It took the Carolina Panthers until this week to decide which quarterback they’ll select with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
They’re not saying, but oddsmakers believe it’ll be Alabama’s Bryce Young. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is an overwhelming favorite to go first, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud has dropped from favorite to having the third-best odds behind Kentucky’s Will Levis. Florida’s Anthony Richardson is a longshot.
The Panthers traded four picks, including No. 9 overall and a first-rounder next year, along with wide receiver DJ Moore to give new coach Frank Reich a quarterback to build around.
The final edition of the AP’s 2023 mock draft gives the nod to Young.
1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago): BRYCE YOUNG, QUARTERBACK, ALABAMA
Young can make every throw, has strong pocket presence and is a dynamic playmaker. The biggest question is his size — 5-foot-10, 204. It was never an issue while Young played at a high level at Alabama but the NFL is a different story and the Panthers need to protect their QB.
2. Houston Texans: C.J. STROUD, QUARTERBACK, OHIO STATE
Stroud has the ideal size — 6-foot-3, 214 pounds — to go with a strong, accurate arm and possesses the leadership ability and other intangibles. The Texans made it known they’re not sold on a QB at No. 2 and Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson is the favorite. Franchise QBs win Super Bowls, not edge rushers.
3. Arizona Cardinals: WILL ANDERSON, EDGE, ALABAMA
New coach Jonathan Gannon benefited from having a dominant defensive line last season as a defensive coordinator for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. Anderson is the best pass rusher in the draft and Arizona has to replace T.J. Watt and Zach Allen.
4. Indianapolis Colts: ANTHONY RICHARDSON, QUARTERBACK, FLORIDA
Another pick inspired by the Eagles. New coach Shane Steichen, the former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, had tremendous success with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Colts owner Jim Irsay is a big fan of Hurts’ style. Richardson has incredible athleticism, a strong arm and elite talent. He needs time to work on accuracy and mechanics.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): JALEN CARTER, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, GEORGIA
Before his off-field issues, Carter was a potential No. 1 overall pick if Chicago didn’t trade down. He’s too talented to slip further. Carter is the right fit for Seattle and coach Pete Carroll.
6. Detroit Lions (from Los Angels Rams): DEVON WITHERSPOON, CORNERBACK, ILLINOIS
Witherspoon has slid on some drafts probably because a hamstring injury limited his workouts. He was impressive at Illinois’ pro day and is widely considered the top cover cornerback. The Lions had the NFL’s second-worst pass defense in 2022.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: TYREE WILSON, EDGE, TEXAS TECH
Size, build, speed, Wilson has it all for an edge rusher. The Raiders can team Wilson up with Maxx Crosby to get after the elite QBs in the AFC West.
8. Atlanta Falcons: BIJAN ROBINSON, RUNNING BACK, TEXAS
The Falcons get a superstar game-breaker.
9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): PETER SKORONSKI, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, NORTHWESTERN
The Bears need to protect Justin Fields so it starts with Skoronski covering his blindside.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (mock trade with Eagles via New Orleans): PARIS JOHNSON, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, OHIO STATE
Johnson has all the physical tools and intangibles to anchor the O-line and protect Kenny Pickett.
11. Tennessee Titans: WILL LEVIS, QUARTERBACK, KENTUCKY
Titans can’t pass up this opportunity to take Levis. He didn’t have eye-popping stats at Kentucky but he has size, build, makeup and experience in a pro-style offense that teams desire.
12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): LUKAS VAN NESS, EDGE, IOWA
After taking Stroud at No. 2, the Texans grab an elite edge rusher in Van Ness.
13. Green Bay Packers (from New York Jets): JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, WIDE RECEIVER, OHIO STATE
Using the pick from the Aaron Rodgers trade, the Packers take the first wide receiver. Smith-Njigba was the best WR at Ohio State two years ago on a team with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.
14. New England Patriots: BRODERICK JONES, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, GEORGIA
The Patriots get an athletic left tackle to protect the QB’s blindside.
15. New York Jets (from the Packers): DARNELL WRIGHT, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, TENNESSEE
The Jets select a powerful lineman to block for Rodgers.
16. Washington Commanders: JOEY PORTER JR., CORNERBACK, PENN STATE
The Commanders tab a physical cornerback, taking the son of former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (mock trade with Steelers) NOLAN SMITH, EDGE, GEORGIA
Smith joins former Bulldogs teammates Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean on a revamped defense in Philly.
18. Detroit Lions: CALIJAH KANCEY, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, PITTSBURGH
After selecting a CB earlier, the Lions continue to bolster a poor defense with an interior d-lineman who can get after QBs.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: MYLES MURPHY, EDGE, CLEMSON
Murphy strengthens a defense that will have to carry the team.
20. Baltimore Ravens (mock trade with Seahawks): CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ, CORNERBACK, OREGON
Ravens move up to get Gonzalez, who provides immediate help for a pass defense that finished 26th.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: ZAY FLOWERS, WIDE RECEIVER, BOSTON COLLEGE
Flowers slots in nicely with veterans Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
22. Seattle Seahawks (mock trade with Ravens): HENDON HOOKER, QUARTERBACK, TENNESSEE
Coming off a knee injury, Hooker has time to get healthy and develop behind Geno Smith.
23. Vikings: JORDAN ADDISON, WIDE RECEIVER, USC
Addison is polished enough to instantly step in to replace Adam Thielen.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: MICHAEL MAYER, TIGHT END, NOTRE DAME
Mayer upgrades the run game and pass game, giving Trevor Lawrence a potential top target.
25. New York Giants: JALIN HYATT, WIDE RECEIVER, TENNESSEE
Giants get a wideout with game-breaking speed in Hyatt.
26. Dallas Cowboys: BRIAN BRANCH, SAFETY, ALABAMA
Cowboys bolster their secondary with the best safety in the draft.
27. Buffalo Bills: BRYAN BRESEE, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, CLEMSON
Bills get a run stuffer.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: DEONTE BANKS, CORNERBACK, MARYLAND
Bengals add a physical, athletic cornerback to a depleted secondary.
29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco): JACK CAMPBELL, LINEBACKER, IOWA
The 2022 Dick Butkus award winner bolsters the defense.
30. Los Angeles Rams (mock trade from Philadelphia): MATTHEW BERGERON, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, SYRACUSE
Rams move up to get an offensive lineman with their first first-round pick since Jared Goff in 2016.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: MAZI SMITH, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, MICHIGAN
In a draft stocked with interior d-linemen, Chiefs get a big man with freakish athletic skills. ___