Draft Rumors: Young, Panthers, Stroud, Texans, Colts, Smith, Lions, WRs, Cardinals, Titans, Falcons, Johnston, Jaguars, Vikings

The Panthers have not locked onto Bryce Young just yet, but the pendulum continues to swing toward the Alabama prospect over C.J. Stroud. David and Nicole Tepper spent extensive time with Young’s parents at Alabama’s pro day last month, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, and Michael Lombardi said during his GM Shuffle podcast the Carolina owner met with Nick Saban in the Crimson Tide HC’s office during the pro day. This comes after reports last week began to stray from the Stroud-to-Charlotte narrative, one that formed largely because Young stands 5-foot-10 and plays under 200 pounds (despite his 204-pound Combine weight).

Carolina will meet with Young on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, with Breer adding Young has already impressed Frank Reich in previous settings. It will be interesting to see if more smoke emerges here, as the Panthers do not exactly have to keep this a secret given their updated draft position, or if Stroud remains in the mix. Many scouts and execs polled by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said Stroud’s 6-3, 214-pound frame make him safer and will help him become Carolina’s choice, though that poll still produced a slim advantage for Young to go No. 1 overall. Despite the Panthers meeting with Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, it certainly looks like Young or Stroud will be the pick.

Here is the latest from the draft scene:

  • The Colts discussed the No. 1 pick with the Bears before the Panthers won out, but Breer adds Indianapolis was not ready to do a deal before free agency. The team was still in the process of evaluating the QB prospects and was not prepared to part with significant capital to move up from No. 4 to No. 1. Houston also backed out, having been farther down the road in trade talks with Chicago. Bears GM Ryan Poles spoke of his team trading down twice — moving from 1 to 2 to 9, allowing the Texans and Panthers to climb up for QBs — but Breer notes Nick Caserio‘s team became uncomfortable with the deal later in the process.
  • Texans ownership is more involved in this year’s draft process, per Breer, who is less bullish on Houston selecting a quarterback compared to how this situation looked ahead of the Combine. The Texans’ negotiations with the Bears unmasked them as being willing to trade up for one particular quarterback, potentially pointing to the team being high on either Stroud or Young but not as sold on the other. Since the Panthers obtained the pick, the Texans have been connected to possibly punting on their QB need and taking Will Anderson Jr.. A trade-down scenario, per Breer, should also not be discounted.
  • Nolan Smith is gaining steam during the pre-draft process, with Fowler noting some scouts are pegging the edge rusher as a top-10 pick. The Lions (Nos. 6, 18) have done homework on the Georgia outside linebacker, per Fowler, and the Patriots (No. 14), Buccaneers (No. 19), Ravens (No. 22) and Jaguars (No. 24) have met with Smith. Scouts view the 238-pound defender as a better fit for a team in a 3-4 scheme, and the Steelers (No. 17) — long users of that base alignment — have emerged as a potential Smith floor.
  • More teams are bringing in TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Following a report that indicated the Ravens, Cowboys and Chiefs were hosting Johnston, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes the 6-foot-3 pass catcher will meet with the Cardinals, Falcons (No. 8), Vikings (No. 23) and Jaguars. Most of these visits will occur this week, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who adds the Titans (No. 11) huddled up with the ex-Horned Frog on Monday (Twitter link). Barring a fall into Round 2 or the Cards moving down considerably from No. 3 overall, Johnston would not seem in their range. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has the Vikings selecting Johnston. This receiver class has generated mixed reviews, with NBC Sports’ Peter King adding teams have the higher-end wideouts in varying orders on their respective boards, but Johnston has consistently been mocked as a first-rounder.
View Comments (9)