Home » With the First Pick: Ranking top WRs in 2023 NFL Draft, plus a new 3-round mock, dark horse team in QB market

With the First Pick: Ranking top WRs in 2023 NFL Draft, plus a new 3-round mock, dark horse team in QB market

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the With the First Pick newsletter. The NFL owners’ meetings provided plenty of soundbytes to chew on, including some eye-roll inducing comments like Jim Irsay not believing in fully guaranteed contracts. But those meetings are now in the rearview, which means the NFL world now accelerates, full speed ahead into everything NFL Draft. Drink it in. It always goes down smooth.

If you missed Monday’s debut edition or yesterday’s version, we’re rebranding the Pick Six newsletter through the end of April. And I, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso, will be with you every step of the way.

The league shifting gears into NFL Draft mode is pretty darn convenient for me, because this daily newsletter’s sole purpose of existence is to track everything transpiring in the NFL and spin it into a draft angle. Doing so will be a piece of cake starting now. I’m telling you — this newsletter is the place to get the latest on everything draft related.

Before I begin, this paragraph will be your daily reminder to tell all your buddies and that one uncle who’s always texting you mock draft links to sign up for the With the First Pick newsletter. Just click here and then share this link with them.

Today’s NFL mock draft 🔮: Chiefs get aggressive

Andy Reid (left) and Patrick Mahomes

I was up today in three-round mock week here at CBS Sports, and the Chiefs staying on-brand by being aggressive was a central theme. Weirdly, even after selecting George Karlaftis with their second pick in Round 1 a year ago, Kansas City still has a crying need for outside pass-rush help to divert some attention away from weekly game-wrecker Chris Jones on the interior. In this mock, they didn’t wait with fingers crossed that an electric edge rusher slipped to them, instead trading up for Iowa State’s long-time quarterback annoyer Will McDonald IV. You can read the entire three-rounder — with trades! — right here

Here are the top five picks, along with some marquee prospects’ landing spots: 

1. Carolina Panthers – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young, QB, Texans
3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
4. Indianapolis Colts – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
5. Seattle Seahawks – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (mock trade with Patriots) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
20. Seattle Seahawks – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
47. Washington Commanders – O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
87. Minnesota Vikings – Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
101. Las Vegas Raiders – Clayton Tune, QB, Houston

‘With the First Pick’ podcast 🎧: Let’s talk receivers

A large portion of the latest episode centers around receivers, the position that in my estimation is growing in value faster than any other in the NFL. Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman start with receiver sleepers before providing their top five wideout rankings for the 2023 class. Spielman even gives his thoughts on the best receiver prospects of the past six drafts, which includes a 2023 prospect. You can listen to the entire episode right here.

Prospect of the day 📈: Drew Sanders, LB/EDGE, Arkansas

Drew Sanders
Getty Images
  • Notable combine results: We didn’t really get any from Sanders!
  • Combine measurements: 6-4 1/8″, 235 pounds
  • Current CBS Sports prospect ranking: No. 38 overall (LB2)

With the Arkansas Pro Day happening today in Fayetteville, Sanders felt like the appropriate feature, particularly because he has yet to work out during the pre-draft process (please let him work out today, please let him work out today). 

A former five-star recruit who committed to Alabama and played for Nick Saban, Sanders transferred inside the SEC to the Razorbacks program and pieced together a dandy 2022 campaign with 103 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He’s Micah Parsons-like in that Sanders plays traditional linebacker but also condenses down to the edge at gets after it like a defensive end. He’s not strictly an A-gap blitzer. Last season, Sanders registered 39 pressures on just 148 pass-rush snaps! Sure, some of those pressures came by way of classic up-the-middle blitzes. Most did not. Sanders wins as an outside rusher with burst, bend, and some slippery pass-rush moves. 

Pro Day primer: Top prospects to watch 👀

LSU EDGE B.J. Ojulari

  • Yes, the last name should sound familiar — Ojulari’s big bro, Azeez, was the Giants‘ second-round pick in 2020. And there are certainly similar football genes at play here. B.J. is comparably explosive to his older sibling, and I actually think his pass-rush plans are more detailed and precise. At LSU, Ojulari generated a pressure on 14.6% of his pass-rush opportunities over the last two years — a good not otherworldly figure — and is a ferocious run defender. He doesn’t turn 21 until next week. Upside! 

Also keep tabs on the workouts from Pittsburgh RB Israel Abanikanda, Ole Miss RB Zach Evans, North Dakota State OL Cody Mauch and Maryland DB’s Deonte Banks and Jakorian Bennett, although the latter two prospects are likely to stand on their brilliant combine efforts. All those pro days are today. 

Notable Pro Days this week: Florida, Oklahoma, TCU, Tennessee (March 30) and Kansas, Kansas State (March 31)

News & Notes 📝

Calais Campbell
Getty Images
  • Falcons signing Calais Campbell. This glorious Wednesday began with Ian Rapoport tweeting about Atlanta and the 36-year-old defensive lineman agreeing to a one-year deal. I have all the respect in the world for Campbell, continuing to battle in the trenches in what will now be his 16th NFL season — dude played with Kurt Warner in Arizona! — and his presence alleviates a previously clear-cut defensive tackle need for the Falcons early in the draft. Probably won’t be Jalen Carter or Calijah Kancey at No. 8 overall. 
  • Lamar Jackson defends his injury history. This Jackson saga isn’t ending anytime soon, and in the latest take-to-Twitter moment from the veteran quarterback, Jackson sent out two tweets which felt like were direct responses to criticism about his ability to stay healthy from Falcons owner Arthur Blank at the owners’ meetings. It would be quite awkward for the Falcons to trade for Jackson at this juncture.
  • QB shakeup in Tennessee? Titans head coach Mike Vrabel recently said he expects Ryan Tannehill under center to start the season but later said “I’m not gonna commit to anybody being on the roster in September,” stating he’s seen things change quickly. Even after drafting Malik Willis in Round 3 last year, I think the Titans are a dark horse team in the draft’s QB market.