2023 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper's final first-round predictions

Will Anderson Jr., C.J. Stroud and Michael Mayer Illustration by ESPN

The NFL draft is finally here, and I have a new and improved set of Round 1 predictions before the fun begins Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, ABC and ESPN+). This draft includes so much intrigue -- we could see a flurry of trades and surprises in the first round. We also could see five quarterbacks in the top 20 picks. If you've been reading our mock drafts for the past few months, though, maybe that won't surprise you.

As for the Carolina Panthers at No. 1? Well, I think I know the prospect they're taking, but after four decades of doing this, it's tough to say anything is a guarantee.

You can check out my final Big Board rankings for the 2023 draft, which includes the top 150 prospects overall and the best at every position. I graded more than 500 total players for this class. You can also check out my favorite prospects at every position, with a few nuggets and notes on 14 guys. I'll be on ESPN all weekend, and my grades for all 32 teams will be out late Saturday night, once I get some time to digest each team's draft class.

Let's get into my final 2023 mock draft, projecting all 31 first-round picks -- there's one less selection this year because Miami's first-rounder was taken away -- based on what I'm hearing and where I see prospects going off the board. There are several changes from my last mock, when Todd McShay and I alternated picks for three rounds, and I made some last-minute changes Thursday morning, tweaking a handful of picks outside the top 10.

I expect some chaos tonight, which is why I projected two trades below. You might be surprised at the landing spots for the quarterbacks. Here's how I see Round 1.

This mock draft was updated at 8:30 a.m. ET to reflect what I'm hearing. I put an asterisk next to each new prediction. Once I change one pick, the dominoes start to fall, which means even more changes. These are hard!

McShay's final mock draft
Consensus position rankings
Last-minute buzz and rumors

1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI)