Monday Morning Draft – Week 15

Houston Texans:
The Texans almost pulled off a win over the Chiefs, but lost at the last second. That put Houston closer to clinching the No. 1 pick.

Earlier in the season, the Texans got their only win of the year when their defense had its way with Trevor Lawrence. Due to the Week 1 tie against the Colts, Houston would need to win two games to lose the No. 1 pick with the Bears losing out. That seems like a very remote possibility.

Houston clearly needs a true franchise quarterback to replace Deshaun Watson. It would make sense for the Texans to target Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears:
Chicago lost to the Eagles, so the Bears still have a remote shot at landing the No. 1 pick. Chicago recently lost to the Jets while without starting quarterback Justin Fields, plus the Jets were rejuvenated with the benching of Zach Wilson. Fields has really been playing well over the past two months, so Chicago could easily win a few games down the stretch and end up picking in the back half of the top 10.

Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks are in the race for the No. 1 pick thanks to their selection from the Broncos. Denver is 4-10 with two games remaining. If Seattle ends up with a high first-rounder, they could look to find a long-term starter at quarterback if they don’t want to retain Geno Smith. If they want to stick with Smith, they could add a difference maker for their defense or look to trade down.

Detroit Lions:
In Week 14, Detroit was practically eliminated from a shot at landing the first-overall pick when the Rams won on Thursday night to improve to 4-9. The Lions hold Los Angeles’ first-round pick from the Matthew Stafford trade. Detroit won versus the Jets and improved to 7-7, winning its sixth game in the last seven contests. The Lions have live playoff hopes and are led by one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Detroit wisely traded away T.J. Hockenson, who is overrated and not worthy of a big second contract. Both trades have left the team loaded up with two first-round picks and two second-round picks.

If Detroit lands a high first-rounder through the Rams, they could look to upgrade over Jared Goff by taking Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. They can hold onto Goff and let the rookie sit behind him for a year, or they can let Goff go without a salary-cap penalty. The team could also look to trade away Goff, who could be worth a second-day pick, as he is a better player than other quarterbacks like Carson Wentz or Matt Ryan who were traded for second-day picks. Aside from a signal-caller, Detroit badly needs some cornerback upgrades to go with Jeff Okudah.

Top General Manager Candidates:

  • Detroit Lions director of scouting development Mike Martin
  • Atlanta Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith
  • Indianapolis Colts chief personnel executive Morocco Brown
  • Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Terrance Gray
  • Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
  • San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
  • Philadelphia Eagles director of scouting Brandon Hunt
  • Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
  • Washington Commanders director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
  • Miami Hurricanes general manager Alonzo Highsmith

  • Top Head Coach Candidates:

  • Los Angeles Rams offensive assistant Greg Olson
  • Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris
  • San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans
  • Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy
  • Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
  • Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich
  • Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley
  • Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
  • USC head coach Lincoln Riley

  • Let’s Play Matchmaker:

    This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.

    Denver Broncos: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
    The Broncos got their fourth win of the season via a battle of backup quarterbacks. Latavius Murray ran well to lead the Denver offense, but the offense struggled to pass and J.J. Watt destroyed the gameplan in the first half with three sacks, a forced fumble, a batted pass and multiple tackles for a loss. Clearly, Denver needs more offensive line talent.

    Duncan (6-5, 315) has been solid for Maryland in 2022, and he received a quality grade from NFL advance scouts. Duncan has good quickness and athleticism to be an edge blocker at the pro level. He is a team leader and captain who possesses good size and has some strength. Duncan broke into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and has been a mainstay at left tackle for the Terrapins. Duncan has a really good skill set, but he still needs some development. Hence, team sources project Duncan as more of a late first-rounder for the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
    The Pittsburgh defense shut down the Panthers rushing attack and gave Mitch Trubisky the support needed to get a road win in Carolina. Pittsburgh’s secondary struggled to defend D.J. Moore, who could have had a huge game if the Panthers were more effective at getting him the ball. The Steelers could use a true No. 1 corner for their defense, and in their division with Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson, they will need good cornerback play to defend against those elite quarterbacks.

    Team sources have been impressed with Gonzalez (6-2, 201), starting with his 2021 tape and into how he is playing this season. The junior is a big corner who is fast, athletic, and is able to run the route to prevent separation. Entering 2022, Gonzalez did not have an interception, so NFL evaluators wanted to see him show more ball skills, and he has shown improvement in that regard in his final college season with four interceptions, seven passes broken up and 51 tackles.

    Gonzalez could be a riser who ends up as one of the top corners for the 2023 NFL Draft as he has the best combination of size, speed, and athleticism among the 2023 corners. Gonzalez would be an excellent first-round pick for Pittsburgh.

    New Orleans Saints: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford
    The Saints held on to get a win over the Falcons after New Orleans had jumped out to a big lead. Alvin Kamara ran well, but once again, the offense was held back by quarterback play. In the 2023 offseason, landing a new starting quarterback is paramount for the franchise. The Saints are without their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, so they will have to hope that one of the second-round prospects is a worthy future starter.

    While Stanford struggled in 2022, McKee (6-6, 230) impressed some NFL evaluators. He possesses excellent size, a strong arm capable of firing the ball downfield, and nice loft on touch passes. In 2022, McKee completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,947 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In 2021, he completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,327 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven picks. McKee has the potential to rise over the draft process with good interviews, visits, and workouts that show off his arm. He could be a solid second-round choice for the Saints in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Buffalo Bills: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
    The Bills clinched a playoff spot with a home win over the Dolphins on Saturday night. While Buffalo got the win, Miami did a nice job of limiting star receiver Stefon Diggs (5-60), so Dawson Knox (6-98-1) ended up as Buffalo’s leading receiver. The Bills could use more receiver help to give them another difference maker for Josh Allen.

    In 2022, Tillman has 37 receptions for 417 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder was a tough receiver in 2021 for the Volunteers, showing good size and playmaking ability. During his breakout season, Tillman caught 64 passes for 1,081 yards with 12 touchdowns. Tillman would give the Buffalo a big receiver to pair with Diggs. With his mismatch size and run-after-the-catch ability, Tillman would be a great fit for the Bills. He could be a nice addition late in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Cleveland Browns: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
    Cleveland defense held the Ravens sans Lamar Jackson to only three points on Saturday afternoon. The Browns had some rough games earlier in the year, but they are clearly talented and could be among the elite in the AFC come 2023 with a full season of Deshaun Watson after he has shaken off the rust. Getting Jadeveon Clowney re-signed would definitely help to maintain a defense capable of shutting down an offense. However, Cleveland could use more playmakers for Watson, such as a speed receiver who can stretch defenses vertically.

    Addison was a plug-and-play point producer for USC in 2022, recording 59 catches for 875 yards and eight touchdowns even though he missed some time with injuries. While playing for Pittsburgh in 2021, Addison benefited from quarterback Kenny Pickett having a phenomenal year to produce a massive sophomore season himself. Addison caught 100 passes in 2021 for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 175-pounder displayed the speed to get vertical and threaten defenses downfield. For the NFL, he could stand to get stronger and fill out his frame.

    Addison could be an ideal slot receiver to go between Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. He would be nice value for Cleveland’s second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    San Francisco 49ers: Brenton Cox Jr., OLB, Florida
    San Francisco dropped the Seahawks on Thursday night to clinch the NFC West division. Even with the injuries they have had at quarterback, the 49ers are one of the toughest teams in the NFL thanks to a nasty defense and a dynamic rushing offense. They don’t have a lot of needs on their roster, but adding some pass-rushing depth on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft wouldn’t hurt and could help them to withstand injury and send fresh rushers at quarterbacks for all four quarters.

    Cox played well for Florida in 2022 before getting kicked off the team. He put more pressure on the quarterback than his numbers indicate, notching two sacks, six tackles for a loss and 35 tackles over roughly half a season. In 2021, Cox recorded 8.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss and 41 tackles. In 2020, he had 24 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for a loss.

    Cox possesses serious strength with good length and plays tough on the edge. He will overwhelm and beat up offensive tackles. If Cox were a little faster and more athletic, he would be an early-rounder. However with his limitations and his character concerns, he could turn into a good value pick for the 49ers from Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Minnesota Vikings: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
    After falling behind 33-0, the Vikings pulled off the biggest comeback win in NFL history to clinch the NFC North divisional championship. Minnesota was fortunate that the Indianapolis offense was too inept to take advantage of the Vikings being down and put them away. Kirk Cousins took a beating, and he has been hit more than any quarterback in the NFL this year. The interior of the Minnesota offensive line was abused by the Colts. Getting a guard upgrade would make a lot of sense for the Vikings.

    Torrence blocked well for the Gators in 2022, especially standing out in the ground game. The 6-foot-5, 335-pounder is a load who generates movement as run blocker with surprising athleticism and quickness in pass protection. Torrence was a 3-year starter at La.-Lafayette, but after the 2021, he transferred to Florida to continue his playing career under the same head coach, Billy Napier. Torrence could be a solid second-round pick for Minnesota who would be an asset to blast open holes for the ground game while providing interior protection for Kirk Cousins.

    Team Draft Report:

    In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Carolina Panthers:
    The Panthers have rallied under interim head coach Steve Wilks, but that is not too surprising considering how Matt Rhule was obviously such a poor fit for the NFL. Rhule was a questionable hire from the start because owner David Tepper was won over by Rhule reminding him of himself because both look like a bit of slob and both are outside-the-box thinkers. Hopefully for Panthers fans, Tepper learned that he should stick to Wall Street trades and leave football decisions to people who know a lot more about football than he does. Regardless of who ends up being the head coach in 2023, the biggest task for Carolina is to find a franchise quarterback over the coming offseason.

    In my latest mock 2023 NFL Draft, I have the Panthers taking Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. He could be one of the few first-round options for Carolina because the team has already won too many games to be in position for Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. To land either of them, the organization would have to give up the farm in a massive amount of draft picks to move up. The Panthers have too many other issues on their roster and are not one quarterback away. Levis has a big arm, toughness, good running ability, and great intangibles. He has issues with ball security and decision-making that push him below Stroud and Young. Carolina could consider Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, but Richardson is a massive developmental project who is horribly inaccurate. Thus, some NFL sources view Richardson as a second-day prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Offensively, the Panthers need a replacement for Christian McCaffrey. D’Onta Foreman is a free agent after this season, and with a nice quarterback, Carolina could use more stability in the backfield. There should be good options for the Panthers on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, including UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet, Ole Miss’ Zach Evans, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh, Texas A&M’s Devon Achane and Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn.

    Carolina also could use some wide receiver options to go with D.J. Moore. Robby Anderson was traded away, while Terrace Marshall Jr. has yet to break out. On the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Panthers could consider players like Boston College’s Zay Flowers or Ole Miss’ Jonathan Mingo. Flowers would be a speed receiver, while Mingo would give Carolina some size.

    The Panthers made some good draft picks over recent years, with Marty Hurney taking some good players for them in the first round like Moore, Brian Burns and Derrick Brown. Carolina also made some promising selections of Jaycee Horn and Ikem Ekonwu over the past two years, but the team has a huge hole at quarterback that needs to be filled. The Panthers passed on Justin Fields and Kenny Pickett during the past two drafts. Carolina must find a true replacement for Cam Newton to get back into being a serious contender in the NFC.

    Baltimore Ravens:
    The Ravens have been in a tough fight to make the 2023 playoffs and have been doing so while franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson has dealt with injuries. While Jackson is in a precarious contract situation with the franchise, it would be a shock if he was not franchise-tagged and/or signed to a multi-year extension. Assuming Jackson will be back, the Ravens need to build up more talent around him to play more well-rounded football in 2023.

    In my latest mock 2023 NFL Draft, I have the Ravens taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon because their pass defense has been a weakness for years. They reworked the safety position last year and have two taken two edge rushers in the early rounds of the past two drafts. Baltimore could use more cornerback talent to go with Marlon Humphrey because Marcus Peters is entering free agency. Even if Peters is re-signed, the team could use a third cornerback to go with them. Witherspoon’s man-coverage ability would be a good fit in Baltimore’s scheme. Aside from Witherspoon, the Ravens could consider cornerbacks like Alabama’s Brian Branch and South Carolina’s Cam Smith.

    Baltimore also could target cornerback help in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft if the organization addresses wide receiver in the opening frame. There could be some good options available like Northwestern’s Cam Mitchell, LSU’s Mekhi Garner, LSU’s Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo.

    Aside from cornerback, wide receiver is another position the Ravens need to address. They traded away Marquise Brown, and wideout has been a weakness this season. Tight end Mark Andrews has led Baltimore through the air in 2023, and the team’s leading wide receiver is Demarcus Robinson, who has paltry production. Some first-round options for the Ravens to consider include USC’s Jordan Addison and Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman.

    Aside from cornerback and wide receiver, the Ravens could consider more offensive line and defensive line young talent in the mid-rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. Calais Campbell is not getting any younger, and the organization has some veteran journeymen on the offensive line.

    Perhaps the best play for the Baltimore could be to select a receiver in the first round, like Tillman, and then take a cornerback in the second round, like Garner. The team could then draft the best lineman available in the third round.

    If the Ravens have a strong 2023 NFL Draft, that could help them support Jackson better. As a more complete team, Baltimore could better contend for the postseason and possibly put them over the top and back into the Super Bowl.

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12