Prior to the NFL Draft each year, the league does its best to drum up drama when it comes to the first overall pick. It happened in 2019 when the Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray. It happened again the following year the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow. And so on.
This draft class appears to be different, though, as there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus as to who the No. 1 overall pick will come April’s NFL Draft. Now that the pick belongs to the Carolina Panthers, rather than the Chicago Bears, that reality has become a bit murkier.
And now based on some of the mock draft projections by leading draft experts, there appears to be a new quarterback headed to Carolina.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who is as plugged in as any to the draft, released his third mock draft on Tuesday and had Alabama’s Bryce Young mocked to the Panthers at No. 1. Jeremiah, who served as an NFL scout and executive from 2003-12, explained his reasoning for the Young selection:
“The Panthers will do their homework on this year’s top quarterback prospects over the next month, but I believe Young is the best of the bunch and will emerge as their target.”
While ESPN’s Todd McShay didn’t release a mock draft on Tuesday — his colleague Mel Kiper, Jr. did — he revealed what he’s been hearing regarding the first overall selection.
“History would tell you that [Panthers head coach] Frank Reich would lean towards [C.J.] Stroud,” McShay said during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Draft” podcast on Tuesday. “But I talked to a source that I have that I’ve talked to over the years, who every year gets the top quarterbacks right because of the position he’s in and who he’s dealing with, and he said that Bryce Young is already their guy at that number one spot.
“He’s never been wrong. Listen, it’s just one source and he could come back to me in three weeks and say, ‘They changed their mind,’ but I’m just throwing it out there. I think it absolutely comes down to Stroud and Young…I’m hearing Young, but Stroud seems to be better fit for what Frank Reich’s used to.”
— ESPN (@espn) March 21, 2023
While Kiper has the Panthers selecting Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud in his latest mock draft, it’s interesting that two of the most respected industry sources are connecting the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner to Carolina.