College Football
NFL first-round mock draft: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young duel atop Joel Klatt's list
College Football

NFL first-round mock draft: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young duel atop Joel Klatt's list

Updated Apr. 11, 2023 5:30 p.m. ET

Will the Carolina Panthers take Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud first overall?

For FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt, Young and Stroud are the obvious first two picks in this year's draft, but it is far from a no-brainer choice for which of the two deserves to go No. 1 overall. 

During a recent episode of  "The Joel Klatt Show," Klatt unveiled his first-round mock draft for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Here's where Klatt projects all the top prospects to land in the first round on draft day.


1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Klatt on Young to the Panthers: "First and foremost, he processes information as well as any quarterback that I've seen in a long time at the college level. He's so quick in what he does, controlling and manipulating the game from the pocket whether it's pre-snap or post-snap, and I think that's going to serve him so well as he's going into the next level … He's obviously accurate with the football and I think he's way more athletic than people give him credit for. You see what he does manipulating the pocket on some of those throws, he can throw it from any platform. While his arm is not the greatest arm I've ever seen, he anticipates the downfield throw very well."

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2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Klatt on Stroud to the Texans: "I think C.J. Stroud has a higher ceiling than Bryce Young, actually. Bryce, in my mind, might be a safer pick only because you know exactly what you're gonna get, and he's going to be able to step in there and play right away and do it very efficiently.

"C.J. is so good; he's so clean from the pocket, he's accurate, he anticipates well, he controls the line of scrimmage, this guy was a consummate leader at Ohio State."

3. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

(Projected Trade with the Cardinals)

Klatt on Richardson to the Colts: "He's got the highest ceiling out of these guys … Look at his skill set, his arm strength, his athleticism, all the things that he brings to the table, and it's very easy to see this guy being the best player on the field if he can polish some of those rough edges that we see, those accuracy and processing issues.

"I'm going to continue calling him the Rubik's cube. If you can figure out the Rubik's cube, it's beautiful, and he could potentially be the best player on the field." 

4. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

Klatt on Anderson to the Cardinals: "I love Will Anderson. This guy is an absolute alpha, he's what you want in the locker room, and he's going to be your captain by the time he's in his second or third year. That's the type of worker he is … For the better part of two years, this guy has been the most dominant player in college football. He's good against the run, he's great rushing the passer, and he would help an Arizona defense who really needs him."

5. Seattle Seahawks: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Klatt on Wilson to the Seahawks: "All the things I said about Will Anderson, I can say about Tyree Wilson. This guy dominates; he's explosive on the edge, and he has a great ability to also run, drop down into the C-gap or B-gap if he needs … I went down to see him in person, and I was like ‘okay, yep, that’s exactly what it looks like." 

6. Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Klatt on Gonzalez to the Lions: "I like Christian Gonzalez here to the Lions. He just looks the part, he's the type of guy you can project into being a No. 1 corner and a guy that can be a really good lockdown guy."

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Klatt on Witherspoon to the Raiders: "Witherspoon is going to major in man coverage. He's got good length and when you turn on the film of Witherspoon you think ‘boy this guy could play for a long time in the National Football League.’ I think he can also play in the slot, but he's obviously a great outside corner and I think the Raiders take him."

8. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Klatt on Murphy to the Falcons: "The Falcons need a lot of help everywhere, so this could be a wild card. How confident am I about the Myles Murphy pick to Atlanta? Not very, but to me, it fits. He's absolutely value right there, and he's a wonderful player." 

9. Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Klatt on Carter to the Bears: "Now you're getting to a spot at the draft where the [Bears] are like, ‘So we can trade out of No. 1, get a ton of picks to build our roster, and still come away with what many people think is the best player in the draft.' … Sign me up. I think the Bears take Jalen Carter.

"There are a lot of red flags to Jalen Carter, his talent might outweigh the red flags for some organizations, and he might very well be picked [earlier], but you look at how this process has gone for him, and it has not gone well."

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Klatt on Robinson to the Eagles: "This one is the freebie of all freebies. When you dive into the Eagles, they don't really have a need. Everyone else that has selected to this point, they've got five or six needs, but the Eagles are one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Why not just take the most dynamic player on the board?

"It's a pick saying ‘we are one of the best teams in the NFL right now and this guy makes us better right now. It alleviates some of the pressure on Jalen Hurts because he has an outlet immediately and there’s another dynamic player that has to be defended side to side … you put a guy like Bijan Robinson on the Eagles, and I am in."

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11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Klatt on Skoronski to the Titans: "I think the Tennessee Titans are sitting there thinking the best offensive lineman is still there. Skoronski has been really good since he stepped foot on campus. I love his game, I love his makeup, and I think he makes sense for Tennessee."

12. Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Klatt on Smith-Njigba to the Texans: "You can give my best wide receiver on the board to his college quarterback who's going to be our rookie quarterback, sign me up … They obviously have a great relationship, they've got a great timing, and you're immediately getting a connection that's going to get quicker at a younger age than most.

"This guy is going to lead the league in receptions sometime in his first three or four years … he's that good. He understands space, he's got great hands, and even Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave admit that he was the best player on the field for their team two years ago."

13. New York Jets, Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

Klatt on Johnson to the Jets: "I think the Jets, when they land Rodgers, they have to protect him. There was no one better in pass protection than Paris Johnson. He's a pass protection specialist, that's exactly what you need with an aging quarterback." 

14. New England Patriots: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Klatt on Jones to the Patriots: "You know that they love Georgia players a lot of the time and I think Broderick Jones makes a lot of sense for the Patriots." 

15. Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Klatt on Mayer to the Packers: "I really love his game, particularly on an offense that did not have a dynamic quarterback. [Mayer] was the focal point. Everyone's trying to stop Michael Mayer, and he was still able to produce. Great player, great kid, great leader, and I think he's a really safe pick." 

16. Washington Commanders: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Klatt on Porter to the Commanders: "I gave the Commanders Joey Porter Jr. They need a lot of help in this area and then some. This guy is king, he's not afraid of man coverage, and he's not afraid of defending the best receiver on the field. He's competitive, he's got great pedigree, and he is strong with his hands."

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Klatt on Wright to the Steelers: "They're going to fall in line with this offensive line rush, they need offensive line help. I like Darnell Wright the attacker from Tennessee. I think that he is a good player and I think he can help them."

18. Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt

Klatt on Kancey to the Lions: "They're going to look at the board at this point and think to themselves, 'hey, we can get what we thought was the best corner on the board and what we thought was the second-best tackle on the board. Calijah Kancey from Pitt is the pick for the Detroit Lions."

19. Chicago Bears: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

(Projected Trade with Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Klatt on Smith to the Bears: "I didn't love a pick for the Bucs right here … I think for the Bucs, this is a good spot to trade out. Chicago with all of this ammunition, has a chance to pair their first pick, Jalen Carter, with a guy that he played with who is rock solid off the field … Nolan's a heck of a player, a really good leader, and exactly the kind of player you want on your team."

20. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Klatt on Addison to the Seahawks: "I think this could be the start of a run of wide receivers. Jordan Addison to Seattle, that's really good value. A lot of people will have him at No. 1 (at receiver), but I disagree with that."

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Klatt on Johnston to the Chargers: "Why don't we give Justin Herbert, a strong-armed downfield passer, a downfield target with another receiver, Quentin Johnston from TCU? We see what this guy can do down the field, his ability to get open at the second and third level, and then win contested catches. He's been overlooked in this draft process and I don't know why."

22. Baltimore Ravens: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Klatt on Van Ness to the Ravens: "The Ravens have to replace some guys that left in free agency up front on the defense, including some edge players. My best one available is Lukas Van Ness. I love his game, he's used to playing in a system where the system is king. It's a different kind than in Baltimore, but I think the system in Baltimore is one he would really thrive in." 

23. Minnesota Vikings: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Klatt on Banks to the Vikings: "The Vikings need some help in their secondary … so I like Deonte Banks, the corner from Maryland. He's my next corner on the board." 

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

Klatt on Branch to the Jaguars: "I gave them one of my favorite players in the draft, Brian Branch, the safety from Alabama. He's a really tough hybrid-style player. When you talk with the people down at Alabama, they will tell you this guy was a heartbeat type of player for their team … I think he can fit in a hybrid space, he can fit inside and outside, and he can also play deep safety or down safety." 

25. New York Giants: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Klatt on Hyatt to the Giants: "For me, they really need a No. 1 threat on the outside offensively. Jalen Hyatt makes a lot of sense to me right there. They need a guy that's a bona fide number one outside threat. Hyatt had a great year … boy you talk about a deep threat, he certainly is a great player."

26. Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Klatt on Kincaid to the Cowboys: "They have to get somebody to help Dak Prescott. I've thought about running back, but there's some really good tight ends here. Jerry has had really good luck with tight ends, and they're generally at their best when they've got good tight ends, so Dalton Kincaid makes some sense. They need their next Jason Witten to control and solidify the middle of the field."

27. Buffalo Bills: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

Klatt on Gibbs to the Bills: "They need to give Josh Allen help at running back, there's where I'm going with Jahmyr Gibbs. I love Jahmyr Gibbs' game; he's versatile and he catches it out of the backfield as well as anybody … when you check the ball down to a guy who can make everybody miss and can run the ball tough, I just love this pick."

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

Klatt on Washington to the Bengals: "A deep position group which can give Joe Burrow some help right away is tight end, so how about Darnell Washington, the tight end from Georgia? I think it feels like a perfect fit right there … this guy is physically very gifted, and I think he can play in line and help them in the run game if needed. But more than anything you take some off of their outside players, and you give them some help in the redone by solidifying the middle of the field. That makes a lot of sense to me."

29. New Orleans Saints: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Klatt on Bresee to the Saints: "I think the Saints need defensive line help, and I think Bresee, the defensive tackle from Clemson, makes a lot of sense to the Saints there.

"At this point, you could also see a trade. Because if somebody really wanted to get Will Levis under a first-round contract and not a second-round contract so that they can have an extra year of team control. But I didn't trade in for Will Levis. Levis is a guy who's a bit of a thrower and I want a starting pitcher … I don't see the requisite change of speeds from Levis, where he really understands how to layer the ball, use touch and anticipate windows in tight spaces. That's why I'm not trading up for him in the first round."

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Klatt on Ringo to the Eagles: "I'm going with the corner from Georgia, he's the best player available. The Eagles, they would be thinking to themselves, ‘wait, we get Bijan Robinson and Keely Ringo? Sign us up.’" 

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Klatt on Flowers to the Chiefs: "I'm sitting here, and I'm like, man, I just can't help myself because Zay Flowers is on the board. Give Patrick Mahomes another slot weapon, give him a guy that understands how to operate in space and creates separation in tight windows.

"This is a guy you put with Patrick Mahomes and you put with Andy Reid, and he immediately becomes a guy that can give you 50, 60 catches a year. When he runs routes, he breaks the ankles of defensive backs, he's clean, he's sudden, and he's got great hands. And there's the Super Bowl champs getting another weapon for who is right now the best player in the league in Patrick Mahomes." 


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