Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. on stage after being selected by the Houston Texans third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Trades shape first round of NFL draft

Would the Houston Texans draft their future franchise quarterback, or pass on the position and take a stud on defense?

With a little trade magic, the Texans had it both ways, making a stunning trade in order to pick both second and third overall in Thursday’s first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Houston used its No. 2 overall pick on Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud before wheeling and dealing with the Arizona Cardinals to get into the No. 3 spot, where they selected star Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

The Texans acquired the No. 3 pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 105 overall) from Arizona in exchange for Nos. 12 and 33, plus a first-rounder and third-rounder in 2024.

Reports indicated the Cardinals were interested in moving down from No. 3, but for the Texans to be their dance partner was the shock of the night in Kansas City, Mo.

The last draft-day trade of a top-five pick was at No. 2 overall. In 2017, the Chicago Bears moved up one spot in a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The last time an NFL team picked at both Nos. 2 and 3 was Washington in 2000 (LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuel).

The Cardinals weren’t done, however. They participated in the second trade of the night as well, moving up from No. 12 to No. 6 by giving the Detroit Lions their No. 34 overall pick early in the second round.

Arizona took Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. — mocked to the Cardinals by many analysts at No. 3.

The Philadelphia Eagles, a team with no glaring needs, moved up from 10th to ninth with the Chicago Bears to grab Jalen Carter, whom many consider the best overall talent in the draft but who had fallen due to off-the-field concerns.

The Bears picked up a 2024 fourth-rounder in the deal.

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired the No. 14 overall pick from the New England Patriots for picks No. 17 and 120, the latter a fourth-rounder. They picked Georgia OT Broderick Jones, the fourth tackle of the night.

The Seattle Seahawks reportedly fielded calls for the No. 5 overall selection, but they stayed put and picked Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon.

–Field Level Media

University of Kentucky senior quarterback Will Levis launched the ball downfield during a Pro Day workout at Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, Mar. 24, 2023

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Picking through the odds: Will Levis new favorite at No. 2

Will Levis, not Will Anderson Jr., is the new favorite to be drafted with the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft at most sportsbooks.

The Kentucky quarterback climbed to -135 and overtook the Alabama defensive end and Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson in the odds for the futures market around the No. 2 overall pick.

Just three weeks ago, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was favored to land in Houston.

Last week, DraftKings was first to move Anderson Jr. to the favorite at No. 2 (+150) and Levis (+210) narrowly behind.

As of Monday, Levis stands at -125 at BetMGM and like FanDuel, Wilson (+300) is next and ahead of Anderson.

BetMGM lists Stroud fourth at +550.

–Field Level Media

Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson could climb draft boards if quarterbacks drop on draft day. .

NFL draft position series: Defensive line

Three of the top 10 talents in the 2023 NFL Draft are defensive linemen, and when the post-mortem review of this class takes place in four or five years, that number might be exceedingly higher.

Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. and Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson are pro-ready pass rushers at defensive end who could move to outside linebacker in the perfect scheme fit.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was once in the conversation to be drafted No. 1 overall. Grading on talent alone, he remains worthy of that consideration. But while Anderson and Wilson could be the posterboys for their position, Carter’s complete draft profile is more of a puzzle or riddle.

Here’s a look at the top defensive linemen available in the 2023 draft:

1. Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama
Projected pick: 3

Only Chiefs’ great Derrick Thomas had more sacks at Alabama than Anderson’s 34.5, a number the third-year junior reached despite entering the draft in 2023. His production was anything but ordinary as a player offenses schemed for and regularly double-teamed to lock Anderson out of the backfield. He can get washed out against massive blockers with power and length when he doesn’t get low or make first contact. A strong upper body, powerful hands, long arms — nearly 34 inches — and the ability to anchor to play with heavy legs in short-yardage point a top-5 grade.

2. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Projected pick: 6

Carter comes with some risk. Maturity and accountability questions persist, amplified by his alleged involvement in a fatal drag-racing incident. Zoom in to reduce the periphery to the player on the field and Carter elicits gold-standard scouting adjectives with rare talent, size and potential to get even better. He has ballerina footwork and sudden explosiveness, paired with the balance of a running back. Carter’s power is a tremendous asset in the trenches and he can annihilate double-team blocking when motivated. Zoom back out, and there are ample questions about drive, professionalism and decision-making that every team must answer before making the draft investment.

3. Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
Projected pick: 9

Wingspan. It’s the first term scouts spit out when the conversation shifts to Wilson. With a reach of 84.5 inches (7 feet), Wilson can close a gap in a blink at 270 pounds and has the jolt in his hands to rock blockers out of their footprints. Wilson was a top recruit by Texas A&M but left for Lubbock after a redshirt year and not starting in 11 games in 2019 with the Aggies. His production stacks up as modest (17 career sacks compared to 17.5 sacks for Anderson in 2022) but Wilson faced triple-team blocking on occasion and is a bit raw overall. He has very good speed and agility for his size and if he sinks his pads to limit a strike zone, blocking him could become a two-man job in the NFL.

4. Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia
Projected pick: 11

A high school running back with 11.5 career sacks in college, Smith might not rate as highly for teams that demand peak production in college. That would be overlooking the vital context in Smith’s scouting report, including a sizzling 4.38 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. He’s lean, all muscle, but light for a true defensive end role (240 pounds), Smith’s arm length and instant speed when the light goes green indicate a player with high-impact ability in the right defense. He’d be ideal in the “wide 9” alignment popularized by Jim Schwartz (current Browns defensive coordinator) or as a specialist in a 3-4 defense who can also turn and cover. And an inventive coordinator who recalls GMs shrugging at Penn State LB Micah Parsons playing at 240 shouldn’t rule out Smith being suited for a hybrid-type role.

5. Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
Projected Pick: 15

A blend of skills and experience at defensive end and defensive tackle and off-the-charts testing numbers — 7.02 three-cone drill — open a world of possibilities for teams to consider with Van Ness. He’s polished as a pass rusher outside and relentless competing when he slides over the guard as a defensive tackle.

Best of the rest defensive tackle prospects:

1. Bryan Bresee, Clemson: Recovered from 2021 torn ACL and family tragedy, don’t be surprised if a team picks Bresee in the top 15 because of his broad frame, quickness and power as a 3-technique.

2. Mazi Smith, Michigan: Weight-room wonder and a physical force who refuses to be blocked one-on-one.

3. Keeanu Barton, Wisconsin: Wrecking ball who plays like a true nose tackle despite his 300-pound frame.

Best of the rest defensive end prospects:
1. Myles Murphy, Clemson: With 17.5 career sacks and natural talent and speed, Murphy could turn into one of the draft’s true steals.

2. BJ Ojulari, LSU: A rush specialist for now, Ojulari’s ceiling is significantly high because of his raw tools and speed.

3. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State: He posted 34 career sacks (five seasons) for the Cyclones and was a constant menace in the backfield despite a relatively small frame.

–Field Level Media

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) and quarterback Bryce Young (9) celebrate a victory with safety Jordan Battle (middle) against the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Tide shifts: Odds signal Bryce Young, Will Anderson Jr. could go 1-2

Alabama could produce the top two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft if oddsmakers are correct with projections of quarterback Bryce Young being the No. 1 overall pick and defensive end Will Anderson Jr. going second.

Young is the overwhelming favorite to be the first player drafted, with the futures market pushing that wager to -1200 at Caesars and -1000 at DraftKings. That recent change moved Young ahead of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is no longer the favorite to be picked at No. 2.

DraftKings was first to move Anderson Jr. to the favorite at No. 2 (+150) but with limited clarity as Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (+210) is narrowly behind.

FanDuel has Anderson (+200) and Stroud (+250) nearly even in No. 2 pick odds and Anderson, Stroud and Florida’s Anthony Richardson dead-even at +250 to be drafted third overall.

Stroud is fourth in the No. 2 pick market at DraftKings, a signal the Houston Texans could be considering eschewing the quarterback need with their first of two first-round picks. Houston also has the 12th overall pick and is rumored to favor Richardson and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.

Of course, smoke screens and unabashed lies from personnel departments multiply this time of year with teams seeking to underplay their affinity for favored prospects and overplay the merits of others.

Anderson Jr. is also the favorite for the No. 3 pick at DraftKings. The Arizona Cardinals hold the pick entering the draft but are open to dealing the choice if a QB-needy team shows the appetite to trade a bundle of assets.

Field Level Media rates Anderson Jr. as the top defensive player in the draft.

DraftKings odds for the No. 2 overall pick as of Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET:
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama (+150)
Will Levis, Kentucky (+210)
Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech (+300)
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (+350)
Bryce Young, Alabama (+800)
Jalen Carter, Georgia (+1500)
Anthony Richardson, Florida (+1800)

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Robbie Anderson (81) catches a pass while warming up before they take on the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

Nfl Cardinals Vs Seahawks Seattle Seahawks At Arizona Cardinals

Report: Dolphins sign veteran WR Chosen Anderson

The Miami Dolphins agreed to terms with wide receiver Chosen Anderson, ESPN reported. Terms were not disclosed.

Anderson, 29, was released by the Arizona Cardinals last month in a cost-cutting move.

Anderson changed his name to Chosen in February, after an earlier switch from Robby to Robbie.

He played in 10 games with the Cardinals after an in-season trade with the Carolina Panthers.

Anderson caught 20 passes for 282 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (seven starts) last season.

He has 375 catches for 4,956 yards and 29 TDs in 111 games (86 starts) with the New York Jets (2016-19), Panthers (2021-22) and Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

Mar 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA;  Quarterback Bryce Young uses balls to help him loosen up during Pro Day at Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility on the campus of the University of Alabama. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News

Ncaa Football University Of Alabama Pro Day

Top QBs among 17 prospects planning to attend draft in Kansas City

Quarterbacks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson are among 17 prospects planning to attend the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Mo., on April 27.

Young and Stroud are widely expected to be the top two picks in the draft with the Carolina Panthers leading off the proceedings, followed by the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts.

All three QBs and Kentucky’s Will Levis are viewed as first-round picks and have visited both teams, we well as the Colts.

Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter also accepted invitations to attend the draft, as did top cornerback prospects Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois).

Running back Bijan Robinson (Texas), three wide receivers and yet another Crimson Tide product — safety Brian Branch — are also on the list of players scheduled to attend. The full list:

Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
Tyree Wilson, OLB, Texas Tech
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA;  Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) pressures Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) causing an interception during the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Alabama defeated Kansas State 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama OLB Will Anderson Jr. meets with Bears, ready to attack combine

To borrow a phrase from his college coach, Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. didn’t come this far to come this far.

Anderson, regarded a surefire top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has had meetings with the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Those teams own the top three picks in the draft.

“The culture is great there. I can tell they’re onto something special,” Anderson said of his time with the Bears in an interview that took place in a hotel room in the city.

Anderson also said he had was “very excited” about his session with the Texans, who hold the No. 2 pick.

“It means a lot — it just shows all your hard work has been paying off,” Anderson said.

Anderson played outside linebacker in the Alabama 3-4 defense and wasn’t asked to play with his hand in the dirt out of a three-point stance often. He’s been training at defensive end and outside linebacker, and said most teams classify him as an “edge” player with the versatility to rush the passer at either position.

Just 21 years old, Anderson had 10 sacks in 2022 while facing double-team blocks more than 80 percent of passing plays. He had 34.5 career sacks, the kind of production that will get general managers on campus. The Bears and Texans were both on the ground in Tuscaloosa during the 2022 season, but that’s not a rarity for the football factory run by coach Nick Saban.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Anderson are the top-ranked defensive players in the draft. Anderson tapped the left side of his chest when asked what made him the best of the bunch.

“What you have in here. That’s what carried me to this point in my life. … I feel like what I bring to the table, just consistency, being humble,” Anderson said. “Whatever culture I’m in, I’m going to do things the right way. I think that’s what sets me apart.”

Anderson considers himself a student of the game and has studied former Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, now with the Los Angeles Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa to polish his pass-rush arsenal.

Saban said last month that Anderson and prospective No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young separated themselves at Alabama through their constant competitiveness and football character.

Anderson said Wednesday that’s a big reason he’ll be participating in workouts with linebackers on Thursday. For the record, Young isn’t in the quarterback workouts, preferring to host scouts and general managers at his pro day this month.

“I’m super excited,” Anderson said. “All the work has been good.”

Anderson has found comfort during the Indianapolis speed-dating trial that is the combine, thanks to 13 total Crimson Tide players being on the invite list for the event.

Young, Anderson, linebacker Henry To’oTo’o and safety Brian Branch all rank in the Field Level Media Top 50, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs also could be drafted in the first two rounds.

–Field Level Media

2023 NFL Draft order set for picks 1-18

The Chicago Bears are on the clock.

With the NFL playoff field set, teams who didn’t qualify shift gears to offseason mode on Monday, including preparation for the April 27 draft. The first pick in the draft belongs to the Bears for the first time since 1947.

The Houston Texans won in dramatic fashion over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to forfeit the top spot. Houston picks second, followed by the Arizona Cardinals and Colts.

The order for the first 18 selections in the draft became official Sunday night, when the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions to secure a postseason ticket for the Seattle Seahawks. Playoff teams are slotted in the draft order upon elimination from the postseason.

As usual, quarterbacks could be coveted early. Among the teams with a long-term need at quarterback are seven teams with top-10 picks — Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis, Detroit, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Carolina.

Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis are projected as the top passers available in the 2023 draft.

Given the demand for QBs, the Bears could be ripe for a trade with former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields seemingly entrenched as their starter. Under second-year GM Ryan Poles, Chicago is projected to have a league-high $100 million in salary cap space this offseason.

Trade compensation assures three playoff teams the opportunity to make selections in the top 10 in 2023. The Lions have the sixth pick courtesy of the Matthew Stafford trade with the Los Angeles Rams and are one spot behind the Seahawks, who have the fifth pick by way of Denver. The Broncos traded their 2023 first-round pick to the Seahawks to acquire Russell Wilson in March 2022.

The Lions also pick 18th.

The 10th pick went to the NFC No. 1 seed Philadelphia as trade payment from the New Orleans Saints.

Trading Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns in 2022 also netted the Texans an extra first-round pick (No. 12 overall) in April.

2023 NFL Draft order (picks 19-32 determined by playoff results):
1) Chicago Bears
2) Houston Texans
3) Arizona Cardinals
4) Indianapolis Colts
5) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
6) Detroit Lions (via LAR)
7) Las Vegas Raiders
8) Atlanta Falcons
9) Carolina Panthers
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
11) Tennessee Titans
12) Houston Texans (via CLE)
13) New York Jets
14) New England Patriots
15) Green Bay Packers
16) Washington Commanders
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
18) Detroit Lions

–Field Level Media

37. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona CardinalsSyndication Arizona Republic

All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins returns as Cards lose Marquise Brown

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins returned from the suspended list Monday and could be back on the field Thursday night when the New Orleans Saints roll into town.

And for 2-4 Arizona, the help couldn’t be more timely.

“He’s gonna be anxious to get the ball in his hands and be super competitive. We need him to lift us up, there’s no question, with how we’re playing right now,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

Hopkins also returns as the Cardinals lost top receiver Marquise Brown (foot) to injury and already were playing without running backs James Conner (ribs) and Darrel Williams (knee).

Brown was injured on the final play of the game in the loss to the Seahawks. He’s expected to miss six weeks with a small non-surgical fracture, NFL Network reported. The team feared Brown might miss the rest of the season.

The Cardinals also fear starting left guard Justin Pugh is done for the season with a knee injury suffered Sunday, according to NFL Network.

To fill Brown’s spot, the Cardinals acquired Robbie Anderson from the Carolina Panthers. Anderson was kicked out of the Panthers’ game with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday by interim head coach Steve Wilks.

The Cardinals confirmed the deal Monday, adding the trade is contingent upon Anderson passing a physical. The Cardinals are sending Carolina a sixth-round pick in 2024 and a seventh-round pick in 2025, per ESPN.

The Cardinals officially added Hopkins to the active roster and released kicker Matt Ammendola.

Even with Anderson, Hopkins represents the potential cavalry amid a streak of three losses in four games and on the heels of producing only three field goals at Seattle in a 19-9 loss on Sunday.

Kyler Murray was sacked six times by the Seahawks, who entered the game ranked 32nd in scoring defense.

With Hopkins for 10 games last season, Murray was 8-2, completed 72 percent of his passes and had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 19-9.

In 10 games without the five-time Pro Bowler since the start of the 2021 season, Murray is 3-7 with a completion percentage of 64 and an 11-6 TD-INT ratio.

Anderson, 29, did not have any catches in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Rams. Wilks sent him to the locker room late in the third quarter after Anderson got in a heated argument with position coach Joe Dailey.

“No one is bigger than the team,” Wilks said after the loss, which dropped Carolina to 1-5. “I’m not going to focus and put a lot of attention on one individual.”

Anderson has caught 13 of his 27 targets this season for 206 yards and one touchdown in six games. Over seven seasons with the New York Jets (2016-19) and Panthers, he has 368 receptions for 4,880 yards and 29 scores in 101 games (84 starts).

Pugh, 32, is in his sixth season in Arizona. He’s having additional testing done to ascertain the severity of his injury. He has started all but one of his 57 games with the Cardinals. Drafted No. 19 overall in 2013 by the New York Giants, Pugh has started 119 of 120 games in his 10-year career.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robbie Anderson (3) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cards acquire WR Robbie Anderson from Panthers

The Arizona Cardinals acquired wide receiver Robbie Anderson in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, NFL Network reported Monday.

There was no immediate word on a return for the Panthers.

The move comes one day after interim Panthers coach Steve Wilks kicked Anderson out of a game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Arizona added another weapon for quarterback Kyler Murray on the same day All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins returned from his suspension.

The Cardinals (2-4) have dropped three of their last four games, including Sunday’s 19-9 setback at Seattle. Murray has three touchdown passes and three interceptions in his last four contests.

Anderson, 29, did not have any catches in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Rams. Wilks sent him to the locker room late in the third quarter after Anderson got in a heated argument with position coach Joe Dailey.

“No one is bigger than the team,” Wilks said after the loss, which dropped Carolina to 1-5. “I’m not going to focus and put a lot of attention on one individual.”

Anderson has caught 13 of his 27 targets this season for 206 yards and one touchdown in six games. Over seven seasons with the New York Jets (2016-19) and Panthers, he has 368 receptions for 4,880 yards and 29 scores in 101 games (84 starts).

–Field Level Media