NFL Draft Lounge published a complete 3-round mock draft on March 27. That draft exercise utilized the latest intel available to project how each NFL organization will approach the upcoming NFL Draft (colored by my own opinions, of course). That full Mock Draft can be found here. As a follow-up, I have compiled a divisional breakdown to offer a more granular view of each selection. First up in the series: 2023 AFC East Mock Draft Results.
1st Round: (27) Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
2nd Round: (59) Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse
3rd Round: (91) Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
The Bills are inarguably one of the top teams in the NFL. Surrounding supernova QB Josh Allen with a talented supporting cast on both sides of the ball is integral to taking the next step: bringing home the elusive Lombardi Trophy.
There have been rumblings that veteran defensive tackle Ed Oliver is unhappy. Whether Oliver is retained, or jettisoned elsewhere, supplementing and improving the pass rush should be a major emphasis. Enter Calijah Kancey. The undersized tackle was a game-wrecker in college. Over his last 2 seasons, he accounted for 27.5 TFL and 14.5 sacks. Kancey was rewarded by being named a consensus All-American, and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Generating that sort of pressure up the middle rattles even the best quarterbacks. That’s a very good thing! Because the Bills will have to go through the best quarterbacks to break through and win a Super Bowl. They’re staring down a decade plus of lining up against Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow just to reach the big game.
On day two of the draft, the Bills opt to shore up their offensive line and add a linebacker. Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron has the versatility to play both guard and tackle, so the coaching staff can work on a way to get him up to speed quickly and field their best group of 5 up front. He is seen as a bit of a developmental project, but that’s to be expected of a lineman taken late in the second round.
Owen Pappoe made big plays throughout his career patrolling the Plains at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. After his performance at the Combine, it is easy to see why. The former Tiger showcased eye-popping athleticism: a 4.39 time in the 40-Yard Dash being the most notable. Earlier this off-season, the Bills lost a standout LB in Free Agency in Tremaine Edmunds. Pappoe is not a similar player stylistically, but he could be an exciting part of the plan to get younger in the LB corps.
1st Round: *Forfeit*
2nd Round: (51) Drew Sanders, EDGE/LB, Arkansas
3rd Round: (84) Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
There is less to say about the Dolphins, due to their dalliance with Tom Brady. The NFL ultimately deemed their pursuit of the GOAT to be illegal. As a result they were penalized with forfeiture of their 2023 first round pick. Therefore, the Dolphins come away with just 2 rookies through 3 rounds in the 2023 AFC East Mock Draft Results. Drew Sanders, a versatile defender from the University of Arkansas, could bolster an already formidable front 7. He is capable of playing as an off-ball linebacker, while also displaying some pass-rushing chops when the situation calls for it. Sanders put up big numbers this past season: 103 tackles, 13 TFL, 9.5 sacks. Every team is looking for their own Micah Parsons. Ideally, Sanders can be the bargain bin version.
Devon Achane is a speedy and dynamic offensive weapon from Texas A&M. He is undersized, but has the game-breaking ability to bust long runs that is so heavily prioritized in the Shanahan-style offense that the Dolphins run. Adding Achane’s track speed to an offense already featuring Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will keep opposing coaches up at night before facing the Fins.
New England Patriots
1st Round: (14) Jordan Addison, WR, USC
2nd Round: (46) Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
3rd Round: (76) DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
The Fightin’ Belichick’s need to provide their foundering QB Mac Jones with a wideout who can blow the game wide open. Picking at #14 in a draft devoid of elite wideouts could be a sweet spot to come away with the top player on their board at the position. To that point, Jordan Addison, who put together stellar production at both Southern Cal and the University of Pittsburgh, may be the best receiver in the class. For that reason, Addison and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba are both very likely near the top of the Patriots’ wishlist. If they can come away from day 1 with one of those two wideouts added to the mix, the draft will be off to a roaring success.
The Patriots have plenty of other needs, which they aim to address in part on day 2. Oklahoma Sooner blindside protector Anton Harrison and Michigan cover-man DJ Turner would both provide an influx of talent to position groups that need it. The Pats lost tackle Isaiah Wynn in FA, and Trent Brown is 29. As a result, Harrison could join the roster with a chance to play immediately, or be molded into the LT of the future. Fun fact about DJ Turner – his given name is actually JuanDrago Turner II. Oh, and he ran a 4.26 40-Yard Dash at the Combine. Bring him in, coach him up, then set him loose.
New York Jets
1st Round: (13) Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio St
2nd Round: (43) Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
3rd Round: No Selection
In this mock draft, the Green Bay Packers have traded Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. The overall compensation: Rodgers for pick #42 in the Second Round, and a 2024 Conditional Pick. The Jets also sent their 2023 3rd Round selection (#74) to the Cleveland Browns in a recent trade involving WR Elijah Moore.
Assuming the Jets are able to pry Aaron Rodgers away from Green Bay, they have what appears to be a very strong roster without a lot of glaring holes. Even offensive tackle is not a pressing need, because the team has veteran Duane Brown and up-and-down young vet Mekhi Becton manning each end of the line. Taking a tackle at #13 is a bit of a luxury pick if Becton rights the ship. Big if. Additionally, Duane Brown is 37. So while tackle isn’t the most pressing need, the Jets would love to bring in a talented rookie to compete. Johnson would be the first true tackle off the board, so in theory the Jets would have their pick of the litter.
You can never have enough pass rush. The Jets adhere to that ethos in round 2 and pluck Keion White, the talented ‘Jacket from Georgia Tech, because of what he can bring immediately to their defensive front. The former Old Dominion transfer flourished in 2022, putting up 14 TFL and 7.5 sacks, despite playing on a BAD defense. ’85th in the country in total defense’ bad. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear his name called in round 1, but if White drops to #43, then Carl Lawson’s days may be numbered as a member of Gang Green.
Thanks for reading the 2023 AFC East Mock Draft Results!
2023 AFC North Mock Draft Results