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Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina



South Carolina sent a cornerback to the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft when the Carolina Panthers selected Jaycee Horn with the No. 8 pick. Cam Smith might not have the same early-first aspirations, but he’s a CB prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft who could go on to make an impact in the NFL.

Cam Smith NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: South Carolina
  • Current Year: Redshirt Junior
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 180 pounds
  • Length: 31 5/8″
  • Wingspan: 75 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 1/8″

At every position, there are traits that can and can’t be taught. It’s generally accepted that athletic and physical traits are more intrinsic to prospects, while qualities like technique and awareness can be developed to an extent. But there’s another trait that is more or less inherent: competitiveness. And especially at cornerback, you need to have it if you’re going to succeed.

Horn was an alpha as an NFL draft prospect. He carried a physical edge that made him a menace to line up against for receivers. And his successor at South Carolina, Smith, appears to have that same edge. It’s part of what made Smith an uber-productive cornerback at Westwood High School. And it’s a big part of what has led to his success with the Gamecocks.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Of course, Smith isn’t just a competitive alpha. But his alpha mentality ties together a very well-rounded profile. After earning three interceptions and 11 pass deflections in a tremendous 2021 campaign, Smith followed it up with a pick and five deflections in another strong 2022 season.

Along with his teammate Darius Rush, Smith is an enticing CB prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, with a unique player mold and a tenacious competitive playstyle that makes him truly one-of-one in a stacked class.

Cam Smith Scouting Report

Most have Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon duking it out for the CB1 mantle in the 2023 NFL Draft. But behind them, there are plenty of other CB prospects with early-round potential. Is Smith in that group? Let’s take a closer look.

Smith’s Positives

Smith stands around 6’1″, 180 pounds, but has good proportional length for his size. Within his frame, he has great overall athleticism as well. Smith carries impressive initial burst out of his stance and also shows excellent long-track explosiveness coming downhill. He can speed up his feet and accelerate without strain, erasing space when triggering on plays.

Expanding on Smith’s athleticism, the South Carolina CB’s hips are very fluid. He doesn’t have much delay on transitions, and he can accelerate out of those transitions. Moreover, Smith can execute 270-degree turns efficiently. He decelerates quickly and keeps his balance. Beyond that, he consistently stays low in his stance and easily sinks his hips on direction changes.

Smith is light on his feet, and his feet are exceptionally quick. The South Carolina CB moves with great corrective twitch and loads up lots of potential energy within his frame. He has the lateral suddenness to match ball carriers in space and easily correct his positioning. Additionally, he has a smooth backpedal and can seamlessly flip his hips when matching receivers at the line.

Going further, Smith shows off impressive recovery speed when chasing down plays. He can turn and run upfield with receivers, opening his strides to carry wideouts and minimize space. His closing speed also shows up when triggering downhill on plays.

While Smith most often plays on the boundary, his athleticism dictates that he can play in a number of different spots — on the boundary, in the slot, and even at safety on occasion.

Smith’s athleticism was confirmed at the NFL Combine when he ran a blazing 4.45 40-yard dash and logged a 38″ vertical and an 11’2″ broad jump. The explosiveness numbers were quantifiably elite, with his broad jump landing near the 99th percentile.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Class

Smith’s athleticism also translates well when applied with proper technique. At the line, Smith flashes patience in press. He can use precise jams to delay releases and push receivers to the outside, controlling leverage. Smith, with his short-area athleticism, can match WR movements at the line and maintain discipline. He’s also very willing with his physicality. He regularly jams opponents and doesn’t shy away from contact.

Smith is a high-energy competitor with an alpha mentality. The South Carolina CB has both the athleticism and the competitive mindset to lock down receivers in man coverage. He can use successive one-hand jams to control receivers and pinch them against the sideline. But Smith also shows great promise in zone.

In zone, Smith actively follows the QB’s eyes and processes information quickly. His feet move in succession with his eyes, and he’s aggressive in seeking opportunities to jump routes. Smith processes leverage extremely well when responding to breaks in zone. He can snap his hips into position just as the WR is cutting his stem, showing excellent reaction quickness and anticipation.

Smith’s physical edge isn’t just a cosmetic boost; it’s a large part of his game. At the catch point, Smith is very proactive. He actively extends and uses his length to pry away passes from receivers. He has a great sense of timing and knows when to high-point the ball.

Moreover, he tracks the ball well in deep coverage and plays positioning like a WR. Smith consistently fights to get superior leverage at the catch point, and he has the short-area athleticism and physicality to win those battles.

Meanwhile, Smith’s physicality also serves him exceptionally well in run support. He throws himself around as a tackler. He also fully extends when engaging blocks and has the strength to shed with force. But Smith isn’t reckless, either.

He’s an aggressive form tackler who wraps up and regularly finishes takedowns. He also flashes superb play recognition in run support. With his balance of patience and aggressiveness, he rarely takes himself out of plays with faulty angles.

Smith’s Areas for Improvement

While Smith is a well-rounded cornerback, several inconsistencies show up on tape. One of the most pressing issues is Smith’s management of his physicality. The South Carolina CB can be overreliant on contact. Grabbiness shows up both at the line and the catch point. When he loses a step, he’ll tug at wide receivers to recover positioning and leverage, which can draw penalties.

Smith can also be a bit too reliant on two-hand jams. These jams lock his hips out, and he can be caught flat-footed at the line in these scenarios. He sometimes reaches and jams without moving his feet. This can cause him to lurch and lose balance and positioning. When Smith loses balance on direction changes, he’ll chop his feet and give up space.

In a similar vein, Smith has room to cut down on wasted motion and further improve the efficiency of his technique. He occasionally plays a little too leggy on transitions and can sink his hips better. He also has wasted motion in his feet at times when reading and reacting to plays, which can delay his response time. It doesn’t help that while his fluidity is very good, he’s not quite elite there.

Smith’s frame is lighter than average, and he has room to get stronger to maximize his physicality. He sometimes lacks the play strength to make solo tackles in space. Additionally, Smith can get baited into stopping his feet by receivers who can effectively use throttle control. Finally, while Smith has elite testing numbers, he can better channel that elite athleticism on tape at times.

Current Draft projection for South Carolina CB Cam Smith

Smith is a top 50 prospect on my board — worthy of early-to-mid Day 2 consideration in the 2023 NFL Draft. And especially with his strong testing numbers at the NFL Combine, it’s not out of the question that a team could value him late in the first round.

Smith’s combination of explosiveness and physicality, combined with his school association, naturally hearkens back to the college tape of his predecessor at South Carolina: Jaycee Horn. Smith is not the prospect that Horn was. Horn was a tier above, but Smith still has the skills to become an impact defender in the NFL.

The physicality that Smith brings to the table is smothering for opposing receivers — sometimes to a fault. He can be more efficient and measured applying physicality at times, but he undoubtedly sets the tone in contact situations. And along with his competitive toughness, Smith brings near-elite on-field explosiveness, exceptional twitch, long speed, fluidity, and the ball skills to make plays at the catch point.

MORE: PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator

With his lighter frame comes a lack of overwhelming play strength at times, and Smith also doesn’t quite have the elite length that vaulted Horn’s stock up. Additionally, Smith still has room to keep refining his technique. But overall, his profile is very solid and well-rounded — lacking many glaring flaws — and he can play on the boundary or in the slot.

Smith has the short-area athleticism, fluidity, and physicality to be a menace in man coverage. But he also has the explosiveness and route recognition to close and make plays in zone. And his run support — an extension of his physical gifts and competitive toughness — is truly exceptional.

Especially at a position like CB, talent, physicality, reliability, and versatility amount to a winning combination — and Smith has it. He’s arguably a top-five CB in the 2023 NFL Draft and projects to be a scheme/alignment-versatile starter early in his career.

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Roger Goodell Asked About ‘Abusive’ Potential Change To NFL Schedule as NFL Owners Meetings Conclude




PHOENIX — Just moments before Roger Goodell strode to the lectern here for his NFL owners meeting-closing news conference, Giants owner John Mara set the agenda for him.

Mara, on late Tuesday afternoon, spoke out passionately against a tabled proposal that would allow the league to flex games in and out of Thursday Night Football.

NFL Owners Meeting: Roger Goodell News Conference

Mara’s charged comments, as recorded by The Athletic, were as follows:

“People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. It doesn’t mean they like it. But this year, we could be flexed to Monday night, which I think is really inconsiderate to our [customers]. To flex the games back to Thursday night, to me, is just abusive. I am adamantly opposed to it. Fortunately, it didn’t get enough votes, but they will probably revisit it in May.”

Mara gave voice to thoughts shared by many in and around the league, including some broadcast partners, who believe that the product — which is already diminished on Thursday nights due to lack of prep time — will get even worse.

One former player-turned-broadcaster pointed out this week that teams begin preparing for their short week more than a month in advance. If the proposal passes, teams might have just two weeks to get ready for the significant disruption to their schedule.

What’s more, it’s possible that teams will have to deal with that unexpected inconvenience not once but twice in a football season. On Tuesday, the NFL announced that teams could be forced to play on a short week twice in one regular season.

Currently, every team plays at least once on Thursday nights. But under this new system, that’s no longer a guarantee. So, why is the NFL even considering this?

Because Amazon agreed to pay $1 billion a year for the next decade to stream Thursday night games, and a bunch of matchups in 2022 stunk.

It’s understandable that the league wants the best teams to play on its biggest stages, but the logistics for fans that would come with switching a game from Sunday to Thursday are massive.

One could even say they’re “abusive.”

Choosing to go ahead with a flex plan even in the face of such fan disservice would give the impression that the NFL is putting TV rights holders ahead of their fans.

“There isn’t anybody in [NFL organizations] that doesn’t put our fans first,” Goodell responded. “… We are very careful at it, and we will look at all of the impacts of it.”

Goodell went on to point out that there have been only, on average, “a flex and a half per year” since the league began moving underperforming teams out of Sunday Night Football midseason.

But that average will likely increase in 2023 when, for the first time, Monday Night Football games can be flexed. Moving the game to another day impacts fans the most who have flight and hotel arrangements.

Players already don’t love the current Thursday night system, and — if Patrick Mahomes’ face-slapping quote tweet to news of teams potentially having to play two in one year is any indication — won’t love the changes.

“I don’t think we are putting Amazon over players’ interest,” Goodell said before adding that there’s data “that’s very clear” showing the injury rate on Thursday night is no higher than games on other days.

Even if you concede the health and safety point, there’s no disputing that changing the day of the game for any reason beyond weather or some sort of emergency puts an artificial burden on the paying customer.

But it’s a burden that owners might ultimately be OK with. Mara said the vote to flex “was close” to passing, and he’s worried that when membership gathers again in a couple of months, the votes will be there to enact.

“People make plans to go to these games weeks and months in advance,” he added. “And 15 days ahead of time to say, ‘Sorry, folks, that game you were planning on taking your kids to Sunday at one o’clock, it’s now gonna be Thursday night.’ What are we thinking about?”

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Jaxon Smith-Njigba Rises, Will Levis Falls




Pro Days are wrapping up, and we’re seeing some late movement on big boards. As the 2023 NFL Draft approaches, it’s time to look at a mock with Pro Day data involved. Will C.J. Stroud take back the QB1 title? Did Will Levis do enough to stay in the top 10? We discuss that and more in this mock draft.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

1) Carolina Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Carolina Panthers still have options even though they moved up. They could stick with their pick, but they could also trade back to get some more capital. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, they stay put and get an elite prospect at quarterback.

C.J. Stroud calls himself a ball placement specialist, and it’s easy to see why. The number of incredible throws that have been shared on social media over the last few months continues to grow, and it’s a big reason why he’s a top prospect. With the Panthers in a rebuild, adding a quarterback of his caliber fits right into their mission.

2) Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

If your consolation prize is Bryce Young, then I think you’re doing pretty well. Young brings great arm talent to the NFL, and his ability to create under pressure also stands out. He’s one of the more poised prospects we’ve seen in recent history, and that helps him produce when the pocket collapses.

MORE: Should Bryce Young Be the No. 1 Overall Pick in 2023?

The Houston Texans just extended Laremy Tunsil, which provides Young with some security up front. The Texans still need to add some more talent to the line, but Young, for the time being, can work his magic to extend plays.

3) Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

It appears the Arizona Cardinals will attack the defensive line through the draft, and their first pick should yield a plug-and-play prospect. Will Anderson Jr. could be the first pick if the right team trades up, but Arizona hopes he falls to them here. He’s a game-changer on the edge and should help the Jonathan Gannon era get off to a good start.

4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Anthony Richardson has all of the tools to be the best quarterback in this class. At his peak, he’s better than everyone else. He just needs to be more consistent. The ceiling is enticing, and the Indianapolis Colts could be sold if he drops to them here.

With a cannon for an arm, Richardson, at a minimum, sells more tickets and grows interest early on while he develops. With the Colts cutting Matt Ryan, it’s obvious that the offense will be handed over to a younger player. If that guy is Richardson, there will be plenty to be excited about in Lucas Oil Stadium.

5) Seattle Seahawks: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Make no mistake about it, “settling” for Myles Murphy is something many teams would love to do. Murphy might not be Will Anderson Jr., but the gap between the two isn’t as big as you might think.

Murphy started as a freshman for Clemson, and all he’s done is improve his game year after year. He entered as a long athlete still learning the intricacies of the position, and now he’s a more polished player who’s also added some weight and power to his frame.

6) Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

After the NFL Combine, Christian Gonzalez remains CB1 for me. He’s a player with good length and ball skills, and he displayed his athleticism at the Combine. With C.J. Gardner-Johnson at safety, the Detroit Lions are looking for someone to dominate opposite Jeff Okudah, and Gonzalez would be a great fit. He’s a developing player who’s yet to hit his peak and has plenty of tools that will help him right away.

7) Las Vegas Raiders: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

With Jimmy Garoppolo signed, quarterback is no longer a need for the Las Vegas Raiders, which allows them to keep this pick and not sacrifice draft capital to move up and get their guy. Now they can focus on other positions.

One of those positions coincides with their new signal-caller, as Las Vegas needs someone to help keep Garoppolo upright. Paris Johnson Jr. continues to be at the top of the tackle discussion, and his size makes him a great addition to the Raiders’ line.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Jalen Carter falls in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, but not out of the top 10. We should expect the same to happen in the actual draft, but it would be a major shock if he falls further than this.

Atlanta Falcons fans just had to drive an hour and a half to see their potential future star defensive tackle play this year — even less when Georgia played in their stadium for the SEC Championship Game. Carter is a monster on the field, and he’s going to be a player you can count on to make plays. If Atlanta sees him fall, they won’t hesitate to make the call.

9) Chicago Bears: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Now that the Chicago Bears are in the position they want in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, it’s time to move past the idea of Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter coming to the Windy City. It would be nice to add one of those two players, but it’s not essential. With this pick, they can still address a position of need.

Protecting Justin Fields will be a huge priority for the Bears this year. They already added a downfield threat in DJ Moore, but now Fields needs time to connect with his new receiver. Broderick Jones brings the right attitude to the league and will be key to Fields’ growth.

10) Philadelphia Eagles: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham both re-signed with the Eagles, which is huge for the future of their franchise. Neither will be with the team long term, but they can pass their knowledge down to the future defensive linemen that join the team.

Tyree Wilson should benefit from both players. At 6’6″, 271 pounds, he brings size and athleticism to the edge. Graham can help hone Wilson’s moves on the edge, and Cox can give him pointers on how to utilize his power to create leverage. It’s a good fit for a team looking for another championship and for a player ready to take another step.

11) Tennessee Titans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Tennessee Titans signing Andre Dillard lessens the urgent need to add a tackle and gives the team more flexibility to address other positions. Whether the offense runs through Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis (or maybe someone else), they’re going to need options. Derrick Henry can’t run through everyone like he did in high school.

Questions about his hamstring will be the top concern surrounding Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If he can erase those concerns, he’s a first-round pick. He’s a great route runner who’s ready to show that he can make an impact again, and the Titans’ offense will open up more if they can add him.

12) Houston Texans: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

With the Texans adding Bryce Young already in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, they look to secure another weapon on the outside. They signed Robert Woods to a two-year deal, but they’ll need a younger player to hold things down long-term.

Quentin Johnston is not as tall as we once thought, but his skill set can’t be denied. He’s electric after the catch and showed a knack for coming down with 50-50 balls. Young and Johnston could be the connection the Texans need to get back on track.

13) New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Peter Skoronski fills multiple needs for the New York Jets in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. If they don’t end up trading for Aaron Rodgers, someone needs to protect the quarterback better. Whether that’s on the inside or on the edge. Skoronski’s a proven winner who can be a versatile weapon by moving across the line.

14) New England Patriots: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The New England Patriots signed Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson to help protect Mac Jones, but both come to the Patriots on short-term deals. New England still needs someone who will be the future protector of Jones’ blind spot.

MORE: Pro Day News and Rumors

Darnell Wright hasn’t received a ton of attention in the offseason, but he’s a proven winner who’s faced elite competition. Will Anderson Jr. even endorsed Wright’s abilities recently, and the tackle is beginning to climb into the first round of many 2023 NFL Mock Drafts thanks to his Combine performance.

15) Green Bay Packers: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

With Aaron Rodgers most likely out the door, Jordan Love would enjoy seeing more weapons to utilize. Christian Watson already showed good upside, but the Green Bay Packers can help him with the addition of Zay Flowers.

Flowers doesn’t have Watson’s size, but he’s an explosive playmaker that can make any quarterback’s life easier. If Rodgers somehow remains on the team this year, he’ll enjoy this pick just as well.

16) Washington Commanders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Will Levis should fall if you ask me. The upside is there, but the lack of consistency and the accuracy issues worry me if I’m a team in need of a quarterback. Still, someone’s going to take him, and it’s probably going to be higher than this.

If Levis can continue developing as a passer, then the concerns shouldn’t be an issue down the road. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, he joins a Washington Commanders offense full of potential. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel just need someone to get them the ball. That could be Sam Howell, but the Commanders may want another player to compete for the job too.

17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Mike Tomlin has plenty of options to take at corner this year, but how fun would it be to get Joey Porter Jr. to Pittsburgh? His name would make this pick great, but it’s his game that would make it even better.

Porter’s length and coverage skills are the biggest reasons he’s a first-round pick, and the Steelers’ secondary needs someone of his caliber to help out. He’d also learn plenty from veteran Patrick Peterson, who just signed with the team this offseason.

18) Detroit Lions: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Detroit’s defense returns a good core of pass rushers on the edge, and Calijah Kancey gives them the perfect complement. His explosive first step puts blockers at a disadvantage immediately, and he’ll most likely face one-on-one matchups to exploit that on a frequent basis.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

If you talk to people in the Iowa program, they have nothing but good things to say about Lukas Van Ness. While he didn’t start for the Hawkeyes, he made the most of his opportunities. His length and athleticism make him a problem, and he helps a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team most likely looking to rebuild.

20) Seattle Seahawks: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

Tyler Lockett can’t play forever, but the Seattle Seahawks find his replacement in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. Josh Downs dominated in the slot over the last couple of years with North Carolina, and he can take his game to the next level by learning from Lockett.

Throw in the fact that Downs would join an offense that also features D.K. Metcalf, and Geno Smith should feel pretty good about his future with the franchise. Downs is just the next piece in that puzzle.

21) Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Justin Herbert has plenty of weapons on offense, but the biggest issue has been keeping them healthy. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams create stress on the defenses, but both struggled to stay on the field last year. The Los Angeles Chargers need to add some more talent that can add depth and still produce at a high level.

Insert Jordan Addison. The former USC star is a smooth route runner with good ball skills. He’s a master separator, something that Allen knows a thing or two about, and allows Herbert to find another reliable threat downfield.

22) Baltimore Ravens: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Devon Witherspoon just feels like a Baltimore Raven to me. He brings the right attitude to the position and plays the game with a burning passion. He may not have the size of some of the other corners in this class, but Baltimore doesn’t care about that in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

23) Minnesota Vikings: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

With Dalvin Tomlinson gone in free agency, the Minnesota Vikings could use someone to make an impact up the middle. Bryan Bresee, when healthy, can be an absolute unit on the field.

At 6’5″, 300 pounds, he’s a big player that produces a ton of power in his frame. He also brings underrated athleticism to the next level and would make Minnesota’s defensive line a major problem this year.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

The uber-athletic Deonte Banks shined at the NFL Combine, and he helped ensure he’ll have a great chance of being drafted in the first round. Even while he’s still developing, Banks can play right away for the Jacksonville Jaguars thanks to the combination of his athleticism and film.

25) New York Giants: John Michael Schmitz, OC, Minnesota

The New York Giants could use a long-term option at receiver, but they also signed three players to help in that regard. So, for now, New York looks to the offensive line to protect Daniel Jones and his $40 million arm.

John Michael Schmitz gave Minnesota plenty of consistent play in college and showcased his versatility at both guard and center. New York gets depth at both positions with Schmitz, and they get a player that finishes plays whether his opponent wants to or not.

26) Dallas Cowboys: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Imagine pairing Leighton Vander Esch with Trenton Simpson. What a duo that would be for the Dallas Cowboys. Simpson is an athletic linebacker that brings a good pop with his frame. While he played behind a dominant defensive line, Simpson was a major factor for the Tigers’ defense, and he could do the same for Dallas.

27) Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

We could add playmakers to the Buffalo Bills’ offense because that’s fun to do, but it also helps to add a guy that can make life easier for the current playmakers on the offense. O’Cyrus Torrence is a massive player that moves people with relative ease. If you want a tone-setter in the trenches, you’re getting one with him.

28) Cincinnati Bengals: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

The Cincinnati Bengals paid Orlando Brown Jr. a lot of money, and for good reason. Protecting Joe Burrow is serious business, and the Bengals could send the right message by adding another massive tackle.

Dawand Jones and Brown would give Cincinnati the biggest tackle duo in the league and would ensure they have a top-tier tandem for quite some time. Jones would allow them to trade away Jonah Williams if Cincinnati wants to acquire more picks.

29) New Orleans Saints: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Derek Carr already has Chris Olave as a go-to option, but there’s no doubt he’d be thrilled to have another if the New Orleans Saints find a way to add Michael Mayer. Mayer is a well-rounded tight end who became a better pass catcher last year, and he should find his way into the starting lineup fairly quickly.

30) Philadelphia Eagles: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

There’s plenty of fluctuation among the top linebackers in this 2023 NFL Draft class, and Drew Sanders is one of the more intriguing options. He transferred from Alabama to Arkansas, where he played multiple positions for the Razorbacks.

MORE: NFL Draft News and Rumors

His spot in the NFL may not be defined yet, but he’s an athletic player who has plenty of ability to learn a new position if need be. At worst, he’s an LB that can make plays all over the field and gives the Eagles someone that’s comfortable both in the trenches and in coverage.

31) Kansas City Chiefs: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

Mazi Smith might not be as polished as some of the other defensive tackles in this class, but he’s well on his way. His freakish athleticism and power help him stand out, and the Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of veterans that can help him unleash that on a consistent basis.

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Is Anthony Richardson Really in Play for Carolina Panthers at 1?




PHOENIX — Pick a mock draft, any mock draft, and you’ll almost assuredly find Ohio State star QB C.J. Stroud going first to the Carolina Panthers.

And that very well could be the case. But if you listened closely to head coach Frank Reich during his NFL owners meetings roundtable Tuesday, you could convince yourself that Florida’s dynamic Anthony Richardson is getting real consideration inside Panthers HQ.

Frank Reich Talks Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud

The Panthers will get two more chances to evaluate Richardson the player and Richardson the man between now and when they go on the clock.

Florida’s Pro Day is Thursday, and Richardson will be there and presumably throw. And then he’ll travel to Charlotte for an on-campus visit with the Panthers — one of five 30 visits he has scheduled, per NFL Network. (His other known visits are with the Colts, Raiders, Falcons, and Titans.)

MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

On Tuesday, during his 30-minute news conference, Reich said the following about Richardson, who appeared in just 22 games and threw a mere 393 passes in three seasons in Gainesville:

“There are plays and throws all over the tape that scream top pick, top of the draft pick. That’s a credit to him. I think he has upper-body mechanics that are really solid. Obviously, his completion percentage is lower than you want at this level, but I don’t get too discouraged [about] things like that.

“I see a lot of upside. Talking to him a little bit at the Combine, you could tell how smart of a guy he is. A guy like that, without totally getting into it, the more experience he gets, he’s a guy that you feel like he’s going to get better fast.”

Drafting Richardson and his sub-55% collegiate completion percentage would be a massive gamble. He’s the biggest variance quarterback prospect in the NFL draft. His upside is the moon, but he also had long stretches in 2022 where he looked like an athlete playing quarterback — not an athletic quarterback.

But the raw talent is as impressive as anyone in the draft. He ran a 4.43-second 40 and posted a 40.5 “vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine. And he did all of that at 6’4″ and 244 pounds.

Still, this is probably a career-defining decision for Reich and Panthers GM Scott Fitterer — which is why most believe they’ll go with a safer pick (presumably Stroud over Alabama’s Bryce Young).

Asked about both Stroud and Young Tuesday, Reich replied:

“Worthy of the discussions that are being had about being the top pick. Different styles of play. But both of those guys that you mentioned are very accurate passers. Process very well. Are smart. Football junkies. Good leaders. Different styles of leadership, but both really good leaders. Playmakers. Both really good.”

MORE: The Carolina Panthers’ Draft Plans — C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, or Anthony Richardson

Young is a gamble in a totally different way than Richarson. At 5’10 “, 204 pounds, he would be among the smallest starting QBs in the modern era.

“I was mentioning this to someone the other day,” Reich said. “When you’re looking at any quarterback, let’s just say there are 10 things we are evaluating. Then the question is: Every team is probably evaluating the same 10 things. But how do you evaluate those 10 things?

“And then, more importantly, how do you weight [sic] those 10 things? How much emphasis are we going to put on the experience or lack of experience — the fact that it’s been X number of starts in college? Well, every team will weight that differently. We have our own perspective on that, on each one of those 10 things. And that’s what we’ll collaborate on at the end to make the final decision.”

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