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Panthers NFL Draft
NFL Draft

Which QB Could Slide On Night 1 of 2023 NFL Draft?

  • Justin Melo
  • April 26, 2023
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Quarterbacks continue to dominate the conversation surrounding the 2023 NFL Draft. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are all expected to be picked within the first 10 selections. The NFL draft is rarely a straightforward affair, however, and one of these signal-callers is likely to experience an unexpected draft-day slide. Of the top four options, Stroud is the likeliest to fall further than the general public may realize.

Young is expected to be selected No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. It’s worth acknowledging Levis recently experienced a major shift in betting odds to be Carolina’s choice, per TDN’s Jaime Eisner. Smokescreens are elaborate this time of year, but one outcome feels certain– Young and Levis will be the first two quarterbacks selected, and both will come off the board within the first three selections.

That leaves Stroud and Richardson. Stroud was initially considered the likeliest to go No. 1 overall after the Panthers acquired the top selection from the Chicago Bears. Stroud has been the victim of some unflattering media-related leaks since then that have the general public questioning the legitimacy of Stroud’s pre-draft stock.

Stroud reportedly scored an 18 on the S2 test, per Bob McGinn. The S2 Cognition test is a 30-to-45-minute exercise that is designed to measure an athlete’s cognitive skill set while breaking down their decision-making process. NFL teams are allegedly placing an increased amount of emphasis on S2 results. The creators of S2 haven’t confirmed Stroud’s score, but comments made by Stroud on Wednesday indicated his score was at least close to the lackluster number that’s been reported.

“I’m not a test taker,” Stroud told reporters on Wednesday. “I play football. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody,” Stroud added.

McGinn’s report indicates Young scored a 98% while Levis and Richardson scored 93% and 79% respectively.

Teams must now sort through what to make of Stroud. On tape, Stroud is undeniably the second-best quarterback in the class behind Young. Stroud was an outstanding quarterback at Ohio State that rarely flashed the types of processing errors his reported S2 score signals.

Stroud enjoyed two elite campaigns as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. Stroud was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Stroud became the first QB in Big Ten history to throw 30-plus touchdowns in consecutive campaigns (44 in 2022, 41 in 2021). Stroud was a two-time Heisman finalist for his efforts. What matters more?

Plenty of teams could take advantage if Stroud slides. He’s routinely been connected to the Tennessee Titans, who own the No. 11 overall selection. The Titans have explored opportunities to move up. Mike Vrabel is a former Ohio State alum who maintains an excellent relationship with Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day.

The Las Vegas Raiders (No. 7), Atlanta Falcons (No. 8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 19), and Minnesota Vikings (if they don’t trade up into the top-three from No. 23) represent alternative quarterback-needy candidates that could be intrigued by Stroud if he slides outside the top five selections.

The 2023 NFL Draft may be the league’s most unpredictable iteration in recent memory. As always, the quarterbacks will shape the outcome. Stroud is a terrific prospect that shouldn’t slide, but he appears likeliest to experience disappointment among the top-four ranked signal-callers.

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Justin Melo