2023-04-24 · 3 min read · NFL/Football
C.J. Stroud- Quarterback- Ohio State and Jalen Carter- Defensive Lineman- Georgia

Danny/Karnik AP | Steve Limentani/Getty Images

When the NFL Draft begins in Kansas City on April 27, the focus early on will be on the NFC South, with two teams in the division currently scheduled to pick in the top 10.
Following a trade with the Chicago Bears last month, the Carolina Panthers will make the first overall selection in the draft.
With the retirement of Tom Brady and some other veterans moving on, there’s a good chance the teams in the NFC South will be looking to add a youngster behind center, a talented blocker or a solid defensive lineman when they’re on the clock.
That being said, here are my predictions on who each team will choose with their first selection.
Carolina Panthers- Round 1- #1- C.J. Stroud- Quarterback- Ohio State
The Panthers had a former top pick at the beginning of 2022 in Baker Mayfield, who didn’t work out, and after nearly making the postseason, Frank Reich needs a quarterback he can work with.
I believe that quarterback will be C.J. Stroud, who had a great pro day, further solidifying his place as a top draft choice.
The former Buckeye, who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2022, should fill a void in the passing game, given that the top of their current QB depth chart is the ageing Andy Dalton.
Carolina already has some excellent additions to their receiving corps and running attack in D.J. Chark and Miles Sanders.
Stroud had the second most TD passes in the country last season (41), becoming the first pivot in Big Ten history to produce back-to-back seasons of 30-plus touchdown throws.
He’s an intelligent signal caller and a traditional pocket passer with excellent ball placement, a quick release, and an NFL-level arm.
Overall his accuracy is exceptional, and pressure doesn’t seem to phase him as he’s shown to be brave enough to take a hit if it means making a big throw down the field.
Atlanta Falcons- Round 1- #8- Jalen Carter- Defensive Lineman- Georgia
Last season the Dirty Birds went with an offensive choice, and in 2023 we expect them to look towards the opposite side of the ball, while trying to find someone who can hurry opposing quarterbacks.
In 2021 Carter was arguably the best defensive lineman on a Bulldogs team that produced five first-round selections defensively in the 2022 draft, including the #1 overall pick Travon Walker.
Carter has elite quickness, a strong lower body and the ability to shed tacklers.
He is not just a terrific interior pass rusher but is also great at plugging up those running lanes, plus he has the versatility to play all positions on the defensive line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Round 1- #19- O’Cyrus Torrence- Offensive Guard- Florida
The Bucs had a difficult time running the ball in 2022, and a quality offensive lineman would be a great help to Leonard Fournette and their new QB Baker Mayfield.
Torrence had a dominant pro day with the 2022 consensus All-American rag-dolling defenders with his strong hands and terrific lateral quickness.
For a lineman weighing over 300 pounds, he’s exceptionally light on his feet, has excellent hand placement and a good understanding of angles when climbing upfield.
He also has a solid awareness of stunts and twists, while he never surrendered a single sack during his college career despite playing over 3,000 snaps.
New Orleans Saints- Round 1- #29- Keion White- Defensive End- Georgia Tech
Although their draft investment in Marcus Davenport didn’t work out, the Saints should still consider supersizing their defensive unit for 2023.
In White, New Orleans would get a player with a lethal spin move, pure speed to close quickly while showing a good use of hands and an ability to track the ball.
As a Junior last season, he made 29 stops and 34 tackles, hurrying the quarterback 29 times with four hits to go along with four sacks.
He’s got tremendous flexibility to bend the edge with a good closing burst, which will surely be an asset on the Bayou.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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