The 2023 NFL Draft is just two days away and we still don’t know who is going to go No. 1.
The Carolina Panthers hold all the cards after their blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears to acquire the top pick.
It appears Carolina has honed in on two prospects with that pick: quarterbacks Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. Stroud may well be the slight front runner, as new head coach Frank Reich appears to favor a tall quarterback. But Young, a 5-foot-10 Alabama product, is also in contention and some reports say he’s beginning to gain some steam.
One of those reports comes from ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, who is perhaps the foremost name in NFL Draft coverage over the last 25-plus years.
Kiper turned heads on Tuesday when he projected Young to go No. 1 to the Panthers in his latest mock draft. He explained why on Tuesday’s edition of ESPN First Take.
.@MelKiperESPN on why he has Bryce Young going No. 1 overall over C.J. Stroud in his latest Mock Draft ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/penqmmlci5
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 11, 2023
“It’s the size,” Kiper said. “If you feel okay with 5-10 1/4, say 190 during the season, then you go with Bryce Young. Because he has everything else that you want. He is the incredible processor. He makes those instantaneous decisions like nobody else (and) he almost has eyes in the back of his head (with) some of the things he is able to do on the football field.
“I think he did it this year under some duress. That team wasn’t as good in certain places, like wide receiver (and) o-line, as they had been. So you saw what he had to do. He was dealing with the injury, playing through that after missing a game.
So I think that when it gets down to it, the infrastructure in Carolina is in place. The o-line. Miles Sanders. Adam Theilen. Head coach Frank Reich. Josh McCown, the OC. Duce Staley. The list goes on and on. They have everybody around the quarterback in Carolina to make him successful, and Bryce Young certainly seems like he’s gonna be the No. 1 pick overall.”
So there you have it. Not only does Kiper think Young goes No. 1, he also seems confident in that belief. But there’s still a lot of time, as draft lead-up goes, for things to change again.