On Thursday, Adam Schefter went on NFL Live and casually dropped in some comments that opened eyes in the NFL world- even for other analysts on the ESPN show.

Schefter was talking about the Carolina Panthers’ moves in free agency and turned the conversation to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Carolina acquired the pick in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears last Friday that sent star wide receiver D.J Moore, the No. 9 overall pick, the No. 61 overall pick, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick to Chicago.

“I think going into [the Panthers’] process of evaluating the quarterbacks, I think that Bryce Young is the favorite to become the No. 1 overall pick,” Schefter said.

ESPN’s Mina Kimes cut in with a surprised “Really?” response.

NFL Live host Laura Rutledge was also stunned and asked Schefter to expand on those comments.

Schefter: “I think going into the process… I think… let me say it this way… I think Bryce Young is to the Panthers, what Mac Jones was to the 49ers when they traded up. (The San Francisco 49ers) traded up with the idea that they really liked Mac Jones, and then they went through the process and wound up on Trey Lance. I think in this particular case, (the Panthers) moved up with the idea that Bryce Young was a guy that they loved. They also really like C.J. Stroud; he’s definitely got support within the organization. And we’ll see what transpires during the course of evaluations. But I think at the beginning of the process, it starts out with Bryce Young as the favorite.”

These are very interesting, oddly phrased comments from Schefter.

Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud has been viewed as the clear favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick since the Bears-Panthers trade was made. Even after Schefter’s comments, Stroud is a -225 betting favorite on DraftKings, while Alabama’s Bryce Young comes in second at +225 and Florida’s Anthony Richardson is third at +350.

Many NFL fans are confused by Schefter’s comments. Is Schefter really hearing that Young is truly the current favorite to be the top pick?

And many NFL fans aren’t buying the comments. Is Schefter intentionally doing a favor for Carolina owner David Tepper, general manager Scott Fitterer, and head coach Frank Reich in smokescreen and lying season? Or are they even misleading him?

Also, is any of this even necessary when possessing the No. 1 overall pick?

Thor Nystrom of FantasyPros doesn’t think so: “A smokescreen is unnecessary when you’re picking first.”

Perhaps it’s an effort from the Panthers to make the Texans believe that they really would take Young with the No. 1 overall pick, and the Houston Texans — believed to prefer Young — would need to give up a haul to move up one spot to prevent that from happening.

Brett Kollmann of “The Film Room” tweets, “My gut says the Panthers called in a favor with Schefty to put pressure on the Texans to come up on spot for Young so they can take Stroud anyway at 2. They want to have their cake and eat it too.”

There’s still over a month of speculation and smokescreens to go. The 2023 NFL Draft begins on April 27.


About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.