In under three hours, the 2023 NFL Draft will officially be open from Kansas City. The first hour should be a busy one for Northwestern fans, as offensive lineman Peter Skoronski is projected to hear his name called in the first 16 selections. Meanwhile, fellow Wildcat prospect Adetomiwa Adebawore has generated buzz as a possible first-round pick, in part because of a scintillating performance at the NFL Combine. Where will the two trench ‘Cats call home as pros? Our staff took their best shots.
Iggy Dowling: Skoronski to Philadelphia Eagles at No. 10, Adebawore to New Orleans Saints at No. 40
As a Giants fan, this is close to a worst-case scenario for me (I can’t stomach the thought of Adebawore coming off the board at No. 30). But I think that Christian Gonzalez, Jalen Carter and Devon Witherspoon will all go in the top nine, which would give Philly an incentive to go O-line. The Eagles could easily snag Skoronski and kick him inside to guard, where he could start out as a depth piece. Cam Jurgens will likely take over at center once Jason Kelce retires, which would give the All-American an opportunity to start on an uber-talented Eagles line. That’s not incredible positional value at 10, but when you’re a team as talented as Philadelphia, that doesn’t really matter.
I do think Adebawore slips out of the first round because of how many talented edge rushers there are in this class. The Saints are a natural fit, though. They lost David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle, and Cam Jordan is turning 34 years old. New Orleans needs as much versatility across its defensive line as it can get, and the Northwestern star can certainly offer that.
Bradley Locker: Skoronski to Tennessee Titans at No. 11, Adebawore to Las Vegas Raiders at No. 38
In the two mock drafts that I’ve produced (which actually seems like a low number for me), Skoronski has been selected by Tennessee. The fit is absolutely perfect in light of how thin the Titans’ offensive line is without Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones. Plus, few teams in the top 10 are likely to address offensive line (excluding Las Vegas), and I just have a hunch the Bears are higher on Paris Johnson Jr. than they are on Skoronski given they have a solid interior OL.
Part of me still wants to believe Adebawore hears his name called on Night One, but NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said it best: teams knew that Adebawore would test as a certified freak despite tape that wasn’t absolutely dominant. That being said, it’s hard to envision him lasting beyond New Orleans at 40 (which Iggy posited). The Raiders lost Andrew Billings, and former first-rounder Jerry Tillery has underwhelmed. Why not insert Adebawore next to Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones?
Gavin Dorsey: Skoronski to Chicago Bears at pick No. 9, Adebawore to Atlanta Falcons at pick No. 44
While Justin Fields came to Evanston to see the number one lacrosse team in the nation, he didn’t leave without the phone number of his next protector. Skoronski is a perfect fit for the Bears, and he gets to stay in the greater Chicagoland area, which he’s called home his whole life. Adebawore would be a great fit for the Falcons, bolstering their D-Line and joining former ‘Cat Joe Gaziano in the process.
John Olsen: Skoronski to Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 9 (Trade with Chicago for No. 17 and No. 32), Adebawore to Chicago Bears at No. 32
I have no clue what I’m talking about, so I’ve decided to throw out one of the most objectively entertaining scenarios that I can come up with. My Bears get their second-round pick back from the Steelers months after swapping it for Chase Claypool and use it on a local product to bolster a talent-deprived defensive line. Meanwhile, Yinzers everywhere rejoice as Pittsburgh gives the developing Kenny Pickett even more protection. Unfortunately, for those of you who follow @Bradley_Locker on Twitter, this means your timelines will be filled with film, quotes and stats regarding the Park Ridge native for likely the next decade, but alas.
Ethan Segall: Skoronski to Atlanta Falcons at No. 8, Adebawore to Philadelphia Eagles at No. 30
Heck yeah, two first-round picks. Michigan may be the Big Ten champs, but Northwestern is the real powerhouse of the conference, because as everyone knows, producing draft picks is more important than producing wins.
Jokes aside, the Falcons (for some reason) seem content with Desmond Ridder, and the recent addition of Jeff Okudah makes cornerback a less pressing need. I could see Atlanta taking secondary or defensive line with this pick, but Skoronski is a high-floor, plug-and-play pick to add some more ammo to Arthur Smith’s offense. The Falcons have invested a lot in the offensive line this offseason, re-signing Kaleb McGary and extending Chris Lindstrom, making the latter the highest-paid guard in NFL history. Ultimately, Jake Matthews won’t be around forever, and the Skoronski pick allows Atlanta to play Northwestern’s finest at left guard until Matthews hangs up his cleats, where Skoronski would then switch to left tackle. It’s a savvy pick that ensures a strong offensive line for Ridder, or whatever quarterback they drop into the offense next season, to go along with weapons Drake London and Kyle Pitts.
The Eagles have reportedly demonstrated a lot of interest in Adebawore, and assuming they don’t address the defensive line at Pick 10, Adebawore would be a welcome addition to an already talented DL. GM Howie Roseman loves his trench players, and with Fletcher Cox nearing the end of his illustrious career, the athletic and twitched-up Adebawore would be a natural fit next to last year’s first round pick Jordan Davis.
David Gold: Skoronski to Chicago Bears at pick No. 9, Adebawore to New Orleans Saints at pick No. 29
I have never felt more confident in a statement than I am in this one — Northwestern will have more first-round picks than wins this season.
It makes way too much sense for No. 77 for the ‘Cats to remain in the Chicagoland area. The Park Ridge native is the best offensive lineman in the draft, and the Bears desperately need to protect their franchise quarterback, and noted Lake Show fan, Justin Fields. Fields was sacked a whopping 55 times last season, tied for the most in the league. With the selection, Skoronski would become a cornerstone of Fields’ protection. He can play all five positions across the line, and even with the arm length concerns, his phenomenal technique will make him a successful left tackle in the league. Also, Bears fans would love nothing more than the grandson of a Packers legend to help lead the effort to beat Green Bay.
When Adebawore declared for the draft, he was projected to go off the board late on Day Two; however, he has worked his way into the first round. What No. 99 did at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine is nothing short of freakish. No one at 282 pounds should be able to run a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and broad jump 10 feet 5 inches. If there is anything NFL teams love, it is a freak athlete that they can mold into being a star. If Adebawore’s time at NU proved anything, he can play anywhere across the D-line. However, I expect him to move inside full-time and play the three-technique — a matchup nightmare for guards. His mix of speed and power will make the former Wildcat not only a first-round pick tonight but remain in the league for the foreseeable future.
Jake Mozarsky: Skoronski to Tennessee Titans at No. 11, Adebawore to New Orleans Saints at No. 40
As much as I would love the story of Skoronski staying in Illinois to play for the Bears, I think if Ryan Poles has a choice between the Northwestern lineman and Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr., I think the former Buckeye will be the pick. Justin Fields was one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league, and I think Johnson provides more insurance as a blindside blocker.
I really like Skoronski to the Titans. They recently waived Taylor Lewan and lost Ben Jones, and Skoronski is a plug-and-play wherever Mike Vrabel wants him. The Titans need an offensive line for Derrick Henry (assuming he stays) to run behind, and the All-American might be able to help that out.
It would be such a great story to see Adebawore to be picked in the first round, but do we really think a team that went 1-11 will produce two first round picks? Yes, Adebawore is a freak, but I think he will not hear his name Thursday night. New Orleans has more pressing needs than a pass rusher on Night One, and he’ll fall right into their lap on Friday. This is a perfect place for Tomi to learn under Cameron Jordan, who is now 34, and a Saints pass rush that lost a few weapons. Adebawore to the Bayou.
Adam Beck: Skoronski to Arizona Cardinals at No. 8 (trade with the Atlanta Falcons for No. 3), Adebawore to New Orleans at No. 29
Let’s make something crazy happen. I’m sorry, but Desmond Ridder is not the answer for Atlanta, so the Falcons — after having a really nice free agency period — trade up for their future QB1. In exchange, Arizona gets a future first-rounder and lands Skoronski at No. 8, helping secure the offensive line in the desert. Right tackle Kelvin Beachum is about to turn 34, and pairing Skoronski and D.J. Humphries as security blankets for Kyler Murray would be an awesome way for Arizona to build for the future.
Adebawore to the Saints at 29 makes too much sense. New Orleans saw so much depth on the defensive line leave in free agency with the departures of Onyemata, Marcus Davenport and Tuttle. Why not get the freak athlete in Adebawore, whose Combine measurements scream first-round potential?
Brendan Preisman: Skoronski to Philadelphia Eagles at No. 10, Adebawore to New Orleans Saints at No. 29
I know the Eagles just made the Super Bowl, but the offensive line is looking a little... old. Jason Kelce is 35, Lane Johnson is 32 and just underwent surgery, and Cam Jurgens is a natural center playing guard. For a team in win-now mode, the key to drafting is selecting players who can provide instant impact. As a three-year starter with spectacular technique, Skoronski definitely fits that mold. While there are questions about his ability to play tackle in the NFL due to size concerns, I’m confident that Skoronski’s talent and technique will provide him success anywhere he goes. Also, I have a feeling the Bears might take Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 9 to keep the Ohio State connection with Justin Fields.
As for the Saints, they are in desperate need of production everywhere on the defensive line. The team gave up 4.5 yards per carry last year, good for 10th-worst in the NFL, and the team also picked off just seven passes last year, demonstrating a severe lack of pass rush. And as some of my colleagues have stated, Adebawore will probably end up on Bourbon Street, but I don’t buy that he will still be there at pick 40.
I simply do not believe that a player with Adebawore’s testing makes it almost 10 picks into the second round. And maybe the Saints are confident that no one else will swoop up Adebawore between picks 29 and 40. But the Eagles, Texans, Cardinals, Seahawks, Raiders and Rams all have a demonstrated need on the defensive line as well. Given how some of those teams (*cough* Texans *cough* Cardinals) might very well be looking to punt next year as well, they’d be more willing to take a swing on a rawer prospect. The Saints could wait and hope. But waiting and hoping is a really bad draft strategy, so I don’t think they will.
Patrick Winograd: Skoronski to Chicago Bears at No. 9, Adebawore to New Orleans Saints at No. 40
I will admit that I am a little bit lacking when it comes to the NFL Draft, but I know enough about these two teams’ specific needs and these players to make these picks. The Bears have their quarterback for the foreseeable future in Justin Fields, and a solid receiving trio with Chase Claypool, D.J. Moore and Darnell Mooney. With that in mind, it’s time for the Bears to protect their future, literally. It is very likely that Skoronski is going between picks nine and 11, to the Bears, Eagles or Titans, but I think he won’t make it past Chicago. If no team trades up to take Skoronski even earlier, this is the spot he will go.
The Saints definitely need help on their defensive line. Adeboware’s performance at the Combine gave him a strong boost in his draft status, but I am not completely sold on the potential for a team to take him in the late first round, or even the earliest picks of the second round. It will likely depend on the availability of other defensive linemen, but I think the Saints will be patient and Adebawore will fall to them at 40.