2023 NFL Mock Draft: CJ Stroud slides out of top five?

NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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According to multiple sources, quarterback CJ Stroud may not be a consensus top-three pick in next week's draft, as the Houston Texans have allegedly soured on him. Per Bob McGinn, of all the quarterbacks who took the S2 Cognition test, an exam designed to determine a prospect's cognitive skills, Stroud finished dead last -- by a mile -- with an 18% score. To put that into perspective, the top four quarterbacks all tested at above 90%.

While a cognitive test does not define how a prospect will end up performing in the NFL, such a low score could definitely scare off potential teams, especially Houston, who owns the second overall pick. Now, it is peak lying season in the world of football as smokescreens are sent out almost daily, but let's imagine a world where CJ Stroud actually falls out of the top five entirely. How would that shake up the top of the draft?

1. Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

Bryce Young
Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

Young is really the obvious choice here. Carolina has reportedly fallen in love with the Alabama quarterback and has even developed a nutritional plan for the smaller prospect. You don't trade up to number one and not take the best quarterback in the class. The Panthers make it easy on themselves.

2. Houston Texans: EDGE Will Anderson, Alabama

Will Anderson Jr.
Texas A&M v Alabama / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

I believe the Texans are really hoping the Panthers go with Stroud or Anthony Richardson with the first overall pick, because if not, they do not like another quarterback enough to justify taking them second overall. Houston still could draft a quarterback with the twelfth pick they also own. But at number two, they take their highest-graded player on the board, which is All-American pass rusher Will Anderson, from Alabama.

3. Indianapolis Colts (via Arizona): QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

Anthony Richardson
South Carolina v Florida / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Surprise! The Colts move up one spot to guarantee they get their quarterback of the future, but it's not CJ Stroud. Indianapolis wages their future on the development of the exciting athletic freak from Gainesville as Stroud continues his fall in the first round.

4. Arizona Cardinals (via Indianapolis): EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

Tyree Wilson
West Virginia v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

The Cardinals, under new management and a rookie head coach, grab who they think is the best prospect left on the board. I'm sure they'll consider fielding calls for potential trades, but ultimately they get their guy in the form of the 6'6 monster of an edge rusher in Tyree Wilson.