Eagles finally address secondary in way-too-early 2023 mock draft

Eagles finally address secondary in way-too-early 2023 mock draft

The Texans are on the clock! Or maybe the Jets or Jaguars or Lions?

Now that the dust has settled on the 2022 draft, let the hype begin for the 2023 NFL draft. Mark April 27-29 down on your calendar! It’s right around the corner!

So it’s a perfect time for our annual Way-too-Early Next Year’s Mock Draft.

A lot will change between now and next April, but it sure looks like 2023 is going to be a huge quarterback draft. Early projections show the chance of five QBs going in the first 12 picks, something that hasn’t happened since the 1999 draft with Donovan McNabb, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown.

As of now, the Eagles have two first-round picks in next year’s draft – their own and the Saints’. The last time they actually made two picks in the first round was 1993, with Leonard Renfro and Lester Holmes.

For our 2023 mock draft, we determined the selection order by taking the projected 2022 Vegas win totals and then breaking up ties using a random-number generator. 

That gave the Eagles the 10th pick overall – don’t worry, that’s the Saints’ pick – as well as No. 16 overall.

1. Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State: In his first season as a starter, Stroud did nothing to convince anybody he shouldn’t be the first overall pick in 2023. Stroud completed 72 percent of his passes, passed for nearly 4,500 yards and threw 44 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Unless you think Davis Mills is a budding star, Stroud has to be the guy.

 

2. Jets: Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama: After using the second pick in 2021 on Zach Wilson, the Jets aren’t going to take another quarterback, so they could trade No. 2 to a QB-desperate team that wants Bryce Young. If they stay here, Anderson makes the most sense. He’s a monster pass rusher, he can line up anywhere and he’s already got a 17.5-sack season in the books – most by a BCS player in seven years.

3. Falcons: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: Like Stroud, Young had a huge first season as a starter, completing 67 percent of his passes for nearly 5,000 yards with 47 touchowns and seven interceptions. The Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder in the third round on Friday, but the chance to land Young will be too much to pass up.

4. Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State: This is the guy who may be even a better prospect than former teammates Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams. Incredible that those four guys all came through the same program the last few years. Smith-Njigba caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns this past season, his first year in OSU’s regular rotation, and becomes the Seahawks’ first first-round wide receiver since Koren Robinson in 2001.

5. Panthers: B.J. Ojulari, Edge, LSU: The versatile Ojulari looks like the consensus No. 2 edge in next year’s draft behind Anderson. Ojulari had 7.0 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his first season as a full-time starter and gives the Panthers a legit pass rusher to replace current Eagle Haason Reddick. Everybody’s looking for elite edge talent, and Ojulari fits the bill.

6. Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina: You again? Yeah, Rattler was the first pick in our 2022 mock draft immediately after the 2021 draft. Did not go well. Rattler was benched last year in his second year as Oklahoma’s starter and is now at South Carolina. But he still has the rocket arm and passing ability that made him such an elite prospect in the first place, so don’t be surprised if he works himself back into the top of the draft. After not drafting a QB prospect this year, the Lions almost have to in 2023.

7. Bears: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU: Was on his way to a huge season and leading the BCS with nine TD catches in just five games when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury during a game at Kentucky. A healthy Boutte should be among the top receivers in the country this year and a likely top-10 pick. The Bears haven’t had good luck with first-round receivers (David Terrell? Kevin White?), but Boutte will give some juice to an offense that’s been ranked 22nd or worse seven of the last eight years.

8. Jaguars: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama: Ricks made quite an impression in 2020 as a freshman at LSU, picking off four passes and returning two of them for touchdowns. He dealt with a shoulder injury last year and was limited to six games, then transferred to Alabama. If he can stay healthy and repeat his freshman performance, he’ll likely be the top corner in the draft and a great fit for the Jaguars.

 

9. Giants: Kedon Slovis, QB, Pitt: Daniel Jones gets one more year and then it’s back to the drawing board for the Giants. Slovis will try to duplicate Kenny Pickett’s success at Pitt. Slovis is a transfer from USC, where he was a three-year starter – he threw 30 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019 before his play dropped off a bit. With Jordan Addison’s future up in the air, it’s not clear exactly who Slovis will be throwing to. If Addison returns to Pitt, Slovis will have a guy who had nearly 1,500 receiving yards and 17 TDs last year. Even if he doesn’t, Slovis should have a big year for the Panthers.

10. Eagles [from Saints]: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia: After bypassing corners in this year’s draft, the Eagles snag Ringo with the first of their two 2023 first-round picks – their first first-round defensive back since Lito Sheppard in 2002. It was Ringo who had the clinching interception against Alabama in the National Championship Game, but he was very good all year for that record-setting Georgia defense and another solid year should propel him into the top 10. And, yes, that would be three Georgia Bulldogs for the Eagles in the first two rounds in a two-year span. And why not build your roster with Alabama and Georgia guys?

11. Commanders: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State: Johnson has been playing guard for the Buckeyes, but this coming season he should be back at his natural left tackle spot, and if he performs as expected he could very well be the first offensive lineman off the board in the 2023 draft. The Giants need help big-time on the O-line, which they didn’t address in this year’s draft.

12. Steelers: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon: Penei Sewell’s younger brother should give the Sewell family a second first-round pick in three years. Where Penei is an offensive tackle, Noah is a linebacker and a very active one. He’s only 6-0, 225 pounds, so he’ll need to add some size and strength to hold up on Sundays, but he’s already one of the top defensive playmakers in the Pac 12 – 114 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, five pass deflections and an interception as a freshman this past season. 

13. Dolphins: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State: The anticipated run on quarterbacks continues with the fifth quarterback in the first 12 picks. The big-armed Haener, a Washington transfer, enjoyed a breakout 2021 season for the Bulldogs, passing for over 4,000 yards with 33 TDs, 9 INTs and 67 percent completion percentage. Barring a huge season from Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins will be on the prowl for a starter in this QB-rich draft.

14. Vikings: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson: If we’re just going by pure talent and upside, Bresee could be a top-five pick. He was off to a great start this past season but suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a Week 4 game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, so he’s going to have to show he’s 100 percent this coming season. But in 15 college games he already has 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. At 6-5, 300 pounds, he’s a natural interior lineman, but he’s also a gifted pass rusher and a natural fit in Ed Donatell’s defense.

 

15. Raiders: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia: When in doubt just take the best available player from that Georgia Bulldog defense. Smith was draft-eligible this year but elected to return to Athens to improve his draft stock, and if he continues improving as much as he did this past season, when he racked up 4.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss, he could be a mid-first-rounder.

16. Eagles: Malachi Moore, S, Alabama: Let’s keep attacking the secondary. Moore is one of those defensive backs who’s tough to classify because he does so many things well. Is he an outside corner? Is he a slot? Is he a safety? Once upon a time, guys like Moore fell in the draft because they weren’t easy to define. These days, versatility is seen as a positive, and with defenses using so many alignments and sub-packages, someone like Moore can contribute in a lot of different ways. Moore stands 6-foot, 195 pounds, and what he lacks in world-class speed he delivers in intelligence, toughness and playmaking. He had a terrific freshman season and struggled a bit last year and wasn’t totally healthy, but with a big 2022 season, he projects as one of the top defensive backs in next year’s draft. The Eagles passed up Kyle Hamilton, but they won’t pass up Malachi Moore.

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17. Patriots: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia: Another Georgia defensive lineman? You bet. And Carter could wind up as the best of the bunch. With Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt now NFL rookies, Carter will be the centerpiece of Georgia’s defensive front seven this fall, and a big 2022 could propel the 6-3, 310-pound Carter even higher than we have him. Even rotating with Davis and Wyatt this past season, Carter had 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He’s athletic enough to play fullback in goal-line situations, and he also caught a touchdown pass against Tennessee and blocked a field goal in Georgia’s National Championship win over Alabama.

 

18. Cards: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma: The Sooners were never really known for producing wide receivers. From 1977 through 2018, their only first-round wideout was Mark Clayton in 2005. But the Ravens took Marquise Brown 25th in 2019, the Cowboys selected CeeDee Lamb 17th in 2020 and Mims could make it three first-round receivers in four years. He’s a real field stretcher and averaged 22.0 yards per catch last year, second-highest in the BCS (behind Florida International’s Tyrese Chambers) and highest by an Oklahoma player with a minimum of 30 catches since Buster Rhymes averaged 23.3 in 1983. Mims can fly, and he’ll be one to watch when his 40 comes around at the Combine. It was surprising the Cards didn’t draft a receiver early this year, but they’ll remedy that next year.

19. Ravens: Jordan Addison, WR, Unknown: Addison had a huge year playing last season with Kenny Pickett and if he stays at Pitt – which is up in the air at this point – he’ll now have USC transfer Kedon Slovis throwing him the ball, so he’ll have every opportunity for another big year. Addison had nearly 1,600 yards and 17 TD catches last year, tied for most in the BCS, and his 1,593 yards were the most by a Pitt receiver since Larry Fitzgerald had 1,672 in 2003. Wherever he winds up playing, he should be a fairly high pick in 2022.

20. Texans [from Browns]: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: First-round running backs are a rarity these days. Only 16 have been taken since 2011, with only seven in the top 20. And the Texans have never drafted a RB in the first round in their relatively short existence. But the 6-foot, 215-pound Robinson will probably be worth a Day 1 pick. He’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry through his first two seasons, and his receiving ability definitely makes him more attractive to NFL teams. 

21. Colts: Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College: The sixth QB taken, the 6-5, 225-pound Jurkovec is a Notre Dame transfer whose 2021 season was cut short after just six games with a hand injury that required surgery. Had he stayed healthy and had a strong second half, he might have been a first-round pick this year. But he elected to return for a third year in Chestnut Hill and will have a chance to show he belongs with Rattler, Slovis and Haener in that second tier of 2023 prospects behind Stroud and Young. The Colts have had a different starting QB every year since 2018 with Andrew Luck, and with Matt Ryan turning 37 in a couple weeks, the Colts have to think about a long-term solution. The Colts have drafted some pretty good first-round QBs: John Elway in 1983, Jeff George in 1990, Peyton Manning in 1998 and Luck in 2012. After donating their first-round pick in 2021 to the Eagles, they replace one Boston College quarterback with another one in 2023.

 

22. Titans: Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson: Murphy goes into his third season already considered one of the top defensive linemen in the country. In his first two years, he’s piled up 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and five forced fumbles. At 6-5, 275 pounds, he’s got unusual size to go with great power and athleticism. His 25 tackles for loss are the most in the ACC over the last two years. The Titans haven’t drafted an edge in any round since 2016, and it’s going to be hard to bypass Murphy.

23. Bengals: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson: Murphy’s teammate also had tremendous production this past season, with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The 6-2, 225-pound Simpson, the second linebacker off the board, is a polished and versatile defender, a capable blitzer and physical tackler. 

24. Seahawks [from Broncos]: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame: A transfer from Northwestern, Joseph may not be quite another Kyle Hamilton, but he’s close. Joseph is an active playmaking safety and a solid run defender. Joseph had nine interceptions for Northwestern over the last two years, including six in 2020. Nobody in the BCS has more INTs than Joseph since 2020, and nobody had more INTs than Joseph in 2020. 

25. Dolphins [from 49ers]: Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame: A run on Notre Dame defenders. Foskey had a breakthrough season in 2021 with 10 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. His 10 sacks last year were the most by a Notre Dame player since Stephon Tuitt had 12 in 2012. He’s got an explosive first step, terrific length and the speed to run down quarterbacks and ball carriers in the open field. 

26. Chargers: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina: The fifth receiver off the board, Downs is only 5-10, 180, but his production is off the charts. In his first year as a regular, Downs caught a Tar Heel-record 101 passes this past year, fifth-most in the BCS, for 1,335 yards, 10th-most in the BCS. He also had eight touchdowns. The Chargers haven’t drafted a WR in the first two rounds since Mike Williams in 2017, and Downs gives them another solid weapon for Justin Herbert.

27. Lions [from Rams]: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State: It was a little surprising the Lions didn’t address corner in this draft, but they’ll have opportunities next year. Joey Porter could have come out this year and probably would have been an early Day 2 pick. But the 2021 draft was so jammed with corners it made sense for him to go back to school for another year and improve his draft standing. Porter, whose father Joey was a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Steelers and Dolphins, has terrific speed and great size at 6-2, and with another productive season in 2022, he should find himself in the first round.

28. Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame: Mayer had a real breakout season in 2021 with 71 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-5, 250 pounds, he’s got ideal size and terrific speed and hands as well. The Cowboys haven’t drafted a tight end in the first three rounds since Gavin Escobar in 2013 – he only caught 30 passes in his career – and Mayer has a chance to be an elite one. Fortunately, we have the Eagles drafting Malachi Moore to cover him.

 

29. Chiefs: Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi: Evans ranks eighth in the entire BCS with his 7.3 rushing average over the last two years. He hasn’t played a ton because TCU rotates several backs, but the traits and production are there. He hasn’t caught a ton of passes, and you know the Chiefs won’t draft a running back who lacks versatility, but Evans has shown he can catch the football when it’s thrown his way.

30. Buccaneers: Akeem Dent, DB, Florida State: Dent, who hails from Pahokee, Fla., the same hometown as Andre Waters, is a versatile DB who stands 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and could wind up as a corner, safety or slot in the NFL. The Bucs haven’t drafted a first-round defensive back since Vernon Hargreaves in 2016, and Todd Bowles will have fun finding ways to use Dent.

31. Packers: Habakkuk Baldonado, Edge, Pitt: The sixth edge off the board, Baldonado had 9.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss this past season but 48 QB pressures, which led the ACC. Habukkuk was draft-eligible this year, but considering the depth of edge rushers it made sense for him to return to Pitt, put together another dominating season and work his way into the first round.

32. Bills: Justin Flowe, LB, Oregon: The 6-2, 245-pound Flowe is an old-school run-stuffing inside linebacker who had 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble last year in a dominating season-opening win over Fresno State but missed the rest of the season with a foot injury. And, yes, we’re projecting a first-round pick who has played exactly two career college football games. But if Flowe can play consistently at the level we saw vs. Fresno State he should join another Oregon linebacker, Noah Sewell, in the first round.

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