Holding the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in 12 years, the Panthers have a name they are prepared to place on their draft card Thursday night. Frank Reich said GM Scott Fitterer sought his opinion on the pick Monday.
While Reich undoubtedly provided input throughout this thorough process, Fitterer said last week he had not asked the new head coach who his preferred pick was. The Panthers have reached a consensus, via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe (on Twitter). The long-held expectation is Bryce Young will go first overall, and while the Panthers could end the suspense now, the NFL’s annual preference of building drama will likely prevent any team announcement until Thursday night.
Although C.J. Stroud was believed to be a consideration when the Panthers made their eight-spot trade-up with the Bears, Young has always been in the conversation. The 2021 Heisman winner’s 5-foot-10 frame has generated some concern, and Young himself acknowledged the concern is valid. But Carolina is all but certain to tab the Alabama product as its next franchise QB hopeful. With the Texans believing to have placed a value gap between Young and this draft’s other QBs, Stroud’s landing spot is foggy as the players prepare to hear their names called in Kansas City.
Cam Newton gave the Panthers franchise-QB certainty for about seven seasons, ascending to the MVP tier and becoming the top passer in team history. But after Newton missed time in 2018, a 2019 foot injury brought his Charlotte run to a close. The Panthers have pivoted to stopgaps in each of the past three seasons, using free agency (Teddy Bridgewater) and the trade routes (Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield) as an effort to fill this gaping hole. The team’s two-offseason push for Deshaun Watson also did not produce a positive outcome.
These failed efforts led the Panthers to give up their 2024 first-rounder, D.J. Moore and other assets to move up this year. That will certainly intensify the pressure on Reich and Co. to turn Young into an upper-echelon option at the game’s premier position. Frame concerns aside, Young is viewed as the safest option in this draft. It would be shocking if the Panthers went in another direction Thursday.
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Publish Date:2023-04-26 14:06:03