Many believed the Carolina Panthers would select C.J. Stroud when they traded up for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, but that no longer appears likely to happen.
Rumblings that the Panthers were actually targeting Alabama quarterback Bryce Young grew louder on Monday when NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Young canceled his remaining pre-draft visits, potentially indicating the Panthers have told him they will select him with the No. 1 overall pick.
Alabama QB Bryce Young has canceled his remaining pre-draft visits, per sources another sign to back up belief within the league that the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner will be the #Panthers pick at No. 1 overall.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 17, 2023
Young also visited the #Texans, who draft No. 2. pic.twitter.com/3Pg53t15ce
Oddsmakers also now firmly believe Young will be the No. 1 overall pick, as he became the heavy betting favorite at multiple sportsbooks, including FanDuel and DraftKings, on Monday.
As such, the question for Stroud now appears to be whether the Houston Texans will select the Ohio State quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick.
Considering the Texans had the second-lowest team passer rating in the NFL last season, that would seem to be a no-brainer. With the No. 12 overall pick also in their possession, the Texans could even have the chance to keep Stroud paired with his former Ohio State teammate Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is widely projected to be selected in the early teens of the draft.
That said, there have been reports that the Texans aren’t dead-set on drafting Stroud if Young goes first. ESPN’s Matt Miller wrote last week that there is a belief around the NFL that Houston “isn’t sold” on the other quarterbacks in the draft besides Bryce Young and that Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson is the team’s top-ranked overall prospect, leaving open the possibility that the Texans could draft Anderson over Stroud at No. 2.
Should that happen, the Arizona Cardinals are likely to receive trade offers for the No. 3 overall pick from teams looking to move up for Stroud. If that doesn’t happen, the Indianapolis Colts would sit in prime position to select Stroud with the No. 4 overall pick – the same pick they used to draft Art Schlichter, the only previous Ohio State quarterback to be a top-10 pick, in 1982.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Monday he believes it’s possible only one quarterback will be selected in the top three picks.
Update: A QB isn't expected to be drafted after the 1st overall pick until at least the 4th pick, per @AdamSchefter— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) April 17, 2023
"We've heard quarterbacks go 1, 2, 3, 4.. in this Draft, that's not going to happen, I believe."
Adds the #Colts could get the second best QB in the Draft at #4. pic.twitter.com/kl8mvOzRwn
We’ll find out exactly where Stroud will end up in just 10 days, as the first round of the 2023 NFL draft is scheduled for April 27 in Kansas City. The first round of the draft begins at 8 p.m. that Thursday and will be televised on ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes.