During the NFL offseason, with football being seemingly irrelevant for the next six months, fans stay engaged by creating countless mock drafts. Through these predictions, people attempt to correctly predict trades and draft selections that they believe will happen. This has been an obsession and even a year-round job for many. Many analysts make these mocks as early as a whole year ahead of the draft, but they can rapidly change. While I’m not a professional, I’m certainly an avid football fan, so this is my mock for the first five picks in April 27th’s first round of the NFL draft.
Pick #1: Carolina Panthers select CJ Stroud
On March 10th, with numbers of options looming, the Chicago Bears traded the first overall pick to Carolina in return for pick #9, pick #61, a 2024 first round pick, a 2024 second round pick and the Panther’s star wide receiver DJ Moore. Now, head coach Frank Reich must make a decision on which quarterback will lead his squad’s future. Despite his many options, Reich is used to coaching tall pocket passers like Stroud. For example, he worked with the likes of Nick Foles and Peyton Manning, two super bowl champions known for their ability in the pocket. Stroud, an Ohio State product, stands at 6’3” and showed elite arm talent at the NFL combine in March. Due to Reich’s familiarity with Stroud’s player type, and Stroud’s exceptional level of play in college, he will be the first player off the board in 2023.
Pick #2: Houston Texans select Bryce Young
Young, a quarterback from University of Alabama, would have been the top draft pick for many, maybe even most, teams in the NFL. The only downside to the signal-caller is his frame, as he is just 5’10” and could get easily injured against the pros. He’s able to create plays from inside or outside the pocket, and excels at hitting throws in ridiculously tight windows. I particularly love his ability to take deep shots downfield and hit his pass catchers in stride. His speed and arm talent, coupled with whichever new top receiver the Texans will try to bring in, can result in Bryce Young quickly becoming a top quarterback in the NFL.
Pick #3: Arizona Cardinals select Will Anderson Jr.
I view Anderson as the best overall prospect in recent history, not just this year’s draft. The massive defensive end leaves Alabama with the second most tackles for loss in program history, and is prolific in all facets of his position. Whether he is asked to defend the run or the pass, there is no doubt that Anderson will thrive in any scheme on the next level. One of my favorite traits of Anderson’s is his drive to play through the whistle on every down. He seems to always be the toughest competitor on the field, and he will succeed greatly in any situation he is put in.
Pick #4: Indianapolis Colts select Anthony Richardson
Anthony Richarson, a quarterback coming out of the University of Florida, is the most athletic quarterback of all time. At the NFL combine he scored a 10 out of 10 on the Relative Athletic Score scale, showing just how special he can be. Richardson is the size of a linebacker but possesses the agility of a running back, along with the ability to make a 60 yard throw look effortless. Despite his generational athleticism, there are many question marks regarding Richardson’s game, mainly surrounding his accuracy and vision. His stats in college are also not favorable, however he played with very few NFL caliber athletes in his time at college. Anthony Richardson may take a few years to develop, but with the right mentoring and coaching he can become a truly generational talent with his special gift of athleticism.