Nathan’s NFL Draft Day prognosis



Preparations for the NFL Draft continue Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at Union Station in Kansas City, Mo. The draft will run from April 27-29. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The NFL Draft is almost here. Seven rounds and 256 selections will take place over the course of three days in Kansas City. Who will be taken first? Which blockbuster trade will shake things up? All questions will be answered beginning Thursday night, as this is set up to be one of the most intriguing drafts in recent history. With that being said, here are my predictions for the top ten selections in the first round. 


  1. Carolina Panthers – C.J. Stroud (Quarterback, Ohio State)

Trading up to the number one pick costs a lot. For the Panthers, it cost them two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and their receiver D.J. Moore. But, there’s a reason they made this move. They need a quarterback. The best quarterback available for them is Stroud out of Ohio State. Stroud threw for 3,688 yards and 41 touchdowns last year, while only throwing six interceptions. Carolina now has their shot at filling a QB position that has lacked success since Cam Newton’s MVP season. Stroud is definitely the best choice for the Panthers to make an instant impact. He also has proven to be a great quarterback for teams to build around, as we saw during his years at Ohio State. Even in big games last year, such as the semifinal against the top-ranked Georgia defense, Stroud threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. He has been proving himself worthy for the NFL, and now it’s his turn to take the big stage. With his success in college and ability to step up in the big games, I find it too difficult to believe that the Panthers pass up on what is definitely the most talented quarterback this draft.


  1. Houston Texans – Bryce Young (Quarterback, Alabama)

Finding themselves back in the top five picks again, the Texans really need to nail this draft to assist their rebuild. Having Stroud being taken first, I believe the Texans will draft Alabama QB Bryce Young. In last year’s campaign, Young threw for 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns, and five interceptions. I believe Young would be a great fit on this Houston roster because of their receiver John Metchie III, who missed last year’s season with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Metchie is set to return this season, and will definitely make an instant impact. If the Texans are able to draft Bryce Young and add him to this offense, he will get the opportunity to line up on offense with his college wideout. The two had a very strong connection back at Alabama but could have the ability to showcase it in the NFL. While Bryce Young isn’t the best quarterback in this draft, he is definitely the best possible fit for a Texans team that needs a strong enough player to improve the offense. 


  1. Atlanta Falcons (Projected trade with Arizona) – Anthony Richardson (Quarterback, Florida)

Trading up during the draft is always a possibility for any team. The Arizona Cardinals’ third pick is where I think it happens. The Cardinals have said they’re open to trading the third overall pick, and I believe the Falcons take advantage. Having two QBs going in the first two picks, I truly think that Atlanta tries to move up to take one of their own. The team has said they’re committed to current rostered quarterback Desmond Ridder, but I just don’t think they are feeling confident enough to ride with him. With that being said, I have the Falcons taking Anthony Richardson. The former Florida quarterback threw for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions last season. Running the ball is a major strength of Richardson. He ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns last season, averaging over six yards per carry. A dual-threat quarterback like this would add a major spark to a Falcons offense that has struggled to find its rhythm over the past few years. 


  1. Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis (Quarterback, Kentucky)

Wait, another quarterback? Yes, with the Colts drafting fourth, I see four quarterbacks being drafted in a row to begin this year’s draft. As wild as it sounds, it most definitely can happen. Indianapolis has had a rough stretch at quarterback, having Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan over the past three seasons. Signing veterans isn’t a bad idea, but it just hasn’t worked out for the Colts. It’s now time for them to bring in a young quarterback to try and build an offense around. Getting Stroud, Young, or Richardson at the fourth pick will not be easy, but another valid option will be available for the Colts. Coming out of Kentucky is Will Levis, who tallied 54 total touchdowns in his two years as a member of the Wildcats. Bringing in a solid QB like Levis will open up the playbook a lot more for an Indy offense that finished sixth-worst in the league in total yards per game. By not having a very successful passing game, many defenses simply stacked the box to take away the run game, which left the Colts offense with few options. Drafting Levis would be a major improvement and could free up the run game as the threat of a passing attack increases. If any of the top three quarterbacks fall to this pick, it’s safe to say the Colts will draft them. Since I believe all three will be gone, I’m confident the Colts will draft Levis as he will be the next best option. 


  1. Seattle Seahawks – Will Anderson, Jr. (Outside Linebacker, Alabama)

Coming off an impressive run to the postseason, the Seahawks have a major need for defense. Seattle finished seventh-worst in total defense last season and will need a big improvement to be more successful this year. The solution is Will Anderson out of Alabama. Anderson was a monster in college, totaling 51 tackles and ten sacks last season. He will be a major addition to a Seattle pass rush that hasn’t been as dominant lately as they would like to be. The Seahawks offense was solid last year, but the defense was the reason they lost a majority of the games that they did. The team finished eighth-worst in the league, allowing 23.6 points per game. Adding Anderson will generate a much better pass rush that could force more sacks, rushed throws, throwaways, and turnovers. With a general need for strong defensive talent, the Seahawks will draft Will Anderson, Jr. as the fifth pick in this year’s NFL Draft.


  1. Detroit Lions – Tyree Wilson (Defensive End, Texas Tech)

Coming in at pick number six are the Detroit Lions. The Lions were the “surprise team” in the league last year, just missing the playoffs in what was an impressive campaign. The problem for Detroit last year was their defense, which finished fifth-worst in the league, allowing over 25 points per game. This has to improve if the Lions have any chance at earning their first playoff berth since the 2016 season. Given that he is being compared to All-Star defensive end Trey Hendrickson, Wilson will surely make a monster impact on this Lions team that has already boosted their defensive roster this offseason. Being able to have Wilson lineup opposite of Aiden Hutchinson will pose a very difficult challenge for opposing offensive lines, and could position the Lions as one of the league’s top pass rushes and even defenses overall. Another great option here could be defensive tackle Jalen Carter, but given his recent history, I don’t think Dan Campbell would want to risk bringing him in. Tyree Wilson is still a monster on defense and will fill a spot that will strengthen this defense even more. He totaled 36 tackles and seven sacks last season and will look to put up similar numbers again. With all that being said, the Lions selection here will most definitely be defense, and regardless of whoever it may be, they will make this Detroit defense even scarier, and possibly provide just enough of a boost to get this team to the postseason. 


  1. Las Vegas Raiders – Jalen Carter (Defensive Tackle, Georgia)

What a steal this could be for the Las Vegas Raiders at the seventh pick in this year’s draft. Not only is he one of the best defensive lineman coming out of college, but he played a major role in what was the top-ranked defense in the country. Carter was a part of both of Georgia’s National Championship teams and had a dramatic impact in both title games. Carter tallied 32 tackles and three sacks last season, which doesn’t seem too intriguing of stats for a potential first-round pick. However, from watching Georgia’s games, his presence has more of an effect than anything. The reason he didn’t get more sacks is that he was double-teamed on a majority of the plays. Double-teaming Carter opened up opportunities for other pass rushers to get to the quarterback. A team like the Raiders who struggled to get to the quarterback last year would greatly benefit from adding a player like Carter. While he may not get double-digit sacks, just simply having him out on the field will cause more problems for opposing offenses. 


  1. Arizona Cardinals (Projected trade with Atlanta) – Devon Witherspoon  (Cornerback, Illinois)

Trading back in the draft seems like a logical option for the Cardinals. They’ve made it very clear that Kyler Murray is their QB and that they won’t draft one at the third selection. With that being said, trading back can give them more picks, maybe even a first-round pick in a future draft. The priority for the Cardinals in the draft this year is defense. Arizona allowed almost 350 yards per game last year and will have to improve in order to have a more successful season. They were less successful defending the pass, but have many options to revamp their secondary. Having the success that he had in college, I have Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon being drafted here at the eighth selection. Witherspoon totaled 42 tackles, 14 passes defended, and three interceptions in the 2022 season. He is a physical defender which makes it difficult for receivers to create separation. Having a lockdown corner like Witherspoon will help limit the big plays for opposing offenses, and can limit the damage from the top wideouts. This is what Arizona needs, and taking Witherspoon at pick number eight would be ideal. 


  1. Chicago Bears – Bijan Robinson (Running Back, Texas)

Drafting a running back in the first round has its risks but also its upside. Having the opportunity to draft a running back like Bijan Robinson is an opportunity that no team should waste. If he falls this far, I don’t see any way the Bears pass up on him. For a team that led the league in rushing yards per game, this addition would put them over the top. A dual-threat backfield with Justin Fields and Bijan Robinson would be lethal. In last year’s season, Robinson tallied 1,894 total yards and 20 touchdowns. He was by far the top running back in the country in college football. He would provide a major threat to any defense going against him, and this is what the Bears need. For a team that really struggled defensively, running the ball and controlling the clock on offense is how Chicago is going to win games next season. Having multiple options to run the football can also open up the passing game for Fields, who didn’t throw the ball much last season. Bringing in Robinson would be a great choice for the Bears, and would be really intriguing to see how productive the offense is with this addition.


  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian Gonzalez (Cornerback, Oregon) 

Coming off an NFC Championship, the Eagles still have a top-ten selection in the draft. Looking to improve on what was an already dominant team, I have the Eagles selecting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. In his 2022 season, Gonzalez tallied 51 total tackles, seven passes defended, and four interceptions. Bringing in a young corner would be big for the Eagles considering their two current corners, Darius Slay and James Bradberry, are trending towards the end of their careers and their time with Philadelphia won’t last forever. The Eagles secondary as a whole last year was fantastic, helping them team to being the top pass defense in the NFL. Having Gonzalez come in and learn from these two veterans would help him grow and be ready to take on some of the league’s elite receivers when Philly decides to move on from Slay or Bradberry. Also, the loss of CJ Gardner-Johnson opens up the possibility for Gonzlez to take some snaps as a slot corner to get involved within the defense. Either way, this would be an excellent selection for the birds, as they would strengthen an already dominant all-around defense. 

Predicting the top ten selections correctly is almost unheard of. Last minute trades happen and teams sometimes just take the best available player. This year, it will be interesting to see how many teams may try to trade back, and who will try and trade up. As the first round progresses, I think viewers will see more trades and surprising picks. With that being said, here are my predictions for the remainder of the first round. 


  1. Tennessee Titans – Peter Skoronski (Tackle, Northwestern)
  2. Houston Texans – Nolan Smith (Outside Linebacker, Georgia)
  3. Green Bay Packers – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Wide Receiver, Ohio State)
  4. Buffalo Bills (Projected trade with New England) – Jordan Addison  (Wide Receiver, USC)
  5. New York Jets – Broderick Jones (Tackle, Georgia)
  6. Washington Commanders – Joey Porter, Jr. (Cornerback, Penn State)
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers – Paris Johnson, Jr. (Tackle, Ohio State)
  8. Detroit Lions – Dalton Kincaid (Tight End, Utah)
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Darnell Wright (Tackle, Tennessee)
  10. Seattle Seahawks – Lukas Van Ness (Defensive End, Iowa)
  11. Los Angeles Chargers – Calijah Kancey (Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh)
  12. Baltimore Ravens – Deonte Banks (Cornerback, Maryland)
  13. Minnesota Vikings – Julius Brents (Cornerback, Kansas State)
  14. Jacksonville Jaguars – DJ Turner (Cornerback, Michigan)
  15. New York Giants – Steve Avila (Guard, TCU)
  16. Dallas Cowboys – Jahmyr Gibbs (Running Back, Alabama)
  17. New England Patriots (Projected trade with Buffalo) – Brian Branch (Safety, Alabama)
  18. Cincinnati Bengals – Darnell Washington (Tight End, Georgia)
  19. New Orleans Saints – Myles Murphy (Defensive End, Clemson)
  20. Philadelphia Eagles – Quentin Johnston (Wide Receiver, TCU)
  21. Kansas City Chiefs – Zay Flowers (Wide Receiver, Boston College)