To say that Nick Saban has made a transformative impact on the football program at Alabama is an understatement. Before his arrival in Tuscaloosa, no Alabama player had ever been awarded a Heisman trophy. Now, the Crimson Tide have four - at three different positions.
Perhaps just as astonishing is the fact that the program had never had a player drafted number one overall in the NFL Draft since the AFL-NFL merger (Joe Namath was top pick of the AFL that lasted 1960-69; Harry Gilmer was the top pick of the old NFL in 1948). This void too might soon be filled.
Momentum and logic are both pointing towards quarterback Bryce Young being the top pick of next week’s draft by the Carolina Panthers.
WHO NEEDS A QB? EDGE?
To understand how the draft works, one must forget about trophies, All-American/Conference picks, and whoever made the most SportsCenter Top 10s. It is more based on needs of individual teams. Usually the most vital needs are the guy who throws the ball, the guy who tries to smear the guy throwing the ball, and the guy who tries to stop the guy from smearing the guy who throws the ball. Thus out of desperation, we have the possibility of two quarterbacks who couldn’t beat Vanderbilt (Anthony Richardson, Will Levis) being among the top ten.
Young will undoubtedly be selected among the top four and is trending for the top spot. Unless Will Anderson has a gas mask-like incident in the next two weeks, he should be a top ten pick, if not top three.
Below is the draft order of the first ten selectors and their pressing needs.
- Carolina, QB and EDGE- The reason the Panthers traded into the top spot of the draft is no secret. They have gone through quarterbacks like paper towels in the last couple of seasons.
- Houston, QB and EDGE - After Deshaun Watson let it all hang out and got sidelined for it, the Texans have gone 7-26-1, mostly with mediocre Davis Mills behind the center.
- Arizona, DL - The Cardinals signed the Ewok known as Kyler Murray to a long-term deal. There is speculation that Az will listen to offers for a swap of the three-spot for a slew of other draft picks. If no trade comes to fruition, Anderson might be the pick here.
- Indianapolis, QB - After trading a third-round pick and a first-round pick to Philadelphia for Carson Wentz in 2021, the poor Colts got bamboozled once again and traded a third-round pick for washed up old Matt Ryan the next year.
- Seattle, DL - Unlike this observer, the Seahawks are foolhardy under the belief that 32-year old Geno Smith is the answer. He’d better be. They just ponied up on a three-year, $75 million deal. Another possible trade situation but if Anderson is still there, how can you pass that up?
- Detroit, DL - Sticking with Jared Goff. Like Seattle, the Lions could use a defensive playmaker. They are candidates to trade up or down.
- Las Vegas, OL - The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo for three years. They could use Anderson but may go OL.
- Atlanta, EDGE - The Falcons seem to be convinced to give Desmond Ridder a chance to prove his worth at QB in 2023. Just in case, they signed Taylor Heinicke as well. Edge rusher is a big need, but ATL’s GM seems a little conservative when it comes to trading up.
- Chicago, DL - If by some weird set of circumstances arises and Anderson is still there at nine, Da Bears will not be able to turn in their selection card fast enough.
- Philadelphia, DB and DL - Same as above.
WHO ELSE IS AVAILABLE?
Lamar Jackson has been franchise tagged by the Ravens but there is much speculation that he will be traded. Rumors have it that the Patriots are shopping Mac Jones around. Trey Lance might be on the block but he hasn’t really done anything as a pro to prove worthy of a starting role.
As for free agents, most of the competent quarterbacks have been snatched up. Is anyone willing to roll with the likes of 30-year olds Carson Wentz or Teddy Bridgewater as their starter?
Mock drafts are just guesses. They are based on hunches, rumors and conjecture. Many of them include proposed trade-ups that may not even be in discussion between the two teams in question. All that said, the consensus of these mockers tend to usually get the top pick correct. This year, it is not quite as clear cut. The opinion-makers are split between Young and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud as the No. 1 pick.
WHEN IS THE 2023 NFL DRAFT?
The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off with Round 1 on Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET in Kansas City, MO. Round 2 and 3 are Friday, followed by 4 through 7 on Saturday.