Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Alabama quarterback Bryce Young walks the NFL Draft Red Carpet before the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers draft Alabama QB Bryce Young No. 1 overall

Quarterback Bryce Young was the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, revealing the target of the Carolina Panthers’ two months of wheeling and dealing and what the franchise hopes is a turning point.

Young was 24-3 as a starter at Alabama and won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2021.

Young spent three seasons in Tuscaloosa, winning a national championship as a backup to 2022 first-rounder Mac Jones. He won the Heisman in his first season as Crimson Tide starter. In 36 games, he threw 80 touchdown passes and completed 624 passes for 8,356 yards. He posted a record of 24-3 as a starter and holds numerous program records, including five games with five touchdown passes and single-season marks for passing touchdowns (47) and passing yards (4,872).

Young is praised for his ability to succeed off-script and find passing lanes with creativity and anticipation, but skeptics question Young’s size. He’s far from the requisite body type of NFL quarterbacks at 5-foot-11, 204 pounds, which calls into question durability and longevity.

But the Panthers pointed to experience when downplaying the scouting strife of drafting a quarterback without prototypical height and weight.

General manager Scott Fitterer was with the Seattle Seahawks when the team selected 5-foot-11 Wisconsin prospect Russell Wilson in the third round, and head coach Frank Reich mentioned production and instincts as winning traits that far exceed size requirements. Fitterer said Seattle’s review of all game film found Wilson had three pass attempts batted down in his college career; Young had two.

The Panthers acquired the No. 1 pick by trading the No. 9 pick, their second-rounder (No. 61 overall), a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-rounder to the Chicago Bears in March.

Quarterback was the No. 1 offseason priority for Panthers owner David Tepper, who attended pro day and private workouts with Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

The top quarterback on the depth chart when voluntary workouts began last week was Andy Dalton, ahead of 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral.

Tepper hired Frank Reich as head coach in January and another former NFL quarterback, Josh McCown, joined the staff to work with quarterbacks.

Carolina failed with two reclamation projects: Sam Darnold, who was acquired from the Jets and was drafted third overall in 2018, and Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the same draft acquired from the Cleveland Browns.

The Panthers were 7-10 last season and three quarterbacks — Darnold, Mayfield and PJ Walker — attempted at least 100 passes. The trio combined for 16 touchdown passes and 16 turnovers (13 interceptions).

The last Carolina starting quarterback with more than 15 touchdown passes in a season was Kyle Allen (17) in 2019.

Nine teams in the modern draft era (1967) have drafted first overall and made the playoffs the next season. The last time the Panthers drafted first, Carolina selected quarterback Cam Newton from Auburn. Newton was NFL MVP in 2015 and led the team to Super Bowl 50, a loss to the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Newton was still Carolina’s quarterback in 2018, the last time the Panthers reached the playoffs.

Young is the fourth QB in five years to win the Heisman Trophy and be selected with the No. 1 pick. He becomes the fourth Crimson Tide player to roll from Heisman winner to the first round of the NFL draft since running back Mark Ingram (2009 Heisman, 2011 first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints at No. 28).

–Carolina Panthers quarterbacks drafted in the first round:
1995 5th Kerry Collins Penn State
2011 1st Cam Newton Auburn

–First overall pick history since 2000:
2000 Courtney Brown DE Penn State Cleveland Browns
2001 Michael Vick QB Virginia Tech Atlanta Falcons
2002 David Carr QB Fresno State Houston Texans
2003 Carson Palmer QB USC Cincinnati Bengals
2004 Eli Manning QB Ole Miss San Diego Chargers
2005 Alex Smith QB Utah San Francisco 49ers
2006 Mario Williams DE North Carolina State Houston Texans Pro Bowl (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014)
2007 JaMarcus Russell QB LSU Oakland Raiders –
2008 Jake Long T Michigan Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
2009 Matthew Stafford QB Georgia Detroit Lions Pro Bowl (2014)
Super Bowl champion (LVI)
2010 Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma St. Louis Rams Heisman Trophy (2008)
Rookie of the Year (2010)
2011 Cam Newton QB Auburn Carolina Panthers Heisman Trophy (2010)
Pro Bowl (2011, 2013, 2015)
Offensive Rookie of the Year (2011)
NFL MVP (2015)
2012 Andrew Luck QB Stanford Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018)
2013 Eric Fisher T Central Michigan Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl (2018, 2020)
Super Bowl champion (LIV)
2014 Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina Houston Texans Pro Bowl (2016, 2017, 2018)
2015 Jameis Winston QB Florida State Tampa Bay Buccaneers Heisman Trophy (2013)
Pro Bowl (2015)
2016 Jared Goff QB California Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowl (2017, 2018, 2022)
2017 Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl (2018, 2020, 2021, 2022)
2018 Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma Cleveland Browns Heisman Trophy (2017)
2019 Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma Arizona Cardinals Heisman Trophy (2018)
Offensive Rookie of the Year (2019)
Pro Bowl (2020, 2021)
2020 Joe Burrow QB LSU Cincinnati Bengals Heisman Trophy (2019)
Pro Bowl (2022)
2021 Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowl (2022)
2022 Travon Walker DE Georgia Jacksonville Jaguars –
2023 Bryce Young QB Alabama Carolina Panthers

–Field Level Media

Alabama Crimson Tide Bryce Young (left) and Ohio State' Buckeye C.J. Stroud (center) pictured in a file photo with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett talk with ESPN Game Day before the game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Odds swing sets Bryce Young as heavy favorite at No. 1

Following the long-held believe that Vegas always knows, oddsmakers adjusted the futures betting markets in a big way with Alabama’s Bryce Young now a runaway favorite to be selected first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Young, who met with the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, had trailed Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud for most of March and briefly pulled to even odds this month.

On Wednesday, bettors placing a wager on the No. 1 pick found that Young jumped well ahead of the pack.

Young is now -360 to be the first pick in the draft at DraftKings, -270 at FanDuel and -300 at BetMGM. Stroud is running second at almost every sportsbook. Young was as high as +350 to be the No. 1 pick last month.

FanDuel lists Stroud at +200 and he’s +210 at BetMGM. Books have universally come to the realization the Panthers are down to two options at No. 1.

The third-best odds belong to Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson at +2000 (FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings).

Richardson’s odds to be drafted in the top five has also shifted with an over-under at 4.5 now +135 (over) at DraftKings. The under is -165.

–Field Level Media

Bryce Young throws during Alabama's pro day.

Syndication Tuscaloosa News

Odds shift briefly makes Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud co-faves at No. 1

It’s all up to the Carolina Panthers which college prospect — specifically, which potential franchise quarterback — will be made the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s NFL draft.

Where Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was once the heavy favorite, the odds have fluctuated plenty throughout the spring, especially Thursday.

FanDuel Sportsbook moved Alabama quarterback Bryce Young into co-favorite status with Stroud at -110 on Thursday at 12 p.m. ET, amid reports that several people within the Panthers organization prefer the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.

By Thursday evening, though, Stroud was bet back up to sole favorite status; he sat at -195 with Young not far behind at +140.

On March 10, the day after the Panthers traded with the Chicago Bears to obtain the No. 1 pick, Stroud was a -320 favorite at FanDuel to be selected first overall.

The Panthers hired Frank Reich as their new head coach this offseason, replacing Matt Rhule. Longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown will be Reich’s offensive coordinator, and according to NBC Sports, McCown has raved about Young to friends, one of “several influential voices in the organization” leaning Young’s way.

The odds gap is narrow at other sportsbooks, as well; BetMGM has Stroud a -175 favorite and Young at +130, and DraftKings also lists Stroud at -175 with Young at +125.

Stroud worked out at Ohio State’s pro day on March 22, and Young followed suit at Alabama’s pro day the next day. Several key NFL decision-makers were present at both pro days.

The Athletic reported Thursday that the Panthers have scheduled top-30 visits with the top four quarterback prospects — Young, Stroud, Anthony Richardson of Florida and Will Levis of Kentucky — for next week.

Young threw for 8,356 yards and 80 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in three seasons with the Crimson Tide. His 47 touchdown passes in 2021, the year he won the Heisman, set an Alabama program record.

Stroud finished his Ohio State career with 8,123 yards, 85 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 25 games (21-4) as a starter. He was a two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year and the first quarterback in conference history to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes.

–Field Level Media

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

Reports: Panthers acquire No. 1 pick from Bears in blockbuster

Carolina is on the clock after the Panthers traded two first-round picks, second-rounders in 2023 and 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, several reports said Friday night.

The Panthers are in position to draft the quarterback of their choice, owning the top pick for the first time since selecting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2011.

Chicago general manager Ryan Poles made his intentions clear at the NFL Scouting Combine — he intended to trade the pick to the highest bidder while committing to Justin Fields at quarterback.

The Bears stand to lose out on several top-ranked prospects in the deal by taking Carolina’s first-round pick in the 2023 draft, No. 9 overall, and the Panthers’ second-rounder (61st). But Poles made it clear in Indianapolis that the Bears felt they would get a “great player” regardless of the deal, which sets the franchise up with multiple first-round picks for the 2024 draft and multiple second-rounders in the 2025 draft.

Carolina hired Frank Reich as head coach after Matt Rhule was let go during the 2022 season. The Panthers made multiple trades in an attempt to fill the quarterback spot under Rhule.

But former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield didn’t pan out last season and Sam Darnold, originally drafted third overall by the New York Jets in 2018, failed to secure the position.

Other quarterback-needy teams who had hoped to move up in a trade with the Bears included the Indianapolis Colts (fourth overall) and Las Vegas Raiders (seventh overall).

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles looks on before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM heads to combine, where offers for No. 1 pick await

A deal for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is likely to be in place before the end of the Scouting Combine, which gets underway this week in Indianapolis.

Hometown general manager Chris Ballard is among the known bidders for the first pick in the draft, which currently belongs to the Chicago Bears. General manager Ryan Poles and Ballard were co-workers and shared an office in the Kansas City Chiefs’ scouting department.

Poles and the Bears are unlikely to draft a quarterback with Justin Fields entering his third season, but two top-rated defensive linemen would make staying put at the top tempting. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. are viewed as blue-chip players, but quarterback demand almost always raises prospects at that position in April.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are expected targets of the Colts, who would like to move up from No. 4 to avoid losing out on an elite passer. The Houston Texans own the No. 2 pick and are also in the QB market, as are a number of teams with selections in the top 10 who could be willing trade matches when Poles begins comparing offers.

Poles said in January he would listen to any offer, not immediately rejecting the notion a team could trade for Fields instead of the No. 1 pick. The Bears also plan to meet with quarterback prospects during in-person interviews in Indianapolis this week.

General managers often spend countless hours meeting with agents of their own veteran players at the combine with free agency opening in two weeks.

They’ll also be in the company of their peers during and after player testing periods at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The No. 1 pick has been traded before draft day 12 times since 1967. This is the first time the Bears own the No. 1 pick entering the draft since selecting Bob Fenimore in 1947. The “Blonde Bomber” was a halfback at Oklahoma A&M.

–Field Level Media

8. Atlanta Falcons -- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Syndication Ocala Starbanner

Florida QB Anthony Richardson is No. 1 bet in top draft pick futures

Two months before the 2023 NFL Draft, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has drawn more bets to go No. 1 overall than any prospect in the class.

Richardson opened at +10000 when BetMGM released top pick futures in January. By Tuesday, the polarizing prospect had jumped to +1000, and he climbed further to +700 on Thursday.

BetMGM data analyst John Ewing explained the rise of Richardson began Monday, when 13 percent of bettors had placed wagers on the quarterback going first in the draft. After multiple draft-focused sites began discussing Richardson as a serious option for the top pick — including NFL.com and Pro Football Focus — the public rode the flame to the window and Richardson currently leads all prospects at 22.6 percent of those bets.

Field Level Media rates Richardson as the No. 4 quarterback in the 2023 draft behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Quarterbacks are the top four in the No. 1 pick futures odds at DraftKings.

Young (-160) is ahead of Stroud (+380), Levis (+650) and Richardson (+750). Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is +850.

Richardson is drawing athletic comparisons to Cam Newton, who by way of Florida and then Auburn rose up draft boards after leading the Tigers to the national title and winning the Heisman Trophy. Newton was the No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

A word of caution when ingesting pre-draft buzz as gospel: The 2022 case of Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, the prohibitive favorite to be the first quarterback drafted who went closer to pick 100 than pick No. 1.

Willis was +4500 to be the No. 1 pick before the NFL Scouting Combine last February, then wowed in throwing sessions open to media and entered the top four in the top pick future.

Willis was productive in college — he threw for 5,117 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, rushing for 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns — and in media interviews.

Willis was -200 to be the top quarterback drafted on the eve of the NFL draft. The over-under for his draft slot at pick 9.5 was -140.

But the Auburn transfer wound up falling all the way to No. 86 and the Tennessee Titans.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Fields ‘would love honesty’ in Bears’ draft plans

In an interview on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Super Bowl radio row Friday, Chicago quarterback Justin Fields addressed the possibility that the Bears might use the No. 1 overall draft pick on another quarterback and said he’d like the team to be transparent with him throughout the spring.

Fields was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2021 draft, with 2022 being his first full season as the Bears’ starter. He finished the year with 2,242 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions plus 1,143 yards on the ground with eight rushing scores.

The Bears went 3-14, losing their final 10 games (Fields missed two due to injury) and passing the Houston Texans on the final day of the regular season for the worst record and top overall pick.

Fields said he had not spoken with the Bears about their plans, only having a standard exit meeting at the end of the season. Eisen asked Fields if he would want the Bears to keep him in the know if they “do their due diligence” of working out top prospects like Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

“Oh, yeah, for sure. I think everybody would love honesty in the process,” Fields said, “so I would definitely like to know that. And, you know, it’s a business. So totally understand, no hard feelings. But like I said, I control what I can control. Control my work ethic, control how I carry myself each and every day.”

Fields was then asked if he felt he already has “proven (his) worth” as the Bears’ franchise quarterback.

“I think I’ve shown a little bit, but I don’t think I’ve shown the world what I can do in terms of playing the full quarterback position and playing it consistently,” Fields said, pointing to his final game against Detroit, when he completed just 7 of 21 passes for 75 yards.

Chicago general manager Ryan Poles could go a number of directions with the No. 1 pick — replace Fields with an even younger high-quality prospect, select a defensive player to help a unit that ranked last in points allowed last year or trade out with a quarterback-needy team.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Nathan Peterman (14) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Bears secure No. 1 overall draft pick thanks to Texans’ win

The Chicago Bears moved past the Houston Texans in the draft order on the final day of the regular season to lock up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Bears lost 29-13 Sunday to the visiting Minnesota Vikings and finished the season 3-14.

The Texans then rallied to beat the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 for their third win of the season, wrapping the season with a 3-13-1 record — a half-game better than Chicago. The Texans will select No. 2.

Houston quarterback Davis Mills hit Jordan Akins for a 28-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion with 50 seconds left to provide the winning margin, with coach Lovie Smith opting to go for the win rather than a potential game-tying extra point.

The Bears have selected No. 1 overall only twice in their lengthy franchise history. They drafted halfback Tom Harmon first in 1941 and halfback Bob Fenimore first in 1947.

Prior to the late swap in position, mock drafts typically had the Texans selecting Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 pick. The Chicago Bears appear set at the position after second-year QB Justin Fields finished the season with 2,242 passing yards and 17 touchdowns plus 1,143 rushing yards (7.1 per carry) and eight scores on the ground.

The Bears might seek to address their defense with the top pick, with Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson expected to be a popular option in the early part of April’s draft.

Fields was held out of Sunday’s loss to Minnesota due to a hip injury the team doesn’t consider serious in the long term. Nathan Peterman started and Tim Boyle also saw time at quarterback for Chicago.

–Field Level Media

Feb 12, 2021; Clemson, SC, USA;  Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence works out as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer (right) looks on during Pro Day in Clemson, South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars GM will ‘hold tight’ to No. 1 pick, ignore trade offers

Try as teams might, the Jacksonville Jaguars are not planning to part with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville is expected to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence first overall next Thursday when the draft begins with Jacksonville on the clock for the first time under the power structure of general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Urban Meyer.

“We’ve fielded a couple of calls, but I think we’re going to hold tight,” Baalke said of trade interest in the No. 1 pick. “Again that decision is made organizationally and our ownership is involved with that as well.”

Meyer claimed Wednesday in the joint video conference the Jaguars haven’t finalized plans for the top pick. He said that could come this week during a meeting with owner Shad Khan.

“Ultimately, the owner is going to pull that ticket on that one,” Meyer said. “We’re going to have a great meeting and I imagine we’ll get closer to a decision.”

The rest of the world expects Lawrence to go No. 1, including oddsmakers.

Lawrence is a -10000 favorite at PointsBet to be the top pick, odds that were much shorter one year ago — a mere -305, in fact. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has the next-best odds to be the first pick at +1300.

Seemingly pre-ordained for the No. 1 slot since his fantastic freshman season, Lawrence passed for 10,098 yards and 90 touchdowns with 17 interceptions for the Tigers. He ended his college career at 34-2, third-best all-time among quarterbacks with at least 30 starts (Ken Dorsey and Matt Leinart are first and second).

Meyer was coaxed out of retirement and Baalke joined the franchise after previously serving as a scout and general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.

They’ve spent hours with Lawrence and evaluating his game, while also tapping into those closest to him, former teammates and coaches, to erase any hidden concern about his future.

“No negatives,” Baalke said of what he found researching and scouting Lawrence. “You’re always looking for the stars to align when you’re looking at prospects — whether that be from a physical, mental, character … whatever the case may be. With his situation, like many others in this draft, the stars all align. And that’s what you’re looking for.”

The Jaguars have 10 picks in the 2021 draft. They also pick 25th in the first round — compensation for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was traded to the Rams — and 33rd, the top pick in the second round, which begins Friday.

Meyer said his focus is on speed and “immediate value” as the Jaguars attempt to climb from the AFC South basement.

Jacksonville has drafted quarterbacks in the top 10 before, dating to Byron Leftwich (seventh overall in 2003), but the Jaguars’ recent history in this territory is dicey.

They took Blake Bortles third in 2014, Blaine Gabbert 10th in 2011 and will be selecting in the top 10 for the 13th time since 2008.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon (2) walks on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars clinch No. 1 overall pick of 2021 draft

Jacksonville’s franchise-worst 14th consecutive loss combined with the New York Jets’ win on Sunday allowed the Jaguars to clinch the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

That also could be termed as winning the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes with the star Clemson quarterback viewed as the clear No. 1 pick.

It will mark the first time Jacksonville has owned the No. 1 pick in the draft since entering the NFL in 1995.

The Jaguars (1-14) were routed 41-17 by the Chicago Bears on Sunday while the Jets (2-13) posted their second straight upset by recording a 23-16 triumph over the Cleveland Browns.

Jacksonville has started three different quarterbacks this season — Gardner Minshew (1-7), Jake Luton (0-3) and lately Mike Glennon (0-4) — while missing the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons.

Lawrence hasn’t yet announced his future intentions, but he would be the likely starter from the outset of the 2021 season if picked by the Jaguars.

Jacksonville has struggled of late when picking early in the draft. Between 2012-17, the Jaguars had six top-five selections and none of the players are still with the team.

The list includes receiver Justin Blackmon (No. 5, 2012), offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (No. 2, 2013), quarterback Blake Bortles (No. 3, 2014), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 3, 2015), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (No. 5, 2016) and running back Leonard Fournette (No. 4, 2017).

The Jaguars have picked second on three occasions with their best pick being offensive tackle Tony Boselli, who has been a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist the past four years and figures to be one again when the 2021 finalists are revealed next month.

–Field Level Media