By MIKE HERNDON
(UPDATED, 4/24, with Mock 2.0, including swapped picks for Green Bay and the New York Jets in the Aaron Rodgers trade)
Why is it that the only thing most of us care about in the first round of an NFL draft, other than who our favorite team selects, is how high the quarterbacks go?
It’s all anyone wants to talk about: Will all four of the top quarterbacks go in the top 10? Which one will go No. 1? Is someone going to trade up to take Anthony Richardson?
- Bryce Young.
- I don’t know, but there’s a good chance they end up regretting it if they do.
Some of these opinions could be considered contrarian this year. But we fell all over ourselves with last year’s crop of quarterbacks, too, and exactly one went in the first round – and that wasn’t until pick 20. It was a weird thing to watch. You have to assume it’s an outlier, but there’s one lesson we should take from it: The quarterback position is too important to screw up, and teams are going to be hesitant to spend prime draft capital on quarterbacks with obvious flaws.
If you’ve watched Anthony Richardson and Will Levis play more than one game, you’ve seen obvious flaws. They both have elite traits — a huge arm for Levis and generational running ability for Richardson – but both have also looked at times as though they might never complete another pass in their lives.
It’s high risk, potentially high reward, but such inconsistency and inaccuracy in a quarterback is difficult to gamble on in the top five or 10 picks. There’s a lot of pressure for quarterbacks taken that high to play early, and neither of these guys looks anywhere near ready. This is how GMs get fired.
Young and Stroud are the only quarterbacks in this draft that look ready to play, and Houston was once thought a lock to take whichever of those two fell to them with the second pick. Count me among those who see Young as clearly the best quarterback in this draft, size be damned. And we’re now hearing that the Texans may not as high on Stroud and are enamored with Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson.
If they pass on a quarterback, here’s where things could get interesting.
Arizona’s pick at No. 3 could suddenly become extremely valuable – and they’ve reportedly already been shopping it. If Arizona doesn’t trade out, it could leave Stroud to fall into Indianapolis’ lap at No. 4 — unless, of course, the QB-needy Colts favor Levis or Richardson In that case, one or more of the quarterbacks left could drop. I wouldn’t be stunned to see either Levis or Richardson fall in the 20s, or even out of the first round. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a fifth quarterback that’s drawn a lot of buzz in recent weeks, Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, rise into it.
And now here we are, at the end of a NFL draft preview that has done exactly what it complained about in the lead – focused wholly on the quarterbacks.
What did you want anyway, a critique of Darnell Wright?
He’s going to be a right tackle. Don’t draft him to play left.
The SportsChasers 2023 NFL mock draft, first round (we don’t try to predict trades, because we’re not masochists):
Mock 1.0——————————————————— Mock 2.0
- Carolina: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama——————-Bryce Young, Alabama
- Houston: Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama————–Will Anderson, Alabama
- Arizona: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia———————-Paris Johnson, Jr., Ohio St.
- Indianapolis: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State————-CJ Stroud, Ohio St.
- Seattle: Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech————–Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
- Detroit: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois————–Jalen Carter, Georgia
- Las Vegas: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon——–Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
- Atlanta: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa———————Bijan Robinson, Texas
- Chicago: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia—————Broderick Jones, Georgia
- Philadelphia: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern—Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
- Tennessee: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State—J. Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
- Houston: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky———————-Will Levis, Kentucky
- NY Jets: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State——–Green Bay: Peter Skoronski, NW
- New England: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia———-Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
- Green Bay: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee——–NYJets: Darnell Wright, Tenn.
- Washington: Joey Porter, Jr., CB Penn State——–Joey Porter, Jr., Penn St.
- Pittsburgh: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland————-Deonte Banks, Maryland
- Detroit: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Clemson——————Dalton Kincaid, Clemson
- Tampa Bay: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas—————Brian Branch, Alabama
- Seattle: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida————Anthony Richardson, Florida
- Los Angeles Chargers: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt—-Calijah Kancey, Pitt
- Baltimore: Brian Bresee, DL, Clemson—————-Nolan Smith, Georgia
- Minnesota: Jordan Addison, WR, USC—————-Jordan Addison, USC
- Jacksonville: Brian Branch, S, Alabama————–Brian Bresee, Clemson
- NY Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College——Zay Flowers, BC
- Dallas: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson——————O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
- Buffalo: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida————–Trenton Simpson, Clemson
- Cincinnati: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame——–Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
- New Orleans: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan————-Myles Murphy, Clemson
- Philadelphia: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson——Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
- Kansas City: Quintin Johnston, WR, TCU———–Quintin Johnston, TCU
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