Bryce Young comes to the NFC North

2023 NFL Mock Draft: Bryce Young to Lions? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Former Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule’s firing is the first domino to fall, signaling that NFL changes are in the Autumn air.

Generally, once a head coach is released and a team has no definitive franchise quarterback, expect massive organizational changes to occur.

To that end, there are several top 10 collegiate clashes this weekend, featuring pro prospects for the upcoming draft. Maybe the future number one pick comes from one of these teams.

Let the games begin! And we’re using‘s NFL Draft order.

1. Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

It happens just about every season, a struggling head coach is released during the season signaling an initial step toward organizational restructuring. With the firing of former head coach Matt Rhule and inept quarterback play from Baker Mayfield (injured ankle), even casual NFL fans are pretty sure a signal caller will be the first overall pick in April. C.J. Stroud’s 68 touchdown passes in just 18 career starts makes him the most likely candidate. 

2. Raiders: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Georgia

Las Vegas placed a safe bet of $40.5 million per season on two edge rushing specialist, and it’s amounted to a dismal team total of eight sacks. Six of those eight sacks have come from Maxx Crosby ($23 million annually), while the other pass rushing specialist, Chandler Jones ($17 million annually) has zero sacks on the season. Ouch! Will Anderson is a dominating game changer (51.5 career tackles for loss) who could be the Raiders best bet for a quality pass rush next season.

3. Steelers: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

Currently, Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 30th in yards allowed (2,084) and 25th in points surrendered per contest (25.6). Outside of the three-time All-Pro, Cameron Heyward, whose PFF (Pro Football Focus) rating is 86.9, the remaining defensive interior’s poor ratings reflect an ineffectual unit. Carter displays enough lower body strength to stymie the run, and surprising quickness to penetrate into teams’ backfields. The Steelers could use his alignment versatility and energy to bolster an aging defensive line.

4. Lions: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Incumbent quarterback Jared Goff will be an unrestricted free agent in 2025. However, the Lions have a possible out clause in Goff’s contract after this season ends. Releasing Goff after the 2022 campaign will essentially leave Detroit with about $10 million in dead cap money; or, they could keep him until 2025 and pay approximately $25 million per season. The Lions have only won four out of a possible 22 games with Goff, so taking Young might be a win for Detroit.

5. Commanders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

The Carson Wentz experiment in Washington has gotten so bad that when head coach, Ron Rivera was asked why every team in the division but the Commanders owned four and one win/loss records, his reply was…”quarterback.” On the season, Wentz’s stats are average, but poorly executed plays and a lack of clutch leadership have resulted in four losses out of five games. Levis is a confident and accurate passer with an upside that may appeal to Washington decision makers.

6. Texans: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Known for a devastating spin move, Murphy’s ability to string pass rushing attacks and transition from speed-to-power accentuate his pro level skill set. A terror off the edge, he’s registered 30 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and forced five fumbles in just 26 career games.

7. Falcons: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

If only the Falcons’ star interior defensive lineman, Grady Jarrett had help alongside him when pressuring offensive lines. Should the stars align, Jarrett, a former Clemson Tiger may get help from one of his alma mater’s current NFL hopefuls – Bryan Bresee. Standing at 6-foot-5, Bresee is an instinctive 310 pound man of measure and havoc causing ability. Quick enough to slip inside of blocks, Bresee’s strength allows him to leverage past linemen unaccustomed to his skill and athleticism.

8. Texans (via CLE): Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

This past draft, Houston believes it chose a top notch cover corner in Derek Stingley Jr. So far, having tallied 30 total tackles, five passes defended, one interception and sack in his first five games, it appears the Texans chose well. Lightning could strike twice if Houston decides to target Ringo for its other corner back position opposite Stingley. Ringo is an explosive talent with legitimate NFL speed (4.3 40-time) and a physicality that places receivers in distress.

9. Eagles (via NO): Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Among the more experienced defensive back prospects in this draft class (1,464 college snaps played), Porter is extremely nuanced in various techniques for covering receivers. He’s excellent in diagnosing routes and utilizing measured anticipatory skills that successfully mirror pass catchers. Currently, his 10 passes defended is tied for tops in the nation.

10. Seahawks: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

A year ago, very few football pundits were aware of Hooker, a 2021 transfer from Virginia Tech. Since becoming the Volunteers’ main signal caller, he’s tabulated 41 touchdown passes to three interceptions in just 18 games and led Tennessee to a top-10 national ranking. The Seahawks may have their fingers crossed in anticipation of possibly selecting Hooker on April 27.

11. Seahawks (via DEN): Isiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

Foskey, listed at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, is similarly built to former Seahawk standout, Bruce Irvin (6-foot-3, 250 lbs). Seattle enjoyed great success when Irvin manned the defensive edge during the Seahawks back-to-back Super Bowl appearances (2013 and 2014). Foskey wins with a ceaseless motor and a physicality that overwhelms opponents.

12. Cardinals: Paris Johnson, OL, Ohio State

The Cardinals have eight unrestricted free agent offensive linemen, with 33-year-old left tackle, Kelvin Beachum being one of them. If Arizona picks Johnson as a replacement for Beachum, the organization should expect an intelligent and highly motivated competitor ready to start from day one. Athletic and blessed with above average flexibility, Johnson can set and quickly reset against speed rushers, making him a suitable blindside protector. 

13. Lions (via LAR): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Detroit’s defense needs all the help it can get and taking a versatile talent like Simpson, could possibly address several problem areas for the Lions. Simpson moves with video game like suddenness, startling opponents into poor decisions and effectively causing chaos on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions need a game changing presence in its defensive second level and Simpson might be a perfect fit for that beleaguered unit.

14. Bengals: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

The Bengals may be one game altering player away from fielding a top-five defense. Sewell is a tank like 6-foot-2, 260 pound run stuffing defensive talent. Last season, Sewell registered 114 total tackles and in 27 career games he’s tallied 17.5 tackles for loss. An intuitive player, Sewell is extremely adept at utilizing angles to pursue ball carriers and is quick enough to track them down for insignificant gains.

15. Patriots: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

As long as future Hall-of-Fame head coach, Bill Belichick is guiding the Patriots, chances are he’ll lean toward drafting a defensive impact player over an offensive skill player. Out of a possible 17 first round picks during Belichick’s tenure, the Patriots took nine defensive players. Smith could be the tenth player taken in the first round considering his size (6-foot-1, 188 lbs) and coverage acumen. A clever boundary defender, Smith has recorded six picks in his last 24 games played.

16. Jaguars: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The tight end position may be the last area needing a significant talent upgrade on Jacksonville’s offense. Mayer is more quick than fast, but is capable of moving past defenders with an initial burst and a savvy enough to gain downfield separation. Mayer is also an excellent blocker whose active hands and balanced footwork present problems for defenders seeking a way into the backfield.

17. Bears: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

If the 2021 Biletnikoff Awardee were to last this far into the draft, Chicago would be insane to ignore such a fortuitous gift falling into its proverbial lap. Addison is a scheme proof, quarterback friendly receiver, who can execute the entire route tree and merge seamlessly with any level of pass thrower. Catching a combined 23 touchdowns as a member of two teams (Pittsburgh 17, USC 6) in his last 20 games played, epitomizes how effective Addison can be.

18. Colts: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

A long-limbed and lean edge rusher, Anudike-Uzomah’s length capably staves off blockers until he leverages his strength past them. Effectively versatile, he can either play with his hands down on the ground, or standing in space before rushing the passer. In addition, he exhibits some bendability when arcing toward the quarterback for a sack.

19. Dolphins (via SF): Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia

Despite his tweener size (6-foot-3, 235 lbs), Smith is a tenacious run defender who attacks blockers and ball carriers with equal ferocity. The Dolphins have five unrestricted free agent linebackers, and 33-year-old Melvin Ingram might not be retained in favor of a more youthful edge defender. If Smith is available when Miami picks he would fit in nicely with the Dolphins’ 3-4 defensive scheme.

20. Buccaneers: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest

The Bucs possess the oldest roster in the NFL (27 years, 6 months, 18 days), and Tampa’s best receivers are an age ripening unit. Perry’s game is very similar to Bucs’ star wideout, Mike Evans; because like Evans, Perry plays with an aggressive physicality when vying for contested passes. Relaxed and organic in tracking passes over either shoulder, Perry uses his 81-inch wingspan to expand his catching radius. Perry is a diamond in the rough first round talent.

21. Chargers: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

Phillips is the perfect slot corner/nickel back defender for what Los Angeles needs in a wild AFC West division. The Chargers current nickel back defender, Bryce Callahan is an unrestricted free agent and LA’s frugal front office might target a faster, less expensive option for that position. Six games into this 2022 collegiate season, Phillips has already intercepted five passes, returning two for defensive scores.

22. Jets: Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU

Roy plays with enough force to occasionally collapse the pocket, but generally wins at the point of attack with quickness and lower body leveraging. He would make an excellent addition to the Jets’ rotational defensive front, providing more length, size and power to an emerging unit.

23. Dolphins: FORFEITED

The Miami Dolphins forfeited one of their two first-round picks (plus a third-round pick in 2024) for tampering surrounding Tom Brady.

24. Packers: Antonio Johnson, FS, Texas A&M

Johnson’s positional versatility makes him an attractive prospect for most NFL teams. His ability to line up as a slot corner, a nickel linebacker, or play either safety spot makes him the type of deceptive defender that keeps offenses guessing. A fluid mind mirrors an easy athleticism to mentally and physically handle today’s complex offenses. A hybrid talent like Johnson would be hard for Green Bay to ignore.

25. Ravens: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Three of Baltimore’s edge defenders are over the age of 31 and will be free agents at season’s end. At best, these former defensive standouts are a stop gap measure for an unusually ineffective Ravens’ defense. Wilson promises a far better upside than what these aging vets offer. A well balanced defender, Wilson doesn’t overextend himself rushing the passer, or when pivoting direction mid rush to address offensive changes on the field. He is an immediate athletic upgrade for the Ravens.

26. Titans: Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU

There is only so much Titans’ premier running back, Derrick (King) Henry can do for Tennessee’s one dimensional offensive attack. Most NFL defenses have zero regard for the Titans’ ability to stretch the field, so they play closer to the line of scrimmage, clogging potential running lanes for Henry. As a boundary receiver, Johnston possesses NFL caliber size (6-foot-4, 212 lbs) and speed (4.4 40-time) that should threaten opposing teams’ coverage schemes.

27. Giants: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

Extremely quick hands help Carter rapidly shed blocks and aggressively pursue ball carriers with missile locking precision. Fortunately, because of a 2019 ruling, military academy students with professional sports aspirations now have the opportunity to defer service time. The Giants should take advantage of this recent change in military policy and enlist Carter on April 27.

28. Bills: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

Normally an area of strength for the Cowboys, their current offensive line is in a transitional state of flux. Injuries and free agent departures caused several players to operate in different roles along the offensive line. If Dallas drafts Skoronski, his acquisition could regulate and help reposition those offensive linemen back to their accustomed roles. A sound technician with exceptional upper body strength, Skoronski plays with a nastiness that discourages defenders ill equipped to handle his power.

29. Chiefs: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Several weeks ago, and throughout many preseason mock drafts (mine included), Smith-Njigba was regarded as a potential top 10 pro prospect. However, an early season injury and other receivers excelling created a downgrading of his draft status. How fortuitous it would be for Kansas City, if a talent like Smith-Njigba were to fall to them toward the bottom of the first round.

30. Vikings: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Vikings’ Patrick Peterson may very well be the “Tom Brady” of defensive backs, considering his age has no effect on how well he plays the game. Regardless, Minnesota needs to prepare for football life without Peterson if he doesn’t return next season. Gonzalez is a rangy six-foot-two corner with excellent vision and anticipation skills. Currently, he’s leading the Pac-12 conference with five passes defended.

31. Bills: Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC

Taking a rocksteady blocker like Vorhees could further cement a bludgeoning Bills’ offense. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Vorhees is a thickly anchored pass blocker who possesses above average knee bend. He uses a quick explosive step to drive block defenders beyond the line of scrimmage.

32. Eagles: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Robinson is one of college football’s most consistent and exciting ball carriers. Currently, Robinson is averaging almost six yards per carry (5.9) and rushed for at least one score in every game this season. NFL scouts are impressed with Robinson’s entire repertoire as a complete running back. An adept pass catcher, Robinson is also averaging 16.9 yards a reception with one receiving touchdown to date.

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