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. Next up in the series: 2023 AFC North Mock Draft Results.
2023 AFC North Mock Draft Results
1st Round: (19) Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
2nd Round: No Selection
3rd Round: (86) Parker Washington, WR, Penn State
Baltimore Ravens trade 22, 124 & a 2024 5th Round Pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 19. Ravens 2nd round selection was included in the earlier Roquan Smith trade.
Now, why would the Ravens be willing to part ways with a pair of valuable mid-round picks?
In order to select a ferocious and fearless heir apparent to their vaunted cornerback room! Witherspoon was a lightly recruited high school player who developed into a leader and a star for the Illini. As a prospect, he settles firmly into the first round, likely after a couple of other corners. However, according to many draftniks, he is the best cornerback today in the 2023 NFL Draft. Witherspoon’s perceived ceiling is not as high as former Oregon Duck Christian Gonzalez, for example, but it would surprise no one if Witherspoon asserts himself early as the most pro-ready of the group.
Baltimore traded their second round selection as part of their earlier mid-season acquisition of LB Roquan Smith from the Bears. Skipping ahead to the third round, the Ravens go back to the well and take a mid-round wideout. Parker Washington excels with the ball in his hands. Although he put up only modest numbers for the Nittany Lions, he was able to produce despite playing in the shadow of Jahan Dotson in 2021, then led the team in receiving in 2022. Washington won’t placate those who are pining after a WR1, but he would be a welcome addition to their wide receiver corps nonetheless.
1st Round: (28) Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
2nd Round: No Selection
Cincinnati Bengals trade 60 & 2024 6th Round Pick to Tennessee Titans for 72 & 2024 3rd Round Pick
Cincinnati Bengals trade 2024 3rd Round Pick to San Francisco 49ers for 99
Cincinnati, current King of the AFC North, has a talented roster without a lot of immediate holes, but that will change next year as the team adjusts to the impending Joe Burrow extension. The team will work to proactively plug as many of those holes as possible before it is too late. The Bengals love to stockpile first round corners, so former Maryland Terrapin Deonte Banks checks a lot of boxes. He is a fantastic athlete who can really run (4.35 40-Yard Dash at the Combine). Banks might be thrust into action week 1 if Chidobe Awuzie isn’t fully healthy. The following season, expect a rookie draft pick from this year to be starting opposite Cam Taylor-Britt.
In the third round, the Bengals take a trio of swings at adding some inexpensive offensive pillars. Tight end and running back are equally glaring immediate needs on the roster. Former SDSU Jackrabbit Tucker Kraft has good athleticism, plays big, and is a willing blocker. He will need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, but the Bengals should know by his second season if he is ready to step into the TE1 role likely to be vacated by 1 year rental Irv Smith Jr.
All signs point to the Bengals moving on from Joe Mixon before the season starts. If so, running back joins tight end as a position where the team absolutely has to add a talented rookie. Tyjae Spears is a dynamo. He is a bit undersized relative to many NFL running backs and would likely be best served as the lightning in a standard thunder and lightning twosome. The Bengals are known for double dipping at a position of need in a given draft class, and either the TE or RB positions would seem to be a fit for that kind of move in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Lastly, as the third round nears its conclusion, the team sees a player slipping at another position of need: right tackle. Pundits have been clamoring all off-season that the Bengals absolutely must invest in a tackle in Round 1. My guess would be that the team is open to taking a tackle but will not prioritize the position over several others where they have identified the need. The Bengals added Orlando Brown Jr to strengthen the LT position, and should be able to cobble together a starting group with the players now under contract. However, a talented young big fella would be a welcome addition, especially as the Jonah Williams trade request plays itself out. Wanya Morris has experience at both LT and RT, and played at a high level at the latter for Oklahoma in 2022. He was named Second Team All-Conference for the Sooners.
1st Round: No Selection
2nd Round: (74) Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
3rd Round: (98) Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU
The Browns are light on draft capital as a result of their acquisitions in subsequent off-seasons of QB Deshaun Watson and WR Elijah Moore. One major focus for the organization in the 2023 NFL Draft, with their limited arsenal in mind, will definitely be bolstering the front 7. That’s AFC North football. Foskey and Roy sounds like a buddy-cop duo. It also sounds like a start to the draft that would infuse some talent and depth into a group that already received a jolt with some mid-tier free agents.
Foskey, the Golden Domer, in particular is an intriguing addition. He logged 28 TFLs and 25 sacks over a productive tenure in South Bend. At one time considered a likely first round pick, Foskey has fallen a bit in projections but the talent that had his name in the round 1 discussion hasn’t gone anywhere. Roy, whose weight hovers right around 300 pounds, could add some needed bulk to the group. He generates a decent amount of pressure for an interior defender, charting 13.5 TFLs and 4 sacks over his 3 year college career.
1st Round: (17) Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
3rd Round: (80) Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true 2023 AFC North mock draft without the Steelers adding some beef. The organization needs to give their young QB Kenny Pickett the best opportunity to learn and grow. The team already has an upper echelon offensive skill group, but the offensive line is in the midst of an overhaul. This would be a much-needed throwback draft class. Darnell Wright is a 6’5″ 330+ pound mauling right tackle. He could step in as the starter from day 1. Moreover, along with versatile second rounder Cody Mouch, he would give the Steelers offensive line and offense as a whole a new identity. Wright is the anointed prodigy, a former top 10 overall recruit out of the high school ranks turned first round draft pick. Mouch didn’t have a recruiting profile. However, he has turned himself into a sure thing to be picked day 2 of the draft. These are two vastly different success stories. It would be fantastic to watch the two make their distinct impact in the Steel City.
Mazi Smith is a brute, early-down disruptor. He obliterated the NFL Combine, putting up 34 reps on the bench. The Steelers are in possession of the first pick in the second round as a result of their earlier mid-season trade sending Chase Claypool to the Bears. Pittsburgh’s defensive line needs an infusion of youth, especially as they look to regain their reputation as the bullies of the division. Spending their first three picks in the draft on linemen sends a message to others in the AFC North: trench warfare is back in Pittsburgh.
With their final pick of Day 2, the Steelers elect to bring in Tre’vius Hodges Tomlinson, an undeniably undersized defensive back who profiles best as a nickel defender at the next level. He may be small, but his impact was consistently felt on the field, as he brought home some hardware in the form of the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the premier defensive back in college football.
Thanks for reading the 2023 AFC North Mock Draft Results!
2023 AFC South Mock Draft Results