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A pair of quarterbacks in Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud headlined ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay‘s first 2023 NFL draft big board to come out after the conclusion of the 2022 college football season.
McShay has Young as his No. 1 overall player, while Stroud is No. 4. Sandwiched in between them are Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. at No. 2 and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at No. 3. Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson rounds out the top five at No. 5.
In addition to Young and Stroud, McShay also has first-round grades on two other quarterbacks. Kentucky’s Will Levis is ranked 13th, while Florida’s Anthony Richardson is 32nd.
Young, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 after throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions, is coming off another strong season in 2022 and may be the prize that quarterback-needy teams are vying for in the 2023 draft.
While Young’s numbers dropped to 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns and five interceptions in 12 games this past season, he still finished sixth in the Heisman voting and ended his collegiate career on a high note with 321 yards and five touchdowns in a Sugar Bowl win over Kansas State.
The Chicago Bears own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and it seems unlikely that they would take Young or any other quarterback based on the progress Justin Fields made in his second NFL season.
Young could still be the No. 1 overall pick if the Bears decide to trade down, or he could be a great fit for the Houston Texans at No. 2 overall.
Also in that mix is Stroud, who, like Young, enjoyed two remarkably productive seasons as a starting quarterback for a top-level college program.
After finishing fourth in the Heisman voting in 2021 when he completed 71.9 percent of his passes for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions, he moved up one spot in 2022 to third.
Stroud’s numbers dropped a bit, as he completed 66.3 percent of his pass attempts for 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns and six picks, but he led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff, and he was spectacular in the biggest game of the season.
Although OSU fell 42-41 to eventual national champion Georgia in the CFP semifinal, Stroud was dominant with 348 yards, four touchdowns and no picks.
Of the teams picking high in the draft, the Texans (No. 2), Indianapolis Colts (No. 4), Las Vegas Raiders (No. 7), Atlanta Falcons (No. 8) and Carolina Panthers (No. 9) all have glaring needs at quarterback.
The possibility of the Seattle Seahawks (No. 5) and Detroit Lions (No. 6) selecting a quarterback can’t be ruled out, either.
That means Young and Stroud are in highly advantageous positions entering draft season, and it is difficult to envision either of them falling outside the top five.
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