3-Round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Who Will the Panthers Take at 1?

Jan 31, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bryce Young, 2023 NFL Mock Draft second pick by the Houston Texans
Oct 15, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

2. HOU-Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Alabama’s Bryce Young was regarded for most of the season as the potential No. 1 pick in any 2023 NFL Mock Draft, by the Houston Texans. Houston was slated to pick first throughout nearly the entire 2022 NFL season, but bumped itself down to two after a week 17 victory.

With Stroud going No. 1, the Texans are still able to get their guy. Size is the clear concern for Young, standing at just 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 204 pounds at the Combine (which many believe is inflated from his actual playing weight). But when you watch the film, you can clearly see that Young knows how to play at an extremely high level, regardless.

Young is excellent at making plays off schedule and delivering accurate balls from varying platforms, which at his size, he has to be. He isn’t your prototypical pocket passer, and isn’t an elite runner, but he is well-rounded enough to be effective at the next level.

The Texans are another team with a new head coach, bringing in former Houston-great linebacker, DeMeco Ryans. Ryans and Young both heil from the Crimson Tide, and I believe that the entire Houston organization would be ecstatic to add a player of Young’s caliber with the second pick of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

3. AZ-Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

At this point in the 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Arizona Cardinals are sort of in the catbird seat. They could stand pat and draft the top non-quarterback in the draft, or they could move down, likely getting quite a haul, from a team that is still in search of a top quarterback.

Teams that come to mind that could possibly make such a move include the Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, or even the Indianapolis Colts who pick next, in order to ensure they get “their guy”.

Here, Arizona and new head coach Jonathan Gannon stay at pick three and select Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama. Anderson is widely regarded as the top defensive player in this class, and would help Gannon reshape this Cardinals defense into some semblance of what he just left in Philadelphia. Gannon’s background is mostly with defensive backs, so a trade down could lead to the selection of a cornerback, but at pick three, Anderson’s ability to create pressure is too good to pass up.

4. IND-Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Despite not trading up, the Indianapolis Colts still get the quarterback that I believe is the best fit for their team. One more team atop this 2023 NFL Mock Draft that has a new head coach, the Colts and former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, will be looking for a new leader under center.

After trying three different older, veteran quarterbacks under Frank Reich, Indy really needs to find a young quarterback to build its franchise around. Steichen’s success with Jalen Hurts in Philly makes Florida’s Anthony Richardson the perfect candidate.

Richardson’s running ability is on par with that of Hurts, who had an incredible breakout season in 2022 with Steichen. Where Richardson stands out, is with his size and arm strength. Richardson is built more like a Cam Newton or Josh Allen type of running quarterback than a Hurts or Lamar Jackson, likely making him a little more durable at the next level.

While Hurts is a coach’s son and is a very smart and cerebral processor of the game, what makes Richardson dynamic is his arm. He can launch the ball nearly the entire length of the field, and fit the ball into the tightest of windows with his zip.

Accuracy and consistency have been the biggest knocks on Richardson leading up to the draft, but I really like the potential that I see on tape. He has what it takes to be an accurate AND dynamic quarterback in the NFL, and could put it all together very quickly for the Colts, who are dying for a young a mobile quarterback, under Steichen.