The 2023 NFL Draft rumors are flying long before Roger Goodell announces who will be the No. 1 pick. While the pre-draft process will lead to plenty of speculation and debate, the latest NFL Draft rumors provide an early look at what could happen.
Each NFL offseason provides fans with an opportunity to get excited about the future. It’s especially true for a 2023 NFL Draft class that features plenty of high-end talent at star positions and marquee names who have dominated college football for years.
Naturally, NFL Draft rumors are a mixed bag of useful information and smokescreens. Teams will happily leak out misleading information with the hope it influences when specific players are selected. In the weeks ahead, we’ll analyze every rumor and determine whether fans should take it seriously or view it as the latest smokescreen from the NFL.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order
Let’s dive into the latest 2023 NFL Draft rumors.
NFL Draft rumors: Carolina Panthers expected to be aggressive
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has made it clear in recent years that acquiring a franchise quarterback is his No. 1 priority, regardless of the cost. After striking out on a trade for Deshaun Watson in 2022, Carolina might have its sights set on the 2023 NFL Draft.
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Panthers are expected to be “aggressive” leading up to the NFL Draft. While there isn’t clarity on which quarterback they covet the most, the likes of Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud are all options the Panthers could move into the top-three picks to land.
Latest on Jalen Carter’s draft stock
Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter went to the NFL Combine viewed as the consensus best player in the 2023 NFL Draft. Shortly after his arrival, an arrest warrant was issued with two misdemeanor charges stemming from his alleged involvement in a fatal January crash. Carter returned to Indianapolis after posting bail and said he will be exonerated. Barring the revelation of more information, NFL teams expect Carter to still be a top-five pick.
Anthony Richardson crushed interviews with teams
So much of the focus at the NFL Scouting Combine centers on how a prospect performs during drills and with his athletic testing. In those areas, Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson crushed the process. He is the most athletic quarterback ever to test at the NFL Combine and he boasts one of the strongest arms in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, it seems like the interview process helped his draft stock even more.
“I talked to a handful of scouts last night, who had been in interviews when they had the top-four quarterbacks back to back to back – every single one of them said Anthony Richardson is the best quarterback interview they’ve had this year. Some of them said he’s the best quarterback interview they would have had last year. He is crushing it in the interview portion.”
ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller on Florida Gators QB Anthony Richardosn
Nailing interviews with teams is one of the most important parts of the pre-draft process. Not only will coaches and executives know Richardson better, but he also showcased his outstanding football IQ, poise, leadership and maturity. He is checking off a lot of boxes and could be a top-five pick in April.
Arizona Cardinals open for business with No. 3 pick
What do you do when you have a top-five pick with your franchise quarterback already on the roster in a year with several top QB prospects available? Most would agree, the Arizona Cardinals are in a prime position to possibly trade down from the No. 3 overall pick.
According to new GM Monti Ossenfort, that’s exactly what the Cards are contemplating this offseason. While the Cardinals are open to trading the third pick, there are also several highly-touted players they would appear to be comfortable selecting as well. Basically, the phone lines are open, but Arizona is not guaranteed to move around.
AFC exec cautions Bryce Young’s size is a large concern
Despite a wildly successful college career, which included winning a Heisman Trophy, Bryce Young still has a lot of question marks. Specifically, scouts are uncertain that his slight frame will hold up in the NFL. Young, who is listed at 6 feet, 194 pounds, may end up measuring a bit smaller. Some even believe the Alabama QB could measure in near 5-foot-10, the same height as Kyler Murray.
Except the big difference between the two is Murray has cat-like agility that allows him to quickly flee the scene when the pocket gets messy. While Young is mobile, he’s not on the same level as K1.
One AFC executive described Young’s stature as a “major deal” during the pre-draft evaluation process. ESPN’s Todd McShay noted he’s very high on Young, but he also would be “scared to death” to select him at the top of this year’s draft.
Washington Commanders expected to do due diligence on QBs
Right now, the Commanders’ QB job is Sam Howell‘s to lose, but that could change by the end of the offseason. Washington holds the 16th overall pick, which may not be a prime window to land any of the top four QBs projected to go in this year’s draft. But that won’t prevent the franchise from extensively doing their homework on the 2023 crop of signal-callers, according to Albert Breer.
NFL teams split on Anthony Richardson
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson is arguably the most polarizing prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. In terms of pure physical tools, he could arguably be the No. 1 overall pick and there are some within the NFL who believe he warrants that consideration. However, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, others see him as a fourth-round selection.
“I can’t remember a bigger variance league-wide on a feeling about a quarterback than Anthony Richardson.:
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on how NFL teams view Anthony Richardson
The stark contrast in evaluations likely comes down to his pro-readiness and confidence in how fixable he is. Some coaches will see the perfect quarterback building block, someone just as physically talented as Josh Allen with an equal ceiling. Others spot a wildly inaccurate quarterback with mechanical issues who can’t start in 2023 and might not ever be a reliable passer.
Bijan Robinson is well-regarded by NFL teams
Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson is the best player at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, many teams are not fond of spending a first-round pick on a running back. It’s different with Robinson, with evaluators extremely high on him. There is a chance he is a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and some teams believe his talent is even better than that.
Chicago Bears expected to trade down, but not outside of top-five
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, a widely respected draft analyst, reported his expectation that the Chicago Bears will likely look to trade the No. 1 overall pick. If the Bears do find a trade partner, it’s expected to be one that allows them to still land a top defensive prospect. This likely means the Bears could be looking at staying within the top five, yet a run on quarterbacks could also allow them to slip a bit further down the board.
Houston Texans reportedly informed coaching candidates of plan to draft QB
Knowing they need to find a franchise quarterback, the Houston Texans reportedly relayed their intent to address the position with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft. Coach DeMeco Ryans has already echoed this sentiment, noting the Texans “have to add more” at the QB position this offseason. So who will it be? The top candidates are Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. No matter what, the Texans will be doing their due diligence all offseason long.
NFL Draft rumors: Favorite emerges to move up for No. 1 pick
The Chicago Bears are fielding trade offers for the No. 1 overall pick, and while there will be multiple suitors, one team has seemingly emerged as the early favorite to snag the selection. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin and Matt Miller spoke to NFL executives who identified the Indianapolis Colts as the likeliest team to acquire the No. 1 pick.
Minnesota Vikings could spend first-round pick on QB
After missing out on Justin Fields in 2021, the Minnesota Vikings could see an opportunity in the 2023 NFL Draft to land their quarterback of the future. While the franchise is committed to Kirk Cousins for the 2023 season, second-year Vikings’ general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have his eye on hand-picking the next passer for the team. As one NFL insider explained, with details below, there is a real scenario where the Vikings spend their first-round pick on a quarterback in April.
Bryce Young draft stock sliding?
If evaluating quarterbacks based purely on talent and intangibles, Bryce Young would be the unquestioned No. 1 overall pick. However, the Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback carries one massive red flag. At 5-foot-11 and weighing under 190 lbs, his frame is a major concern for teams.
As a result, per ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, there were rumblings at Super Bowl week that C.J. Stroud is starting to push up to the top of some draft boards. The gap between the two isn’t as wide as some were led to believe and it stands to reason, because of Young’s size, he might not be the No.1 pick.
2023 NFL Draft tight end class making waves
A year after the first tight end was drafted with the 55th overall pick, the 2023 NFL Draft class looks much stronger at tight end. Notre Dame start Michael Mayer is viewed as the No. 1 tight end in the draft class, but he might not be the only one drafted in Round 1.
Speaking to NFL scouts and executives at the Senior Bowl, The Ringer’s Ben Solak wrote that tight ends generated a lot of attention from teams. There’s reportedly now first-round buzz around four tight end prospects, including Utah’s Dalton Kincaid and Georgia’s Darnell Washington. While Solak still doesn’t expect to see three tight ends picked in Round 1, this projects as one of the best classes at the position in years.
Hendon Hooker draft stock climbing after Senior Bowl
Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 19, ending his shot at the Heisman Trophy and delivering a blow to his draft stock. While he couldn’t take part in Senior Bowl practices, the 25-year-old quarterback made the most of his trip to the Senior Bowl.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Hooker made a strong impression on multiple teams during his interviews this week. The scouting process also involves NFL clubs reaching out to prospects’ former coaches and teammates, gauging the type of leader and person he is. According to league officials who spoke to Howe, Hooker is viewed as a strong leader by his Tennessee teammates.
The NFL Scouting Combine will allow teams to evaluate Hooker’s surgically-repaired knee, determining how far along in the rehab process he is. While he won’t be a first-round pick, Hooker could be one of the best Day 2 quarterbacks drafted.
NFL Draft rumors: Latest on 2023 NFL Draft prospects after Senior Bowl
As the Senior Bowl 2023 wraps up, information on some notable 2023 NFL Draft prospects emerged with some players boosting their stock while others created more questions.
It starts with Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett, who was recently charged with public intoxication. The 25-year-old quarterback hasn’t done himself any favors during the pre-draft process. Already knocked for his size and diminished talent, Bennett opted not to participate in the Senior Bowl. Between his recent off-field issue and the declined Senior Bowl invite, NFL executives told Ari Meirov of the 33rd Team that Bennett now projects as a late Day 3 pick at best.
It’s not all bad news for NFL Draft prospects. Tulane running back Tyjae Spears stood out at the 2023 Senior Bowl, catching the eyes of NFL teams with his big-play ability, vision and athleticism. In addition, per Meirov, scouts and executives came away impressed by Notre Dame edge defender Isaiah Foskey and Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright.
NFL divided on top passers in 2023 draft clas
Many have assumed for the past year that Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young would be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While he is still the consensus QB1 this year, the latest NFL Draft rumors indicate there is plenty of debate regarding the position.
According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, several NFL executives believe that Ohio State signal-caller C.J. Stroud will be the No. 1 overall pick. Furthermore, there are additional evaluators who think Stroud is going to be the best quarterback from this crop three years from now.
Naturally, there is a wide spectrum of opinions. While a majority of scouts still love Young’s football IQ and processing ability, making him the most NFL-ready quarterback, others are thinking of the upside. It’s why a select number of evaluators are betting on either Will Levis or even Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson to emerge as the best player from the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo have ‘coachability’ red flags
Anonymous executives play a part in NFL Draft rumors every year, either providing information about top prospects moving on draft boards or concerns teams have regarding a player. Of course, there are also anonymous reports from scouts about character concerns regarding players.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, NFL executives are already taking a hard look at Georgia Bulldogs stars Jalen Carter and Kelee Ringo. Specifically, they are focused on exactly how difficult they were for Georgia’s staff to coach.
“It’s not fatal character stuff. I’ve had people tell me Ringo’s not a bad kid, he just frustrates the hell out of you. And Carter, I don’t know if he’s malicious, it’s nothing criminal, but he’s not easy to coach.”
AFC executive on 2023 NFL Draft prospects Kelee Ringo and Jalen Carter
It’s worth keeping in mind that Bulldogs’ coach Kirby Smart praised Carter’s discipline and restraint during an on-field incident in December. Furthermore, Georgia football reporter Anthony Dasher shared that his conversations with the coaching staff have provided any credibility to the rumor that Carter might have character issues.
NFL coaches are more than willing to put up with strong personalities and overconfident young players if it helps them win games. With no off-field issues to speak of, these red flags won’t prevent Carter and Ringo from being top picks.
Anthony Richardson viewed as a multi-year project
There are few players in the 2023 NFL Draft with more tantalizing potential than Anthony Richardson. If picks were made entirely based on raw tools, Richardson would be a top-five selection. However, the Florida Gators quarterback is a major work in progress as a passer.
Multiple NFL evaluators told Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network that Richardson is at least a two-year project, which makes it unlikely his name is called in Round 1. Some believe he is even less polished than Malik Willis coming into the draft, but Richardson’s ceiling is far higher than the Titans’ quarterback of the future.
Ultimately, Richardson projects as a Round 2 pick to a team with a settled quarterback plan for at least the 2023 season. He’ll need a year-plus working on his mechanics, decision-making and refining his accuracy before being anywhere close to starting.
Darnell Washington generating early buzz
Darnell Washington isn’t the best tight end on the Georgia Bulldogs roster nor is he the No. 1 player at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft. Yet, the 6-foot-7 offensive chess piece is already becoming a favorite prospect for plenty of NFL teams.
According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, a lot of scouts view Washington as a “terrific” tight end who will be drafted much earlier than many project. While some mock drafts view him as a Day 2 selection, there’s a chance he could get picked late in Round 1.
There have been NFL comparisons to Marcedes Lewis, who functions like another offensive tackle on the Green Bay Packers offensive line. However, Washington’s athleticism is reminiscent of Lewis in his prime years and there is even more upside for Washington as a red-zone threat. He definitely projects to be an even better NFL player than he was in college.
C.J. Stroud elevated 2023 NFL Draft stock in CFP Semifinal
There is plenty of debate regarding where C.J. Stroud will be drafted. Plenty of executives share the belief that Stroud is a better quarterback prospect than former Ohio State star Justin Fields. However, he went into the CFP Semifinal with most consensus draft boards ranking Stroud behind Bryce Young and Will Levis.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Facing the one of the best defenses in college football, Stroud put everyone on notice. The Heisman Trophy finalist posted a 93.9 QBR with four touchdown passes, 348 passing yards and a 67.6% completion rate. The 6-foot-3 quarterback led Ohio State to 41 points, doing a lot of damage without top wideouts Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
‘He really helped himself and that he was doing it without star players was huge. It’s all the stuff he was busted on—that he was good, but it was more about the star receivers or the line. He was without his top two receivers, top two backs, best tight end, that all counts for something. And I don’t know if it was a conscious effort he made, but that he willingly pulled the ball down and ran is something everyone will notice.”
Anonymous NFC executive on Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud (via MMQB’s Albert Breer)
Stroud’s ability to handle pressure with ease and make smart decisions with defenders in his face spoke volumes to talent evaluators. He also showcased effective athleticism, moving around in the pocket and even running for first downs when necessary.
Widely viewed as a player ready to start in Week 1, Stroud likely guaranteed a top-10 selection. If he performs at the NFL Combine and puts on a show then crushes the interview process, there’s at least a chance he could be the first quarterback drafted.
Multiple teams view Will Levis as No. 1 QB in 2023 NFL Draft
Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis entered the season as a projected first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He faced challenges due to the below-average supporting cast at Kentucky, including another year with a new offensive coordinator. While his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, there are plenty of NFL teams that love him.
- Will Levis stats (2022): 2,406 pass yards, 19-10 TD-INT 151.9 QB rating, 65.4% completion
Multiple NFL scouts view Levis as the top passer in the 2023 draft class. It goes beyond just a few scouts, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper echoing that several teams have Levis atop their draft board. It all comes down to physical tools as Levis’ arm strength and athleticism far exceed what Bryce Young and Stroud bring to the table.
There’s a chance Levis becomes the next Zach Wilson, but upside means everything to teams picking near the top and the raw traits Levis has draw similarities to Josh Allen. Ultimately, Levis is a safe bet to be a top-10 pick and he could realistically go No. 1 overall.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.