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2023 NFL Draft Buzz: Latest league news, rumors from Thursday ahead of Round 1

The Carolina Panthers will kick off the 2023 NFL Draft with the No. 1 overall pick tonight and, as league sources have believed for weeks, it is expected to be Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning.

Pelissero added that the Panthers never wavered once they traded to acquire the No. 1 selection from the Chicago Bears back in March, with team scouts owning conviction early in the process and coaches having no doubt following film study.

Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 32 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2022 for the Crimson Tide.

Should the Panthers select Young as expected, the QB will become the first Alabama product picked first in the NFL draft since Harry Gilmer in 1948.

Here's what else we're monitoring Thursday ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, which kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. ET:

  • Just a few hours before the draft kicks off, there were rumblings that the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals were in talks to make a trade involving the third-overall pick and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Not so fast. Although the Titans have had conversations about a potential trade up to No. 3 -- among other spots -- they have not had conversations centered on the star receiver, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources. During the offseason, there has been a lot of uncertainty around the five-time Pro Bowler and if he would find a new home. However, for now, Hopkins is still on the Cards' roster.
  • While Alabama's Bryce Young is expected to go No. 1 to the Panthers, just where Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud will land has become one of the prevailing topics in recent days ahead of the opening round. Count NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero, however, as someone who does not expect Stroud to wait long to hear his name tonight. "We don't know for sure what the Texans are doing at No. 2, that's where the draft begins after everyone expects Bryce Young goes No. 1," Pelissero said Thursday on Good Morning Football. "I do not, one way or another, expect this to be a long wait at all for C.J. Stroud tonight. I believe he's going to be a top-five pick, it's just a matter of who does it and does somebody end up trading up to go get him." With the Houston Texans at the aforementioned pivotal No. 2 spot, the Cardinals holding No. 3 in a potential trade destination for others, the QB-needy Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 and the Seattle Seahawks also a contender to take a signal-caller at No. 5, Pelissero expects Stroud to find a landing spot early on Day 1 -- never mind the S2 conversation. "I would be surprised if C.J. Stroud is not the second quarterback off the board and I would be shocked if he doesn't go in the top five," Pelissero said.
  • Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson might well be the first defensive player off the board on Thursday night. Heading into the first round, there's a debate raging as it relates to going with Anderson as a safe-and-sound selection for squads or Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson with a perceived higher ceiling. Anderson's not exactly a fan of being viewed as a safe pick rather than a special one. Asked Thursday by Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager if Anderson had a chip on his broad shoulders when tagged with the safe description, he replied emphatically. "Yeah, I mean all the time. But at the end of the day, I can't fault for what God has done for me," Anderson said. "I'm just going out there and doing what I do best. I'm going out there playing football and having fun and it shows on the tape. If people want to say safe pick, they want to call it that, I'm gonna let them call it that, but at the end of the day, I'm a lottery pick."
  • After finalizing a blockbuster trade just days before the draft, the New York Jets finally have their quarterback. Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers will now be under center for New York and it would seem as though protecting the 39-year-old QB would be paramount. senior national columnist Judy Battista asked general manager Joe Douglas if the team is planning on drafting offensive tackles to help the Jets' struggling O-line. Battista reported on NFL NOW that Douglas said that was one area the club could go with, but it has multiple areas where it can improve. Nonetheless, helping Rodgers is a clear focus. "We know Joe Douglas loves to build through the lines, both lines," Battista said. "Could he go edge rusher? That could be a possibility as well. We will see how it goes, but keep in mind everything right now is going to be built to enhance Aaron Rodgers' opportunities here."
  • Searching for a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck's stunning retirement, the Indianapolis Colts could find one tonight. Just how they go about getting said franchise QB could be a wait-and-see approach. NFL Network's Stacey Dales reported Thursday that she expects the Colts to stay put at the No. 4 overall pick and see how the QB dominoes fall above them initially. "I anticipate them sitting there at four and when this thing kicks off at 8 o'clock Eastern and gets underway and how those quarterbacks fall will determine whether or not they stay put and draft one or move up and potentially draft one based upon what other teams do," Dales said. Whether the Colts make a trade or stay put, choose Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Kentucky's Will Levis or Florida's Anthony Richardson, Dales expects Indy to have its quarterback of the future by night's end. "They have done so much work on these quarterbacks," Dales said, "especially these top four guys and I would be shocked if they didn't take one in the first round tonight."
  • This year's draft is not all about quarterbacks. There are plenty of other prospects that teams have their eyes on, including running back Bijan Robinson. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport discussed how early Robinson could hear his name called tonight. "Could he be a top-10 pick? Could we see the value of a running back rise to that of a top-10 pick? Absolutely we could," Rapoport said on NFL Network's NFL Draft Kickoff. "Let's see if he's in consideration at No. 8 with the Atlanta Falcons. Perhaps 10 with the Philadelphia Eagles -- would go against everything (Eagles general manager) Howie Roseman publicly and privately thinks -- but he's such a special player, it might actually might make sense if he's still on the board there." Rapoport is not the only one who sees what some teams are looking for in Robinson. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah also has Robinson being drafted by the Falcons in the first round in his most recent and final mock draft. At No. 8, the Falcons might not have a chance at the power in this year's quarterback class, but they should have a chance for other offensive pieces.
  • Speaking of the Eagles, NFL Network's James Palmer gave a hint at what the reigning NFC champs could do at No. 10 tonight. After tossing out Robinson and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter as possible options, Palmer said on NFL Network's NFL Draft Kickoff that fans shouldn't be shocked if Philly looks to reinforce its offensive line early in the draft. "They have a need right now at right guard," Palmer said. "You can look at these two offensive linemen at the top of this draft in Paris Johnson Jr. and Peter Skoronski. Both of them could step in tomorrow and be the starting right guard, and then move -- eventually when Lane Johnson retires -- out to tackle. They believe the position flexibility is extremely important in the prospects they look at." Palmer noted, however, that both OTs could be gone before pick No. 10, so Roseman might have to make a splashy trade to land a premier offensive linemen.
  • Could the Detroit Lions trade out of their second pick in the first round of the draft this year? Well, NFL Network's Sherree Burruss reported that the Lions are listening to what other teams have to offer. "There are reports that general manager Brad Holmes is receiving calls about their 18th overall pick," Burruss said Thursday on NFL Network's Draft Kickoff. "I asked a team source, 'What would it take to make that trade?' The way it was explained to me is finding that balance between quality and quantity of quality." The Lions could snag a defensive tackle to help on the other side of the ball or take a risk and move back in the draft. We'll find out later tonight.

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