NFL 2023 Beat Writer Mock Draft: QBs go quickly, surprise trade, Aaron Rodgers

With a new team picking No. 1, the first wave of free agency behind us and the 2023 NFL Draft just over a month away, the first round is starting to come into focus, but some mysteries remain.

Our NFL reporters gathered for the second of three virtual mock drafts this spring. As with our first beat writer mock last month, we encouraged our writers to trade picks to move up or down as they saw fit, and there was wheeling and dealing throughout Round 1. Here’s how it played out:

It’s an important week for the Panthers’ decision-makers, with the pro days of C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young and Will Levis on consecutive days, beginning Wednesday in Columbus. (Anthony Richardson’s is March 30.) The Panthers are comfortable with a couple of the top four quarterbacks, as The Athletic has reported. That would suggest Stroud and Young.

But Frank Reich has a type when it comes to quarterbacks, all of whom have been 6-foot-2 or taller (the majority have been 6-4 and up). Reich also values accuracy. That combination points to the 6-3, 214-pound Stroud, who has impressed with his ball placement and throwing mechanics. The one knock on Stroud was his unwillingness to make plays with his feet. Then he showed off his athleticism in the College Football Playoff semifinal against a Georgia defense teeming with NFL prospects, and everyone took notice. — Joe Person



From Panthers’ plans at No. 1 to Frank Reich’s thing with tall QBs: 7 things we learned

It’s no secret the Texans are drafting a quarterback, and with the Panthers jumping up to take Stroud, Houston winds up with the QB many regard as the best in this class. Yes, Young is a bit undersized, but he seemingly has all of the other physical skills and intangibles necessary to succeed in this league. With offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik having followed DeMeco Ryans to Houston to run the Shanahan offense, the Texans will support Young with a strong run game to set up the play-action passing attack while also moving him out of the pocket with roll-outs and keepers to help ensure his stature isn’t a problem. — Mike Jones

The Cardinals explored trade options but ultimately decided to stay put and take arguably the best player in the draft. Anderson was an elite pass rusher in college, and there’s no reason to think that won’t translate at the game’s highest level. First-year coach Jonathan Gannon has several needs, but with Anderson, he has a defensive pillar he can build around. — Doug Haller

The Colts rolled the dice on staying put at No. 4, assuming another QB-needy team wouldn’t trade with the Cardinals at No. 3, and they were right. Still in need of their own signal caller, and with Stroud and Young off the board, Indianapolis chose Richardson over Kentucky’s Will Levis. Richardson has the most upside of any player in the draft. It might take the 21-year-old some time to adjust to the NFL, but that’s why the Colts signed Gardner Minshew. He’ll start until Richardson is ready to shoulder the weight of a franchise. — James Boyd

If the board falls this way, the Seahawks will likely attempt to trade down, which is what I tried to do in this mock. There weren’t…

Read More: NFL 2023 Beat Writer Mock Draft: QBs go quickly, surprise trade, Aaron Rodgers

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