Don’t you just love mock drafts? There’s just nothing quite as fun as looking at rosters across the NFL, analyzing their needs, and finding landing spots for some of college football’s brightest stars.
Earlier this week, TDN’s own scout Damian Parson put together his first 2023 NFL Mock Draft ahead of the 2022 NFL and college seasons, and I’ve been charged with “mocking” his mock draft. As such, I’ll be taking a closer look at Parson’s first go at a 2023 mock draft, laying out some of my favorite picks as well as some I’m less keen on.
Favorite Pick: Bryce Young, QB, Detroit Lions (No. 7 overall)
There’s a lot to like about this mock draft pick. For one, the Lions definitely don’t believe in Jared Goff as a long-term answer at quarterback and Young would provide them with a stable answer under center the team is willing to commit to. For two, even with all of the roster problems that keep Detroit out of playoff contention, for now, the offensive line is not one of them.
One of the biggest problems we see with rebuilding teams is a desire to draft a young quarterback even without the talent up front to keep him on his feet. The Lions wouldn’t have that issue, and Young, whose accuracy is one of his greatest strengths, will have time in the pocket to progress through his reads and make on-target throws downfield.
Of course, another appealing factor here is that Detroit would get the chance to re-create another collegiate quarterback-receiver duo after they drafted Alabama receiver Jameson Williams this year. I won’t go so far as to call them the next iteration of what we’ve seen with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase at the NFL level (yet), but Young and Williams were outstanding together in Tuscaloosa.
The Lions get their quarterback who gets to play behind an O-line that can protect him and throw to his former college teammate. That’s a win-win-win for Young, Williams, and the team.
Biggest Question Mark: Anthony Richardson, QB, New York Giants (No. 5 overall)
Look, I understand that the Giants desperately need a new quarterback, especially with all of the reports out of training camp that current quarterback Daniel Jones is struggling mightily. While New York has plenty of needs all over the roster, the new regime of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll finding their new franchise quarterback should take priority.
What perplexes me about this pick is the quarterback that Parson chose here. Richardson clearly has the talent and tools to potentially be successful at the NFL level. He’s a powerful runner who also has breakaway speed once he gets into the open field. He has a rocket arm that can be seen both in the deep balls he throws with ease and the tight windows he can squeeze the ball through on shorter passes over the middle. He has all of the potential to be a highly touted quarterback… once he gets more playing time.
Richardson is still a sophomore that hasn’t even gotten a full year of starting experience under his belt. He only attempted 64 passes in 2021, completing fewer than 60% of them and throwing nearly as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns (6). Once we get a better look at Richardson over a full year as a starter and potentially with some improvements in his game—particularly on touch passing and defensive reads pre- and post-snap—it wouldn’t surprise me to see him earn a first-round selection. But for right now, I’d rather see the Giants using a top-five pick on someone like Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who has the running and arm ability of Richardson but also a longer résumé as a starter.
Best Scheme Fit: Andrew Vorhees, IOL, Minnesota Vikings (No. 18 overall)
For a team with a running back as talented as Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ offensive line is rough. It’s a bit of a surprise considering the fact that you have to go back to the 2016 NFL Draft to find the last time Minnesota didn’t invest in an offensive lineman with a top-100 pick. They even spent two top-100 picks on O-linemen in 2021, taking tackle Christian Darrisaw and guard Wyatt Davis with the 23rd and 86th picks, respectively.
Vorhees is a bully up front and could help take Cook’s production to an even higher echelon with the push he generates at the line of scrimmage. He’s no slouch in pass protection either, looking for guys to block even when he’s uncovered and making sure his quarterback can stay upright. Vorhees would set the tone on the Vikings’ offensive line and help their overall offense take a literal and metaphorical step forward.
Best Value: Eli Ricks, CB, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 17 overall)
Ricks has the height, length, instincts, and tools to be a dominating force as the outside cornerback in any secondary. He’s phenomenal in zone coverage with a clear ability to sniff out route concepts and then find and get his hands on the ball.
He had a productive 2020 season at LSU, finishing with four interceptions—two that he returned for touchdowns—five pass defenses and 20 tackles. His 2021 season was cut short thanks to a shoulder injury, but it wasn’t before he snagged another interception and tallied 11 total tackles in six games.
Now that he’s transferred to Alabama, he has the potential to be an even bigger playmaker in the Crimson Tide defense. Adding him to the Eagles’ secondary across from fellow cornerback Darius Slay with the 17th overall pick is not only scary but also fantastic value for Philadelphia.
Best Player Not Selected In Mock Draft: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
After a couple of years with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Gibbs transferred to Alabama ahead of the 2022 season, where his potential has rocketed up into the stratosphere. He’s speedy, he’s got great vision and he can power through contact when he has to. Gibbs also has tons of upside in the passing game, able to run routes—both short and over the middle and deep and downfield—out of both the backfield and the slot.
There’s so much to like about Gibbs’ game, and all his snaps thus far have been in a Georgia Tech offense that we’ll just say isn’t quite up to par with Alabama’s. Now that he’s going to play with a quarterback like Young and a head coach like Nick Saban, it’s easy to get even more excited about what his potential ceiling could be.
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