While we’re still waiting on word from a few Georgia prospects, the rest of the underclassman draft intentions are finally in, and now we know the draft order for most of the first round.
In other words, it’s time to examine trade possibilities.
Who needs a QB?
At least five teams need to come out of the first round with a new signal caller, but only four QBs are ranked in the top-32 in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent, Las Vegas is likely going to trade Derek Carr, and both Tom Brady of Tampa Bay and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay could change teams next season. And don’t forget about San Francisco’s surplus of QBs – expect the 49ers to move at least one of them via trade.
Should be the No. 1 priority:
Houston, Indianapolis, Carolina, Washington, Las Vegas, New Orleans
Might need one:
Seattle, Detroit, Denver, Minnesota
If things fell right …:
Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay
Dane Brugler of The Athletic recently released his two-round mock draft, and he has Chicago and Indianapolis swapping picks, with the Colts also giving up a second rounder and a first-round pick next year. However, that’s an incredibly steep price – if Indianapolis simply stands pat, then it will guarantee them a shot at either Bryce Young of Alabama, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, Will Levis of Kentucky or even Florida’s Anthony Richardson – and all come with flaws. Maybe Indianapolis makes that trade for a QB prospect on the level of a Trevor Lawrence, but the 2023 quartet isn’t on that level.
You can make the same argument for Seattle if they decide to move on from unrestricted free agent Geno Smith (which seems unlikely). Sure, there’s a chance that Chicago and Arizona trade out of the top 5 and a QB goes with the first four picks. But that’s unlikely.
The team(s) most likely to move up in the draft:
Carolina is undergoing a coaching change – don’t you think that coach would love to have a new QB under center? Remember, the Panthers picked up an extra second-rounder in the Christian McCaffrey trade. A swap of first-round picks with Arizona, plus Carolina’s two second rounders, would be enough to move up to No. 3.
With that said, Carolina might have to sweeten the deal if another team makes a better offer. Would the Cardinals consider a deal for the Panthers first round picks this year and next, plus one of the Panthers’ two second-rounders?
You never know …
Both Washington and Minnesota could offer a deal Chicago or Arizona can’t refuse, although it would be costly. Of the two teams, though, the Vikings are the most likely to stand-pat, as it’s hard to imagine a team that went 13-4 to hand the reigns over to a rookie QB, especially with a veteran QB already on the roster.
Washington, on the other hand, went 8-8-1 and doesn’t have a QB on the roster on the same level as Minnesota’s Kurt Cousins. Swapping the No. 16 pick with Arizona would cost the Commanders their second-round pick this year and at least next season’s first-round pick – if not more.
Still, Washington appears close to contending for a playoff spot, and a new QB could push them over the top.
Could someone target the top 2 defensive players?
Although draft analysts peg Chicago as a team likely to trade its pick, doing so would be extremely costly for any team looking to move up. For starters, it’s going to take at least three picks in the 2023 draft to move up to the No. 1 overall spot and at least one more future first-rounder tossed in – maybe two if it’s a team picking late in the first round.
Again, a QB-starved team might consider making a bold move like that if the quartet of top QBs were rated higher.
Plus, the top prospects in the 2023 draft are generally seen as a notch below the prospects from previous drafts. From the latest Walter Football Hot Press report: “This year, teams feel the 2023 NFL Draft lacks elite talent overall. Sources from seven different NFL teams told WalterFootball.com the only player who had received an elite grade was Texas running back Bijan Robinson.”
Robinson remains the No. 1 ranked player in the Rigdon big board.
That doesn’t mean teams don’t covet Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson or Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter, the top two defensive players in this draft. But the cost to move into the top 5 might be too much for some teams. For example, if Dallas wanted to move up from No. 26 to No. 3, it would take at least the Cowboys’ first three picks (26, 59, 91) and would likely require the team’s first two picks in 2024, according to Calculator Soup. Even then, Dallas would still come away on top.
However, there’s one team that hasn’t shied away from making splashy moves in the draft: Philadelphia. And, as it turns out, the Eagles have enough assets to pull it off.
Moving up to the No. 1 spot, though, might still prove to be too prohibitive. Moving up to the third spot occupied by Arizona, though, is doable.
It would require both of Philadelphia’s two first-round picks (10 and 31) and its pick in the second round (63) to make the deal work numbers-wise. Even then, the Eagles might have to toss in a first- or second-round pick in 2024 if Arizona has other offers.
Granted, defensive line isn’t Philadelphia’s greatest offseason need. In fact, you could make the argument that the Eagles boast the best DL in the league. And they have some big free agent decisions looming, including at linebacker and at cornerback.
However, defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph and pass rushers Brandon Graham and Robert Quinn will all be UFAs at the end of the season.
It sounds like the Eagles could use either Anderson or Carter.
1. Chicago Bears: Edge Will Anderson, Alabama
Trading down is easier said than done. Teams would have to give up a huge draft haul to move up to this spot, but none of this year’s top prospects stack up to previous year’s top prospects. So why not stand pat and take a potential Pro Bowl pass rusher at a position of need?
2. Houston Texans: QB Bryce Young, Alabama
The Young-to-Houston calls are getting louder . Now the team needs to add some offensive linemen to protect Young, and more talent at receiver. And tight end. And on defense. Basically, Houston needs help everywhere, so snagging your QB of the future is a great place to start.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (TRADE with AZ): DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
As good as Jordan Davis has been his rookie year, his former Georgia teammate Carter is considered an even better prospect. Don’t forget: Philadelphia moved up two spots last year to take Davis at pick No. 13 overall.
4. Indianapolis Colts: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
This would be a dream scenario for Indianapolis: They get to pick one of the top QBs without giving up any draft assets.
5. Las Vegas Raiders (TRADE with SEA): QB Will Levis, Kentucky
Tampa Bay is still seen as Tom Brady’s top landing spot in 2023, but Las Vegas is a close second, according to the latest betting odds. Why not pair the future Hall of Famer with the rookie Levis? Doing so would give Raiders fans hope beyond the 2023 season.
6. Carolina Panthers (TRADE with DET): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Could Carolina stay at No. 9 and hope Richardson falls to them? Of course, but that would be extremely risky. Sure, taking Richardson this high also comes with risks, but the new coaching staff would likely want to work with “their” guy. Besides, numbers-wise, all Carolina would have to give up to swap picks with Detroit is their second of two second-round picks (61).
7. Seattle Seahawks (from LV via DEN): Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson
Seattle has spent time retooling its defensive line in recent years, but, as the playoff loss to San Francisco shows, more talent is needed – and Murphy has elite traits, size and athleticism.
8. Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
Atlanta fans won’t like this pick, but Robinson would be the best gift the Falcons could give young QB Desmond Ridder, who the team drafted in the third round last year.
9. Detroit Lions (TRADE with CAR via LA Rams): CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
Talk about lucky. Not only would Detroit pick up an extra high third-round pick by swapping spots with Carolina in the first round, the Lions would also have their pick of the top CBs – a position of need – if they pull off this trade.
10. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE with PHL via NO): CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
Porter is long, physical and has great cover skills – basically, everything Arizona is looking for in a cornerback.
11. Tennessee Titans: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State
There’s speculation that LT Taylor Lewan could be a cap cut. Luckily, Tennessee would have its pick of the top OTs in this scenario. The last time Nicholas Petit-Frere, the team’s third-round pick in 2022, played with Johnson, Petit-Frere was the Buckeyes’ left tackle and Johnson was the left guard. Now, Petit-Frere is the Titans’ starting right tackle, while Johnson could be inserted as Lewan’s replacement at LT or be moved to guard if Lewan re-signs.
12. Houston Texans (from CLE): OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
You could make the argument here for a top pass catcher, but those receiver numbers will be down if the QB doesn’t have any time to throw.
13. NY Jets: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Maybe Mekhi Becton comes back from injury and plays like he did as a rookie in 2020. And maybe Max Mitchell, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2022, or another offensive lineman steps up next season. But that’s too many “maybes.” Besides, Skoronski can play either guard or tackle.
14. New England Patriots: S Brian Branch, Alabama
New England took Kyle Dugger in the first round in 2020. Branch is an even better prospect. Safety isn’t a huge need, but Branch is one of the top players in the draft, plus the Patriots could lose several members of the secondary to free agency.
15. Green Bay Packers: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
Green Bay takes a receiver in the first one year after taking Christian Watson in the second round – and Johnston is the better prospect of the two. If Watson finished with a respectable 41 receptions for 611 yards and 7 TDs as a rookie, imagine what Rodgers can do with a player like Johnston?
16. Washington Commanders: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Expect Washington to go after a QB via trade or free agency if it can’t land one of the top four in this draft. Otherwise, this pick could come down to a cornerback or Clemson DL Bryan Bresee, who is still available.
“If they retain free agent defensive lineman Daron Payne, they’ll probably look toward corner on defense or maybe even offense line,” said Steve Shoup, co-owner of Fanspeak.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson
Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh trades out of this pick, as the top OTs are off the board and the best center is more of a Day 2-type of prospect. Otherwise, Jeff Hartman of SB Nation’s Behind the Steel Curtain is right: Pittsburgh needs a defensive lineman.
18. Detroit Lions: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
After trading T.J. Hockenson, second-year player Brock Wright led the Lions tight ends with 18 receptions for 216 yards and 4 TDs. Consider Wright’s former Notre Dame teammate Mayer a significant upgrade.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
The loss to Dallas exposed a glaring weakness: Tampa Bay’s running game, or lack thereof. Leonard Fournette could be a potential cap casualty. The team could look to upgrade its OL at this spot, too, but that would be a bit of a reach. Gibbs, though, is a home-run hitter – there’s no way Brady throws 60-plus passes in a game with Gibbs running the ball.
20. Seattle Seahawks: G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Drafting a guard in the first round is like getting socks for Christmas. However, cutting Gabe Jackson in the offseason would save the team $6.5 million. Jackson had a ho-hum 55 PFF grade this season, meaning, the 2014 third-rounder is very replaceable, and Torrence is the best interior lineman in the draft.
21. LA Chargers: WR Jordan Addison, USC
Age and injuries make receiver one of, if not the top priority for Los Angeles.
Jordan Addison has extremely efficient route break transitions and utilizes his speed very well pic.twitter.com/zv9mxbNo8c
— Jake Schyvinck (@JakeNFLDraft) January 16, 2023
22. Baltimore Ravens: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
CB Marcus Peters is now an unrestricted free agent and, at age 30, still has several good years left in him. But he would also likely command a pretty hefty contract. Adam H. Beasley of Pro Football Network says “
23. Minnesota Vikings: Edge Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
Wilson is a candidate to slide in this draft. Granted, plenty of teams could use a pass rusher with Wilson’s elite traits, but not many of them operate out of a 4-3 defense where his talents are best utilized. Otherwise, Wilson could play as a 5-tech in a 3-4 defense, but those players typically go later in the draft, ala Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal, who was drafted by Pittsburgh last year with the No. 84 overall pick. But, as Shoup points out, sometimes elite pass rushers fall in the draft, just like Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, who was taken by the Jets with the No. 26 overall pick in 2022.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
Expect Banks to rise in the weeks and months to come. Jacksonville needs a better boundary CB to bookend with Tyson Campbell. The Athletic’s Brugler called Banks a “cover-and-clobber” CB with “rangy speed and ball skills.”
25. NY Giants: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
New York desperately needs receiver help. Will the Giants get the 2021 version of JSN or the 2022 version that missed most of the season with a nagging hamstring injury?
26. Dallas Cowboys: CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
While the team needs help at receiver and could use another piece along the offensive line, the fact that Dallas played recently-signed-off-the-street CB Xavier Rhodes 24 snaps in its playoff win over Tampa Bay tells you everything you need to know about the team’s top offseason priority. The normal starter, Anthony Brown, is out for the year and will be an UFA, while former starter Jourdan Lewis, also out for the year, will hit free agency the following year. That’s forced the team to start rookie fifth-rounder DaRon Bland on the outside, despite flourishing as Lewis’ replacement at slot corner. And while Ringo has seen his draft stock dip this season, he still comes with elite athletic traits.
“I like Ringo late in the first round,” PFF’s Marcus Mosher said in an interview with Fanspeak. “I don’t like him in the top-10.”
27. Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
Question: What do you do when your team is notorious for its small scouting department? Answer: Draft the biggest name available. That would be Van Ness, ranked No. 12 in the Rigdon big board. Van Ness is far from a big need – starting pass rushers Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard are under control for several more years – while starting CB Eli Apple and FS Jessie Bates are about to become unrestricted. And don’t forget about the offensive line, which has been decimated by injuries, particularly at tackle. The best-remaining prospect at any of those positions should be in play late in the first round. Van Ness, though, is clearly the best player available. And don’t be fooled by his modest stats in 2022 — even though he didn’t start this season and has a limited resume, draft analysts are still extremely high on him. Plus, at 6-foot-5, 275-pounds, the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore could kick inside on passing downs.
28. Denver Broncos (from SF): OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Denver desperately needs help along the offensive line – maybe QB Russell Wilson will perform better if he’s not running for his life.
29. Buffalo Bills: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
The fact that recently-signed Cole Beasley is receiving playing time during the playoffs tells you where Buffalo stands with its receiver depth.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
The Chiefs have some big decisions on offense coming up in free agency, as both starting OTs and two of the three starting receivers will become unrestricted. However, the team has intriguing young prospects at receiver, but the proverbial cupboard is relatively bare at offensive tackle, even if the team re-signs one of Orlando Brown or Andrew Wylie. Enter the massive 6-foot-8, 360-pound redshirt sophomore Jones. If he can show during the Combine that he’s not your typical, lumbering giant, then Jones could shoot up draft boards.
31. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE with PHL): OT Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
Josh Jones, the team’s third-round pick out of Houston in 2020, should be a candidate for “most improved player.” After barely seeing the field his rookie year, and a rough, penalty-filled second season, Jones solidified the all-important left tackle position this year and finished with a PFF grade of 75.8. He’s going to be even busier in 2023. Jones is the only starting offensive lineman for Arizona assured of returning next season, as the other four starters are set to become unrestricted free agents. Is Mauch a bit of a reach here? Maybe so, but the team could always slide him inside, then draft a tackle like Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison with its first pick of the second round and still have Philadelphia’s late second-round pick to take a receiver or cornerback.
Los Angeles Rams, second round: OT Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
New Orleans Saints, second round: QB Tanner McKee, Stanford
Cleveland Browns, second round: Edge Zach Harrison, Ohio State
Miami Dolphins, second round: RB Devon Achane, Texas A&M
San Francisco, third round: RB Kendre Miller, TCU
* Draft order courtesy of Tankathon.
** Miami lost its first-round pick due to tampering charges.
Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak.com. He also covers the NFL draft from a Dallas Cowboys perspective in this subReddit. And his big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft.