Welcome to the Thursday edition of the With the First Pick newsletter, where you're free to graze on a delicious spread of NFL Draft topics to satisfy your insatiable desire for everything draft-related as an appetizer before Thirsty Thursday festivities later.
If you missed Monday's debut edition, Tuesday's installment, or yesterday's version, we're rebranding the Pick Six newsletter through the end of April. And I, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso, will be with you every step of the way.
Before I begin, this paragraph will be your daily reminder to tell all your buddies and that one uncle who's always texting you mock draft links to sign up for the With the First Pick newsletter. Just click here and then share this link with them.
Today's NFL mock draft 🔮: Bijan Robinson to the Cowboys?
One of our resident NFL Draft analysts Josh Edwards meticulously crafted his three-round mock draft for us today, and it's a dandy. Lamar Jackson getting traded, a club trading up for Will Levis inside the Top 5, and the Packers providing the most fitting end to the Aaron Rodgers saga by drafting a receiver in the first round only after trading their longtime, future Hall of Fame quarterback.
But I buried the lede. Purposely. It was too juicy. Bijan Robinson to Dallas Cowboys at No. 26 overall. Jerry Jones just wasn't able to resist the temptation of drafting a University of Texas running back to keep him in-state to replace Ezekiel Elliott. All the while, the franchise-tagged Tony Pollard is like "HELLO, what does a guy need to do to get a drink around here?!" After all, Pollard averages 5.1 yards per carry on 510 career regular-season rushes and went over 1,000 yards in 2022.
Here are some other notable prospect-team pairings in Josh's multi-round, trade-filled mock, which you can read in its entirety right here:
1. Carolina Panthers - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
2. Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
3. Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
20. Seattle Seahawks - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
54. Los Angeles Chargers - Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
82. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
87. Minnesota Vikings - Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
98. Cleveland Browns - Byron Young, EDGE, Tennessee
Rumor mill: C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young?
We have a MAJOR development at No. 1 overall, with reports surfacing that the Carolina Panthers have narrowed their options to two quarterbacks -- Stroud or Young. Head coach Frank Reich made it clear he does not view lack of height as a deterrent for a quarterback in the NFL, and while he did praise Anthony Richardson, Carolina has "effectively ruled out Richardson or Will Levis for the No. 1 selection."
So will it be Stroud or Young? I know who I'd pick, and he played in the Big Ten. I have made it clear I have a strange scouting eye or something. All joking aside, I really like both Stroud and Young and wouldn't give a bad grade to the Panthers for selecting either passer with the top pick.
Ranking position groups from best to worst 📈
In a comprehensive but necessary exercise each draft season, I ranked position groups from best to worst in the 2023 class. Interestingly, just like last year, edge rushers and corners were at the top, but the rest of the list is different from what the 2022 group provided. Makes sense that outside pass rushers and cornerbacks are loaded because every college team has like 14 awesome receivers, and a wide-open, pass-happy playbook so covering and pressuring the quarterback is darn important on Saturdays.
Because I'm a generous dude, here's a peek at the middle of the rankings:
6. Tight ends
5. Wide receivers
Familiarize yourself with these small-school prospects 👀
There are three certainties in life -- death, taxes and CBS Sports HQ's Emory Hunt analyzing every NFL-capable prospect regardless of where they played their college ball. Your tape can be filmed by your mom in the stands and uploaded to a knockoff YouTube site, and Emory will find it, write a detailed scouting report, and project your game to the next level on-air while dressed in a debonair suit. It will happen.
Emory wrote an on-brand article picking a starting offense only consisting of small-school prospects. Shepherd offensive guard Joey Fisher is generating buzz in NFL scouting circles, and of course Emory has him listed. Chattanooga's McClendon Curtis looked the part at the Senior Bowl and is a mammoth individual at 6-foot-5 and 331 pounds. He's on Emory's starting 11 too. If you want to impress your friends with knowledge of a prospect from, say, Incarnate Word when he's drafted, you'll want to thoroughly study Emory's piece.
News & Notes 📝
- Ravens non-Lamar QB options. Buried in the 9,000,000 takes on the Lamar Jackson situation is a breakdown of what the Ravens could do at quarterback if they indeed trade the former MVP quarterback. Tyler Sullivan lays it all out for you right here.
- Mike McCarthy, Dak Prescott evaluated Prescott's 2022 interceptions. Despite appearing in 12 regular-season games, Prescott tied for the most picks in football in 2022. Yikes. Makes sense he and his head coach spent time analyzing what happened on those plays. McCarthy pointed to decision-making as the main culprit. While this self-scouting is prudent and itself doesn't indicate anything, the Cowboys aren't going to draft a quarterback right? RIGHT?!
- Colts unlikely to trade up? Colts GM Chris Ballard explained why the team didn't trade up to the No. 1 spot and hinted that a trade into the top 3 is unlikely for Indianapolis, stating "we feel like there was enough depth in the draft that we were gonna be OK."