The 2023 NFL Draft’s first round is tonight from Kansas City as it hosts for the first time and the Carolina Panthers are on the clock. Several weeks ago, they traded a haul to move up from No. 9 overall to No. 1 with the Chicago Bears so they could take their quarterback of the future – the Bears already have theirs in Justin Fields, so they were comfortable moving back. Let’s see more details about the NFL Draft that could impact your NFL betting strategies for next season.
2023 NFL Draft: With Bryce Young Expected To Panthers, Round 1 Truly Begins With Texans At No. 2
Originally, it was thought the Panthers moved up because they loved Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, but now it would be a massive upset if the choice isn’t Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who is a massive -2000 favorite on the NFL odds to be picked first. Young is rather small in stature for that position but is very accurate and has been compared to Drew Brees in that sense.
New Panthers head coach Frank Reich says he and general manager Scott Fitterer have agreed on which quarterback the team will select with the No. 1 pick but they aren’t saying until a little after 8 p.m. ET tonight on the live telecast. Fitterer said last week he had waited to ask Reich who he preferred at No. 1 so that nothing would cloud either’s judgement. On Monday, Fitterer did walk into Reich’s office and popped the question on who he prefers — and both agreed on the same QB.
The Panthers have done their due diligence in meeting every top QB in the class, and vetted their selection well according to Reich.
“There were ebbs and flows during the process.” Reich said. “… I don’t want to say there’s any drastic change of mind, but there’s ebbs and flows of how much you like a guy. And that’s why you have to resist the temptation of making your mind up too early, right? So I thought we as a scouting staff and coaches did a good job of not falling into that trap. Just take it for what it is. Take it day by day. Go on these visits, watch tape. Go through the process. Continue to evaluate and talk it through.”
The last time Carolina picked first overall it also took a former Heisman Trophy-winning QB from the SEC in Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2011. He would win Offensive Rookie of the Year and eventually an MVP but is now out of the league.
Assuming they don’t change their mind, then, the draft’s drama truly starts at No. 2 with the Texans, who would have picked first if they didn’t stage a late comeback win at Indianapolis in Week 18 last season, which may have played a role in Coach Lovie Smith getting fired as he went for the two-point conversion and the win – which was successful – when ownership surely would have preferred to lose and pick first.
Houston badly needs a quarterback as Davis Mills is not the answer but there’s a lot of scuttlebutt the Texans only liked Young so they might instead look defense at No. 2 under first-year coach DeMeco Ryans, a former Texans linebacker and 49ers defensive coordinator. The current favorite to be chosen second at +150 is Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr.
He finished his three years at Bama ranked second on the school’s career sacks list with 34.5, trailing only Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas. Anderson also is second in UA history behind Thomas in tackles for loss with 62 and was a two-time Nagurski Trophy winner, only the second player in the award’s history to take home the honors twice, and one-time winner of the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation’s top defender.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who has an NFL body and arm but is a bit inaccurate and raw, and Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson are both +225 to be chosen second with Stroud at +250 and Young at +1500. If Young somehow gets past Carolina, the Texans would be giddy.
For what it’s worth, longtime Texans beat writer John McClain believes the Texans will take Levis with the second pick. “(Houston) has no indecision whatsoever, those are national media reports,” said McClain, who recently retired after decades of covering Houston-area pro sports teams. “They know what they’re going to do, they’ve just put a tight lid on it. … I just can’t believe [Texans general manager] Nick Caserio would pass up on a quarterback to take an edge rusher.”
Round 1 is tonight from Kansas City, Rounds 2-3 on Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday. Each team has 10 minutes to make its pick in the first round and then that time goes way down in following rounds.
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