Adam Schefter All In on Bryce Young Going No. 1 Overall

Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

After the Carolina Panthers traded up to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft back in March, C.J. Stroud was immediately pegged as the most likely option. He and Bryce Young are considered the 1A and 1B of this class and the closest to finished products. Stroud has the physical profile of quarterbacks new Panthers head coach Frank Reich historically favors. It lined up from just about every point of view and as such Stroud has been thought of as the presumptive top selection for the last month.

That began to change earlier this week. When Mel Kiper Jr. posted his latest mock draft on Monday, he had the Panthers taking Young No. 1 overall, citing his coworkers' inside reporting that there's been some noise connecting the Heisman Trophy winner to Carolina. Via ESPN:

"Young or C.J. Stroud? Stroud or Young? I think the Panthers are homing in on one of these passers after they traded up to No. 1. In my post-free agency mock draft, I went with Stroud, who fits the physical mold of quarterbacks new Carolina coach Frank Reich has worked with over the past decade. I've heard too many rumblings about the front office and coaches liking Young, though, and my pals Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter believe Young is the guy as well."

Stroud wasn't quite a sure thing in the way that, say, Trevor Lawrence obviously was a few years ago but this was the first concrete indication we received that Young might be the pick instead. On Thursday, Adam Schefter just about pushed all his chips to the middle of the table by declaring Young's visit to Houston was a "waste of time" because he is so certain the Alabama product will go in the top slot.

Now, it is smokescreen season and it's hard to fully buy into any rumor that gets thrown out there in the weeks leading up to the draft. NFL teams love to play espionage. But rarely do we see an insider of Schefter's stature speak with such assurances about... well, anything at all when it relates to the draft. They're as aware as we are about the lack of substance this time of year. It presumably takes a lot to get Schefter to say something like this.

We'll see if this ends up on Old Takes Exposed, and there's a strong possibility it will seeing as the draft is still a full two weeks away. But it's looking good for Young if ESPN's top insider is telling everyone definitively he won't be there at No. 2.