2023 NFL Mock Draft: CJ Stroud slides out of top five?
By Luke Allen
19. Seattle Seahawks (via TB): WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were hoping for a quarterback to drop, swap picks with Seattle, allowing the Seahawks to select one of the best receivers in college football last year. Seattle has two great receivers in Metcalf and Lockett, but lack a true third receiver. Adding Johnston would give newly-extended quarterback Geno Smith a plethora of weapons to attack defenses with, not allowing defenses to focus their attention on just one or two receivers.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via SEA): S Brian Branch, Alabama
With the quarterbacks all gone, Tampa Bay selects the best player on their board, safety Brian Branch. Tampa can utilize Branch all over the secondary, as the Alabama product has experience at both safety positions, nickel and even some snaps in the box. Branch is a swiss army knife on the defense and will provide an impact wherever he is placed.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
After experiencing a bit of a slide, seeing two receivers go in front of him, Smith-Njigba finally hears his name called by the Chargers. He fits the mold for the Chargers' wide receivers at over 6 feet and possessing legit speed. The Buckeye did not see a lot of action in 2022 due to injury, but when he did play, he was a special player. He'll be yet another weapon for Justin Herbert as the Chargers continue to bolster their offense.
22. Baltimore Ravens: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
The local kid, Deonte Banks, stays home in Maryland as the Ravens select him with the 22nd pick. Baltimore may have considered going wide receiver here, but with the bulk of first-round-worthy receivers off the board and with the recent signing of Odell Beckham Jr., the Ravens feel comfortable adding onto their secondary after appearing to move on from Marcus Peters. Banks, a good-sized back who plays with physicality, is a fluid corner who can hang step for step with just about anyone.
23. Minnesota Vikings: EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia
The Vikings have been in a sort of purgatory for the last several years. They have a solid roster who can garner wins in the regular season, but they're just not a contender yet. Adding an athlete like Nolan Smith to the defensive line could help Minnesota go from a good team to a great team. Smith, a freak of an athlete at 6'2, 238 lbs, ran a jaw-dropping 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine after a solid season with the Bulldogs in 2022.