NFL Draft Notebook: Panthers Take C.J. Stroud as QB of the Future

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) evades pressure from the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) evades pressure from the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the Carolina Panthers have traded up for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the question is: what will they do with the pick? The team has the option to choose between four quarterbacks who will likely be picked in the top ten of the draft and an elite pass rusher. When it is all said and done, look for Carolina to take Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with this pick.

NFL Draft Notebook: Panthers Take CJ Stroud as QB of the Future

Along with taking a look at what the Carolina Panthers may do with the top pick, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also looks at the following:

  • What makes C.J. Stroud worth the No. 1 pick
  • The top defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft
  • And much more

Carolina Panthers Mock Draft

Round 1, Pick 1: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
While there has been talk about Carolina having serious interest in Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, the smart money is on the team taking Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Stroud is the big, strong, accurate passer that coach Frank Reich has favored in the past.

Round 2, Pick 39: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
The Panthers lost their top receiver when they traded D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears and have little else at the wide receiver position. Carolina starts to address that need when they draft Jalin Hyatt out of Tennessee.

Round 3, Pick 93: Henry To’oto’o, OLB, Alabama
Even though the Panthers were able to resign Shaq Thompson, they still need to add depth at this position. To’oto’o is a smart and versatile linebacker who could play both inside and outside linebacker for Carolina.

Round 4, Pick 114: Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
Running back is another position that needs to improve its depth. In the selection of Chase Brown, the team gets an ultra-productive running back who shows a good combination of speed and power.

Round 4, Pick 132: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
Carolina needs someone to play opposite Brian Burns, and they hope they find that man with this pick. Zach Harrison is a big defensive end, coming in at 6-foot-5, who shows nice explosion off the ball

Round 5, Pick 145: Will Mallory, TE, Miami
Even though the Carolina Panthers added Hayden Hurst, they still need to add some playmakers at the tight end position. Miami’s Will Mallory ran a 4.54 40-yard dash which was the top number among all tight ends.

C.J. Stroud Scouting Report

Ever since coming out of Rancho Cucamonga High School, big things have been expected from C.J. Stroud. He has lived up to this hype by posting terrific numbers during his two years as the starting quarterback at Ohio State. In 2021, he was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after setting a Buckeye’s record for pass efficiency and completion percentage. He followed that up with a strong season this year as well, again being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and leading the FBS in pass efficiency, plus he finished second in the nation in touchdown passes.

When looking at Stroud, the first trait that stands out is his impressive accuracy. He does a terrific job of leading his receivers, which allows them to make yards after the catch, and also can fit the ball into tight spaces. He also does a good job of taking what a defense gives him which is the main reason he has accounted for 85 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. In addition to these two traits, Stroud has the arm strength to throw any pass in an NFL offense and has proven he can drive the ball through poor weather conditions.

While Stroud is the best pocket quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, he does have some concerns with his game. One of these is that he has trouble making plays when things break down. At Ohio State, he was not asked to make many plays outside of the pocket and only picked up 108 yards on the ground this season. Another concern is that, at times, he will hang onto the ball too long in the pocket and he will need to speed up his reads in the NFL.

Overall, Stroud is a player who can become a high-quality NFL starter. If the Carolina Panthers draft him and put him in a system where he can consistently operate in the pocket, he should be the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.

Top Five Defensive Tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft

1. Jalen Carter, Georgia
While there might be concerns about Jalen Carter’s maturity level, there is no doubt he has Pro Bowl potential. He is an incredible athlete for someone 314 pounds and has the quickness off the ball to get after the passer. He also has good strength, especially when he is playing with a low pad level.

2. Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
There is no doubt that Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey is the most athletic defensive tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft. This ability shows up whenever you watch him on tape, and he blows past the man assigned to block him, or when he is almost impossible to block on a line stunt. He also displayed this athletic ability during testing by running a 4.67 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and being named Bruce Feldman’s #9 Freak Athlete before the season.

3. Gervon Dexter, Florida
A player who should get looks in the late part of the first round is Florida’s, Gervon Dexter. What stands out about him is how well he moves for a player 310 pounds. In his game film, he shows a good burst off the ball and his 4.88 40-yard dash was one of the best times of a player over 300 pounds. In addition to his ability to get off the ball, he also displays impressive strength and displays a strong initial punch which makes it hard for offensive linemen to get into his body.

4. Bryan Bresee, Clemson
If Clemson’s Bryan Bresee can stay healthy, he could be a good run-stuffing defensive tackle in the NFL. Unfortunately, that has been a challenge for him as he has battled a shoulder injury, torn ACL, and other injuries. However, on the positive side he has the length and motor NFL scouts crave.

5. Colby Wooden, Auburn
While Colby Wooden might be on the small side, coming in at only 273 pounds, he should be able to find a role as a rotational defensive tackle as a rookie. The thing that stands out about him is his athletic ability. He is one of the quicker defensive tackles off the ball — and in general. This speed is backed up by his 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds. He uses this trait to get after the passer, having recorded six sacks last year, and he should be able to continue harassing passers as a 1-gap penetrating 3-technique defender in the NFL.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— Auburn running back Tank Bigsby had a strong Pro Day yesterday. The most impressive testing number he posted was a 4.46 40-yard dash, and he also look good in position drills. A few teams that showed interest in him at his Pro Day included the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs. This should only help his stock, especially since he was one of the most underrated players going into his pro day, and was a member of the All-Underrated team.

— A sleeper at the defensive tackle position is Keondre Coburn of Texas. While he currently carries a sixth-round grade according to Mock Draft Database, he carries a third-round grade on my board. The reason I like him starts with his enormous size. He weighed in at the NFL Combine at 332 pounds, and he uses this size to clog up running lanes and drive his man back into the backfield when rushing the passer. He also moves well for someone his size displaying the ability to make plays all along the defensive line. Look for him to be a day-three pick who gets significant playing time as a rookie, especially on early downs.

— One player the New Orleans Saints are bringing in for a visit is Bowling Green defensive tackle Karl Brooks. Brooks is a highly productive pass rusher who has recorded 17.5 sacks over the previous two seasons. He also shows the versatility to play either defensive end or defensive tackle in the NFL. He will most likely be drafted in the fourth or fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

— Georgia Tech’s Keion White continues to show why he deserves to be a top-ten pick. At his Pro Day last week, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds, which is extremely impressive for a player 285 pounds. This impressive time goes along with his other elite testing numbers he posted at the NFL Combine, including a 34-inch vertical jump and 30 reps on the bench press. White has also shown on film what a high first-round pick should, recording 7.5 sacks last year and displaying the speed to consistently harass passers.

— A special teams prospect who had a strong Pro Day is Michigan’s Jake Moody. Moody made 12 of his 13 field goals with the longest kick being 63 yards. While these are impressive numbers, he will still need to prove he can kick long-distance field goals in game-like conditions. Last season, he made only three of seven field goals from over 50 yards. Even though he might not have the strongest leg in the 2023 NFL Draft look for some team to use a sixth or seventh-round pick on him, because he is pretty much automatic on kicks under 50 yards.

— Northwestern’s Evan Hull is a running back who is getting some attention lately as a day-three running back. The main reason for this is due to his pass-catching ability. Last season, Hull hauled in 55 passes which was the most of any FBS running back. However, in order to fill the role as a third-down back in the NFL, he is going to need to improve his pass blocking.

Quote of the Week

“He’s a coach’s dream. Nobody is going to outwork him and football means a lot to him.”

– Area scout for AFC team to on Auburn’s Colby Wooden