ESPN’s Todd McShay releases final mock ahead of 2023 NFL Draft

Draft day has arrived. After an offseason filled with evaluation and analysis, the NFL’s future will take the stage tonight for the last time as prospects before they officially become professionals. Now, with just 12 hours left until the clock starts, Todd McShay at ESPN has released his final mock draft for the 2023 NFL Draft.

His last projection features the usual duo from the Crimson Tide, a pair of national champion Bulldogs towards the end, and, in total, four quarterbacks taken in the top five.

Todd McShay’s Final First-Round Predictions

1. Carolina Panthers – Bryce Young, QB – Alabama Crimson Tide

The first pick has not become much of a surprise, including in McShay’s mock. He even notes that they’ve been projecting Young to Carolina ‘for a while’ and that ‘there’s no reason to change anything now’. With that being the case, though, he wants to see how the Panthers franchise goes about surrounding his top projected prospect with improved talent across the board.

2. Houston Texans – Tyree Wilson, DE – Texas Tech Red Raiders

Wilson is a bit of a ‘surprise’ per se considering this spot has been routinely owned by Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or another quarterback for some time now. However, much has been made about the Texan’s direction over the last few days leading into the draft. With questions galore, McShay leaned with Wilson. He said he is the defensive name that has the ‘length and power off the edge’ that DeMeco Ryans’ defense thrived with in San Francisco.

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3. * Tennessee Titans (via mocked trade with Arizona) – CJ Stroud, QB – Ohio State Buckeyes

This would be your first bomb to drop of the draft season. McShay mocked that the Tennessee Titans will trade up with Arizona in order to select Buckeye QB CJ Stroud. Houston no longer going for a quarterback could urge Tennessee to ‘get aggressive’. Meanwhile, the Cardinals seem to want to move down anyways. He notes that it will likely cost Tennessee ‘a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 first- or second-round pick’. To most in Nashville, though, they’d live with that in order to get a potential franchise quarterback in Stroud, McShay’s ‘best pure passer in this draft’, over some of the teams up next.

4. Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB – Kentucky Wildcats

‘Levis love in Indianapolis is real’ wrote McShay as he has the Kentucky QB going fourth overall. He hasn’t always been high on the former Wildcat but thinks the Colts simply desire him too much to go in a different direction, especially considering how the position has looked for them as of late. In the end, his physical traits would win out for Indy even though he thinks he will require some work under Shane Steichen.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN) – Anthony Richardson, QB – Florida Gators

The run on quarterbacks ends with the fifth pick with McShay projecting Richardson to Seattle. He thinks it’s the ideal situation for the former Gator in order to sit behind Geno Smith. Then, although it’d be hard for the franchise to pass on this next player, the Seahawks can give Richardson the keys as their ‘quarterback of the future’ and hopefully take advantage of his ‘off the charts’ potential.

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6. Detroit Lions – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE – Alabama Crimson Tide

Anderson Jr. has long been seen as a top-two pick in this draft. Even so, McShay’s mock could end up being a gift if it turns out true as he says it would be ‘two straight years that (the Lions) were gift-wrapped the class’ top edge rush prospect’. Anderson falling to six would be quite the surprise. If it ends up that way with Detroit, he says they simply won’t be able to ignore him.

7. Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Gonzalez, CB – Oregon Ducks

McShay says that he went back and forth between offensive tackles and cornerbacks for the Raiders. In the end, though, he leaned towards the secondary and, in turn, Gonzalez out of Eugene. With a need for ‘impact playmakers and depth’, he believes the former Duck could do some real good on defense for Las Vegas considering his ‘great size, speed and length’.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Devon Witherspoon, CB – Illinois Fighting Illini

McShay then has the next corner prospect in this class in Witherspoon going to Atlanta. He mentions what a scary combination it would be to put Witherspoon’s skillset next to AJ Terrell. That’s why, although he thinks Texas RB Bijan Robinson could be in consideration here, he leans towards the Illini product.

9. Chicago Bears – Jalen Carter, DT – Georgia Bulldogs

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Ending up with Carter would be ‘a huge win’ for Chicago and new GM Ryan Poles to McShay. Moving back from No. 1 to No. 9 and still ‘getting arguably the top prospect in the entire class’? It would be quite the move from the Bears. Still, while he could be ‘a star interior pass-rusher in the NFL’, Chicago will need to make a note of the off-field concerns that have tanked Carter’s stock leading into the draft.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) – Nolan Smith, OLB – Georgia Bulldogs

For the second straight pick, McShay has a Bulldog being selected in Smith. He compared the former Georgia linebacker to Haason Reddick and added that he could bring ‘terrific speed and suddenness off the edge’ to Philadelphia’s defense. His immediate impact ability could earn him the pick as Philly’s defense continues to age to McShay.

(For Todd McShay’s full final first-round predictions for the 2023 NFL Draft – CLICK HERE)

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