The Draft Network is back in full swing and back to our regularly programmed Mock Draft Monday where each week a member of our scouting team will put out a new mock draft every Monday until the 2023 NFL Draft in April. Yes, that’s a lot of mock drafts, but as the avid football fans we are, we can never have enough mock drafts.
This week, my colleague Keith Sanchez was on deck for the latest 2023 mock draft and I was lucky enough to be assigned as the scout to critique his masterpiece for Mock the Mock. Keith appeared to have a ton of fun with his latest mock and I had even more fun ripping it to shreds (sort of kidding, sort of not). Let’s dive in.
Favorite Pick: Cam Smith CB, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 23rd overall)
Throughout the months of summer scouting, perhaps no player has gotten me more excited than Smith. Smith is my highest-graded corner and will likely finish in the top 10 of my initial big board once I am done studying all of the prospects. He is a hyper-athletic defensive back who has excellent size and length. A true alpha at the corner position, Smith is never afraid of a challenge and more than welcomes the chance to defend other team’s No. 1 receivers.
For the Bengals, Smith would join a talented secondary that consists of safety Jessie Bates III, and 2021 first and second-round picks in safety Dax Hill and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt. Adding a talent like Smith into this defensive back room would give this team an abundance of riches with defensive backs who all possess size, high-end athleticism, and an alpha mentality.
Biggest Question Mark: Andrew Vorhees IOL, Seattle Seahawks (No. 8 overall)
While I appreciate Keith’s reasoning for the pick and I do like the player, the selection of Vorhees to the Seahawks in the top 10 would result in the 12th man lining up with pitchforks outside of general manager John Schneider’s office—and rightfully so.
The team just traded their former franchise quarterback Russell Wilson this past offseason with the hope of starting over and rebuilding from the ground up. The first step in a successful rebuild is securing the next franchise quarterback. For whatever reason, Keith has the Seahawks opting not to do that. I have a hard time seeing the organization passing on the chance at a talented quarterback like Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Florida’s Anthony Richardson here.
Best Scheme Fit: Anthony Richardson QB, Washington Commanders (No. 9 overall)
The Commanders were aggressive in trying to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason with the addition of Carson Wentz via trade as well as the selection of Sam Howell in the 2022 NFL Draft. While I am somewhat optimistic that Wentz performs well for the team this fall, if they were to finish in the top 10 as betting odds predict, then the team will almost certainly look to move on from Wentz and get a true difference-maker at the position.
Richardson is a pure projection at this point, but his physical gifts are undeniable. A terrific athlete with a rock-solid arm, Richardson projects as a big-time dual-threat playmaker who can unlock the Commanders’ offense. If Richardson were to join Washington, he’d get the opportunity to play under offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who has experience coaching players like Cam Newton and putting them in the best position to succeed.
Best Value: Michael Mayer, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 30 overall)
If there was a player who has the fewest holes at their respective position not named Will Anderson Jr., I’d say it’s Mayer. The guy is just the total package. He’s a smooth and fluid athlete who runs excellent routes and has good receiving instincts with the hands, body control, and coordination to be a weapon in the passing game. Mayer also possesses the size and power to be a strong run blocker as well.
Mayer will assuredly be in my top 10 rankings and the fact that he lasted all the way to No. 30 is insane. I know tight ends lack the value of other more prominent positions, but under no circumstances should Mayer experience a fall such as this.
Best Player Not Selected In Mock Draft: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
I am not going to lie; I am surprised to see that Duncan wasn’t selected. He is a talented prospect at a position that is generally valued near the top of the draft. Keith only had two tackles selected with Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. going 10th and then Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski going 16th overall. The chances that no team after pick 16 is interested in a player such as Duncan is hard to believe.
Duncan is a wide-bodied tackle with natural athleticism and a ton of upside. With his tools and upside, coupled with the need across the league at tackle, I think it’s more likely that he is selected in the top 10 than not in the first round at all.
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