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I'm welcoming a draft analyst for CBS and I love me some Chris Trapasso, not only because he loves some bar bill wings but he gave us a big gift here in his latest mock draft. Chris, appreciate the time as always. How you been? Very good, Zach. Thanks for having me again.
Well, I appreciate you coming on. So, I am not a fan of the Indianapolis Colts and my producer, Hot Take Hickey, is a mega Colts fan and all he wants is his team to move up into the number one spot and make sure that they get Bryce Young. So, Chris, when you had them moving into the number one spot and drafting Anthony Richardson, I absolutely loved it. Yeah, this is all about the new head coach, Shane Steichen, who certainly did a great job fostering the development of Jalen Hurts and just from his time in Philadelphia, the thought process that he's gonna probably want a quarterback that is at least a little bit like Jalen Hurts. I mean, Anthony Richardson had 65 designed runs this past season at Florida for almost seven and a half yards per carry. Bryce Young had four designed runs at Alabama. Now, this is not the only reason why I think Anthony Richardson could be in the running. I just think at six foot four and 232 pounds, he is gonna blow the roof off Lucas Oil Stadium at the combine and there's just gonna be such a stark difference between Anthony Richardson as a physical and athletic specimen and Bryce Young. Now, certainly Bryce Young is a big time prospect. He is poised beyond his years, but if you're moving up for a quarterback in the draft, like I have the Colts doing in this mock and a lot of people expect the Colts to move up into the top three, I think you have to do it for a quarterback that has big time arm talent or big time athleticism and Anthony Richardson has both of those in spades and certainly he's more impressive in those key areas of today's franchise quarterback than Bryce Young.
I know you talked about the fit and the upside. Do you believe though he'll end up being the best quarterback in this draft class? It's really hard to say. I mean, I have him graded not that far below Bryce Young, but as all of us know, your listeners, you know Zach, that scheme fit matters, offensive line, everything matters where these players go and I think at this point I would want myself, if I was a quarterback prospect, to land with Shane Stikin after the job again that he did with Jalen Hurts, who was I think kind of a projecty quarterback as a passer coming out of Oklahoma and now he's going to get a huge contract likely this offseason. If you land with the Houston Texans that are still kind of at the ground floor of the rebuilding process, that could really make it difficult to quickly become that franchise quarterback. I think you have to show some type of flashes by year two in today's NFL or a GM is getting fired and they're going to be looking for a quarterback of their own, so it really is dependent on the scheme, the offensive situation, the offensive line, the skill position around them, especially for these quarterbacks.
There's not a Trevor Lawrence, there's not a Joe Burrow in this class. I think I could be talked into Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and maybe to a lesser degree Will Levitz all as being the best quarterbacks in this class. They're all great prospects, none of them are slam dunk.
They instantly turn around your franchise. They're going to need some help early in their NFL careers. And let me be clear, Chris Trapasso, I think Bryce Young is the best quarterback in this draft class. I know he had a Heisman Trophy season two years ago. I was more impressed this year just because he was working with a lot less and still did a heck of a job at the quarterback position.
Is it just the size that is the biggest attractor for you? Could you keep on hearing about the size of the lack of it for Bryce Young? Well, it's not necessarily the size, although I think again at six foot and maybe 195 pounds, he can elude defenders, but there will be times inside the pocket where he won't be able to do that. And I don't know about him absorbing hits in the NFL from six foot five, 270 pound edge rushers as compared to Will Levitz, who's a big quarterback, and Anthony Richardson, like I mentioned, is going to be around 63 or 64, really almost the size of a tight end at the position. So I think in general, you see the bigger quarterbacks, even if they are scramblers, taking those shots in the pocket and getting back up more so than the smaller quarterbacks who aren't elite elite athletes that are ultimately the ones who are ultimately getting injured. And I don't think Bryce Young has a big arm. And certainly I understand that there are other ways to win at the quarterback position in today's NFL.
But again, if I was not only picking a quarterback at number one overall, but saying, we're going to trade a future asset, it's a brand new head coach doing it. I would aim for those high caliber physical traits to play with the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert and Josh Allen in today's NFL. Because with Bryce Young, I think you have an extremely high floor and you certainly have upside because he can improvise, but in terms of crazy high feeling, like we've seen from Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes, there were kind of those roll of the dice quarterbacks.
It's just really not there for me in terms of Bryce Young and being a number one overall pick. Yeah, and I think most of us think we know what Bryce Young and CJ Stroud will be in the NFL, but you are right. The higher ceiling or how high the ceiling can be, you always get into that conversation like in years past with the Jordan Love, even Trey Lance, Carson Wentz, and we know how it turned out for Josh Allen.
So you see those four names, two guys really haven't had much of an opportunity. One guy ended up not working out in Carson Wentz and Josh Allen's been a stud. So we've talked about Anthony Richardson, but then the other high ceiling guy that you hear is Will Levitz. What do you think his ceiling could be in the NFL? I think he can be a light version of Josh Allen. The only thing that I, there's two things that are kind of make me a little bit of a detractor on Will Levitz is that he's a little bit of an older prospect. So he's, he's not coming in at 21, 22 years old, like Anthony Richardson, like Bryce Young, he's older. And I just, his final season, yes, he lost Wendell Robinson, the second round pick to the giants last year, who was a great receiver for him at Kentucky, but he didn't really elevate those around him. Like you mentioned, Bryce Young wins the Heisman two years ago, and then this past year loses so much talent to the NFL, but still has a big time season with out, you know, a bunch of first round picks along the offensive line or at wide receiver. I would have loved to see Will Levitz elevate some lesser players around him.
And a lot of times he was making poor decisions with the football. Now, again, he does have the big time franchise quarterback type attributes with his side, with his running ability, has an absolute cannon for an arm. So he could be Josh Allen asked in the right situation, but I think he's a little bit more of a gamble than the three that you mentioned before.
Talking to Chris Trapasso. So you have CJ Stroud getting selected by the Ravens, and you have a trade occurring where Lamar Jackson goes to the Falcons. Let me start you off with Lamar trade. We've now seen two years of negotiations.
They have gone nowhere. I'm kind of in line with you that in your number three, they're not going to come to a contract extension, but then I just ask why not wait another year and have it play out in a franchise tag one more year and try to get a deal done the following year? Do you think that relationship's just fractured beyond repair? Yes, I think so.
I think what you just spelled out is perfect. And I think everything that we've seen in the media, I've heard behind closed doors that Lamar Jackson is a man of precedent and he's not going to say, all right, I'll just play on a one year franchise tag, especially after him going through the injury late in the season that probably had an impact on his overall value with the Raven and on the open market or on the trade market that he might not see as big of a long-term deal had he not been injured. So he don't, he doesn't necessarily want to risk that again on a one year deal.
If he gets injured halfway through a season, even if he's playing well, he's a year older at that point. I really don't think it would happen. And it just seems like, and I wrote this in the article would be such a Raven to ask move to say, okay, we can't come to a deal with this player.
Let's trade him. And then let's hope to land one of these quarterbacks. And in this case, it would be CJ Stroud after making the trade with the Atlanta Falcons. When you look with Stroud and I have a tough time thinking he falls 2-8, but you never know what happens on draft night. I was so impressed with Stroud, Chris Trapasso against Georgia, because he said to me right at the Heisman trophy ceremony, I'm more athletic than when people give me credit for. And hopefully I can put that on display soon. The way that he extended plays with his legs in that semifinal game was very impressive to me and kind of made me think, okay, I thought CJ Stroud was really good, but then seeing him that semifinal game, I said, okay, this is the CJ Stroud that makes me think he could be a great quarterback.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was that big scramble late in the game before Ohio State missed that field goal that would have tied the game where he looked plenty fast to me. And what I like about CJ Stroud, although it's easy to get enamored with the Josh Allen type and the quarterbacks that can extend plays and then be these big time runners, we certainly thought with Jalen Hurts in the Superbowl and throughout his breakout season. With CJ Stroud, why he's my number one quarterback is that he is just athletic enough to make plays outside the pocket and still be a passer. He's not going to be a 700 yard rusher in the NFL, but I saw him make one step forward with his athleticism.
He has functional mobility, I call it, that he's not going to be, again, Jalen Hurts or Josh Allen, but I think he could be like, say, Joe Burrow or maybe to a lesser degree of Patrick Mahomes that gets out of pressure in some precarious situation, keeps his eyes up field because he's a very natural passer and like the touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr. where he's outside of the pocket, he has enough arm strength and enough ad-limbing ability to not just be a pocket passer and to make those plays off structure, even if he's not picking up 20 and 30 yard games with his legs. Talking to Chris Strapasso, when you look at the defensive players, the debate is who's the defensive player off the board. Is it Jalen Carter or Will Anderson? You elected to go with Jalen Carter coming off the board at number three and then at four you had Will Anderson. What makes you say Carter in front of Anderson?
It really is a coin flip at this point. I'm really hoping that we get to see at least one of these two work out at the combine, if not at the Georgia and Alabama pro dates respectively, we'll get to see Jalen Carter and Will Anderson just to get the final piece of the puzzle on their draft profiles. But if you're looking at Cardinals, they did draft two edge rushers on the second day of the draft last year, Majay Sanders and Cam Thomas, who both actually played pretty well down the stretch. Now Arizona's defense, they bring in Jonathan Gannon to be kind of that architect to build up the defense as a head coach. They need a lot of pieces on that side of the ball. They could go Will Anderson, but I think the biggest glaring need, especially after the JJ Watt retirement, is getting that elite interior pass rusher that I think a lot of the very good defenses and the great teams have in today's NFL.
It's not just having that marquee edge rusher, it's that pocket pusher inside that can get pressure on the quarterback in under two seconds. Chris Strapasso, outside of the quarterbacks as we discussed in depth and then also Carter and Anderson, who are the other players that you look at in this draft you're like wow they're going to be game changers for a team? I really love Devin Witherspoon from Illinois, the cornerback.
I have him going number six overall to the Detroit Lions in this mock draft. It's a good quarterback class. We usually see between four to six of them go in the first round, but Witherspoon is long, he's feisty, he was always around the football. I think he has big-time athleticism to play man. When I saw him in zone coverage he read route concepts very well, plays the football very aggressively in the air. His game against Michigan I thought was fantastic, just playing on an island.
I really like him. The other name that I think is going to fly up draft boards and maybe he already has already, especially if he works out at the combine, Kalija Canty from Pittsburgh. Interior pass rusher, I'm not going to call him the next Aaron Donald, but go read scouting reports on him and then read the scouting reports back in 2014 on Aaron Donald. Six foot, 280 pounds, elite pass rusher. First step quickness, explosiveness, speed to the football, and then a huge arsenal of pass rushing moves.
Yeah he does get kind of beat up against the run at times and gets overwhelmed because of his lack of size, but that was really the book on Aaron Donald when he was coming out of Pittsburgh 10 years ago. So Kalija Canty I think is going to have a big combine workout and in a somewhat of a down interior defensive line class, especially in terms of what I was just talking about after Jaylen Carter being that up the field interior pass rusher, Kalija Canty I don't think he's going to go ahead of Jaylen Carter, but he will be probably a mid first round pick if not higher because teams are really placing a high priority on that position. You had four quarterbacks going in the top 10, four going though in the first round. Who's the the fifth quarterback off the board here when you get into rounds two and on? It's probably going to be Tanner McKee from Stanford. I think had Hendon Hooker not torn his ACL late in the season, he would have been the shoe in to maybe be that sneaky late first round pick for a team that wanted that 50 year option. But with the injury lingering, I think teams will be a little hesitant to pick him crazy early. Probably will go somewhere on day two, but Tanner McKee, he's going to fly under the radar until I think later in the pre-draft process because so many drops from his wide receivers and tight ends on film. Stanford has been down the last couple of years, but he does have a big time arm. He's not a crazy athlete, but what I loved is that he would have amnesia as a quarterback where he would see a drop turn into an interception or they would be down 17 nothing and he would still rip tight window throws all over the Pac-12. One of the more underrated quarterback prospects I think that we've seen in the last couple of years because usually if you're a big time quarterback prospect with a big arm, you're getting talked about a lot, even this early in the pre-draft process. And again, because Stanford hasn't been very good the last couple of years, we're not hearing a lot about Tanner McKee, but I think second or third round is where we will ultimately see him go off the board.
Last one for Chris Tripassa does a great job covering the NFL draft and a bunch of college scouting for CBS Sports. Do you just view Stetson Bennett and Max Duggan as backup quarterbacks? That's what you kind of think they are in the NFL? Yeah, I think they'll both get drafted and I actually think, and this might be a little controversial, I think that Stetson Bennett has a better chance to get drafted than Max Duggan in terms of the quick decisions that he makes, the pocket presence I think is a little bit better.
I don't really think that at his side Max Duggan is going to be able to run and take as many hits as he did last season where he really got beat up down the stretch. He's not a big quarterback, but Stetson Bennett, I'm not going to call him the next Brock Purdy, but I think in that type of situation, very insulated, great offensive line, a lot of yards after the catch. He can make those quick decisions and I thought he was borderline undraftable, probably a UDFA coming into the season. Without a ton of crazy talent at receivers, certainly good tight ends there at Georgia, I thought he took a step forward with his decision making and his accuracy and just being poised with a lot of chaos around it. Make sure you give him a follow on Twitter, at chrisjepositus, great job NFL draft, young NFL player analyst for CBS Sports. Chris, I'm sure we'll be talking before the draft, thank you so much.
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