NFL draft 2023 – Projected order for top 10 picks, including where Jets, Bears, Steelers, others could land

NFL draft 2023 – Projected order for top 10 picks, including where Jets, Bears, Steelers, others could land post thumbnail image

We’re almost a year from the 2023 NFL draft, and 285 games lie ahead that will determine the draft order. Anything can happen. We won’t know what the top 10 will look like until the end of Week 18 this season, and even then, things can change with pre-draft trades up or down the board.

Even so, we projected how the draft order might play out in those first 10 picks using our ESPN Football Power Index, which gives each team’s expected draft slot. An analytics writer pulls back the curtain on the numbers to explain why each team is projected to have an early selection, while our NFL Nation reporters dive in on how each of the teams can outperform these expectations and avoid a disappointing season.

Which teams are destined for a top draft pick? Where might the Jaguars — who have held the No. 1 pick in each of the past two years — land? And which teams could surprise in 2022? Let’s take a closer look at teams currently headed toward another early Round 1 selection.

Chance at No. 1 pick: 13.6%
Chance at top 10: 68.4%

Why they are here: You can see the upside with the Jets. They have Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore at receiver. Ahmad Gardner and D.J. Reed are set to lock down the cornerback spots. Carl Lawson is back at edge rusher. And most importantly, they have a potential star in second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. But none of that — most importantly Wilson — is guaranteed to pay off. ESPN’s FPI is betting that most of it likely won’t. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Between free agency and the draft, the Jets added playmaking potential on both sides of the ball, most notably with Wilson, Gardner, Reed, running back Breece Hall and safety Jordan Whitehead. Improved team speed should allow them to create game-changing plays, which were in short supply in 2021. The Jets ranked 31st in takeaways and 20th in explosive plays on offense (runs of 10-plus yards or passes of 20-plus yards). — Rich Cimini


Chance at No. 1 pick: 13.7%
Chance at top 10: 67.9%

Why they are here: The Bears are like the Jets but with less talent surrounding their quarterback. And like the Jets’ Wilson, Justin Fields also needs to take a major step forward in his second season after a disappointing rookie campaign. Additionally, Chicago has a new coaching staff, which adds a bit more uncertainty to its forecast. But in this case, that’s a good thing. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: The Bears have more than $20 million in remaining cap space and could use those resources to bring in a veteran offensive lineman (perhaps someone to play right guard) or another wide receiver. Chicago’s offense should put Fields in a better position to succeed by playing to his strengths, but growth from the quarterback won’t necessarily come unless what’s around him improves. If the Bears can add a couple of players before the start of the season, it will be money well spent as they continue to build for the future. — Courtney Cronin


Chance at No. 1 pick: 11.4%
Chance at top 10: 64.1%

Why they are here: The roster remains barren on defense, and while quarterback Davis Mills exceeded low expectations as a rookie, it’s fair to classify Houston’s short-term situation at quarterback as weak. Plus, the Texans face a fairly difficult schedule. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Houston’s defense already took a step forward last season under then-defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, and he could be the reason the Texans now outperform expectations this season. The Texans promoted Smith to head coach, and the team used the No. 3 overall pick on cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. It’s no secret Smith preaches the importance of takeaways in the defensive backs room, and adding a potential star at cornerback could help immensely. — Sarah Barshop


Chance at No. 1 pick: 9.3%
Chance at top 10: 60.0%

Why they are here: Our FPI is a little more bullish on Trevor Lawrence‘s future than that of Wilson, Fields, Mills or Trey Lance (San Francisco). But 2021 was a disappointment for Jacksonville’s quarterback, and the model believes Lawrence will be a below-average signal-caller again this season. And even after a free-agent spending spree, the rest of the roster is missing high-end stars. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Just having a normal, functioning coaching staff could make a significant difference. It’s hard to know exactly how much the dysfunction around coach Urban Meyer impacted the team, but it certainly wasn’t good for Lawrence. Adding playmakers Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram should increase the output of an offense that averaged just 13.8 points per game last season. And the defense added three starters in free agency and two more in the draft, highlighted by No. 1 pick Travon Walker. Only two starters remain from the 2020 defense that finished last in the league. — Michael DiRocco


Chance at No. 1 pick: 8.6%
Chance at top 10: 56.6%

Why they are here: After two years without a start, ESPN’s FPI assumes quarterback Marcus Mariota is going to be a drag on the Atlanta offense. That’s fair. But there’s also not much to drag down. Tight end Kyle Pitts is the only real established star on that side of the ball. There’s more to like on defense with cornerback A.J. Terrell and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett leading the way, but having what our FPI expects will be the worst offense in football is too much to overcome. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: The Falcons have one of the most questionable quarterback situations in the league, with veteran Mariota or rookie Desmond Ridder set to start. But if rookies Drake London (wide receiver) and Tyler Allgeier (running back) play well, it could open things up for second-year coach Arthur Smith’s playcalling and allow him to innovate more on offense. Add in the potential for a stronger pass rush — again, the Falcons will need rookie edge rushers Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone to at least play up to expectations — and Atlanta could have the chance to overacheive. — Michael Rothstein


Chance at No. 1 pick: 6.5%
Chance at top 10: 53.5%

Why they are here: Our FPI model considers the T.J. Watt-led Steelers defense to be the fifth best in the league, but a good defense can take you only so far. The game swings on offense, and none of the options at quarterback — Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph — are likely to be a high performer in 2022. ESPN’s FPI considers the first two to be the better choices and roughly equivalent in the short term. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t do losing seasons. In 15 seasons as the Steelers’ head coach, Tomlin has never had one. Remember when Ben Roethlisberger went down for the year, and he started Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under center? Yeah, he didn’t lose then, either. It won’t be a pretty season in Pittsburgh by any means, but don’t count a Tomlin-led squad out — especially when he has the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and an up-and-coming star in running back Najee Harris on his roster. — Brooke Pryor


Chance at No. 1 pick: 5.5%
Chance at top 10: 48.0%

Why they are here: There’s some sparsely scattered talent on the roster — namely Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore on offense, and Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn on defense — but not enough to make up for the fact that neither Sam Darnold nor Matt Corral offer much short-term hope. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Quarterback aside, the Panthers significantly strengthened their roster in free agency and the draft. They boosted their coaching staff by more than doubling the NFL experience with an overhaul that includes adding two former head coaches in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and secondary coach Steve Wilks. If McCaffrey — who has missed 23 of the team’s past 33 games — can stay healthy, and the rebuilt offensive line can provide protection, Carolina can’t help but be better regardless of whether it’s Darnold, rookie Corral or somebody else playing quarterback. — David Newton


Chance at No. 1 pick: 4.1%
Chance at top 10: 42.0%

Why they are here: ESPN’s FPI is bullish on the Lions, which is why they only sneak onto this list after picking at No. 2 this year. Jared Goff isn’t great, but on average, the model believes he’ll be better than most of the first- or second-year quarterbacks. That buoys Detroit in the rankings and projections relative to many of the other teams on this list. But this is all about the potential to be decent offensively; our FPI projects Detroit to have the league’s second-worst defense. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: The Lions’ coaching staff will have more experience. At times, it felt as though head coach Dan Campbell was still learning how to handle certain in-game situations during the 2021 season, which included him taking over playcalling responsibilities from former offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in Week 10. But now Detroit has a new offensive coordinator in Ben Johnson, and it added better offensive players around Goff, such as wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. — Eric Woodyard


Chance at No. 1 pick: 3.4%
Chance at top 10: 42.2%

Why they are here: The projections are down on Drew Lock — he’s sandwiched between Sam Darnold and Malik Willis in the model’s quarterback rankings — and that’s a tough starting place and a huge downgrade from Russell Wilson, to state the obvious. Seattle has a strong skill position group, though, which is worth something. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: Despite how it might have looked when they traded Wilson and cut Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks aren’t in a full-fledged rebuild. They still have a competitive roster outside of what is one of the NFL’s iffiest quarterback rooms. It’s not unreasonable to think a revamped defense — with its new scheme and some younger, faster players — could carry enough of the load for Seattle to get to seven wins with below-average quarterback play from either Lock or Geno Smith. — Brady Henderson


Chance at No. 1 pick: 2.8%
Chance at top 10: 37.7%

Why they are here: Daniel Jones has been disappointing for a sixth-overall pick, but he has upside under center. There’s potential in the offensive line and wide receiver groups, and with a new offensive-minded head coach, the Giants should improve from their 30th-ranked offensive efficiency last season. But still, ESPN’s FPI believes this is a team that will be below average (23rd on offense, 27th on defense) on both sides of the ball. — Walder

How they outperform this projection: The Giants’ offense under Brian Daboll could surely outperform expectations. It’s not as if they don’t have any talent, with Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney among the offensive stars. Plus, the Giants have invested in a pair of top-10 tackles. It’s not outrageous to think Jones can take a significant step forward under Daboll in this offense, and that the Giants can win despite their struggles in recent seasons. — Jordan Raanan



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