*Editor’s Note* – This mock draft was done before Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens agreed to a contract extension.
(WFRV) – With Aaron Rodgers heading to The Big Apple to play for the Jets, the Green Bay Packers now turn to Jordan Love to lead the Green & Gold out of the tunnel in 2023.
But before fans get too far ahead, Thursday, April 27, marks the beginning of the NFL Draft, where hundreds of athletes will hear their names called.
Local 5 News created its own 2023 NFL Mock Draft for the entire first round and the Green Bay Packers’ second-round selections, giving readers an insight into just who we think the team could select to begin the new era.
WFRV-TV Local 5 News 2023 NFL Mock Draft
1. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Panthers certainly didn’t give up a haul of picks and D.J. Moore to select a non-quarterback. There were some rumors that Will Levis could be chosen here, but Young is the pick. Many evaluators have him as the best quarterback available in this draft. The Panthers get their quarterback of the future with the first overall pick.
– Devin Willems, Digital Content Director
2. HOUSTON TEXANS: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
The Houston Texans need a quarterback, but without certain confidence in a quarterback, Nick Caserio should turn to perhaps the best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, Will Anderson Jr. The 21-year-old picked up 207 pressures over his three-year career with the Crimson Tide, making him one of the best every-down edge rushers in the draft.
Anderson Jr. has an elite first step and has the flexibility to make life much easier as an edge rusher. He’s physically ready to contribute to whatever team selects him, as he averaged 734 snaps per season. He’s a guaranteed top-five pick.
– Indiana Schilz, Digital Content Producer
3. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
A rebuild on the Cardinals’ defensive line is vital after losing key pieces in J.J. Watt and Zach Allen. Jalen Carter, a junior, leaves Georgia as a two-time national champion and a 2022 unanimous All-American. Carter’s quickness and strength should help to make an immediate impact on Arizona’s D-Line.
Carter also has notable off-the-field questions that include charges in connection to a fatal accident of a teammate and an athletic staff member that could lead to him falling in the 2023 draft.
– Ben Newhouse, Digital Content Producer
4. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis might be the weird dude who likes putting mayonnaise in his coffee, but he fits the exact quarterback mold the Cots are looking for. Levis is a big-bodied QB standing at 6’4, 229lbs (Andrew Luck was 6’4, 234lbs, Peyton Manning was 6’5, 230lbs). He showed a great deal of toughness playing through an injury this past season while not going public about it. Levis is also one of the more pro-ready QBs in the draft running a pro-style offense at Kentucky under head coach Mark Stoops.
– Nick Witwer, Digital Content Producer
5. [TRADE] HOUSTON TEXANS: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Texans will no doubt be eyeing up a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft and ultimately decided to go with Will Anderson Jr. with the second pick. However, after seeing C.J. Stroud drop below Indianapolis after they select Will Levis, a trade is made with the Seattle Seahawks, who will now pick 12th.
Stroud brings a plethora of potential to the table and is the most accurate quarterback in this year’s class. He thrives as a pocket passer and, according to PFF, had the second-highest-graded game of his career against Georgia in the College Football Playoff, where he received a 92.2/100.
6. DETROIT LIONS: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
A great edge rusher to pair with last year’s #2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions need help on the defensive side of the ball and certainly could take a cornerback in this spot after trading Jeff Okudah. However, Wilson is ranked highly, and if he falls to #6, it could be hard to pass on him.
7. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Devon Witherspoon is everything you want in a defensive back, and the Las Vegas Raiders, who are in desperate need of one, will have to take him given the opportunity. Witherspoon is not the most physically gifted in the class, but the fight he puts up with wide receivers makes him well worth the seventh overall pick.
In 2022, Witherspoon was targeted 63 times and allowed only 22 catches for 206 yards with three interceptions and 14 pass breakups. That comes out to 3.3 yards per target, making him the real deal for the Las Vegas Raiders.
8. ATLANTA FALCONS: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Atlanta Falcons have many holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, but if some of the top defensive prospects get selected ahead of #8 (like they did in this mock draft), then look for the Falcons to help solidify the QB position.
Although Atlanta drafted Desmond Ridder in Round 3 of the 2022 draft, the Falcons take a chance on who some are calling “The most athletic QB prospect ever” with Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
9. CHICAGO BEARS: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
It’s no secret that the Bears need help along the offensive line. While the line was ranked 2nd in the league for pass block win rate, Justin Fields was sacked a league-high 55 times. Not only is Skoronski a homegrown Illinois prospect, but he’s arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft class. While he’s listed as an offensive tackle, some NFL executives believe he might be an even better guard should Chicago elect to put him there.
10. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Bijan Robinson, HB, Texas
The Eagles take the best player in the draft, regardless of position. He’s not just a running back, he’s an offensive weapon that can help the newly paid Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense launch into the stratosphere.
– Samuel Ellyson, News Producer
11. TENNESSEE TITANS: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
With the top four quarterbacks off the board in this mock draft, Tennessee may take the best overall player. After getting rid of most of 2022’s starting offensive line, Paris Johnson could be a day-one starter.
With a relatively weak division, the Titans certainly could be looking at the playoffs come November/December. Worst case scenario is the team stinks in 2023 and can take a QB in next year’s draft, which is supposed to have no shortage of talent.
12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
A wide receiver core of D.K. Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Nijigba, and Tyler Lockett would be so fun for the Seahawks. Plus, the trade back gets the Seahawks more capital to help build for the future (or maybe trade up for a QB in a highly anticipated class next year?)
13. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Editors Note: For the Green Bay Packers selection, the five contributors selected who they believe the Packers will take, regardless of this Mock Draft. Broderick Jones will be chosen as 3/5 contributors decided on him.
Broderick Jones, OT, Ohio State: The Packers have not selected a first-round skill position player on the offensive side of the ball since Javon Walker. I don’t anticipate that to change. History says the team will take the best overall player. Keeping Jordan Love upright will go a long way to determining if he has the skills to be the team’s play caller of the future.
So the Packers have traded an almost guaranteed Hall of Fame quarterback and are handing the reins over to Jordan Love. After moving up two spots from #15 to #13, fans will be chomping at the bit, looking for Green Bay to draft a top wide receiver or a play-making tight end to help the young QB out.
Are those positions needed? Yes, but that’s just not how Green Bay does things. The Packers have made it a point to draft for the future earlier than it would seem they need to. We saw it in 2020 when they drafted Jordan Love, but more specifically, AJ Dillon when they already had two running backs capable of starting in this league.
With Rodgers gone and the team entering a rebuild, all eyes turn to all-pro David Bakhtiari, who’s set to have a 40 million dollar cap hit in 2024. With Skoronski and Paris Johnson Jr. already off the board, Jones is the next top lineman, and while this may be a “boring” pick, it’s definitely right in line with the Packers’ draft night mentality.
Jones is a little raw, but you can’t teach size. As Bakhtiari gets older, making sure another tackle is available is essential for the Green & Gold. Gutey adds another Bulldog to the Packers roster.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame: Green Bay really could go in any direction with the 13th overall pick. However, a tight end may be their most significant need. A much-needed security blanket for the brand-new signal caller, Jordan Love, should be the outcome here. Look for the Packers to pick Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame. Mayer led all FBS tight ends in receptions (180) and receiving yards (2,099) in 2021-22 and is also a consistent pass and run blocker.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State: It’s a new era of football in Green Bay, and the Packers are starting fresh. This includes their history of draft picks, as for the first time since Javon Walker, the Packers are selecting an offensive skill position. JSN helps Jordan Love immediately and will fit in nicely with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. The departure of Lazard gives the Packers the green light to draft JSN, the best slot receiver in the draft.
14. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
New England and Bill Belichick often like to turn heads with some of their draft selections. Tight end isn’t necessarily the Patriots’ top need coming into the draft, having just signed Mike Gesicki in free agency, but the top-end prospect talent at the position might be hard to pass on for Belichick.
Dalton Kincaid has shown the athleticism and contested-catch ability at Utah to draw the attention of the six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach.
15. NEW YORK JETS: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
With the Aaron Rodgers trade finally done, much to this Packers fan’s dismay, the Jets have an important decision to make on what is likely a small championship window. The Jets could look to add a weapon or solidify a defense that already ranked in the top five, according to Pro Football Reference.
Ultimately they elect to upgrade an offensive line that ranked in the bottom half of the league last season and get the “Old Man” some protection. With some of the top tackles already off the board, Darnell Wright is the next best available at the position.
16. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
WOW, did he fall! Christian Gonzalez may be the best corner in the draft and goes to the team that needs the most help in the cornerback room. Absolute steal here.
17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Could be a perfect fit for the Steelers. Another edge rusher from the big ten selected in the mid to late part of the first round? T.J. Watt has certainly worked out for the black & gold, and Van Ness would get to learn from not only Watt but also Cam Heyward.
A pairing of two talented pass rushers for years to come would help bring pressure to the AFC North’s talented QBs. (Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson… as of now, & Deshaun Watson)
18. DETROIT LIONS: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
Motor City Dan Campbell loves smashmouth football, and Kancey, while undersized, knows how to get to opposing quarterbacks. He might start off as a designated pass-rusher, but he can truly excel in that role. He’s undoubtedly going to impact the quarterbacks in the NFC North, as he and Tyree Wilson will bring havoc for years to come. Oh yeah, and the Lions have Hutchinson, good luck.
19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
With the release of Donovan Smith, the Buccaneers will look to fill the hole Smith opened at left tackle immediately. Anton Harrison may need some work on his mechanics, but the young left tackle has excellent strength and has shown the ability to pull and block in space. Harrison has allowed only one sack on 425 pass-block snaps in 2022 for Oklahoma.
20. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Seahawks came into this draft looking to find a playmaker on defense with the #5 overall pick in the draft. After both Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. were selected before them, they traded back and grabbed a wide receiver that could potentially give them one of the best WR corps in the league. Waiting for a defensive playmaker pays off as they get a national champion edge rusher out of Georgia. Smith had a very impressive scouting combine performance, and if the Eagles, Lions, and even Packers all pass on him, Seattle will go home quite happy after day one of the draft.
21. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Chargers need one more piece to help make their offense more electric (see what I did there?). Zay Flowers will fly in this offense and become a new toy for Justin Herbert.
22. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Another playmaker on offense would certainly help the Ravens, who always seem to trot journeymen at wide receiver each year. Johnston would join Odell Beckham Jr., Rashad Bateman & Mark Andrews as pass catchers. A deep threat that would help stretch the field for Baltimore.
Beckham Jr.’s deal is only for one year, and he hasn’t played in an NFL game since the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Another pass catcher could also go a long way to helping convince Lamar Jackson to resign.
Baltimore could also target a defensive player at this pick, specifically in the secondary.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Deonte Banks is a freakish athlete and proved that at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash, had a 42-inch vertical, and an 11-foot-4 broad jump. He’s taller for a cornerback and has plenty of potential to help Minnesota’s secondary, which has consistently been torched over the last several years.
He could improve his press technique, but his ability to recover downfield is second to none in the draft. He’s an outstanding tackler, and if developed right, he could end up an All-Pro.
24. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
The defensive back position is arguably Jacksonville’s most significant need. Look for the Jaguars to select the versatile Brian Branch, who was a utility player who could do it all for Nick Saban’s Alabama defense.
Branch was the only SEC player with 90+ tackles, 2+ interceptions, and 2+ sacks in 2022, you can also add 14 tackles for a loss and 7 pass breakups to his outstanding 2022 stat line.
25. NEW YORK GIANTS: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Giants need to find a way to fix their offense, as they already have a solid defense. New York enters the draft trying to find an impact pass catcher, and they get one in Jordan Addison.
Addison racked up 875 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns for the Trojans last season, and while that may be just college stats, those numbers are higher than any of the wide receivers currently on the Giants roster. Addison will look to be a day-one starter and could be Daniel Jones’ number-one target before he even steps foot in New York (New Jersey).
26. [TRADE] KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Jahmyr Gibbs, HB, Alabama
The Kansas City Chiefs are interested in trading up for either Flowers or Gibbs. Flowers is off the board, and no one was biting on trading back until Dallas. A luxury pick for the Super Bowl Champions.
27. BUFFALO BILLS: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Having to play some highly talented offenses in the AFC requires to have talent on the defensive side of the ball. In a division with Jalen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, and Garrett Wilson, having talented corners on cheap contracts will help with roster construction. Having Porter Jr. slide a bit in this mock draft could make it hard for the Bills to pass up.
28. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
21-year-old Kentucky native Michael Mayer racked up 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career for the Fighting Irish. I think that the Bengals will go with another offensive weapon to help Joe Burrow continue thriving in the AFC North.
The Bengals are likely to take a tight end, and with Dalton Kincaid off the board, Michael Mayer is the best fit. He is physical as an inline tight end, but his speed could improve. When it’s all said and done, we could be looking at the next Jason Witten.
29. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Myles Murphy is one of the many outstanding edge rushers in 2023’s draft class. With size, power, and speed, the Saints hope Murphy’s high-energy effort will help to build the Saints’ front 7 into a formidable force moving forward.
Murphy earned first-team All-ACC accolades out of Clemson with 6.5 sacks, 40 total tackles, 11 for a loss, and two pass breakups in 13 games in 2022.
30. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
The NFC Champion Eagles only have one major hole to fill going into this draft, and they fill at pick #10 after drafting running back Bijan Robinson. With all the major holes filled, why not add another pass rusher to the rotation?
Will McDonald IV is a former Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, he’s Iowa State’s all-time sack leader, and he’s tied for the Big 12 record in career sacks. McDonald would join an already stacked front seven that features Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Fletcher Cox, and last year’s first-round pick, Jordan Davis. Good luck to opposing offensive lines in trying to double-team any of these guys.
31. [TRADE] DALLAS COWBOYS: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
An offensive lineman who can run routes. Washington is a great athlete who will become a problem for defenses to figure out. Plus, he’s the best blocking tight end in this draft.
With the first-round mock draft over, Local 5 News also made their picks for the Packers in the second round. The Packers hold pick number 42 and pick number 45.
42. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee: After losing Lazard & Tonyan, the Packers will need to add some pass catchers in this draft. Hyatt scored a lot at Tennessee and can stretch the field. If he is available at #43, Green Bay should look at selecting him (or any wide receiver).
Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech: White is an absurd physical specimen at 6’5″ and 286 pounds. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the light switch flips on, and he’s a dominant edge. For 280+, he has an easily projectable skill set to be impactful.
Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn: After hopefully filling an impact position on offense in round 1, the Packers turn to the defensive side of the ball to fill some front 7 needs. Edge rusher Derick Hall out of Auburn has shown his ability to both rush the passer and cover the pass. Hall can seemingly do it all, and his stats at Auburn back it up, piling up the second-most sacks in the SEC in the last 2 seasons (16), along with 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern: It’s no secret that pressuring the quarterback and sack numbers went down after Rashan Gary was sidelined with a season-ending ACL injury making edge rusher depth an area of focus for the upcoming season.
The Packers, and more specifically, General Manager Brian Gutekunst, like to draft a very specific type of edge rusher. All three edge rushers drafted by Gutekunst have had arms longer than 34 inches and vertical jumps over 36 inches.
Green Bay also likes to look for bigger guys as edge rushers, with both Gary and Preston Smith weighing in at over 265ibs. Only about three guys fit that mold in this year’s draft, so Green Bay is forced to jump on one of them early. Adebawore, whose name may be hard for some to pronounce, will be even harder to block as he is a massive human being standing at 6’2 and 280 lbs.
Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee:
Get another wideout for your new QB. Tillman is getting first-round hype but will fall to the second. I think the Packers make this pick and don’t look back.
45. GREEN BAY PACKERS
BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU: Another talented linebacker to pair with Quay Walker? Evaluators say Ojulari has some tremendous physical traits and experience dropping into coverage. After targeting offense with the first two picks, the Packers should look to take someone who can make an impact on the defensive side of the ball.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa: Jordan Love is going to need a safety net, and LaPorta is perfect for him. La Porta ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and had 20 broken tackles on 58 catches in 2022 with the Hawkeyes. He’s got the tools to be a difference-maker in games, but will that transition to the NFL? The Packers take the chance to find out.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern: Perhaps the most explosive defensive lineman in the draft, Adebawore, could play anywhere from interior to edge. Adebawore, Northwestern, has unique speed for his size and length, recording the fastest 40-time by a 270+ pound player at the combine ever (4.49). Depending on what position Adebawore ends up in, his game will need some work. However, his explosive first contact is enough to earn immediate playing time.
Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee: Just like with edge rushers, the Packers tend to prefer wideouts who are big-bodied and weigh in at over 200 lbs (Christian Watson: 6’5, 207 lbs). While Tillman isn’t nearly as productive as his counterpart from Tennessee, Jalin Hyatt, he is another weapon for Jordan Love to try and gain chemistry with. Standing 6’3 and 213ibs, Tillman’s size allows him to make and secure tough catches through contact.
His size also makes him harder to tackle as he fights for extra yards after the catch. The only concern the Packers could have with Tillman is his health as an ankle injury kept him out for a big portion of last season and was later surgically repaired keeping him out of the orangiest Orange Bowl of all time.
Cody Mauch, OT, North Dakota State: A personal pick for me. Mauch’s size may not impress you, but the converted tight end can play guard and tackle and can move all over. Plus, he’s just an all-time charisma player.
Day 1 of the NFL Draft starts on April 27 at 7 p.m. Central. Day 2 of the draft is on Friday, with the draft wrapping up on Saturday.