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2023 NFL mock draft: Panthers make ultimate upside play with Anthony Richardson
National Football League

2023 NFL mock draft: Panthers make ultimate upside play with Anthony Richardson

Updated Apr. 11, 2023 11:39 a.m. ET

The Carolina Panthers gave up a ton to land the No. 1 pick in the draft. They've mostly been projected to take C.J. Stroud. But in this exercise, we went in another direction. What if they targeted the most talented player in this draft, flaws and all?

1: Carolina PanthersAnthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Richardson only started 12 games last season and played significantly in two games in 2021. As record-setting as his Combine was from an athletic standpoint, he's not ready to start in the NFL. Does Frank Reich trade up for "safe" C.J. Stroud or "small" Bryce Young? Or does he swing for the fences with the only potential unicorn QB in the class?

2: Houston Texans — Bryce Young, QB, Alabama


In two years of starts for the Tide, he's 23-4 with 80 passing TDs. I have my concerns about his size and I'd take C.J. Stroud ahead of Young, but the Texans have the makings of a competent OL with three first-round picks starting, plus veteran Shaq Mason.

Bryce Young ranks high in Joel Klatt's QB Draft prospect rankings

Joel Klatt joins Colin Cowherd on The Herd to talk about he top prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft. Klatt reveals to Colin which quarterback would be his no. 1 pick, and why he's seeing red flags from Will Levis.

3: Arizona CardinalsWill Anderson, Edge, Alabama

They'll try to trade down from this spot to pick up more players, as their needs are many. They've lost their best pass-rushers the last two years, and Anderson is instantly their top threat off the edge.

4: Indianapolis Colts — C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Would you rather trade for and pay Lamar Jackson or have C.J. Stroud on his rookie deal? You take the former MVP, for sure. But Stroud enables GM Chris Ballard to fortify the roster going forward.

5: Seattle SeahawksTyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

Wilson turns 23 in May, and due to foot surgery, we haven't seen him do anything except bench press. But considering his play and his measurements — 6-foot-5, 271 pounds, long arms and a massive wingspan — he checks all the boxes.

6: Detroit LionsWill Levis, QB, Kentucky

Detroit's defense ranked near the bottom in every metric in 2022, but adding a QB on the rookie deal enables them to move on from Jared Goff in 2024, spend money on free agents and make a title run.

7: Las Vegas RaidersChristian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Arguably the worst secondary in the AFC gets a big upgrade with the rangy Gonzalez, who starts from Day 1. The Raiders let opposing QBs complete 67.6% of passes (third-worst in the NFL) and a QB rating of 98.8 (worst in the NFL).

8: Atlanta FalconsNolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

A torn pec ruined his 2022 season, but he was healthy at the Combine and ran a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash, making him one of the fastest defensive linemen this century.

9: Chicago BearsParis Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

The Bears have spent lavishly in free agency, but not on the offensive line. The defense has holes, but protect Justin Fields and give him a chance to win.

10: Philadelphia EaglesJalen Carter, DT, Georgia

He's going to fall a bit, but probably not beyond the Eagles, who took two Bulldogs last year (Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean). If the Eagles pass on Carter, it's safe to assume there are serious red flags beyond what the media is aware of.

11: Tennessee TitansPeter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

There's a big need at receiver, but also on the offensive line. The Titans ranked dead last in pass-blocking efficiency last year, and they released their highest-graded lineman, center Ben Jones.

12: Houston Texans — Jaxon Smith—Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Bryce Young gets the best receiver in the draft to go with young guys John Metchie and Nico Collins as well as vets Robert Woods and Noah Brown.

Why Jaxon Smith-Njigba would pair perfectly with Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets

13: New York JetsBroderick Jones, LT, Georgia

The Jets will strongly consider a pass-rusher here, but the big questions about Mekhi Becton's ability to stay healthy make this pick a no-brainer.

14: New England PatriotsZay Flowers, WR, Boston College 

The Patriots defense permitted 27 or more points six times last year, but it was young and should improve. Bill Belichick needs to get Mac Jones a legit weapon, and Flowers is one of the most explosive receivers in the draft. 

15: Green Bay PackersLukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

As much as he'd love to play for his hometown Bears, it would be hard for the Packers to pass on this excellent pass-rusher. Van Ness grew up in Illinois, played hockey as a kid and is one of the best pass-rushing athletes in the draft.

16: Washington CommandersMichael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

If an offensive lineman falls here, Washington will scoop him up. If not, go and get Sam Howell another weapon to bolster the offense.

17: Pittsburgh SteelersDalton Kincaid, TE, Utah 

Kenny Pickett gets another target, and the Steelers become one of the surprise frisky teams in the AFC. Between Pat Freiermuth and Kincaid, the Steelers might have one of the best collections of TEs and WRs in the AFC.

18: Detroit Lions — Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Boy, the Lions are sitting pretty with a ton of options thanks to extra draft picks. They picked up two CBs in free agency, and we'll see what happens with former top-five pick Jeff Okudah, who was benched last season. 

19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson 

The Bucs are a candidate to be one of the five worst teams in the league as their defense has aged quickly. The defense must get younger, and quickly. There is the potential they go QB here — Hooker? — and throw a Hail Mary to make the playoffs.

20: Seattle Seahawks — Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh 

He's a bit undersized to play inside all the time at 6-1, 281, but is the best athlete at the position in the draft, and his flexibility to rotate with Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed makes him an intriguing prospect.

21: Los Angeles ChargersBijan Robinson, RB, Texas

If the Austin Ekeler situation continues to unravel, the Chargers offense will take a massive hit. Yes, he was undrafted, and you don't take a RB this early, but the Chargers are contenders in the AFC, and Robinson immediately helps them.

Bijan Robinson is the perfect fit for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys offense

22: Baltimore RavensHendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

It's clear to me the Lamar Jackson era is over in Baltimore. There's too much bad blood. Hooker is 25, and coming off an ACL injury, but should be ready to contribute immediately on what could be a playoff team in the AFC … if they can find a QB.

23: Minnesota VikingsJoey Porter, CB, Penn State

The Vikings lost Patrick Peterson in free agency, and now their starters at CB will be Andrew Booth (limited to 105 snaps in his rookie year) and Akayleb Evans. They picked up Byron Murphy to play in the slot. 

24: Jacksonville JaguarsDarnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Trevor Lawrence took a big leap in year two, but he was sacked 27 times and constantly scrambling out of the pocket to evade defenders. Wright, a late riser, could compete for the starting job at RT.

25: New York GiantsQuentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Giants lack playmakers at receivers, so they scooped up Parris Campbell. Their top-three receivers are 6-feet or under, so having Johnston on the outside along with Darren Waller at tight end — along with the Jones-Barkley run game — New York will be tough in the red zone.

26: Dallas CowboysO'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida

Dallas really needs backup linemen, especially given the injury history of Tyron Smith. Torrence projects on the interior and didn't give up a sack in four college seasons.

27: Buffalo BillsAnton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

As much as Bills fans are clamoring for skill position players after being held to 10 points in a playoff loss to the Bengals, the real problem is the offensive line. Their inability to run leads to Allen being forced to make plays with his legs instead of winning from the pocket. 

28: Cincinnati BengalsBryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

The Bengals have reinforced their OL, and the next step is to add pass rushers behind Hendrickson and Hubbard to chase Mahomes and Herbert in the playoffs.

29: New Orleans SaintsDeonte Banks, CB, Maryland

After running a 4.35-second 40 at the Combine and flashing ridiculous athleticism, he's firmly in the first round discussion.

30: Philadelphia Eagles — Jordan Addison, WR, USC

I think they'd strongly consider one of the top-two tight ends (Mayer and Kincaid) if they fell this far, but Addison will instantly help an offense that would have hoisted a trophy if they hadn't struggled in the second half of the Super Bowl.

USC's Caleb Williams finds Jordan Addison for a 35-yard touchdown

31: Kansas City ChiefsWill McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa

Only 236 pounds, but he's got enough speed and power off the edge to be an impact player early for the Chiefs. Pass-rushing depth is hugely importantly to the Chiefs in January and February, when they face an annual gauntlet of elite quarterbacks.

Jason McIntyre is a FOX Sports betting analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, "Coming Up Winners," in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010.

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