Mel Kiper recently unveiled his latest mock for the 2023 NFL Draft. In that mock draft, Kiper has 4 quarterbacks going in the top 5 picks with a flurry of trades involved.

Already, the Carolina Panthers have traded up to grab the No. 1 overall pick from the Chicago Bears. That move has shifted Kiper’s expectation for the top pick in the draft.

Now, Kiper has Ohio State’s CJ Stroud going No. 1 overall to the Panthers ahead of Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. During Tuesday’s broadcast of “Get Up,” Kiper explained why Stroud currently has the edge in that group.

” CJ Stroud, he got the edge for the Carolina Panthers at the No. 1 spot because he’s a big quarterback that Frank Reich has preferred during his career in the NFL,” said Kiper. “If he can bottle what he did against Georgia and take that into the NFL throughout his career he will be outstanding, but we didn’t see that on a regular basis at Ohio State — that dual-threat capability.

“Had a strong combine with a really good pro day, private workouts. He can ride that momentum from that Georgia game all the way to be the No. 1 overall pick for the Panthers.”

Would Stroud start right away with the Panthers?

On Monday, Carolina GM Scott Fitterer addressed the group of QBs and said the team still has “conviction” on multiple players at No. 1 overall. However, Fitterer did clarify that the team signed veteran Andy Dalton due to his experience, most notably as a rookie starter for the Cincinnati Bengals early in Dalton’s career.

Based on Fitterer’s comments, it sure sounds like the No. 1 overall pick will be expected to start right away, and Stroud is a polished passer with accuracy and durability. We’ll see if that guides him to the top pick in the draft, but he’s on the right trajectory.

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