NFL Prospects Young and Stroud Battle to Be No. 1 Draft Pick

Andrew DeCapua, Sports Editor

With the start of the 2023 National Football League draft fast approaching, teams selecting early in the first round wait patiently to find out who the first name off of the board will be.

After completing a trade with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, the Carolina Panthers are officially on the clock.

After trading Baker Mayfield last season and losing Sam Darnold in free agency, the Panthers have holes at several positions, including quarterback.

The only quarterbacks on their current roster are Andy Dalton and Matt Corral. Dalton is a veteran journeyman that has bounced around the league the past few years, while Corral has yet to play a single snap in an NFL game.

According to reports from ESPN, the Panthers have two quarterbacks at the top of their draft board, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

Young and Stroud are considered the two top prospects in the draft, but there are two other quarterbacks in the mix, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

The consensus on whom the Panthers will select with the No. 1 overall pick is split down the middle. Many draft experts believe that Stroud will be the pick due to his 6-foot-3 and 214-pound stature. Others believe that Young is the more NFL-ready quarterback.

The Houston Texans currently hold the No. 2 pick in the draft and have a dire need for a quarterback. It is yet to be determined if the Texans will take a quarterback at No. 2, address another of their many team needs, or try to trade back in the draft to acquire additional assets.

In their latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Texans selecting Stroud with the No. 2 pick and Young going to the Panthers with the No. 1 pick. CBS’s mock draft has the Texans addressing the defensive line with the No. 2 pick by selecting Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr.

If either Stroud or Young slips past the Texans at No. 2, the next team up that needs a quarterback is the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4, who could then take whichever one is still available.

Another scenario in CBS’s mock draft is that the Colts could select Levis with the No. 4 pick, bumping Stroud all the way down to the Tennessee Titans and the No. 11 pick.

It is common for multiple quarterbacks to be taken in the draft’s first round. In 2021, five were selected in the first round, but of those five, only one, Trevor Lawrence, has led his team to a playoff appearance.

The 2020 draft also had at least four quarterbacks selected in the first round, with Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert leading their teams to the playoffs last season. Although, Tagovailoa’s injuries kept him from playing in the Miami Dolphins playoff appearance.

Even though it is risky, we have seen teams in the past take a quarterback too high in the draft to fill a blaring need. With an average draft class at best with no real standout prospects at any positions, teams with a veteran quarterback in place can take a chance on a quarterback like Richardson or Levis early in the first round this year.

The 2023 NFL Draft will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday, April 27, and conclude on Saturday, April 29.