Thankfully, the 2023 NFL Draft is less than a week away. All 32 teams are in the process of finalizing their draft boards, and looking ahead to Thursday night when the Carolina Panthers are officially on the clock.
All expectations have the Panthers drafting a quarterback with that selection, and all signs are pointing to Carolina adding Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with that selection.
After that, however? It seems all bets are off.
We’ll give into what the Houston Texans might do when they are on the clock with the second-overall selection, whether the Las Vegas Raiders are a team to watch for a trade up in the first round, whether C.J. Stroud is indeed sliding, and more rumors as the 2023 NFL Draft approaches.
Could the Texans stun us all?
As the 2022 NFL season gave way to the 2023 NFL Draft season, every analyst and reporter believed that the Houston Texans were a lock to draft a quarterback with the first of their two selections in the first round.
However, when the Panthers pulled off their trade with the Chicago Bears, leapfrogging ahead of the Texans and into the first-overall spot, the conversation shifted. Instead of the Texans being in position to draft the first quarterback on the board, now they were staring at perhaps QB2.
Still many — myself included — believed the Texans would forge ahead with a quarterback, whether it was Young or C.J. Stroud. But that idea has taken a hit in recent days, with insiders such as Matt Miller, Adam Schefter, and Lance Zierlein floating the notion that the Texans could pass on a quarterback and draft a defensive player, or even trade out of the second-overall spot.
For example, according to Miller of ESPN, the Texans are not sold on any of the quarterbacks except Young, and even have reservations regarding Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr.
During his pre-draft press conference Nick Caserio, the Texans general manager, addressed the idea of Houston trading out of that spot. “We’ve received some calls on the number 2 pick,” Caserio said during his press conference. “If you want to quote me… Are we open for business? We’re open to listening.”
Houston passed on a chance to trade with Chicago?
The Texans moving down in the first round is not the only rumor floating around NFL circles as the draft approaches.
There are also rumors that Houston and Caserio passed up on a chance to move up to the first-overall spot in a trade with the Bears.
According to Aaron Wilson of Click2Houston, the Texans were indeed in discussions with Chicago for a move to the first-overall spot, but balked at the idea of sending both of their first-round picks to the Bears. Houston countered with the second-overall selection, as well as the 2024 first-round pick the Texans received from the Cleveland Browns in the Deshaun Watson trade, but the Bears went in another direction.
Could the Las Vegas Raiders move up in the draft for a QB?
So if the Texans are moving back in the first round, who could potentially come up in a deal with them?
That team could be the Las Vegas Raiders, according to some recent chatter around the league.
Las Vegas added free agent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, but the Raiders have been linked with some of the incoming quarterbacks throughout this draft process. During his media session at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, prior to signing Garoppolo, McDaniels discussed idea of finding a long-term quarterback solution for the Raiders;
“I mean, I think there’s always urgency at that position. Look, the goal for us eventually is to have somebody that’s going to be here for a long time. I think that, you know, you see the teams that are having success right now, in our league, I would say in our conference, and specifically in our division. they’re young players that were drafted by their clubs, and they’re being developed there under the same continuity. And so I think that eventually, yes. Do I think you have to do that if you’re not sure or not sold on the player, and now you’re making a mistake, just to try to say that you’re solving a problem, I don’t think that’s really a smart decision. So we’re gonna do everything we can do to evaluate every player at that position, both in the draft and free agency and try to do what we can do to improve the room. I mean, there’s certainly going to be a number of players added at that position. Right now only Chase Garbers is under contract. So we’ll look at everything we can look at but the goal eventually is to try to have a young player here, that’s going to be a Raider for a long time.”
Now there are reports that instead of just seeing what quarterback is available when the Raiders are on the clock with the seventh-overall selection, Las Vegas may entertain trading up for a quarterback they like. On Thursday’s episode of Get Up, ESPN insider Dianna Russini indicate that the Raiders might be willing to come up to the third-overall pick — currently held by the Arizona Cardinals — if a quarterback they like is available:
“Arizona really wants to move out of that No. 3 spot. Teams have been having conversations with Arizona, and Arizona is very open to moving out. So, if the Raiders see a quarterback that they are in love with, they are willing to move up there and perhaps have some conversations to go get their guy,” said Russini on Thursday.
Still, there is a chance Las Vegas stays put, according to Russini, and addresses the other side of the football. “But that being said,” added Russini, “defense is the focus from what I can gather from having a couple of conversations with where they would like to go.”
Is C.J. Stroud really falling?
No, this is not the 2021 NFL Draft and we are not talking about Justin Fields, instead it is the 2023 NFL Draft and we are talking about C.J. Stroud.
With rumors swirling that teams are lower on Stroud than media consensus, and rumblings that the Ohio State passer did not score as well as the other QBs on the S2 Cognitive test, the newest pre-draft examination NFL teams are turning towards as they move away from the Wonderlic, could Stroud actually be falling down draft boards? Will Brinson of CBS Sports recently mocked Stroud to the Tennessee Titans at the 11th-overall selection, pairing the Ohio State QB with Mike Vrabel, another former Buckeye.
Is Stroud actually falling? These stories about him have the feel of a classic pre-draft smokescreen, and that the Ohio State QB still comes off the board at the top of the first round.
But I’m old enough to remember saying the same exact thing about Fields, before he slipped deeper into the first round than anticipated.
Are the Detroit Lions warming up to Jalen Carter?
Earlier in the draft cycle, there were reports that the Detroit Lions harbored reservations about Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Former Lions offensive guard T.J. Lang addressed those issues recently on a radio appearance. Speaking on 97.1 The Ticket, the Lions’ flagship radio station, Lang had this to say:
“If you just turn on the film and watched this kid play and never interviewed him, it would be a damn easy process for him. He’s one of the best three talents in this draft class. And I put more stock into that,” said Lang. “But if you’re the Lions, a team that has worked so hard the last two years to do this thing right, to bring in the right guys with the right characteristics and right type of leaders, if you get it wrong with one player at No. 6 that’s going to come in feeling some sort of immortality, it could go sideways really quick.”
However, is the mood shifting inside Detroit following a pre-draft meeting with Carter? The team met with the talented defensive tackle recently, and Brad Holmes, the team’s general manager, offered this during his pre-draft press conference Thursday. “Yeah he came in and he did a nice job,” Holmes said when speaking to the media. “Yeah, again, it’s always case-by-case. [Carter] came in, we enjoyed our time with him, he did a nice job. I’ll say even after he left our visit, I felt better on him.”
If quarterbacks do indeed come off the board within the first five selections, the Lions could be in a position to draft Carter with the sixth-overall selection. While that might have seemed unlikely a week ago, perhaps the odds are increasing of such a pairing next Thursday night.