Anthony Richardson has officially declared for the draft, and now we're going to spend the next few months trying to pin down exactly where he might end up. Will he sneak into Round 1? Will he be QB4, or is there a chance he's eventually QB1, especially since the current No. 1 quarterback, Bryce Young, is somewhere around 5-foot-10, 185 pounds ... which is unprecedented for an NFL QB, especially one being considered for the first-overall pick.
(That said, Young is currently our QB1 because he's been that good, without any of the weapons Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa enjoyed before him, and he carried the Alabama offense for much of the season.)
Over the summer, there were some NFL teams that were high on Richardson and Will Levis, above Young and C.J. Stroud, in large part because of the down-the-road upside. Of course, Young and Stroud had much better seasons, but it'll be interesting to see exactly how all this unfolds. A year ago, we media folks pegged Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder as possible first-rounders. When it was all said and done, only Pickett heard his name called on Day 1, and the next QB, Ridder, didn't go until Round 3. Put another way: Yes, teams are forever desperate for franchise quarterbacks, but last year's lackluster crop wasn't enticing enough to force any of them (other than, arguably, Pittsburgh) to overdraft one.
This year will almost certainly be different, mostly because while this year's crop doesn't have a clearcut Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence, it does have four intriguing prospects. Which brings us to Will Levis, who remains the wild card. the "huge upside but there are a bunch of reasons we're not quite seeing it right now" franchise passer who battled a toe and shoulder injury, a porous offensive line, and young, inexperienced wide receivers.
Interestingly, former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman talked about Levis on last week's "With the First Pick" draft podcast, explaining what many people around the league have been saying about the Kentucky QB for months.
I can't imagine this will be controversial at all but former Vikings GM @spielman_rick is like a lot of people around the NFL: he's higher on Will Levis than most media folks (me included). Rick talked about Levis on the With the First Pick podcast (@WTFPdraftpod). pic.twitter.com/n8UqnEN0YG— ryan wilson (@ryanwilsonCBS) December 16, 2022
When you're a top-10 pick, the expectation is that you can overcome adversity, even if it dog-piles you all at once. NFL evaluators will spend the weeks and months between now and the draft trying to figure out what a healthy Levis, with pieces in place around him to help him succeed, might look like at the next level. The issue, of course, is that, typically, teams picking at the top of the draft don't have those things.
We're now three weeks into the aforementioned "With the First Pick" podcast, and I just wanted to thank all of you for the comments, thumbs up, and overall kind words. Appreciate the feedback and remember: we'll be live every Monday at 2 p.m. ET on the Pick Pix YouTube channel, and you can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.
As we get closer to the draft, we'll expand to several shows a week with CBS Sports NFL Draft analysts Josh Edwards, Chris Trapasso and Emory Hunt, as well as other folks in the CBS Sports family. You can follow me on Twitter at @ryanwilsonCBS for updates and reminders.
There are only 31 selections in this mock draft because the Dolphins were stripped of their first-round pick due to tampering.
One other thing: please note that what's reflected below is the draft order through Sunday's Week 15 slate of games, but not including "Monday Night Football."
Round 1 - Pick 1
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 194 lbs
Bryce Young might be historically undersized by successful NFL QB standards, but we don't care. He's been that good for Alabama, dragging that team to victory just about every week. And he's doing it with none of the playmakers who made life so much easier for Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones in previous years.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'3" / 300 lbs
The Bears appear to be a team headed in the right direction, in large part because they have found their franchise QB in Justin Fields. But there's a lot of work to do on the other side of the ball after moving on from Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. Both Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. could be options here, and both are layup selections.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 3
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 243 lbs
The Geno Smith "I didn't write back" storyline is one of the best of the 2022 season, but it shouldn't obscure the fact that Seattle's defense is a hot mess. And thanks to the Broncos trade, they'll be able to address that side of the ball very early in the draft. Whether it's Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr., they'll be arguably the best player on Seattle's D the moment they step on the field.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Myles Murphy DL
Clemson • Jr • 6'5" / 275 lbs
Murphy won't be 21 until next spring and while we'd like to see him play with more consistency ... he won't be 21 until next spring. On top of that, when he's on, he's hard to stop, which makes him such an interesting prospect.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 5
Kelee Ringo CB
Georgia • Soph • 6'2" / 210 lbs
The Georgia-to-first-round pipeline continues. A year after five Bulldogs went in Round 1, expect a handful this time around too. Ringo is a long, physical corner who has matched up against some of the best players in the country.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • Sr • 6'3" / 232 lbs
Since Andrew Luck's retirement, the Colts have had little success turning to QBs nearing the end of their careers, and it's safe to assume that owner Jim Irsay will be looking for the team's next face of the franchise. Levis, who definitely looks the part, has been plagued by injuries and poor play all season. That said, NFL teams love how he projects to the next level but he'll be a controversial talking point for the next six months.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • Sr • 6'6" / 275 lbs
Wilson is a high-motor player who consistently finds his way into the backfield. He's still raw, but the physical tools are there, and when he puts it all together he is going to be a problem.
Round 1 - Pick 8
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 218 lbs
The Panthers have cycled through three QBs this season, and here's the only certainty: the '23 starter currently isn't on the roster. There's a 100% chance owner David Tepper finally addresses the position this offseason, and if C.J. Stroud is available, it's easy to imagine him being the pick.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 9
Ohio State • Jr • 6'6" / 310 lbs
Johnson, who plays left tackle for the Buckeyes this season, also has experience on the interior; either way, he is a Day 1 starter, which in Philly could be at guard early in his career before moving to tackle if and when Lane Johnson decides to retire.
Round 1 - Pick 10
TCU • Jr • 6'4" / 215 lbs
Johnston's an above-the-rim playmaker whose athleticism and contested-catch abilities make him in the running for WR1. The Packers have inexplicably shied away from WRs in the first round, but it's probably time to change that.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Northwestern • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he'll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard. We think he can play tackle, but wherever he ends up, he'll make the Raiders offensive line better.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Oregon • Soph • 6'2" / 201 lbs
Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Penn State • Jr • 6'2" / 194 lbs
Porter is the prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield, but he checks many of the boxes of what team's look for when drafting DBs. Oh, and his dad is a former Steelers edge rusher who played a critical role in their Super Bowl run during the '05 season.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Florida • Soph • 6'4" / 232 lbs
Geno Smith has had a phenomenal season, and there's every reason to believe he deserves to be the Seahawks starter in '23. But he's currently on a one-year deal, and even if Seattle bring him back for, say, two years, that's best-case for Richardson, who may need time to grow into the role. He is one of the most exciting prospects in this class. Yes, he's short on experience, but his physical tools are rare.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Dawand Jones OT
Ohio State • Sr • 6'8" / 359 lbs
This Jets team feels a lot like the 2010 version, which had a second-year QB and relied on a good running game and a dominating defense. With injuries to the team's two recent first-round O-linemen, maybe the team targets this unit again in '23. Jones is a behemoth of a man who is a right tackle-only at the next level, but he's a dominant run blocker who has made huge strides in pass protection in 2022.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Jared Verse EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'4" / 248 lbs
Verse, an Albany transfer, has been electric in '22, even when overcoming a knee injury. At full health, he's a real problem, and the Lions could bookend him with last year's first-rounder, Aidan Hutchinson.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Texas • Jr • 6'0" / 220 lbs
The Bucs could target a QB here, but with questions about Anthony Richardson's future and his uneven play this season, Tampa could look to fill other needs. RB isn't a huge priority with Rachaad White's emergence, but the team could move on from Fournette and plug in Robinson, who has been dominant for the Longhorns this season.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 200 lbs
Smith-Njigba barely saw the field this season because of injuries, but he's still one of the top wideouts in the class. The Titans offense has been stagnant at times, and adding a downfield threat will be at the top of the offseason to-do list.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Cam Smith CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'0" / 188 lbs
The Chargers defense has been inconsistent this season, in part due to injury, but also because there's a need to upgrade the secondary. Smith is a first-round talent who can be a Day 1 contributor.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 265 lbs
Mayer is more Gronk than Kelce, but that's not a bad thing. And in New York, he'll get plenty of opportunities -- presumably, with Daniel Jones -- in part because there are only two tight ends currently on the roster, and one is set to hit free agency after the season.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Brian Branch CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 193 lbs
Branch isn't the first name you hear about when the conversation turns to Alabama's defense, but maybe he should be. He's a sure tackler, can blitz off the edge, and is solid in coverage. And if Nick Saban trusts him, that's all you need to know about his NFL prospects.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Drew Sanders EDGE
Arkansas • Jr • 6'5" / 233 lbs
Sanders is a former five-star who transferred from Alabama after the 2021 season and all he's done is show out for the Razorbacks. He was an edge rusher for the Crimson Tide but he lines up all over the defense for Arkansas and he's been a one-man wrecking crew when he's on the field.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Round 1 - Pick 28
Jalin Hyatt WR
Tennessee • Jr • 6'0" / 185 lbs
Hyatt wasn't in the first-round conversation heading into the season, but he's a great example of a player taking advantage of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker's Heisman Trophy campaign. Hyatt is a bona fide deep threat who consistently stacks defensive backs who have been helpless to do much about it all season.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Georgia • Jr • 6'7" / 270 lbs
Arik Gilbert was the Georgia tight end to watch coming into the season, but it's been Darnell Washington who has gotten scouts' attention. He's listed at 6-7, 265 pounds (he actually plays bigger than that), and while he's growing into his role as a receiver, he's essentially another offensive tackle when he's inline. Basically, he'd serve two roles in Kansas City: receiver in a high-powered offense and an extra blocker.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'5" / 315 lbs
There was some thought that Harrison might return to Oklahoma for an NIL deal that was too good to pass up, but he's instead opted for the NFL. He's one of the top tackles in the class, and now the question is whether he finds his way into Round 1 or goes early on Day 2.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'3" / 195 lbs
Johnson flies around the field like he's shot out of a cannon, looks to run through the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage, and is a wrap-up tackler in space. He can line up in deep centerfield or near the line of scrimmage, and that versatility makes him one of the best defensive backs in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Nolan Smith EDGE
Georgia • Sr • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Smith is listed at just 235 pounds, so he'll need to add weight, but he's also scratching the surface on what he'll be able to do at the next level. He suffered a torn pec in November and his season is over, but that shouldn't affect his NFL future.