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2023 NFL Draft Buzz: Latest league news, rumors from Wednesday ahead of Thursday's Round 1

One of the top quarterbacks in this year's class made significant progress a day ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, who tore his ACL in a November loss against South Carolina, posted video of his first day doing dropbacks during a Wednesday practice session.

The 25-year-old was a revelation for the Volunteers in the last two seasons after transferring from Virginia Tech, throwing for 6,080 yards, 58 touchdowns and just five interceptions with a 68.8 completion percentage, plus gaining 1,033 rushing yards and 15 TDs on 247 carries.

Located alongside Kentucky's Will Levis and Florida's Anthony Richardson in the second tier of available quarterbacks behind Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, exactly when Hooker comes off the board in the QB mix will largely depend on the eye of the beholder.

And wherever he ends up going, his new club will be happy to see that Hooker has taken another step toward recovery.

Here's what else we're monitoring Wednesday ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET:

  • Top-class Texas running back Bijan Robinson continues to draw buzz as to just how high he could possibly go in the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles have been a team associated with Robinson and NFL Network's James Palmer reported Wednesday that "the interest is real" for Philly to select the talented tailback at No. 10 overall. Palmer added though that the Eagles are "not the only team in that range that is interested in Robinson." The Eagles also have interest at that spot in Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (see below) and are looking at pass rushers, as well.
  • C.J. Stroud is thought to be the second-best quarterback in the 2023 class by both NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks -- and many around the league -- but there have been questions as to where he will end up, even as the Houston Texans at No. 2 overall require a signal-caller of the future. "Going into the process, a lot of people assumed the Texans would end up taking C.J. Stroud at No. 2," NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero told Good Morning Football on Wednesday morning. "There has been a belief over the last seven to 10 days within the league the Texans actually might be leaning toward taking a defensive player at No. 2. Whether that's a Will Anderson or Tyree Wilson there, and then potentially coming up from No. 12 to go get a quarterback, as well." Pelissero pointed at the Arizona Cardinals potentially trading their No. 3 pick to the highest QB-needy bidder or the Indianapolis Colts being another possibility for Stroud at the four-spot. Regardless, he does not anticipate a long wait for the Ohio State product on Thursday night.
  • Zay Flowers might not make it to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 31 overall, but that hasn't stopped the wide receiver from envisioning catching passes from reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes on game days. Speaking to Pelissero on Wednesday on Good Morning Football, Flowers touched on his workout with the QB during the draft process. "It was crazy," he said. "As soon as you even break your route, the ball (is) in your face. I feel like it's way easier to catch the ball and run with him because you know where the ball's gonna be." The chemistry inspired him to share a message for Chiefs general manager Brett Veach: "Just get up there!" As Bucky Brooks' No. 2 wide receiver and Daniel Jeremiah's 22nd overall prospect in the 2023 class, the Boston College product relocating to Kansas City would likely require a steep draft-day price for the Super Bowl champs. As for other teams, Flowers said he doesn't have a sense where he might land. "And that's a good thing," he said. "I want it to be a surprise."
  • Despite some off-field concerns, Jalen Carter has remained the consensus top defensive tackle throughout draft season, and he's been mocked all over the top 10 in the lead-up to Thursday's Round 1. Although it's likely he finds a home even earlier, count Carter among those who can't see himself lasting beyond the No. 10 pick. lead draft writer Eric Edholm spoke to the Georgia star at Wednesday's Play Football Clinic and asked if he was confident the Philadelphia Eagles would select him should he remain on the board at 10. Carter gave a direct response: "Yes, sir. I believe that." Should Philly end up taking Carter, he would pair nicely with 2022 first-rounder and former Georgia teammate Jordan Davis, giving the club two monsters in the middle of the defensive line.

While Carter is confident he will be selected by the Eagles at No. 10, if not by a team before that point, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport told NFL Now on Wednesday that his range is "probably somewhere from five up a little past 10," referring to him as one of the draft's biggest wild cards. Rapoport listed every team Nos. 5-10 as potential landing spots apart from the Lions (No. 6), meaning there's a chance the defensive tackle lands with the Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears or Eagles as the order currently stands. However, there's another interesting wrinkle in play should Carter still be available at No. 10. "What if he gets to 10?" Rapoport hypothesized. "Does someone say to the Eagles, you know what, he's such a good player, obviously with all the baggage, we're just gonna trade up and take him. That's really where it gets interesting to me."

  • Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kwity Paye admitted during his Wednesday news conference that he follows mock drafts religiously. "For me, I'm always on Instagram just looking to see what the mock drafts are," he told reporters. "Seeing who we're gonna draft. Seeing who might trade up or whatever. I'm kind of big on that." Asked about who his squad might be picking at No. 4 overall come Thursday, the 2021 first-round pick out of Michigan deferred to the mocks. "(The mock drafts) are talking about that guy from the other school," Paye said with a laugh. "I'll be happy to get him." That "other school" would be Ohio State, the collegiate home of quarterback C.J. Stroud and Michigan's greatest foe. The rivalry will have to fall by the wayside if Stroud to Indy comes to fruition, but that doesn't mean Paye can't turn things up against the former Buckeye in practice.
  • Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. has been impressing teams and possibly moving up the draft board. NFL Network's James Palmer reported Wednesday that the offensive tackle made a good impression on his official visit with the Philadelphia Eagles, who hold the No. 10 overall pick. Palmer added that there are other teams with earlier picks than Philadelphia who also liked what they saw out of Johnson, meaning that if Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is set on acquiring the tackle, he could have to explore trading up even higher in the first round to grab him. According to Palmer, over the last few days Roseman has been doing just that, talking with various teams to see what trading up would involve if Philly decided to make a move.
  • There's no position in the draft that gets a bigger spotlight than quarterback, and there are plenty of teams in need of one heading into 2023 beyond those at the top of the draft. If a quarterback like Will Levis or Anthony Richardson slides into the teens, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero identified four teams on NFL Now as potential movers to land their guy: the Detroit Lions (No. 18), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 19), Seattle Seahawks (No. 20) and Minnesota Vikings (No. 23). The Buccaneers are the only club among those mentioned not returning a starter from last year, and they have the unenviable position of replacing Tom Brady. Seattle and Detroit, meanwhile, both hold earlier picks in the top 10 -- Nos. 5 and 6, respectively -- that might be better utilized at other positions. While Pelissero doesn't anticipate Minnesota aggressively trading up unless there's "some world in which Bryce Young does not go No. 1 overall," he addressed the positional value that could kick the Seahawks into gear given a chance to swoop in for a signal-caller late. "If you're Seattle, they've looked at all the quarterbacks," Pelissero said. "They may not feel like we need to take one at No. 5. But the positional value to take one at No. 20 when Geno Smith is really on a one-year contract might make a whole lot more sense."

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