C.J. Stroud had a great pro day (we were there — check the video above to watch our recap!) and it further solidified his case as one of the top-two QBs in this draft class. We’ve heard that the Panthers are high on Stroud — and for now, we have him going No. 1 because it’s easy to envision him transitioning from Ohio State to a Carolina staff that includes Frank Reich and Jim Caldwell.
Young came in at 5-10 1/8 and weighed 204 pounds at the combine and didn’t take part in the drills. But last week he threw at his pro day (we were there for that, too — see above!) and, like Stroud, showed off the traits that make him so special. He’s our QB1 but it’s not hard to imagine why, for example, the Panthers might prefer Stroud. If so, the Texans will jump at the chance to land Young here.
Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger remain from last season’s team while Matt Ryan is now a free agent. The Colts also signed Gardner Minshew, which means the team now has … three backup quarterbacks on the roster. Put another way: They’re still targeting a QB in the draft and the question becomes, which one falls to them if they stay at No. 4, and if it comes down to, say, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis, who will get the nod? We’re still sorting through who will be our QB3 and QB4, but given what new coach Shane Steichen and Jalen Hurts were able to do together in Philly, it’s not hard to imagine the new staff falling in love with Richardson.
The more you watch of Wilson the more you love his game. Not only what he put on tape at Texas Tech but his upside 2-3 years down the road. He’s long, has the frame to add weight if needed, and he’s a dominant, high-motor pass rusher who can take over games.
The Lions had a need at cornerback … and promptly addressed it to start free agency, adding Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. And while there is depth at defensive end, Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris are entering the final year of their deals and the opportunity to pair Lucas Van Ness with Aidan Hutchinson is too good to pass up.
Murphy turned 21 in early January, and while we’d like to see him play with more consistency, his best football is in front of him, for sure. He has all the physical tools you look for in an elite edge defenders and it’s easy to see him in a few years being dominant. And that, in large part, is what makes him such an interesting prospect.
Jalen Carter, who was arguably the best defender on a ’21 Georgia defense that had five first-round picks, would be an easy pick for the Falcons here. He left the combine only to return less than 24 hours later after meeting with Athens police. And then showed last week at his pro day nine pounds heavier, and by several accounts, winded after his workout. Where he is ultimately drafted remains an unknown, but he is a special talent.
No team has been busier this offseason than the Bears, who added talent on both sides of the ball, including guard Nate Davis, tight end Robert Tonyan, defensive end DeMarcus Walker (7.0 sacks with the Titans in ’22) and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. There’s still a need at right tackle and edge rusher but with many of the top free-agent offensive lineman already signed elsewhere, and since this draft class is deeper at EDGE than OT, Chicago takes Paris Johnson Jr. here. He played left tackle last season at Ohio State and was the right guard during the ’21 season. Protecting Justin Fields is Priority No. 1, and they can circle back at pick No. 53 (or even 61) to get that pass rusher.
Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed — he ran a 4.38 40 at the combine — to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support.
The Titans added Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill in free agency to bolster the O-line but there’s still room for improvement. Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he’ll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard. But like he told us at the combine, there are plenty of NFL offensive tackles who have long arms and struggle too. That’s not the final determinant of success. In Tennessee he can play inside on Day 1.
The Texans got their QB with the No. 2 pick, and now they give him a legit Day 1 playmaker. Smith-Njigba, who barely saw the field during the 2022 season because of injuries, is still one of the top wideouts in the class. Before he shined at the Ohio State pro day, it was easy to forget that JSN led the 2021 Buckeyes in receptions and that corps included first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, and future first-rounder Marvin Harrison Jr.
The Jets added depth along the interior offensive line with Wes Schweitzer and Trystan Colon-Castillo, but questions remain about former first-rounder Mekhi Becton. It’s a matter of if, not when, Aaron Rodgers arrives, and protecting him will be priority No. 1 given how good this defense was in 2022. Broderick Jones, meanwhile, had a strong ’22 campaign for the Bulldogs, where he has faced some of the best defensive players in the country every day at practice for the last two years. He’s not yet a finished product but he has the athleticism and strength to be a difference-maker when he puts it all together.
The Patriots were busy the first week of free agency, beefing up the offense for Mac Jones. The team added tackle Riley Reiff, tight end Mike Gesicki, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Robinson. And even though the team re-upped cornerback Jonathan Jones, there isn’t much depth at the position. Witherspoon had a great season for the Illini and while there will be questions about his 180-pound frame, you wouldn’t know it to watch him play.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard signed with the Jets and Randall Cobb might not be far behind, and the same could be true for tight end Marcedes Lewis. The other tight end, Robert Tonyan, already signed with the Bears. Put another way: even though the Packers have not historically used first-round picks on wide receivers, this might be the year. And with this tight end class being so deep, Green Bay can address that need with their 45th selection. Addison isn’t a big target, but he’s one of the most dynamic players in the country who can line up anywhere. He “only” managed a 4.49 40 at the combine but the tape is the tape — and it consistently showed that he was regularly the best player on the field who can win at all three levels, playing either outside or in the slot.
Washington added guard Nick Gates and tackle Andrew Wylie in free agency so the urgency to upgrade the offensive line early in the draft is no longer what it once was. Instead, the team targets cornerback; Kendall Fuller is entering the final year of his contract and Benjamin St-Juste has been replacement level. Joey Porter Jr. is the prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield but that doesn’t mean he can’t be dominant at the next level.
The Steelers got interior offensive line help with Nate Herbig, Isaac Seumalo and others, and made some defensive moves with linebackers Elandon Roberts, Cole Holcomb and cornerback Patrick Peterson. Still, offensive tackle and edge rusher could be the play here, but with a run on both positions in the first half of the round, Pittsburgh instead targets S1, especially after losing Terrell Edmunds to the Eagles. Brian Branch is special; he can play in the slot, near the line of scrimmage or deep centerfield. And if Nick Saban trusted him at Alabama, that’s all you need to know about his NFL prospects. He ran a 4.58 at the combine but he plays much faster than that.
We rounded out last week’s pro day travels with a stop in Lexington, Kentucky to see Will Levis in person. He’s built like a linebacker and watching him throw the ball in person is something to behold — you can actually hear the passes whistle — but questions remain about his ability to layer the ball to all three levels, and some inconsistencies when he rolls to his left. There’s talk that he could slip on draft day and depending on how long he lasts, maybe a team like the Rams would make a move to get him. Because if anyone can get the most out of Levis’ ability, it’s Sean McVay. (In this mock trade, the Rams get pick No. 18 and the Lions get picks 36, 77, and a 2024 2nd-rounder.)
There was some thought that Harrison might return to Oklahoma for an NIL deal that was too good to pass up but he’s instead opted for the NFL. He’s one of the top tackles in the class and now the question is whether he finds his way into Round 1 or goes early on Day 2.
The Seahawks re-upped guard Phil Haynes on a one-year deal, but he and Damien Lewis will be out of contract after the ’24 season, and while there’s a need at center too, the team has the 37th (thanks, Denver!) and 52nd picks in Round 2 and there will be starting centers available in that range. Instead, the team goes with O’Cyrus Torrence, who transferred from Louisiana and didn’t miss a beat in the SEC. He was dominant for Florida last fall, he was dominant during Senior Bowl practices, and if history is any guide, he’ll be dominant in the NFL, too.
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Robinson is special, and while he is probably one of the best players in this class, he could still be around late in Round 1 because he’s a running back.
This is all contingent on Lamar Jackson returning to Baltimore, of course. But assuming this happens, the team has to get him some downfield weapons and they’ve been quiet in free agency through the first week. Here they get player who could end up WR1 on draft night. Johnston’s an above-the-rim playmaker whose athleticism and contested-catch abilities were all over his tape at TCU.
The Vikings have four defensive tackles on the roster who will be free agents after the ’23 season. And while Bresee’s tape was uneven in ’22, he suffered a family tragedy and was sick for much of the season. And the year before, he suffered an ACL injury. When he’s healthy and locked in, Bresee is a special talent whose best football is ahead of him.
The Jags lost Jawaan Taylor in free agency and while Walker Little would seem to be next man up, the 2021 second-round pick wasn’t able to beat out Taylor for the job last August. He fared well in fill-in duty at left tackle late last season but as Jacksonville looks to take the next step, protecting Trevor Lawrence is job No. 1. Wright is a first-round talent all day long and don’t be surprised if he’s RT1 — and maybe even one of the first offensive linemen off the board.
Maryland teammate and fellow cornerback Jakorian Bennett got much of the buzz in the fall but Banks put together the type of season that will land him in the first-round conversation. He’s a fluid athlete who is also a big, physical corner who can match up with NFL wide receivers.
Dalton Schultz signed with the Texans, and now the Cowboys have Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot and Sean McKeon at tight end, a group that combined for 32 receptions a season ago. Perhaps Dallas feels good about this group; Ferguson was a ’22 fourth-rounder, and Hendershot and McKeon were both undrafted free agents. But none were as athletic as Schultz … and that’s where Musgrave comes in. He was getting some late-first/early Day-2 buzz down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and while he didn’t have a great week, it was certainly easy to see why teams like him. Musgrave missed most of ’22 with an injury but he’s well built, long, and has the athleticism to consistently separate from both safeties and linebackers. His blocking is a work in progress but he’ll be a contributor in the passing game from Day 1.
Sanders is a former five-star who transferred from Alabama after the 2021 season and all he did was show out for the Razorbacks. He was an edge rusher for the Crimson Tide but he lined up all over the defense for Arkansas and he’s been a one-man wrecking crew when he’s on the field.
The Notre Dame standout told us at the combine that he loves the way Travis Kelce plays the position, and while he may not be quite that athletic, Mayer is already a better blocker. He’s also a legit downfield threat who it’s easy to imagine quickly becoming another one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets.
White was another player who had a great week at the Senior Bowl, and NFL teams love his size (6-foot-4, 280 pounds) and his motor. He consistently wins at the line of scrimmage and is good against both the run and getting after the quarterback. He may eventually end up going early on Day 2 but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him slip into the first round.
Nolan Smith missed part of the 2022 season with a pectoral injury but he’s is an electric pass rusher when healthy. He’s also a freakish athlete — he ripped off a 4.39 40 at the combine (and was mad about running too slow!). That motor is all over his tape and he’d fill a huge need in Philly.
The Chiefs lost left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency and signed Jawaan Taylor, the former Jaguars right tackle. The plan is to move Taylor to the left side, which means there’s a need on the right, even if Lucas Niang is currently penciled in there on the depth chart. Dawand Jones had a great season and it was hard to overlook just how dominant he was in one day of practice at the Senior Bowl. Yes, his footwork needs some fine-tuning but his huge frame, long arms and enormous wingspan more than make up for what he lacks in quickness. He’s block-out-the-sun big, even when standing next to his offensive linemates.