Quarterbacks and Texans were prevalent in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, which began with Alabama QB Bryce Young going first overall to the Carolina Panthers.
Three of the top four picks were quarterbacks, and the Houston Texans shook up the first round by acquiring the No. 3 pick from the Arizona Cardinals. The move ushered in a new foundation for the rebuild in Houston under coach DeMeco Ryans. Arizona traded back up to No. 6 in a swap with the Detroit Lions, who moved to No. 12.
Young is the first Alabama player selected No. 1 since 1948 (Harry Gilmer) and the only Nick Saban-coached player to go first in the draft.
"It's a dream come true," Young said. "I can't be more excited. I'm blessed to be a Panther."
Houston followed suit. The Texans went with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second pick and used No. 3 on Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr.
Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon went fifth to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Cardinals took Stroud's blindside protector and Buckeyes teammate Paris Johnson Jr. to play left tackle.
"I'm just here to work," Johnson said. "When I heard Cardinals, it sent chills through my body. I wanted the Cardinals."
Texas college products stepped onto the stage and out of the Texans' Thursday shadow. Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson went No. 7 to the Las Vegas Raiders, who were considered a prime landing spot for Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, before Texas running back Bijan Robinson was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.
The Super Bowl champion Eagles traded a fourth-round pick to move up one spot to No. 9 and drafted Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who will be paired with college teammate Jordan Davis on the dominant defensive front in Philadelphia. Some scouts felt Carter was the No. 1 player in the draft, but his no-contest plea to drag racing charges related to the death of a former teammate and university staffer amplified questions about his maturity and character.
"It's a lot," Carter said on stage of his emotions. "It's time to work. The Eagles got the best player in the draft. Day 1 when I get there, it's time to work."
Philadelphia's trade dropped the Bears, who entered February with the No. 1 pick in the draft, down one more spot before they selected Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the 10th pick. Wright could play right tackle or guard, helping bolster a Chicago offensive line that allowed Justin Fields to be sacked a league-high 55 times last season.
The well-traveled No. 12 pick that began with the Cleveland Browns, went to the Texans for Deshaun Watson and was traded to Arizona and then Detroit on Thursday night was a surprise second running back in the top 12, Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs.
The Steelers traded up to get Georgia left tackle Broderick Jones with the 14th overall pick in a run on blockers that included the Tennessee Titans adding Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski at No. 11. Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness went No. 13 to the Green Bay Packers.
--Field Level Media