Thanksgiving is here, which means it’s time to go out and buy everything you forgot at the store (not fun at all), let your hair down, and get ready for a day filled with feasting, family, and football.
Also, if you work in NFL personnel, it’s time to start thinking seriously about the 2023 draft. Area scouts report heading scouts and directors of player personnel, while general managers and coaching staffs also weigh in.
This is the case whether or not your team is a Super Bowl contender or is playing out the string in a lost season.
Given the season, it seems appropriate to use this mock draught to help the NFL’s best teams become even better and to give hope to the hopeless.
Please take into account that the Miami Dolphins have lost their first-round pick (number 29 had the 2023 draught begun today) as a result of being fined for tampering.
Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Given his demonstrated abilities as a distributor and improviser, Young is often compared to Stephen Curry rather than any NFL quarterback.
Young occasionally gets in trouble by trying to take on too much, but he has tremendous potential, and the Texans, who have seen their offence deteriorate this year, could use a huge boost from the qualities he possesses.
Carolina Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Some will criticise Stroud for being a more “in the box” quarterback, but after everything the Panthers have been through since Cam Newton’s prime,
they might be willing to settle for just about anything. This season, Stroud has thrown for 35 touchdowns while only throwing four interceptions.
He is averaging 9.7 yards per attempt and has the highest passer rating among quarterbacks eligible for the upcoming draught (129.9).
Chicago Bears: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Until the Bears find a way to keep Justin Fields safe, they won’t be able to maximise his potential. There’s no way to win when you give up 99 sacks on 326 pass attempts.
Fashanu is a strong and nimble run blocker who has never given up a sack in his two years with the Nittany Lions.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jalen Carter, DI, Georgia
If Carter were a quarterback, he would be the first overall pick in this year’s draught because he is that good.
We’ve seen him wreck entire sides of offensive lines often enough to know how great he is, so the fact that he makes it to the fourth overall spot has nothing to do with his talent.
Though the Raiders have greater needs elsewhere, such as on the offensive line and in the secondary, they cannot pass up Carter at this point.
Seattle Seahawks (From Denver Broncos): Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
Pete Carroll and John Schneider had a grand slam plus in the 2022 draught after several consecutive draughts that would get most head coaches and executives fired.
Players all the way down the class made significant first-year contributions. This is where the Russell Wilson trade starts to get interesting, and if Seattle can acquire Anderson at this point, they will have addressed one of their most pressing needs.
There is no reason to doubt that Anderson wouldn’t immediately have a game-changing impact on Seattle’s defensive line, as his 12 sacks and 52 total pressures put him far ahead of the competition among draft-eligible edge defenders from major schools.
Detroit Lions (From Los Angeles Rams): Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Despite having the fourth-worst pass defence in the league (opposing passer rating of 99.4), the 4-6 Lions now have a shot at the playoffs. Despite the obvious struggles of that cornerback group,
it is encouraging to see 2020 third-overall pick Jeff Okudah beginning to show signs of success. The defensive efforts of Aaron Glenn would be greatly improved by the addition of Ringo to the secondary.
Ringo has become a stalwart on the best defence in the NCAA over the past two years, and he has improved even further this year, allowing only 27 receptions on 44 targets for 384 yards, 127 yards after the catch, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 70.6. In college, he’s faced some of the best receivers in the country, so his chances of succeeding in the NFL are good.
Houston Texans (From Cleveland Browns): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
With Bryce Young at quarterback, the Texans need to equip him with a receiver who can create havoc for opposing defences at the NFL level.
Johnston, at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, and with the ability to scald opponents deep (seven catches of 20+ air yards this season for 277 yards and five touchdowns),
fits the archetype of the modern game-breaking target, which the Texans need as much as they need that quarterback upgrade.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The long-term makeup of the Steelers’ offence is unknown. Neither quarterback Kenny Pickett nor offensive coordinator Matt Canada is a sure bet to have good solutions.
The big thinkers in the building will have to figure out why the 2022 season will likely be Mike Tomlin’s first with a losing record. The lack of security has been a major problem for that attack.
The Steelers have been all over the place with their line personnel this season. Can Moore, the left tackle, has been beaten up for five sacks and 28 total pressures? Johnson is a perfect fit as a run
blocker for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren because he hasn’t given up a single sack or quarterback hit this season (only eight quarterback hurries).
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Even though Trevor Lawrence is the franchise quarterback for the Jaguars, he hasn’t always performed like one.
A big target like Addison, who can win at the intermediate and deep levels from the outside and the slot, would help Jacksonville’s receiver group led by Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones, and Zay Jones take the proverbial (and much-needed) next step forward.
Arizona Cardinals: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
The 4-7 Cardinals are a major disappointment in the NFL this year, and their poor performance on the field points to serious needs in a number of areas.
Even though Kliff Kingsbury would love to have DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and Zach Ertz all on the field at the same time to attack defences in 2023,
he may need to bring in some backups for Kyler Murray. Boutte had a slow start to 2022, but he has turned it around and now has the tools to be effective in Kingsbury’s preferred four-receiver concepts.
Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Considering all the concern about Aaron Rodgers’ lack of targets in 2022, here are his numbers from this season when he had both of his tight ends on the field at the same time: Only Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott have been more effective with two tight ends on the field.
He has completed 56 of 78 passes for 538 yards, 220 air yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a passer rating of 120.6. Perhaps, then,
given where the Packers are currently picking, they should settle for the best available target rather than the best available wide receiver. Perhaps Mayer,
who has shown to be as effective outside the formation as inside it, and whose blocking skills make him a good fit for Green Bay’s multifaceted offence.
We’ve already given Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo to Detroit so they don’t have to go looking for secondary help elsewhere.
The team also requires a linebacker who can play in all situations and lead the defence. A 6-foot-2, 253-pound throwback, Penei Sewell’s younger brother is more than just a run-thumper. He dominates from the perimeter to the box to the slot.