ESPN’s Todd McShay is back this morning with his latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft, and he’s projecting a familiar name for the Tennessee Titans. He’s also projecting a big trade at the top — one that would have a large impact on the AFC South.
McShay projects the Colts to trade into the top spot with the Bears to take Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. He’s got CJ Stroud coming off of the board at No. 2 to the Houston Texans.
For the Titans, once again, it’s Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. at 11.
Johnson is such an easy mover and allowed only three sacks over 26 starts since the start of 2021. He’s versatile, too, moving over from right guard to left tackle this season and not missing a beat. The Titans’ 49 sacks allowed tied for fifth most in 2022, and Taylor Lewan (turning 32 years old) is entering the final year of his contract while coming off a right knee injury. Johnson would help keep Ryan Tannehill — or whoever ends up being the quarterback over the next few seasons — upright while also opening up lanes for Derrick Henry and the run game. And Johnson could perhaps eventually line up opposite Nicholas Petit-Frere, his former teammate at Ohio State whom he replaced at left tackle this past season.
At this point, the Johnson pick feels too easy. It’s one that we can all agree on, and would fill a need that we all expect to be created by the release of Taylor Lewan. The Titans need a big revamp up front, and Johnson would certainly be a solid start.
Johnson was the second tackle off of the board, following Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski going 8th to the Falcons. The first wide receiver came off of the board with the 12th pick, as Houston is projected to take TCU’s Quintin Johnson. Georgia’s Broderick Jones was the third tackle off the board, going 13th to the Jets.
Next up in the draft process will be the NFL Combine, which is set for March 2nd through March 5th. From there we’ll get the bulk of free agency done, leading into to draft itself on April 28th.