NFL

With the First Pick: Top QB prospects make case to be No. 1 pick at pro days, plus new three-round mock draft

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Welcome to the first edition of the With the First Pick newsletter, the place that provides cheap hits of dopamine to satisfy your secretive NFL Draft obsession. As newsletter aficionado John Breech wrote Friday, we’re rebranding the Pick Six newsletter for the next month, starting today and continuing through the end of April. And I, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso, will be with you every step of the way.

This is a purposeful launch — we’re exactly one month away from the start of the 2023 NFL Draft. I’ll be tracking everything that transpires in the NFL and spin it all into a draft angle. Because there’s always a draft angle! This newsletter is the place to get the latest on everything draft related.

Before I begin, this paragraph will be your daily reminder to tell all your buddies and that one uncle who’s always texting you mock draft links to sign up for the With the First Pick newsletter. Just click here and then share this link with them.

Today’s NFL mock draft 🔮: Will Levis sinks in three-round mock

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Will Levis
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The NFL Draft analysts at CBS Sports are marking NFL Draft month by graciously providing carefully crafted three-round mocks all week, starting with Ryan Wilson’s today. Instead of spoiling the entire top 10, here’s a few of the first picks with notable later selections sprinkled in. 

1. Carolina Panthers – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson, EDGE, Cardinals
4. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts
5. Seattle Seahawks – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech 
15. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
18. Los Angeles Rams (via mock trade up) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
38. Detroit Lions – Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
72. Tennessee Titans – Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE/DL, Northwestern
87. Minnesota Vikings – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Trading up to land Levis would make sense after Rams COO Kevin Demoff recently penned a letter to fans which explained the Super Bowl hangover, how they’ve handled the draft, and reiterated the team’s goal to win the division and make a playoff run. It’d get Rams faithful juiced again.  

Elsewhere, Washington in Round 2 for the Lions would be another shot of espresso for Dan Campbell’s team that’s absolutely on the rise. And Hyatt in Minnesota as Justin Jefferson‘s understudy would get Kirk Cousins as jazzed as most dads when lawn-mowing and grilling season returns each spring. Check out Wilson’s entire three-round mock right here.

‘With the First Pick’ podcast 🎧: Alabama analysis galore       

If this is “OMG IT’S NFL DRAFT MONTH” week, last week was “PRO DAY” week, with Ohio State, Kentucky, and Alabama — and their marquee quarterback prospects — taking center stage in front of many GMs, coaches, and like 8,000,000 scouts. Wilson and Rick Spielman of ‘With the First Pick’ podcast were in attendance at Ohio State’s and Alabama’s pro days, too. After the Crimson Tide workout, Wilson and Spielman dove deep into Bryce Young performance before talking about other notable Alabama prospects. Listen to the entire episode here.

Prospect of the day 📈: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

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Jaxon Smith-Njigba
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  • Notable combine results: 6.57 in the three-cone, 3.93 in the short shuttle, 10-foot-5 broad jump
  • Combine measurements: 6-foot 5/8″, 196 pounds
  • Current CBS Sports prospect ranking: No. 25 overall (WR4)

Smith-Njigba is the biggest Catch 22 in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s both an enigma and a proven, known commodity. How’s that possible? In 2021, in an offense with two future first-round receivers (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave), it was then 19-year-old Smith-Njigba who led the Buckeyes in catches and receiving yards by wide margins. But during the 2022 season-opening win over Notre Dame, he got injured on an awkward tackle. He ended up playing just three games, catching five passes for 43 yards all year.

While not quite as fast as Wilson or Olave, Smith-Njigba wins with smooth lateral quickness, deceptive burst after the catch and outstanding ball-tracking skills. When healthy, he feels like a comparably impactful Buckeye alum at the next level. Check out JSN’s full, football-nerdy scouting report here.

Pro Day primer: Top prospects to watch 👀

North Carolina WR Josh Downs

  • Anyone who watched Downs on film knew he was going to be small, and he was at just over 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds. But his 1.49 second 10-yard split placed in the 93th percentile among receivers, and he was able to sustain that burst en route to a 4.48 time in the 40. Teams in need of a savvy, underneath slot option with some downfield giddy-up will be paying close attention to Downs at North Carolina’s Pro Day this afternoon. 

Notable Pro Days this week: Arkansas and Texas Tech (March 29); TCU, Florida, Tennessee, and Oklahoma (March 30); Kansas State (March 31). Check out the full Pro Day schedule right here. 

News & Notes 📝

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Lamar Jackson
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  • Lamar Jackson requested a trade: In a Twitter thread sent out Monday morning, the Ravens quarterback revealed that on March 2, he requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens. Speaking at the owners’ meetings shortly after the Jackson news broke, John Harbaugh ironically said “When we’re playing football next year and Lamar Jackson’s the quarterback, we’re all gonna be happy.” For more on this developing situation, click here
  • NFL owners meetings underway: They’re in Phoenix this year, and among the myriad of procedural and on-field rules to be voted on is flexing ‘Thursday Night Football’ games starting in 2023.
  • DeAndre Hopkins update, sort of: New Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon spoke for the first time on DeAndre Hopkins trade rumors, stating “I’m operating that he’s a Cardinals right now.” If Hopkins does get moved, here are some landing spots.
  • Sean Payton shuts down receiver trade rumors: New Broncos head coach Sean Payton all but officially slammed the door on Jerry Jeudy/Courtland Sutton trade rumors. Looks like receiver is off the priority list in the draft for Denver.