NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah answered questions for an hour and a half on Thursday, previewing the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29 on NFL Network/ESPN/ABC) during a media conference call. As you might expect, he offered insight on some of the juiciest draft topics. Here's a look at seven takeaways from the call.
1) What are the Texans going to do at No. 2? There has been a new line of thinking that has taken hold in recent weeks, and that's the idea of the Texans perhaps passing on a quarterback with the second overall pick, assuming Alabama's Bryce Young goes first to Carolina.
If Houston stays at No. 2 but decides against selecting a QB at that spot, the team could be choosing between two of the draft's top edge rushers, Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. and Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson. No matter what they ultimately decide to do at No. 2, Jeremiah said the Texans can't ignore quarterback as a need.
"Will Anderson is my second overall player. Bryce Young is my first player," Jeremiah said. "We assume Bryce Young goes No. 1, maybe taking the best player available (is the plan at No. 2). So, from that standpoint, I couldn't argue. I would just say that there has to be a plan in place (for the Texans) to add a quarterback in this draft."
The Texans also have pick No. 12 overall in Round 1 -- plus 10 more selections this year alone. The ammunition would be there to trade up from No. 12 if they want.
"Maybe that's what they have in mind," he said. "I just have a hard time seeing them entering next season with the (Davis) Mills, (Case) Keenum, (E.J.) Perry combo being it. They have a chance to add to that room right now. That's why I would be shocked if they left the first round with those two picks and one of them was not a quarterback."
If it was up to Jeremiah, his pick at No. 2 would be Ohio State's C.J. Stroud.
"I love Will Anderson as a player, but there's no guarantees you are going to be picking up here again," Jeremiah said. "You have an opportunity to take a quarterback. I really like C.J. Stroud. He's my seventh overall player. And if it's me in that situation, I would take C.J. Stroud.
"I think he's better than anybody you have on your roster right now. It's an upgrade. You can look to next year all you want, but there are absolutely no guarantees you're going to get one of those (quarterbacks) next year."
In a way, Houston's possible leeriness over the QB options they might be facing appears to be a snapshot for the position as a whole. It's tougher to slot passers to specific teams right now, especially knowing that there could be trade activity that changes the landscape.
"Big picture on this draft, where we are right now, I have no feel on these quarterbacks (and) where they end up going, which is going to make for a fun Thursday night," Jeremiah said in his opening remarks. "You know, we have five intriguing quarterbacks to kind of sort through, and there's all sorts of information out there. So, it's tough to try and decipher all that, but it's going to make for a fun night, not knowing what's going to ultimately happen with these quarterbacks."
2) Is C.J. Stroud falling? For most of this draft cycle, many analysts have pegged -- in whatever order -- Young and Stroud as the top two quarterbacks, with the two passers potentially being the first two picks in the draft. So, would Houston passing on Stroud at No. 2 be an indication that he has fallen out of favor with NFL decision-makers? Jeremiah isn't so sure.
"I think sometimes everything gets taken with and run with on the media side of things, and it could just simply be that the Texans are the team we've long anticipated would take (Stroud), and it might be that the Texans just don't feel like he's a great fit for them.
"Who's to say that that doesn't mean that they trade that pick and somebody comes up and takes him, that is somebody comes up to No. 3 and takes him or the Colts take him at No. 4?"
The point is that what one team does in the draft shouldn't be conflated as the consensus opinion league-wide.
"I don't know that it's this narrative that he's dropping like a rock as much as it is that it seems to be out there that they're not in lockstep, unanimous support of C.J. Stroud inside that one building in Houston. That's basically, I think, what everybody is getting."
3) The Colts might prefer Kentucky's Will Levis at No. 4. If you're following recent draft scuttlebutt, it might not come as a total shock. But Jeremiah said it's appearing like Levis and Indianapolis are a strong pairing to watch for.
"There are a lot of people in the league that you talk to -- GMs and head coaches -- that just feel like Will Levis is a good fit there with them," Jeremiah said.
Although Jeremiah said he's leery of taking past quarterbacks whom coaches have worked with and assuming that's exactly the type of QB they'll always gravitate toward, he thinks it's notable that new Colts head coach Shane Steichen has done good work with both Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts -- and that Levis' game might have some crossover with both.
"He kind of fits that mold," Jeremiah said.
Another interesting nugget is that Jeremiah believes the Colts would prefer Levis over Florida's Anthony Richardson, at least if it were to come down to that either-or proposition.
"(Levis) might not have as much upside as Richardson, but I think tomorrow he is going to be ahead of Anthony Richardson," he said. "Whereas Anthony Richardson, I think, has a little more distance to travel but with a way bigger upside. With this Colts roster where it is right now, there's some pretty good veteran pieces in place. I think there's some expectation there that you want (a rookie QB) to be up and running sooner than later."
The one thing that could test this theory: the availability of C.J. Stroud when the Colts are on the clock. In that scenario, Jeremiah would rank Stroud ahead of Levis and Richardson for Indianapolis.
4) Reevaluating the Bears-Panthers trade. It has been about six weeks since the Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers for the No. 9 overall pick, a 2023 second-round pick (No. 61), a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025 and wide receiver D.J. Moore.
It was a decisive move, but was the timing right? Since then, there has been a lot of movement around the league that has affected the draft landscape. Does Jeremiah think the Bears handled it correctly? Or should they perhaps have waited in the hopes of receiving a better offer later in the process?
From Jeremiah's vantage point, Bears GM Ryan Poles did a good job of maximizing the value of the return, even while doing it as early in the process as he did.
"With the haul they got, when you include the player that they got in D.J. Moore, I don't know that they would have been able to do better," Jeremiah said. "I think that was smart on (Poles') part. He got a deal he liked, he was comfortable with it and he wasn't going to wait to see if there was anything better out there and maybe miss out on that opportunity. I thought it was smart to go to (No.) 9. It made the most sense. I love the return they got."
There's been talk that perhaps there was an option to move down to No. 2 overall, and then to No. 9 -- something Poles said he considered. But short of that, the way things are lining up now with a few top quarterbacks possibly lingering into the range of the Bears' ninth pick, that second trade opportunity might come up again.
"The crazy thing about it is, I think as we're a week out -- I never would have thought this when they made that trade -- but they might be sitting there with more quarterbacks still on the board when they pick at (No.) 9 and might be faced with another opportunity to continue to add more picks," Jeremiah said. "I really thought that was the smart move that they made."
5) How Lamar Jackson uncertainty might affect Ravens' draft plans. With the Jackson saga lingering in Baltimore, is there a chance they suddenly enter the QB mix -- perhaps even in Round 1? From Jeremiah's perspective, he doesn't think so, at least not that high.
"To me, it looks more like you get another receiver kind of on board without necessarily utilizing a lot of your resources or first-round pick or trading up for a guy," he said. "It feels like to me, let's put another guy in the room. We have time.
"At least we know we've got this next year if you're going year by year with Lamar Jackson. He's going to be your guy, you know that going into this next season."
Jeremiah suggested that adding a quarterback later on, however, is something the Ravens could seriously entertain, mentioning UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson, BYU's Jaren Hall and Georgia's Stetson Bennett. All three have similarities, as they're pretty athletic, experienced and a bit older as prospects. Baltimore hired Bennett's college offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, this offseason.
"It feels like maybe one of those three guys," Jeremiah said. "You'd have a decision to make if somehow (Anthony) Richardson were to fall all the way into your lap (with the 22nd overall pick), then now we have a conversation to make. But I don't get the sense that this is a big, bold move for them to go up and get (a quarterback)."
6) Lions following Chiefs' model? Jeremiah was asked about how the Chiefs used a slew of draft picks last year to find pieces that contributed to a Super Bowl run and whether he thought there might be a team that fits that mold this year. He mentioned the Lions.
"I'm intrigued to see what happens with the Detroit Lions because they are right on the cusp. They're a really good team. We saw (they were) within a whisker of making the playoffs last year and now when you look where they're picking, they have four of the top 55 picks. They've got another one there at 81.
Detroit enters the 2023 NFL Draft with nine selections, including two in the first round (Nos. 6 and 18) and two in the second (Nos. 48 and 55). Following two strong drafts under GM Brad Holmes and the Lions' strong finish to last season, could Detroit stock up again in this draft and become true contenders? Jeremiah believes in what Holmes has done so far -- and what he could do next week.
"Brad Holmes, I give him a lot of credit," Jeremiah said. "He took a lot of grief after the (Matthew) Stafford trade and they went on and won the Super Bowl with the Rams, but he knew the timing and he nailed it because they weren't ready to win yet and he was still able to get a quality quarterback in return and load up with all these assets. And now they're in great shape. I don't know that there's many teams you'd rather be than them right now with where they are as an organization and the assets they have to go ahead and take that next step."
As for players Detroit might target, assuming they keep their first four picks, Jeremiah mentioned Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon, Texas RB Bijan Robinson, Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson and Michigan TE Luke Schoonmaker.
Witherspoon is, Jeremiah said, "one of my favorite players. He's plug and play. I think he'll fit with their culture and the grittiness they've installed in that organization." And as for Robinson, Jeremiah said: "You passed him once. If he's there the second time, it's almost like 'This is a gift. I can't turn this away.' That would just be fun to watch him run behind that offensive line."
7) What's the Chiefs' 2023 draft strategy? The Chiefs will be in the spotlight as the reigning Super Bowl champions and with Kansas City hosting this year's draft. So, what might the Chiefs' plans be, sitting with the final selection of Round 1? They wouldn't really trade out of that pick and not make a selection Thursday night, would they? Jeremiah thinks it's a possibility.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they traded back again," he said. "They're picking 31, 63 and 95 right now. I also think (drafting a) playmaker (at No. 31) is a way they could end up going."
"I know they've been doing a ton of work on wideouts," he said. "I know they've been looking at not only the top-end guys but some of those third-round-type players. So, I would be very surprised if one of those three picks is not a receiver, just based on the work that they're doing."
Another possibility mentioned by Jeremiah would be taking an offensive tackle early.