Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Points Staff Mock NFL Draft! I (Brett Whitefield) have assembled the Avengers — John Hansen, Scott Barrett, Joe Dolan, Graham Barfield, Chris Wecht, and Jake Tribbey — to join me in producing a staff mock in which we all make roughly 4 picks. This is an extra in my mock draft series (1.0, 2.0, 3.0). Mock Draft 4.0 will still drop as scheduled next week, right before the draft starts, and will be my only “predictive” mock.
With free agency mostly in the rearview mirror and my prospect film study also mostly done (with many more scouting reports to be written), now is a great time to take another look at how the first round could shake out. With this mock, you get a fun blend of predictiveness and personal preference to create a unique look at how the first round could shake out next Thursday.
With each pick, you will get a brief process analysis from the person making the pick, as well as my thoughts based on my evaluations of each player.
Let's get started!
Don't forget my 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Guide is FREE TO READ, complete with full evaluations, prospect rankings, prospect scores, dynasty fantasy rankings from our staff, and more.
Fantasy Points Staff 2023 NFL Mock Draft
1) Carolina Panthers (VIA CHI): CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State (Whitefield Big Board Rank: 5)
Chris Wecht’s breakdown: Frank Reich is not going to mess around with his QB of choice after dealing with they multiple retreads in Indianapolis that ultimately got him fired. Stroud doesn't have the size issues of Bryce Young or the rawness of Anthony Richardson, and showed elite talent at the college level leading the FBS in passing touchdowns last season.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Chris follows the trend of my recent mocks. While Stroud isn't my QB1 in the class, he fits the Reich archetype to a T and is a great prospect in his own right.
2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (Big Board: 3)
Tom Brolley’s breakdown: The Texans get the top quarterback on their board and the face of the franchise they’ve coveted since their relationship with Deshaun Watson deteriorated. He’ll be an instant upgrade over Davis Mills, who finished ahead of only Zach Wilson and Kenny Pickett in QB rating at 78.8. Young has all the tools to become a high-level passer if he can withstand the rigors of NFL football at 5’10”, 204 pounds.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Another pick that matches my recent thought process. Young is the most NFL-ready QB in the class and should step right in and upgrade the entire team.
3) Detroit Lions (via Arizona): Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (Big Board: 2)
Cardinals get: 2023 1st-round pick (#6 via DET), 2023 2nd-round pick (#55 via DET), 2024 3rd-round pick (via Det).
Lions get: 2023 1st-round pick (#3 via ARZ)
Brett Whitefield’s breakdown: With Jared Goff in the fold, great OL play, a good run game, a good WR group, and a wizard OC in Ben Johnson, the Lions probably have the best developmental path/situation possible for Richardson. They make a move that eventually leads to massive savings at the QB position.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: No player in this draft class will have a bigger impact on their team — or the league — than Richardson will if he hits his ceiling. The Lions are the perfect team to take on the challenge of getting Richardson to that point, from both a situation standpoint and draft capital standpoint.
4) Indianapolis Colts: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama (Big Board: 4)
Scott Barrett’s breakdown: Rather than reaching for this class' QB4, Indianapolis grabs the best player on their board — and maybe the best player on everyone's board.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: If the Colts are out on Will Levis as their guy, this makes all the sense in the world for them. Ideally, though, they would have found a trade-back partner. While I think Anderson is good, I don’t think he is worth the potential value add of acquiring extra high draft picks.
5) Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, IDL, Georgia (Big Board: 1)
Jake Tribbey’s breakdown: Seattle already has their QB, and Richardson coming off the board means they should wait if they want to grab a passer to develop behind Geno Smith. Ending up with one of the best interior defensive line prospects of the last decade feels like a great consolation.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Seattle stands pat at 5 and gets the best player in the draft? Yes please. Carter’s skillset pairs beautifully with newly acquired IDL Dre’Mont Jones. While Carter has some football character concerns, the juice is worth the squeeze from my vantage point.
6) Arizona Cardinals: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (Big Board: 9)
Cardinals get: 2023 1st-round pick (#6 via DET), 2023 2nd-round pick (#55 via DET), 2024 3rd-round pick (via Det).
Lions get: 2023 1st-round pick (#3 via ARZ)
Joe Dolan’s breakdown: The Cardinals gain extra draft capital to move back three spots and still nab an exceptional prospect in Gonzalez. The Cardinals need help everywhere, and Gonzalez is the best player on the board at a premium position.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Gun to my head, if I were forced to make a pick at #3 for the Cardinals, it would come down to Carter or Gonzalez. In this scenario, they pick up some nice extra draft capital and still get one of the top difference makers at a position of need.
7) Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (Big Board: 8)
John Hansen’s breakdown: This comes down to QB Will Levis or Witherspoon, and since CB is a more pressing need for the Raiders and I’m a Levis hater, I’ll take a potential shutdown CB for a team that hasn’t had a great one since Nnamdi Asomugha. Witherspoon ran a solid 4.42 40 at his pro day, which answered some questions about his speed. He’s an otherwise very clean prospect.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Cornerback is probably the Raiders' biggest need, and they get my favorite one in the class in Witherspoon. While I think Gonzalez is probably a better scheme fit, they didn’t have a chance at him anyway, so Witherspoon makes the most sense here.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech (Big Board: 5)
Graham Barfield’s breakdown: The Falcons finished with a pathetic 21 sacks last year (second-fewest). This front seven just hasn't been able to generate heat on QBs in a long time. Wilson would be a huge help and could line up at multiple positions along the DL.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: While Wilson is likely a work in progress, as what he was asked to do in college will be way different than what he will be asked to do in the NFL, I love the idea of getting him the requisite mentorship from Calais Campbell who has a lot of the same physical attributes as Wilson.
9) Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (Big Board: 10)
Chris Wecht’s breakdown: Justin Fields was pressured on 43% of his dropbacks in 2022. That was the worst in the NFL among QBs with at least 200 dropbacks. The Bears have to find out what they have in Fields this season, and Skoronski would come in and be a Day 1 starter for them at guard or tackle.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Skoronski to the Bears seems like an easy team/player fit to mock. Whether the Bears end up putting him at guard or not matters little, as his skill set allows them to ensure they get the best 5 OL on the field, which is their biggest pain point on offense right now.
10) Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (Big Board: 24)
Joe Dolan’s breakdown: If this is the scenario that plays out on April 27, I would expect Howie Roseman to be working the horn like crazy for a team that wants to draft Will Levis. But I got no interest from our staff, and made a prototypical Howie "trenches pick" with Smith.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Smith is Haason Reddick reincarnate, so on paper this makes sense. The nice thing for the Eagles is, having already figured out the best way to use Reddick, Smith likely gets to avoid the early career growing pains Reddick did. It’s a little early for me though. The Georgia to Philly pipeline remains strong.
11) Tennessee: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (Big Board: 12)
Scott Barrett’s breakdown: Tennessee considered taking Will Levis here, before remembering that Ryan Tannehill has been one of the most efficient QBs in the league since he joined the team (in spite of his subpar supporting cast). So instead, they get him some help. Sure, JSN is likely to spend most of his time in the slot, but he's one of the best slot WR prospects the NFL has ever seen.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: If the Titans decide to pass on QB, JSN has to be their guy. This is easily my favorite pick at this point in the mock. JSN immediately steps in as the target hog and elevates fellow WR Treylon Burks by allowing him to thrive in the gadget/big play role he is best at.
12) Houston Texans: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (Big Board: 32)
Tom Brolley’s breakdown: JSN went a pick before the Texans, so they’ll have to wait until the second round to get Bryce Young some toys. HC DeMeco Ryans instead gets his own toy in Van Ness, whom he can line up to rush passers on the edge or to create chaos along the interior. He has untapped potential as a career backup at Iowa, and he’ll be given time to develop with the rebuilding Texans.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: This probably winds up being my least favorite pick of the mock. Partly because I don’t like Van Ness as a prospect nearly as much as most, but also because for a team staring at a multi-year rebuild, my first priority is helping the new young QB we just drafted at #2 overall. I understand the Texans likely got sniped with JSN going one pick earlier, but I still probably come back with a WR like Quentin Johnston or Jordan Addison here anyway. Give your rookie QB the best chance for success.
13) New York Jets: Paris Johnson Jr, OT, Ohio State (Big Board: 14)
Jake Tribbey’s breakdown: The Jets' tackle play was among the worst in the NFL last season, and young star Mekhi Becton has missed 33 of the last 34 games due to a pair of knee surgeries. This pick helps protect the franchise's most valuable asset: Aaron Rodgers.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: The Jets are in the sweat spot to add OL talent, and Jake has them capitalizing on that. Johnson’s underrated versatility also makes this a good landing spot, as he can easily play guard early in his career if needed.
14) New England Patriots: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (Big Board: 22)
Brett Whitefield’s breakdown: With the news of Mac Jones falling out of favor with the Patriots staff, we jump at being gifted an opportunity to grab Levis and immediately move on.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: While I am certainly lower on Levis than the other “big-3” QBs, there comes a certain point in this draft where he goes from being overrated to underrated. This is about that turning point, and if the Patriots are truly out on Jones, what a slam-dunk opportunity this would be.
15) Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (Big Board: 30)
John Hansen’s breakdown: With Aaron Rodgers gone and a new starter in former #1 pick Jordan Love locked in, the Packers are finally going to do it — they're going to draft a receiver in the first round! Love is a ball distributor type, and therefore he needs guys to distribute it to. Christian Watson looks like a potential No 1. with some more seasoning, but it's a thin receiving corps overall. Love will be able to lean on Mayer and use him as a security blanket and Mayer is also a guy who can step right into a high-volume role.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I love John’s thought process here for sure, but I am not a big fan of the execution (the selection of Mayer). If the Packers were to go this route, I would much prefer they go with Dalton Kincaid. Mayer, in my opinion, has a limited receiving ceiling, and if the goal is to give new Love a higher-volume target that the offense can potentially run through, Kincaid is 100% that guy.
16) Washington Commanders: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (Big Board: 15)
Graham Barfield’s breakdown: The Commanders haven't had a serviceable tight end in years – basically since Jordan Reed was last healthy. Kincaid would give Washington another extremely talented, young piece to give Sam Howell or their eventual QB of the future.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Adding Kincaid to this pass-catching group would just be nasty. I also love giving new OC Eric Bieniemy a tight end that closely resembles one Travis Kelce to play with. Ultimately though, I think the Commanders just have too many other needs to justify taking a tight end here.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (Big Board: 17)
Chris Wecht’s breakdown: Kenny Pickett was pressured on 35% of his dropbacks in 2022, 8th worst in the NFL. They only have three tackles on their depth chart currently, and none of them have the Jones’ talent. The Steelers help protect and develop Pickett into an above-average QB.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I have been penciling in OT or CB for the Steelers the entire draft process, so no shocker here. Jones almost seems underrated at this point in the draft and gives the Steelers an OL renaissance.
18) Detroit Lions: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (Big Board: 11)
Brett Whitefield’s breakdown: The Lions get their QB of the future and support the pick by continuing to invest in the offensive line. There might not be a more Dan Campbell guy in the draft than Wright — he is nasty — and he is capable of playing RG for the Lions before eventually manning one of the tackle spots after a likely Taylor Decker departure in a year or two.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I didn’t anticipate going offense/offense with these two picks, but the way the board fell, it just made sense. The Lions remaining needs on defense are massively overstated, and there just wasn’t a difference maker here on that side of the ball to warrant passing on a stud OL who embodies the culture and team identity. Wright is a savage.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (Big Board: 19)
Joe Dolan’s breakdown: In the post-Tom Brady world, the Bucs are another team, like the Cardinals, that needs just about everything. And like the Cardinals, they go with a gifted prospect at the premium CB position.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Outside CB might be the one position the Bucs don’t need, actually, with Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean both signed to big-time contracts. However, I will never say no to adding depth and talent to the CB room. Coincidentally, my working style comp for Porter Jr is Dean.
20) Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC (Big Board: 18)
Jake Tribbey’s breakdown: It’s past time for the Seahawks to shore up their WR3 spot. Why not do it with a former Biletnikoff winner who has racked up over 3,000 receiving yards in his last three collegiate seasons?
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Jake follows suit here as I have mocked Addison to the Seahawks multiple times this cycle. Addison is a Tyler Lockett clone who gives the Seahawks a tremendous amount of alignment versatility.
21) Los Angeles Chargers: Calijah Kancey, IDL, Pittsburgh (Big Board: 16)
Scott Barrett’s breakdown: As far as I can tell, the Chargers' biggest needs are interior pass rush and speed from the WR position. With this pick, they lock up Kancey and his 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons, which will fit nicely alongside Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on the edge. For their other area of need, they'll be praying analytics darling Marvin Mims falls to them in Round 2.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Other than the Rams drafting the Aaron Donald clone, what better spot for Kancey than Donald’s former DC, Brandon Staley? Staley will know exactly how to get the most out of Kancey, who might not be an every-down player early in his career but will certainly be a QB hunter out of the gates.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (Big Board: 24)
Tom Brolley’s breakdown: The Ravens could go WR, but they’ll wait until later in the draft after handing Odell Beckham $15 million guaranteed. Baltimore has been crushed by injuries at cornerback in recent seasons, and Marlon Humphrey is the only solidified starter returning. The Ravens have to look just down the road for the top remaining CB in Maryland’s Banks, who is surging in the pre-draft process after destroying the combine.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Tom does his best Baltimore impersonation here. When in doubt, just draft a good DB with an enormous ceiling. Banks is a physical freak who has the chance to be the best CB in the class if he reaches his potential.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (Big Board: 26)
John Hansen’s breakdown: The Vikings still have a championship-caliber offense if they can add a dynamic receiver, so I'll bet the team views 2023 as one more chance to make a Super Bowl run with Kirk Cousins — and then it's rebuild time. QB Hendon Hooker is a definite consideration, but if they draft him and sit him this year, he'd be 27 years old by the end of his first season as the starter on a team with only a handful of strong building blocks for the future on the roster.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I would prefer the Vikings to get involved in the quest for a QB, but this is probably the next best thing. One way to improve at the QB position is to improve his pass-catchers. Now the Vikings go full send for one last year with Kirkie and boast an exciting pass-catching trio of Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson, and Flowers.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars: O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida (Big Board: 35)
Graham Barfield’s breakdown: The Jaguars have done a wonderful job building the weapons around Trevor Lawrence. Now it's time to protect him. Torrence is a nasty interior lineman and would be a Week 1 starter for this line that is desperate for help at LG and RG.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: The best pure IOL in the draft class gives the Jags upgrades in both the run game but also in pass protection. I love the investment into the young QB.
25) New York Giants: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (Big Board: 19)
Brett Whitefield’s breakdown: The Giants need to keep adding pass catchers to the room to help get the most out of quarterback Daniel Jones. Johnston gives them a unique skill set they currently do not have.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Great value at this stage of round 1. Johnston has some Gabe Davis in him but offers more in the short area and getting off of press coverage.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (Big Board: 7)
Tom Brolley’s breakdown: Jerry Jones can’t get this pick in quick enough, and the Cowboys end Bijan’s slide at #26. Mr. Texas stays in the Lone Star State and replaces 2016 first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott as the face of this backfield. Bijan is the best RB prospect in recent years after averaging 150.7 scrimmage yards and 1.59 touchdowns per game in his final two years at Texas.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Someone finally did it! From a big board rank to draft slot value perspective, this takes the cake as Bijan is my #7 player in the class, and Tom snags him for the Boys all the way down here at 26. I would say this is a realistic outcome as well.
27) Buffalo Bills: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (Big Board: 31)
Chris Wecht’s breakdown: The Bills have done very little to give Josh Allen elite weapons outside of Stefon Diggs, and Gabe Davis is in the final year of his contract. If Davis fails to break out again, Hyatt gives the Bills an elite playmaker who will open up the entire offense. With Diggs on the team, Hyatt doesn't have to be a complete receiver and can start his career stretching the field and giving Allen a true separator.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I love Hyatt but can’t help but feel like he is a little redundant to Davis, — they played in basically the same offense in college for Tennessee coach Josh Heupel (who coached Davis at UCF). I do think Hyatt offers some untapped potential working the underneath/short areas of the field. Get his speed in space, and good things will happen.
28) Cincinnati Bengals: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (Big Board: 45)
Graham Barfield’s breakdown: After signing LT Orlando Brown, the Bengals can shore up their tackle spots if Harrison gets to them at 28. He might be limited as a run blocker, but he's a perfect fit with Joe Burrow's dynamic pocket presence.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: At this point in the round, a lot of teams settle for drafting for need, so I think there is a very realistic chance the Bengals go with an OT here. While I have Dawand Jones about 10 spots higher on my board, I don’t mind Harrison here.
29) New Orleans Saints: Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech (Big Board: 72)
John Hansen’s breakdown: The Saints continue to reload rather than rebuild, so it makes sense for them to add an edge rusher considering all the players they've lost in free agency the last two seasons and Cameron Jordan's age (34 in July). The versatile White looks like an immediate impact player off the edge but also against the run, where the Saints need help.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: I am one of the growing swath of people who just don’t see it with White. He has a massive developmental curve coming, and I am just not sure how long his run-way will realistically be given he is already 24 years old. As the 72nd-ranked player on my board, I think there is some lost value here, but it’s hard to predict the Saints.
30) Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Branch, S, Alabama (Big Board: 21)
Joe Dolan’s breakdown: I would be pretty stunned if the Eagles don’t trade back with at least one of their first-rounders, and I considered doubling up on EDGE rushers, but it was impossible for me to pass on Branch here. The Eagles shockingly were able to retain both of their star CBs, but lost both starting safeties this off-season. Branch is a plug-and-play starter as a rookie.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Getting a player with a first-round grade from me at pick #30 is a huge win, regardless of what position he plays. Then mix in the fact that he is arguably the most NFL-ready player in the whole class, and now you're cooking with gasoline. Branch can play anywhere in the Eagles secondary and translates great as a 1-to-1 Chauncey Gardner-Johnson replacement.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (Big Board: 13)
Scott Barrett’s breakdown: The Chiefs pair one young athletic freak on the edge (George Karlaftis) with another in Murphy. And it clearly fills a need, with Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap testing free agency.
Brett Whitefield’s analysis: Big time value here, as Scott nabs my 13th-ranked player with the last pick in the round. Considering the premium position, this is by far my favorite pick of the mock. Murphy is a monster in the making.