The NFL’s No. 1 overall pick hadn’t been traded since the Los Angeles Rams moved way up to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff No. 1 in 2016. The Chicago Bears “earned” the top pick in the 2022 NFL season but never expected to keep it because they already have a good young quarterback in place in Justin Fields.
2023 NFL Draft News: CJ Stroud Now Favored As Top Overall Pick To Panthers
Second-year GM Ryan Poles apparently wanted to get a trade for that pick done ahead of free agency this week and on Friday he sent it to the Carolina Panthers for receiver DJ Moore, Carolina’s first-round selection at No. 9, a late-second-round pick (No. 61), a 2024 first-round selection and a 2025 second-round pick.
Now Poles doesn’t have to chase a receiver in free agency or perhaps early in the draft. The 25-year-old Moore is under contract through the 2024 season. He was drafted with the No. 24 pick in the 2018 draft and has three seasons recording over 1,000 yards receiving and 21 total touchdowns over his career.
Better yet, he fits in with Fields’ arm strength. He’s a deep ball receiver with a respectable frame (6 feet, 210 pounds). Moore has 172 targets 10-19 yards downfield from 2019-22, the second-most in the NFL in that category. Fields led the NFL with a 66.7% completion percentage on throws 10-19 yards downfield this past season.
No question the Panthers traded up to select a quarterback and it will be the third time the Panthers have had the top pick. They had it in their first season, 1995, but traded it to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the No. 5 pick and No. 36 in the second round. They selected quarterback Kerry Collins at No. 5. They also had the top pick in 2011 and selected Auburn’s Cam Newton, who went on to win the 2015 MVP and lead Carolina to the Super Bowl.
Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is the new -250 favorite on the NFL odds to go first, and he’s probably the most pro-ready of the four quarterbacks who have a shot to go No. 1 along with Alabama’s Bryce Young (+200), Florida’s Anthony Richardson (+350) and Kentucky’s Will Levis (+2500). Stroud was the first two-time Heisman Trophy finalist in school history. He was a two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year and quarterback of the year Stroud was also named Big Ten freshman of the year for a total of five Big Ten individual awards to tie for second all-time in conference history with Fields and Orlando Pace and behind only Braxton Miller’s seven.
New Panthers head coach Frank Reich employed larger quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Carson Wentz during his time with the Indianapolis Colts and Stroud has ideal size at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He also had one of the best throwing sessions in recent NFL combine history. Longtime Panthers beat writer Joseph Person reported Friday that “the sense around the league” was the Panthers were targeting Stroud with their trade up.
Stroud had a career passer rating of 139.2 with a clean pocket versus 83.2 without at Ohio state. Against CFB’s best defense in Georgia he silenced the doubters with 348 yards passing and 4 TDs in this past season’s epic College Football Playoff semifinal loss. He this past season having completed 69.3 percent of his attempts for 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns and six interceptions.
However, Reich had this to say during his media availability at the combine regarding Young. “Highly intelligent, very fast processor, very poised, accurate passer, playmaker, and he checks a lot of boxes.”
If Stroud is selected in the top two overall picks, he’ll become Ohio State’s highest-ever draft pick at the quarterback position, surpassing 1982 No. 4 overall pick Art Schlichter. He would become Ohio State’s seventh top-two overall pick and could become the fourth No. 1 overall pick in program history. The last was offensive lineman Orlando Pace in 1997. The Panthers passed on another Ohio State quarterback two years ago, taking cornerback Jaycee Horn at No. 8 when Fields was available. He went 11th to Chicago.
If Young were 6-foot-4, he’d probably be the pick. But he’s 5-foot-10, and although he weighed in at over 200 pounds at the Combine, it’s unlikely that was his playing weight. Both Richardson and Levis are considered projects.
I have read enough, I need to place my bet now. What to do?