NFL Draft 2023: How to Watch and What to Know


Who will be taken at No. 1 overall? Which teams will come out ahead? And, in a 32-team league, why are there only 31 picks in the first round?

College football stars will take their first steps toward becoming professional football stars (or flops) at the 2023 N.F.L. draft. Expect to hear “Alabama,” “Georgia” and “Ohio State” a lot, as well as “acceleration,” “physicality” and “football I.Q.”

The draft begins Thursday evening and continues Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, from Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

Coverage of the first round begins Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC. Friday’s coverage, of Rounds 2 and 3, begins at 7 p.m. on ESPN, and Rounds 4 through 7 begin Saturday at noon on ESPN.

The Chicago Bears’ abysmal 3-14 record qualified them to have the first selection. But the Bears elected to trade that pick to the Carolina Panthers for a package of four picks, including No. 9 overall, and wide receiver D.J. Moore, 26, who has three career seasons with at least 1,000 yards in catches. Depending on how Carolina’s choice at No. 1 works out, and what the Bears do with the group of picks they acquired, the blockbuster trade could turn out to be a triumph or a disaster for either team.

Although they have not made a formal announcement, the Panthers are widely expected to pick Bryce Young of Alabama, considered to be the best of a strong group of available quarterbacks.

Young is an unquestioned leader with a brilliant record leading Alabama’s superteam. The big question mark is his height: 5-foot-10, considered to be shorter than N.F.L. teams normally like their quarterbacks.

The Bears traded the top pick in part because this seemed like a year for a quarterback to go No. 1, and they are happy with the 24-year-old Justin Fields, who had standout performances as a rusher last season.

Defensive lineman Jalen Carter helped lead Georgia to back-to-back national titles. But last month, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a car crash after the team’s championship parade that killed two people, including a teammate. He was sentenced to probation, a fine and community service.

While he was once a surefire top pick, teams’ concerns over the incident have raised some doubt, as has Carter’s poor performance in a workout.

Carter still could be selected early if a team decides to go for his undoubted talent. The Seahawks at No. 5 are a possible landing place. Or he could slip lower, as some players always seem to on draft day, if teams decide that his ability is not worth the risk.

Quarterbacks could fill the entire top four, as three other signal-callers besides Young are expected to go high: C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, Will Levis of Kentucky and Anthony Richardson of Florida. Richardson is a particularly interesting case, a tremendously talented player who some scouts feel has not managed to get the best out of that talent yet. He could go as high as No. 2 or perhaps fall out of the top 10.

The names you hear the most often are linebacker Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama, cornerback Devon Witherspoon of Illinois and edge rusher Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech. Running backs are not currently in vogue with N.F.L. drafters, at least high in the order, but Bijan Robinson of Texas could buck that trend.

The Houston Texans have the Nos. 2 and 12 overall picks to try to help turn around a franchise that has won just 11 games over the past three seasons. Also in a good spot are the Seahawks (Nos. 5 and 20, plus two second-rounders) and the Detroit Lions (Nos. 6 and 18, and two second-rounders).

The Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers probably can’t count on landing a superstar; they won’t be drafting until the third round.

The Miami Dolphins forfeited their top pick, which would have come at No. 21, after being found to have had “impermissible communications” with Tom Brady in two different seasons while he was under contract with other teams.

That’s a title given to the last player drafted. Most of those players go on to make little impact in the league. But last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, the former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, defied his lowly draft status. After injuries to the 49ers’ first- and second-string quarterbacks, Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy got a chance to start. He went 5-0 in the regular season and led the team to its conference championship game.

Remember Purdy before you too hastily dismiss your favorite team’s draft class as a bust.

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