/Neal/Ryan and Murphy-Bunting all in one player.

32. Buffalo Bills

Henry To’o To’o LB, Alabama

The Bills have Tremaine Edmunds playing on the fifth-year option this season and that may be a contract that doesn’t get renewed. Buffalo gave some indication of such by drafting Terrell Bernard in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Henry To’o To’o is a better player suited to take over the role from Edmunds if the team does indeed make a transition. Range, instincts, and tackling are all plus qualities.


What did you think of the first version of Kyle Crabbs’ 2023 NFL Mock Draft? Let us know what you think on Twitter and Instagram.

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Kyle Crabbs