With the first wave of NFL free agency winding down, we can approach the 2023 draft with a clearer picture of what teams need and what they have to offer perspective draft selections.
Things are quite a bit different than they were a couple of weeks ago. The Chicago Bears, for example, dealt the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for wideout D.J. Moore and a bevy of draft picks.
The Panthers, meanwhile, did a little offensive reloading by bringing in veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, tight end Hayden Hurst, running back Miles Sanders and wideout Adam Thielen—who agreed to a three-year deal with Carolina on Sunday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Carolina's next big step will likely be using the top overall selection on a new quarterback. The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts also seem like obvious picks to target quarterbacks after early signings and trades.
What might be a little less obvious is which teams offer the best situations for the draft's top QB prospects. That's what we'll examine here, focusing on factors like roster makeup, coaching, prospect production and skill set. This isn't necessarily a prediction of where we think these prospects will land, though we are using realistic landing spots as a guideline—the Los Angeles Rams aren't landing a QB1 in Round 2.
We'll focus on the top five quarterbacks on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's post-combine big board, listed in ranked order.
1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State: Carolina Panthers
Draft Slot: No. 1 overall
Ohio State's C.J. Stroud tops the B/R quarterback rankings because of his rare combination of arm strength, accuracy, ball placement and processing skills. Stroud, who threw for 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns and six interceptions this past season, has the tools to be a premier pocket passer at the next level and to get there quickly.
"He's got the pre-snap vision, arm talent and accuracy to be functional sooner rather than later, and the progress he showed as the year went on suggests he has a capacity to improve rapidly," Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.
Panthers head coach Frank Reich recently worked with pocket passers like Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan as the Colts' head coach. He also oversaw the final season of Andrew Luck's career.
In 2018, Luck returned to the Pro Bowl, and the Colts returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.
While Stroud isn't as physically gifted as Luck, he possesses similar arm talent—his throwing display at the combine was truly impressive. He should fit well in a dropback passing scheme that plays heavily off the run and play-action.
Stroud's potential to be a good rookie starter also makes this an ideal pairing. The Panthers came close to winning the NFC South this past season and should be in the thick of the divisional race with even average quarterback play.
Reich is a former quarterback himself and can aid Stroud's continued development, and Dalton can serve as a valuable backup and mentor. Carolina would give the former Buckeye the best chance for both immediate and sustained success.
2. Anthony Richardson, Florida: Indianapolis Colts
Draft Slot: No. 4 overall
With only 22 games on his college resume, Florida's Anthony Richardson is less experienced than Stroud. However, he blows Stroud and every other QB prospect out of the water with his elite package of physical tools.
At the combine, the 6'4", 244-pound prospect posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump, a 129-inch broad jump and a blazing 4.43-second 40-yard dash. Richardson is big, explosive, fast and could quickly emerge as one of the NFL's top scrambling quarterbacks.
Richardson has the potential to be both a physical runner like Jalen Hurts and a breakaway threat like Justin Fields.
The knock on Richardson is his inconsistent mechanics and accuracy. Coaching can help clean those up, and a team can lean on Richardson's legs in the interim. Indianapolis and new head coach Shane Steichen can do exactly that.
Steichen helped develop Hurts into a Pro Bowl quarterback and legitimate MVP candidate with the Philadelphia Eagles. An offense that featured a lot of designed quarterback runs, run-pass options, balance and variety allowed Hurts to be a functional second-year starter while progressing as a passer. Hurts eventually exploded in Year 3.
In Indianapolis, Steichen will be the play caller and bring similar philosophies to the offense.
"It's going to look differently each week," Steichen said, per JJ Stankevitz of the team's official website, "but my philosophy is we're gonna throw to score points in this league and run to win."
Richardson has the tools to do many of the things Hurts did under Steichen in Philadelphia. He'll be supported by Jonathan Taylor and a strong running game, and if he isn't ready to start Week 1, the Colts can turn to recent acquisition Gardner Minshew II.