ESPN analyst and NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has released his latest 2023 first-round mock draft, and there are two notable surprises at the very top.
The Chicago Bears are the holders of the first overall pick, but many expect them to trade it to a QB-needy team. Chicago already has a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields, whom they selected 11th overall in 2021.
For the first overall pick, however, Kiper doesn’t have the Bears trading that selection. Rather, he has them taking Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter:
“Chicago’s roster needs help from top to bottom, but its defense was particularly dreadful in 2022, ranking last in the league in sacks (20) and points allowed per game (27.2). It has to be D all the way for wherever the Bears make their selection. Carter, an explosive interior pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the nod over Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. on my Big Board. He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter in the middle of this defense.”
Kiper then has the Houston Texans going with Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud at No. 3 overall, followed by Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. to the Arizona Cardinals and fellow Crimson Tide star and QB Bryce Young to the Indianapolis Colts.
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The Carter pick at No. 1 overall isn’t the only surprise at the top of Kiper’s mock draft. He also has the Seattle Seahawks taking Kentucky signal-caller Will Levis at No. 5 overall (this pick is courtesy of the Denver Broncos via the Russell Wilson trade):
“For the Seahawks, do they really think Geno Smith is their long-term answer? If so, they’re going to have to pay him before he hits free agency in March. If they franchise tag him, though, they could play him in 2023 as the bridge to Levis, who can take over after some seasoning as the backup. If Seattle gives Smith a big deal, it surely would be happy with Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter here to help a defense that allowed 4.9 yards per carry, which ranked 27th in the league. Along with this pick from Denver that came in the Russell Wilson deal, it also has No. 20 overall to get help on that side of the ball.”
Geno Smith had a career year with the Seahawks, completing 69.8 percent of his pass attempts for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions. Smith helped Seattle return to the postseason with a 9-8 record, though they fell to the San Francisco 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.