The actual NFL Draft is tonight and the last thing anyone needs right now is yet another mock draft, but . . .
Cris Collinsworth’s 2023 Mock Draft is sort of interesting.
Before we jump into his mock draft though, let’s spend a few moments establishing Mr. Collinsworth’s bona fides . . .
Collinsworth was the 37th overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. He played wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals for eight years and then exchanged his uniform for a suit and went into broadcasting.
Collinsworth has carved out a remarkable career for himself, working for four different networks (HBO, NBC, FOX, and the NFL Network), sometimes appearing on as many as three of them simultaneously. He has provided color commentary for hundreds of NFL games, and is currently partnered with Mike Tirico on Sunday Night Football.
Oh, and he’s the majority owner of Pro Football Focus.
Does that make him biased?
But there’s no questioning the fact that Collinsworth knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the NFL.
The Top Four
Even if the Texans don’t love Stroud, I’m not sure there is a non-quarterback in this class who would be worth drafting ahead of a quarterback like Stroud.
No. 3: The Arizona Cardinals select Georgia DT Jalen Carter because he’s the top-rated non-quarterback on PFF’s Big Board. And, to be fair, it does sort of make sense (if a first-year coach and first-year GM don’t mind the red flags).
If they don’t trade this pick, Carter would be my pick. He’s the superstar, physically, of this draft class.
He reminds me of Boomer Esiason with his feel of the game. I’ve never had a guy win me over with his ordinary plays, as he has. His bad throws were him trying to be Patrick Mahomes.
Interestingly, if you watch the video that’s embedded in the article (after pick 6), Collinsworth has the Colts taking Florida QB Anthony Richardson here.
But . . .
Early in the video, he says that the podcast is like when a politician leaks an idea to the press before actually committing to it.
Obviously Collinsworth changed his mind regarding Richardson at No. 4.
Seattle’s First Pick
Anthony Richardson, come on down!
No, I’m kidding!
At No. 5, Collinsworth has the Seahawks making the safe / obvious choice . . .
Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
This is a toss-up for me. I like Tyree Wilson’s size a little more than Will Anderson’s consistency, but Wilson’s season-ending foot injury and the surgery that followed has me a little spooked, so I take Anderson and play it safe.
The Next Five Picks
No. 6:The Detroit Lions take our leftovers (Tyree Wilson).
Interestingly, Tyree Wilson is currently No. 28 on PFF’s Big Board which is one spot behind Iowa‘s Lukas Van Ness (27), eleven spots behind Clemson’s Myles Murphy (17), and fourteen spots behind Georgia’s Nolan Smith (13). Yet Collinsworth almost gave Wilson to us instead of Will Anderson Jr.
I think Atlanta is about the only team that makes sense when it comes to drafting him this early. The NFC South is winnable right now — Robinson has some Le’Veon Bell about him and can make a difference in the passing game, too.
To this point, other than the absurd disconnect between where Tyree Wilson was ranked (28) and where he was drafted (6), the rest of the top-8 picks are among the eight top-ranked prospects on PFF’s Big Board.
No. 9: The Chicago Bears select Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
The Bears play this perfectly and land the top tackle in the draft. They trade back from No. 1 and get Johnson, who stood out among his peers this past season.
Note to Cris Collinsworth: Your company’s Big Board has Johnson as the 16th-ranked prospect which makes him the 2nd-best Tackle in the draft (Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski is prospect No. 5). You do you though.
If this pick made you arch an eyebrow, you’re not alone - Bresee is prospect No. 40 on PFF’s Big Board (Michigan‘s Mazi Smith is No. 36).
No. 11: The Tennessee Titans select Ohio State RT Dawand Jones.
This is another reach, according to PFF’s Big Board; Jones is No. 31. Methinks that it speaks to Collinsworth’s Ohio roots that the first two Tackles off the board played for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
No. 12: The Houston Texans select Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski.
I think he’s probably a guard in the NFL, but he’s too good a player to fall much beyond this. Forget about what position he plays — he can get to the second level really well and be an impressive pass-protector from Day 1.
I’ve mocked this pick myself, so obviously it’s a genius decision by Collinsworth (on the Packers’ behalf).
He’s got the speed and the size, and if you saw him on the playground, you’d probably take him over Witherspoon. I think he goes higher than this, but he’s the second-best cornerback in this class behind Witherspoon.
The seventh cornerback on the PFF Big Board (No. 44 overall) is Collinsworth’s CB3 at pick No. 17 . . . over Penn State‘s Joey Porter Jr. . . . Really?
I know (Stevenson) makes big mistakes, which will give Steelers fans Artie Burns flashbacks, but he has the type of patience I used to hate playing against.
No. 18: The Detroit Lions select QB Anthony Richardson.
. . . the talk has been that general manager Brad Holmes is shopping for an upgrade. The Lions brought in C.J. Stroud and Hendon Hooker for a visit but never thought Richardson would fall this far.
His size is a little bit of a concern for me, but I’m in love with that first step. It makes him almost impossible to block, and he has a wide receiver-like release.
Seattle’s Second Pick
Personally, since we got Will Anderson Jr. at No. 5, I’m hoping Collinsworth is right about Anthony Richardson sliding out of the top half of the first round, but I’m GUTTED by the Lions stopping his slide at No. 18.
Whatever though. C’est la vie.
Let’s grab an offensive weapon for Geno Smith instead!
All of the wide receivers and all of the tight ends are still on the board, and we can take our pick of either lot.
Or . . .
John and Pete can double up on EDGE rushers by grabbing Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.
The Rest of Round One
Honestly, I would be tuned out for the rest of Day One, completely distracted by the warring emotions from getting Will Anderson Jr. at No. 5 and then . . . No. 20. SIGH!
He’s a speed athlete, and almost all his athletic numbers are in the 95th percentile or better. There are some things he got away with in college that won’t work in the NFL technique-wise, but there just aren’t many guys who have his blend of size and athleticism.
No. 22: The Baltimore Ravens select Boston College WR Zay Flowers.
Flowers is WR4 on PFF’s Big Board, and their 33rd-ranked prospect, yet he’s the first receiver off the board for Cris Collinsworth . . . at No. 22.
Collinsworth seems determined to take the top four wideouts off the board in reverse order. Not what I would do, but . . . to each their own.
No. 24: The Jacksonville Jaguars select Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.
Porter has a pretty balanced grading profile in terms of positive and negative plays, and I don’t think he’s as good as I expected him to be, given the hype. However, I do think he comes off the board in the first round at some point.
No. 25: The New York Giants select Ohio State OC Luke Wypler.
Um . . . okay. Wypler is a good player and I would love to see Seattle select him - on Day Two. He’s the 2nd-ranked Center on PFF’s Big Board and their 54th-ranked prospect, but Collinsworth has him going in Round 1.
No. 26: The Dallas Cowboys select Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs.
I think tight end is under consideration here, but . . . I think he gives (the Cowboys) a chance to do some different things on offense as they move from Kellen Moore to Mike McCarthy calling plays.
No. 27: The Buffalo Bills select Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence.
If you’re going to ask Josh Allen to run a little less, then you need to protect him better and you need to be able to run the ball in the traditional sense a bit better, too. Torrence is really quick-footed for a big guy, and there’s so much potential with his size.
No. 28: The Cincinnati Bengals select Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer.
On the pre-publication podcast, Collinsworth gave his old team Iowa Safety Anthony Johnson Jr. which, um, would be an overreach of biblical proportions. On PFF’s Big Board, Anthony Johnson Jr. is prospect No. 90 . . . which is higher than any other board in the nation. On PFN’s Consensus Big Board, he’s No. 220. Michael Mayer is obviously a MUCH better choice.
No. 29: The New Orleans Saints select Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith.
This is the biggest “steal” of the first round - at least based on PFF’s Big Board, which lists Nolan Smith as the 13th-best prospect in this class.
No. 30: The Philadelphia Eagles select Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy.
I find is fascinating that Collinsworth’s mock draft fell in such a way that the defending NFC Champions got a pair of defensive players from the same school twenty picks apart.
Note: In the video/podcast for Collinsworth’s mock draft (pre-publication), Myles Murphy was selected No. 7 overall by the Raiders.
No. 31: The Kansas City Chiefs select Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker.
The biggest concern for the Chiefs is if Patrick Mahomes gets hurt and misses four to five games. Hooker doesn’t turn the ball over, and he has a high-arching deep ball that is perfect for speedy receivers. The Tennessee offense doesn’t make for easy evaluation, but he looks like an NFL QB to me.
LOVE the Will Anderson Jr. pick and HATE the Lukas Van Ness pick - not in and of itself, just in conjunction with the Will Anderson Jr. pick. Give me a wide receiver or tight end at No. 20 instead (preferably WR, and preferably Jaxon Smith-Njigba).
Speaking of the Ohio State wideout, JSN is still on the board when Day One ends. Please tell me that the Seahawks are calling the Steelers about moving up to No. 32.
The other omission that surprises me is that Alabama Safety Brian Branch. The summary for him on PFF’s Big Board says:
“Branch is the definition of a football player. He plays the game you wish every defensive back would. He’s also the best tackling defensive back PFF has graded, missing only four tackles on 174 career attempts.”
How did no one select him?