ESPN’s Mel Kiper projects C.J. Stroud to Panthers in latest mock draft
For the first time since the Carolina Panthers commandeered control of the 2023 NFL draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. rolled out his first-round projections for the night of April 27. So, who does the OG guru have atop the board?
Well, like many others, Kiper sees the Panthers eventually settling on Ohio State University’s C.J. Stroud with the No. 1 overall selection. He writes:
I’m leaning toward Stroud based on what I’m hearing. He’s super accurate, has impressed everyone throughout the pre-draft process and is the ideal size profile of recent Frank Reich quarterbacks. He has the slight edge over Bryce Young based on fit. Carolina added veteran Andy Dalton to guide the rookie, but whoever this quarterback ends up being needs more playmakers around him. Without Moore, its No. 1 receiver now becomes Adam Thielen, who was signed to a deal this week. Laviska Shenault Jr., Terrace Marshall Jr. and running back Miles Sanders are on the roster, but this group is among the league’s worst. Thanks to the Christian McCaffrey trade, the Panthers had extra selections — they still have second- and third-rounders to add players — but this is not likely to be a team that challenges for a playoff spot in 2023.
Stroud has become a popular choice for Carolina’s pick, having been listed as the odds-on favorite by numerous online books over the past week and a half. While Alabama’s Bryce Young and Florida’s Anthony Richardson present their own special traits, Stroud’s pure talent as a passer is unmatched in this class.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder put on a dazzling display at the NFL Scouting combine back on March 4 and is set to do the same for his pro day in Columbus on Wednesday.
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