2023 NFL Draft

Seahawks Sign Round 1 CB Devon Witherspoon, Wrap Draft Class Deals

This rookie class did produce a negotiation that led to a high-profile draftee missing part of training camp, but the Seahawks are ending that brief chapter Friday. No. 5 overall pick Devon Witherspoon agreed to terms with the team on his four-year rookie deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

With Witherspoon under contract on a deal worth $31.86MM fully guaranteed and containing a fifth-year option, all 2023 draftees are now signed. The payment schedule of the cornerback’s $20.2MM signing bonus served as the final hurdle for the sides to clear, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets.

The three quarterbacks drafted ahead of Witherspoon — Bryce Young (No. 1), C.J. Stroud (No. 2) and Anthony Richardson (No. 4) — received 100% of their bonuses paid up front, per Henderson, who adds Will Anderson Jr. received 85% of his bonus upfront (Twitter link). Last year’s Seahawks first-rounder — No. 9 overall pick Charles Cross — received 75% of his signing bonus paid in the first six weeks, Henderson tweets, providing a glimpse into how the Seahawks prefer to structure their first-rounders’ deals.

With this minor issue in the rearview mirror, the Seahawks can get to work on deploying their top pick. The team deviated from a long-running strategy of not using high draft choices on corners. Under the Pete CarrollJohn Schneider regime, Seattle had not used a first- or second-round pick on this position. Other than Richard Sherman‘s 2014 extension, the team had also generally avoided big payments here as well. Despite Carroll believed to be on board with a high-risk Jalen Carter bet, the Seahawks chose the Illinois corner, whom the Lions were eyeing at No. 6.

A four-year contributor for the Fighting Illini, Witherspoon showed off his defensive ability in 2021 when he finished with nine pass breakups. He replicated that success with 14 PBUs (in addition to three interceptions and 41 tackles) this past year. The 5-foot-11 corner parlayed that success into becoming this year’s first corner chosen. The Seahawks, who moved into the Witherspoon draft slot via their 2022 Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos, will pair the rookie with 2022 rookie standout Tariq Woolen.

Here is Seattle’s 2023 draft class:

Round 1, No. 5 (from Broncos): Devon Witherspoon, CB (Illinois) (signed)
Round 1, No. 20: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR (Ohio State) (signed)
Round 2, No. 37 (from Broncos): Derick Hall, DE (Auburn) (signed)
Round 2, No. 52: Zach Charbonnet, RB (UCLA) (signed)
Round 4, No. 108 (from Broncos): Anthony Bradford, G (LSU) (signed)
Round 4, No. 123: Cameron Young, DT (Mississippi State) (signed)
Round 5, No. 151 (from Steelers): Mike Morris, DE (Michigan) (signed)
Round 5, No. 154: Olusegun Oluwatimi, C (Michigan) (signed)
Round 6, No. 198: Jerrick Reed II, S (New Mexico) (signed)
Round 7, No. 237: Kenny McIntosh, RB (Georgia) (signed)

Steelers Agree To Terms With CB Joey Porter Jr., Finalize Draft Class Deals

The Steelers have become the latest team to wrap up their rookie deals in advance of training camp. Second-round corner Joey Porter Jr. has agreed to terms on his first NFL deal, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Porter’s case was quite unique, since he was selected with the No. 32 pick. The Dolphins’ forfeited Day 1 selection made the Penn State alum a second-rounder despite his draft slot traditionally being that of a first-rounder. The matter of guaranteed money in particular emerged as a sticking point as negotiations went on, with Porter having a legitimate case to secure a fully guaranteed pact.

That did not take place, but he still secured a signficant financial windfall. Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets that the first three years of the four-year, $9.62MM deal are guaranteed in full. Porter will receive a signing bonus of just under $4MM, and, like a number of high-profile members of the 2023 draft class, he will see it paid in full upfront.

The son of former Steelers player and coach Joey Porter, the 22-year-old should be expected to immediately hold down a starting spot. The CB room underwent signficant changes in Pittsburgh this offseason, with free agent signing Patrick Peterson representing the most accomplished veteran amongst the additions made. Corner was long thought to be a position of need entering the draft, and things fell perfectly into place for the Steelers to add left tackle Broderick Jones with their first selection and Porter with their second.

The latter spent four years in college, during which time he established himself as one of the top members of a deep corner class. While Porter only recorded one interception, he routinely displayed the physicality made possible by his 6-2, 200-pound frame. Translating that to the NFL level will go a long way in helping a new-look Steelers secondary attempt to bring the team back to the postseason.

Here is the full Steelers’ draft class:

Round 1, No. 14 (from Patriots): Broderick Jones, OT (Georgia) (signed)
Round 2, No. 32 (from Bears): Joey Porter Jr. CB (Penn State) (signed)
Round 2, No. 49: Keeanu Benton, DT (Wisconsin) (signed)
Round 3, No. 93 (from 49ers through Panthers): Darnell Washington, TE (Georgia) (signed)
Round 4, No. 132 (from 49ers through Panthers): Nick Herbig, LB (Wisconsin) (signed)
Round 7, No. 241 (from Vikings through Broncos): Cory Trice, CB (Purdue) (signed)
Round 7, No. 251 (from Rams): Spencer Anderson, G (Maryland) (signed)

Cardinals Sign Round 2 OLB BJ Ojulari, Conclude Rookie Signings

The Cardinals are the latest team to conclude the signing of their 2023 NFL Draft class with the signing of a second-round pick. Cardinals staff writer Darren Urban announced that the team had signed LSU defensive end BJ Ojulari today, wrapping up Arizona’s rookie signings.

The second-round trend is notable after an early signing saw the Panthers deliver three years of guarantees to rookie wide receiver Jonathan Mingo. Since then, we’ve seen a number of second-round picks sign similarly impressive deals, pointing to a potential permanent shift in the value of second-round deals.

Ojulari and fifth-round pick Owen Pappoe should factor immediately into a relatively thin linebacking corps. With Zaven Collins shifting to defensive end and Isaiah Simmons officially making the move to defensive back, the talent at linebacker is suddenly lacking in a major way. Former safety Kyzir White is set to return to the full-time starting role he held when he was a Charger after a rotational year in Philadelphia. Around White, the outside linebacker jobs are open for competition between Ojulari, Pappoe, and veteran backup Dennis Gardeck.

At only 6-foot-2, Ojulari lacks the ideal length of an outside linebacker in the NFL. He can rush standing up or with his hand in the ground, and for him, finding the backfield is a regular occurrence. What he lacks in size and ability, he makes up for in spirit. Praised by many as a high-character guy, he’ll be a strong culture fit for a Cardinals team that may be struggling to find wins early. He also offers an unrelenting effort that commonly sees him making plays on the other side of the field or even downfield. In some schemes and on some teams, Ojulari might need to sit and develop a bit, but in Arizona, he should have every opportunity to earn his way onto the field early and often.

Without Kliff Kingsbury, DeAndre Hopkins, or, perhaps, Kyler Murray (to start the year), the 2023 Cardinals are set to look a bit different. Here’s the full draft class that will join Arizona in a new look:

Round 1, No. 6 (from Rams through Lions): Paris Johnson, OT (Ohio State) (signed)
Round 2, No. 41 (from Titans): BJ Ojulari, DE (LSU) (signed)
Round 3, No. 72 (from Titans): Garrett Williams, CB (Syracuse) (signed)
Round 3, No. 94 (from Eagles): Michael Wilson, WR (Stanford) (signed)
Round 4, No. 122 (from Dolphins through Chiefs and Lions): Jon Gaines II, G (UCLA) (signed)
Round 5, No. 139 (from Broncos through Lions): Clayton Tune, QB (Houston) (signed)
Round 5, No. 168 (from Cardinals through Lions): Owen Pappoe, LB (Auburn) (signed)
Round 5, No. 180: Kei’Trel Clark, CB (Louisville) (signed)
Round 6, No. 213: Dante Stills, DT (West Virginia) (signed)

Buccaneers Ink Round 2 OL Cody Mauch, Wrap Up Rookie Deals

Tampa Bay has continued the recent trend of teams completing the signing of their 2023 draft classes. Buccaneers senior writer/editor Scott Smith released today that the team had inked their last remaining unsigned rookie, North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch.

The second-round signings have been sticky for most teams after the Panthers included some hefty guarantees in the rookie contract of 39th overall pick Jonathan Mingo. While the details of Mauch’s contract have yet to be revealed, it could continue a trend of strong rookie deals that we’ve been seeing for second-round picks since the Mingo-signing.

Tampa Bay traded up two spots in order to secure Mauch back in April. After losing Alex Cappa to free agency and Ali Marpet to retirement, the Buccaneers struggled to find consistency on the interior of the offensive line throughout the 2022 season. Injuries didn’t help the situation, but the team lost another asset after trading Shaq Mason to the Texans.

Enter Mauch, who originally arrived in Fargo as a lean tight end at 6-foot-5, 221 pounds. The Bison were able to bulk the young man up to 6-foot-6, 303, helping to mold him into an NFL-ready lineman. As a team captain in his final collegiate season, Mauch earned FCS offensive lineman of the year honors. He impressed scouts with his outstanding mobility, fierce handwork, and sheer competitiveness.

He excelled at the Division I-FCS level as an offensive tackle but lacks the ideal length to be a clearcut starter on the outside in the NFL. He absolutely deserves a look at tackle, with Donovan Smith‘s departure for Kansas City, but at the very least, Mauch could be an immediate contributor on the interior offensive line. He could push Robert Hainsey or Nick Leverett for a starting spot at guard and can give Luke Goedeke a run for the open starting tackle spot in 2023.

After the (second) retirement of Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are entering a bit of a rebuild, and this draft class is the start of that process. Here is Tampa Bay’s full 2023 draft class:

Round 1, No. 19: Calijah Kancey, DT (Pittsburgh) (signed)
Round 2, No. 48 (from Lions through Packers): Cody Mauch, G (North Dakota State) (signed)
Round 3, No. 82: Yaya Diaby, DE (Louisville) (signed)
Round 5, No. 153: SirVocea Dennis, LB (Pittsburgh) (signed)
Round 5, No. 171 (from Rams): Payne Durham, TE (Purdue) (signed)
Round 6, No. 181 (from Colts): Josh Hayes, CB (Kansas State) (signed)
Round 6, No. 191 (from Packers through Rams, Texans and Eagles): Trey Palmer, WR (Nebraska) (signed)
Round 6, No. 196: Jose Ramirez, OLB (Eastern Michigan) (signed)

Colts Wrap Up Draft Class Signings

The Colts entered Monday with three members of their rookie class unsigned, but that is no longer the case. The team announced the signings of second-round corner Julius Brents and fourth-round offensive lineman Blake Freelandwhile NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that quarterback Anthony Richardson has also agreed to terms on his initial pro contract.

The latter will earn a fully-guaranteed $33.99MM, including a $21.72MM signing bonus. As the Texans have done with No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud, Richardson will receive all of his bonus upfront. With the financial business taken care off, the Colts can look ahead to training camp, during which Richardson in particular will be at the center of attention.

The Florida product was long seen as the x-factor in this year’s quarterback class. Richardson spent three years with the Gators, but he only logged one full campaign as the team’s starter. During the 2022 season, he posted an underwhelming 17:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing just under 54% of his passes. Those figures led to understandable questions about his abilities as a passer at the NFL level.

The 6-4, 232-pounder ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns, however, and delivered a highly impressive Combine performance. That helped convince Indianapolis to select him fourth overall, making him the third signal-caller to hear his name called. Owner Jim Irsay recently spoke about the timeline along which Richardson could overtake veteran signing Gardner Minshew as the team’s starter under new head coach Shane Steichen (who was hired in no small part based on his success in developing young QBs).

Brents was likely in line for a notable rookie role even before Isaiah Rodgers was let go by the Colts in the wake of his gambling suspension. Especially now that the team’s corner depth has been weakened by that move, the Kansas State product will compete for a starting role on a Colts team which, after trading away Stephon Gilmore, is generally lacking in proven commodities at the position. Freeland, who spent three years at BYU, will look to provide depth to an offensive front which significantly underperformed in 2022.

Here is the complete Colts’ draft class:

Round 1, No. 4: Anthony Richardson, QB (Florida) (signed)
Round 2, No. 44 (from Falcons): Julius Brents, CB (Kansas State) (signed)
Round 3, No. 79 (from Commanders): Josh Downs, WR (North Carolina) (signed)
Round 4, No. 106: Blake Freeland, OT (BYU) (signed)
Round 4, No. 110 (from Falcons): Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE (Northwestern) (signed)
Round 5, No. 138: Darius Rush, CB (South Carolina) (signed)
Round 5, No. 158 (from Vikings): Daniel Scott, S (California) (signed)
Round 5, No. 162 (from Bills): Will Mallory, TE (Miami) (signed)
Round 5, No. 176 (from Cowboys): Evan Hull, RB (Northwestern) (signed)
Round 6, No. 211 (from Vikings): Titus Leo, DE (Wagner) (signed)
Round 7, No. 221: Jaylon Jones, CB (Texas A&M) (signed)
Round 7, No. 236 (from Buccaneers): Jake Witt, OT (Northern Michigan) (signed)

Texans Sign QB C.J. Stroud, Complete Draft Class Deals

The final Texans’ rookie to sign his initial NFL contract was the player the team selected before the rest of its class. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is now on the books, meaning all of Houston’s rookies have been signed in time for training camp.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Stroud’s four-year, $36.3MM deal includes a signing bonus of $23.38MM. In addition to being fully guaranteed like all first-round contracts, the bonus will be paid in full right away, Rapoport adds. That marks a first in Texans history, as the franchise now has its presumed long-term signal-caller under contract through 2026 (or 2027, if the fifth-year option is picked up down the road).

Stroud entered the 2022 college season seen as a contender with Bryce Young to be deemed the top quarterback in the class and as such, to hear his name called first overall on draft day. The latter was ultimately selected with the No. 1 pick by the Panthers, leaving the Texans with the option of adding Stroud or moving in a different direction with the first of their two Day 1 picks.

Houston – one of the teams which explored a trade with the Bears for the No. 1 pick – was said to be high on edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. in the build-up to the draft. It appeared increasingly likely at one point that the Texans would forgo selecting a QB to instead add to their pass rush. In the end, though, the team did select Stroud at No. 2 before making a blockbuster trade up to the third slot to draft Anderson. Expectations will be high for both players now and in the future.

Stroud spent three years at Ohio State, serving as the starter for the past two seasons. He put together a highly productive campaign in 2021 with 4,435 yards and 44 touchdown passes coupled with a 72% completion percentage. After wideouts Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave departed for the NFL, Stroud’s 2022 stats took a slight step back, but they were still sufficient to make him a Heisman finalist and cement his status as one of the 2023 class’ top passers.

Known more for his pocket presence than his athletic abilities, the former Buckeye is expected to start from Day 1 on a Texans team which has a new coaching staff but a front office led by GM Nick Caserio who is facing increased pressure. Owner Cal McNair pushed back against the idea that he had an influence in the Stroud pick, but all parties involved will benefit from improvement during the 2023 season.

Here is a final look at the Texans’ 2023 draft class:

Round 1, No. 2: C.J. Stroud, QB (Ohio State) (signed)
Round 1, No. 3 (from Cardinals): Will Anderson Jr., LB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 2, No. 62: (from Eagles): Juice Scruggs, C (Penn State) (signed)
Round 3, No. 69 (from Rams): Nathaniel Dell, WR (Houston) (signed)
Round 4, No. 109 (from Raiders): Dylan Horton, DE (TCU) (signed)
Round 5, No. 167 (from Rams): Henry To’oTo’o, LB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 6, No. 201 (from Vikings): Jarrett Patterson, C (Notre Dame) (signed)
Round 6, No. 205 (from Bills): Xavier Hutchinson, WR (Iowa State) (signed)
Round 7, No. 248 (from Eagles): Brandon Hill, S (Pittsburgh) (signed)

Titans Sign QB Will Levis, Complete Draft Class Signings

Titans rookies are set to report to training camp today, and the front office has made sure they have their entire draft class under contract. According to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe (via Twitter), the Titans have signed second-round quarterback Will Levis to his rookie pact. Jordan Schultz was first with news of the signing (via Twitter).

Levis’ four-year rookie contract is worth $9.54MM and features a $3.94MM signing bonus. The quarterback was the last of Tennessee’s six rookies to sign his deal, and there were rumors that his camp could have been pushing for a fully guaranteed deal (vs. the standard three-year guarantees that are now standard atop the second round). It will be interesting to see what side ultimately got their way from a contract perspective.

The Kentucky signal-caller was expected to be selected at some point during the first round of the draft. Levis ended up spending the entire first night of the draft in the green room, but it didn’t take long for him to hear his name during the second day of the draft. The Titans ended up acquiring the No. 33 pick and ended the quarterback’s fall down the draft board.

Levis put himself on the NFL map after winning 10 games for the Wildcats in 2021, completing 66.01% of his passes for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns. Levis also displayed an ability to run the ball that year, compiling 376 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. However, thanks in part to a toe injury and the loss of some key personnel (including Wan’Dale Robinson and OC Liam Coen), Levis took a step back in 2022. When all was said and done, Levis completed 65.37% of his passes for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, all without displaying the rushing ability of prior years.

Thanks in part to that underwhelming performance, the Titans were able to slide in and select the quarterback atop the second round. The Titans have made it clear that the rookie quarterback won’t immediately earn the starting gig, with veteran Ryan Tannehill expected to keep his spot atop the depth chart for at least the 2023 season. The team used a third-round pick on Malik Willis just last year, but it remains to be seen if the now-third-string QB will stick around Tennessee.

As noted, today’s signing means the Titans have officially inked their entire draft class to their initial NFL contracts:

Patriots Ink Top Two Draft Picks To Conclude Rookie Signings

The Patriots followed the league’s recent trend, wrapping up their rookie contract signings today, inking their last two remaining unsigned players. The team announced today that Oregon first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez and Georgia Tech second-round edge Keion White have both signed their rookie contracts.

Gonzalez transferred to Oregon after two years of college at Colorado. After stepping in as a one-year starter for the Ducks, Gonzalez is set to step in as a starter for a new team once again this year. During his one year in Eugene, Gonzalez was a no-doubt first-team All-Pac 12 cornerback with four interceptions, 11 passes defensed, and a blocked field goal. That single-season performance alone was enough for many teams to place him atop their draft boards as the top cornerback prospect.

In New England, Gonzalez is likely to start across from Jonathan Jones at cornerback. Marcus Jones and Jack Jones are both expected to step up in expanded roles in their sophomore seasons, but with Jalen Mills making a likely transition to safety, Gonzalez could make an earlier impact on the first-team defense.

Gonzalez will be playing on a fully-guaranteed four-year, $15.10MM rookie contract with a $7.98MM signing bonus, according to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald. He’ll also receive roster bonuses of $521.494 in 2024, $675,000 in 2025, and $550,000 in 2026.

White was also a transfer in college, joining the Yellow Jackets after three years at Old Dominion. He only had two years of dominance over his five college seasons, but in those two seasons, he combined for 11.0 sacks and 22.0 tackles for loss. Injuries and a position change from tight end kept White from fully developing as a pass rusher at the collegiate level, but a high motor and natural abilities allowed White to lead Georgia Tech in both sacks and tackles for loss last year.

At 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, White is a perfect fit for the Patriots’ defensive line, where he can move along the line as a rotational substitute. With Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise returning as long-time starters, White will almost certainly rotate in as a rookie but could develop into an eventual replacement for one of the two veterans. It shouldn’t take long for White to become a regular contributor as a rotational disruptor for the Patriots’ defense.

White’s deal is a four-year, $7.79MM contract, according to Kyed. He’ll receive a $2.67MM signing bonus, and the first two years of his rookie contact (worth $750,000 and $1.10MM, respectively) will be fully guaranteed. $802,008 of his 2025 salary (worth a total of $1.46MM) will also be guaranteed. This doesn’t quite match the three guaranteed years we saw with 39th-overall pick Jonathan Mingo‘s deal, but over two and a half years’ worth of guarantees continues the recent growth of contracts for second-round picks.

With an early concentration on defense and two special teams selections, the Patriots certainly came into the 2023 draft with a plan. Here is New England’s completed draft class:

Round 1, No. 17 (from Steelers): Christian Gonzalez, CB (Oregon) (signed)
Round 2, No. 46: Keion White, DE (Georgia Tech) (signed)
Round 3, No. 76 (from Panthers): Marte Mapu, LB (Sacramento State) (signed)
Round 4, No. 107 (from Rams): Jake Andrews, C (Troy) (signed)
Round 4, No. 112 (from Jets): Chad Ryland, K (Maryland) (signed)
Round 4, No. 117: Sidy Sow, G (Eastern Michigan) (signed)
Round 5, No. 144 (from Falcons from Raiders): Atonio Mafi, G (UCLA) (signed)
Round 6, No. 187 (from Panthers): Kayshon Boutte, WR (LSU) (signed)
Round 6, No. 192: Bryce Baringer, P (Michigan State) (signed)
Round 6, No. 210: Demario Douglas, WR (Liberty) (signed)
Round 6, No. 214 (from Raiders): Ameer Speed, DB (Michigan State) (signed)
Round 7, No. 245 (from Falcons through Bills): Isaiah Bolden, CB (Jackson State) (signed)

Commanders Sign Emmanuel Forbes, Jartavius Martin To Wrap Draft Class

Thursday was an historic day for the Commanders off the field, but the team has also made transactions ensuring all members of their rookie class will be on the field in time for training camp. Cornerbacks Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius Martin signed their initial NFL deals (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2).

Forbes will earn $15.41MM fully guaranteed on his four-year contract, including a signing bonus of $8.21MM. Martin was able to secure $5.11MM in guaranteed money out of the total value of $7.64MM on his contract. As a first-rounder, Forbes is eligible for the fifth-year option.

The secondary was an area of concern for Washington entering the draft, and it comes as no surprise that the team invested considerably at the CB position. Forbes was among the more polarizing members of a deep corner class, given his small frame (6-0, 180 pounds) and his ability to overcome it during his highly productive college career. He registered 14 interceptions and 20 pass breakups across three campaigns at Mississippi State, confirming his status as a Day 1 lock.

The Commanders selected Forbes with the No. 16 pick, notably electing not to take fellow corner Christian GonzalezThe latter had generally been rated higher, but Washington’s willingness to add either informed their decision to call off efforts to trade up with the Patriots for the No. 14 spot. Forbes will be expected to translate his ball production to the pro game early and often given his draft status and the team’s decision to go against what many analysts felt was a more desirable prospect.

The 195-pound Martin will provide more bulk than Forbes, and he too will be counted on to play a key role in the Commanders’ secondary in at least the intermediate future. The former spent five seasons at Illinois, pairing with Devon Witherspoon, the top corner selected in this year’s draft, in the process. Martin posted four interceptions and 17 PBUs in his final two campaigns, adding 6.5 tackles for loss in that span.

Forbes and Martin will look to earn immediate playing time in a CB room topped by Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Here is the final breakdown of the Commanders’ 2023 class:

Round 1, No. 16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB (Mississippi State)
Round 2, No. 47: Jartavius Martin, CB (Illinois)
Round 3, No. 97: Ricky Stromberg, C (Arkansas) (signed)
Round 4, No. 118: Braeden Daniels, T (Utah) (signed)
Round 5, No. 137 (from Cardinals through Bills): K.J. Henry, DE (Clemson) (signed)
Round 6, No. 193: Christopher Rodriguez, RB (Kentucky) (signed)
Round 7, No. 233: Andre Jones Jr., DE (Louisiana) (signed)

Panthers To Sign No. 1 Pick Bryce Young, Complete Draft Class Deals

With training camps just around the corner, several teams continue to wrap up deals with their rookies before the weekend. That includes the first NFL deal being finalized for this year’s top pick.

Quarterback Bryce Young agreed to terms on his four-year rookie contract, per a team announcement. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the deal will be signed soon, setting him up for $41.22MM fully guaranteed. Young will receive nearly $27MM up front via a signing bonus.

The timing of bonus payments is often the cause for delay on first-round rookie contracts, and entering today four of the players selected in the top five – including all three quarterbacks – had yet to sign their deals. Young will become the first to so, officially kicking off a rookie campaign in which he will be expected to establish himself as the franchise’s signal-caller of the present and the long-term future.

The Alabama product was in the running to hear his name called first overall throughout the 2022 college season. After winning the Heisman the previous year, he delivered another strong campaign with the Crimson Tide, posting 3,328 passing yards and a 32:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those totals helped him finish sixth in voting for college football’s top prize.

When the Panthers pulled off their historic trade with the Bears for the No. 1 selection, Young was not in a class of his own in terms of favorites to be selected. Carolina gave thought to both Young and eventual second overall pick C.J. Stroud in the build-up to the draft, while new head coach Frank Reich was thought to be high on Anthony Richardson. The latter – who boasted the most athletic upside, but faced serious questions about his passing potential at the pro level – went fourth to the Colts.

Young began the offseason behind Andy Dalton on Carolina’s QB depth chart, after the veteran signed a two-year deal knowing the Panthers would select a passer with their top pick. The pecking order was formally reversed last month, though, leaving Young in place to lead the team ahead of a 2023 season in which improvement from the Matt Rhule era is expected. The 6-0, 194-pounder will face questions about his size as he transitions to the NFL game and takes charge of an offense which has plenty of new faces on offense in particular.

Here is the full breakdown of the Panthers’ draft class:

Round 1, No. 1 (from Bears): Bryce Young, QB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 2, No. 39: Jonathan Mingo, WR (Ole Miss) (signed)
Round 3, No. 80 (from Steelers): D.J. Johnson, DE (Oregon) (signed)
Round 4, No. 114: Chandler Zavala, G (North Carolina State) (signed)
Round 5, No. 145: Jammie Robinson, S (Florida State) (signed)