The 2023 NFL draft is finally upon us. Round one kicks off tonight at 8pm EST in Kansas City and the anticipation of fans everywhere will continue to build until their team’s picks are announced.
The anticipation for BYU fans of where their favorite players will end up is what we have been focusing on the past couple weeks.
In this final mock draft, we will cover what some realistic draft selections may be and how that fairs each of the former Cougars.
Pick 63-Kansas City Chiefs
Blake Freeland, OT
The Kansas City Chiefs had a shake up to their offensive line earlier in the off season. Former left tackle, Orlando Brown Jr., signed a four year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. The former starter played nearly 100% of the snaps during his two years with Kansas City.
Jawaan Taylor signed a four year deal deal and will be the replacement for Brown at left tackle. Right tackle is the more open position for the Chiefs with five year starter Andrew Wylie departing in free agency.
2020 third round pick, Lucas Niang, is in the fold to compete for the position but has seen limited snaps due to injury and sitting out the 2020 season due to Covid-19. The Chiefs aren’t out on Niang yet, but it does make sense for the team to add competition for him at the position.
Blake Freeland makes a lot of sense for the Chiefs. Wylie allowed nine sacks and the most pressures on the team a year ago. Freeland had a pass blocking grade of 91.3 allowing just four QB hurries and zero sacks, per PFF. The Chiefs will be looking to improve their pass blocking and Freeland could be the piece to the puzzle to sure up their offensive line.
Freeland and Niang would compete for the right tackle position. With Niang’s limited experience during his three years in the NFL, Freeland could make a push for the starting spot in year one. The Chiefs will want him to improve run blocking and bulk up more, but is athleticism and pass blocking history are attributes that are very beneficial to protecting Patrick Mahomes.
Pick 123-Seattle Seahawks
Jaren Hall, QB
The Seattle Seahawks had one of the better stories in all of football last season with the emergence of Geno Smith.
The 32 year old quarterback had a career revival after arriving in Seattle. So much so, that Seattle gave him a three year deal following last season.
While Seattle seems to be set at QB for the near future, it would make sense for the team to look for Smith’s successor sooner, rather than later.
Behind Smith is former Broncos QB, Drew Lock. The former second round pick battled with Smith last August for the starting job in Seattle. With Smith’s success of last season and extension, it seems Lock will be no more than an immediate back up, not a future starter.
Seattle would be a good situation and opportunity for Jaren Hall to be selected by. Despite having their starter, there is no heir apparent with the organization. This would give Hall the opportunity to sit behind Smith and adjust to the NFL while learning from the veteran QB.
Having the chance to learn and wait for your chance to start has shown to help young QBs adjust to the NFL level. While Geno Smith plays out his new contract, Hall would be on the sideline watching, studying, and waiting for his opportunity.
Hall also share similarities with Seattle’s former franchise QB, Russell Wilson. The two play very similar styles at the position possessing great arm talent while also having the ability to burn a defense with their legs. Even down to their number, there is a lot that seems familiar about Wilson with Hall. The Seahawks could tap into their new Russell Wilson with Hall as Geno Smith’s successor.
Pick 182-Los Angelas Rams
Puka Nacua, WR
Wide receiver is not an immediate need for the Rams on the surface, but it would make sense for them to address the position during this draft. The Rams have several day three picks and wide receiver depth is a position that makes sense to address.
Cooper Kupp remains one of the best receivers in football. He is their number one receiver and that is not going to change anytime soon.
Behind Kupp is where some of the questions of depth lie. Allen Robinson was traded to the Steelers leaving a wide receiver core of Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, and Lance McCutcheon.
Jefferson is in the last year of his rookie contract so his future is in question. Tutu Atwell has seen limited playing time in his young career and at just 5’9 165lbs it doesn’t seem like he will receive constant snaps. Skowronek has been a pleasant addition for a seventh round pick and un-drafted free agent McCutcheon did not record a reception in 2022.
While the Rams could get by with what they have they will most likely look to improve the depth this weekend.
Nacua brings versatility to whatever team he is on. Having experience in multiple positions, the Rams could use him on the outside or move him inside to the slot. Nacua would thrive in a system lead by Sean McVay with his creativity in formations and route patterns.
The Rams would be getting a player who will fight for every yard possible. Nacua is not afraid to go up and meet the ball at the catch point then look to make a play. Despite not having the break away speed, Nacua manages to do exceptionally well in open space.
The ability to shake defenders and having aggressive catch mentality, like a dog after a bone, is something McVay would love to have in his offense.