The Carolina Panthers made the biggest move of the 2023 NFL offseason on Friday, trading up for the first pick in the draft. Sitting on top of the draft board, now Carolina must decide on its franchise quarterback.
It’s a move that has truly been years in the making. Since buying the Panthers in 2018, owner David Tepper was determined to land a franchise quarterback. He pursued Deshaun Watson both during the 2021 offseason and before the Houston Texans traded him to the Cleveland Browns.
Carolina also pursued offseason trades for Russell Wilson and made a sizable offer to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2021. Now, the Panthers are just weeks away from drafting the face of the franchise that Tepper always wanted.
However, it won’t be an easy decision. Bryce Young is arguably the best quarterback prospect in the 2023 draft class, with a majority of his traits and intangibles comparable to elite quarterbacks. With that said, he is 5-foot-10 and played at under 200 pounds in college.
While Wilson, Drew Brees and Kyler Murray are the success stories for short quarterbacks, they are the proverbial exception to the rule. It’s also not entirely accurate to compare them to Young, given Murray is one of the most athletic starting quarterbacks in NFL history while Wilson entered the league with a stronger arm and far more bulk and muscle mass than Young.
Fortunately for Carolina, there are other intriguing options. Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud is a polished pocket passer who is likely ready to start for an NFL team in Week 1. While he doesn’t have the high-end athleticism seen in many All-Pro quarterbacks today, his standout performance in the CFP Semifinal against Georgia proved he might just be scratching the surface of his potential.
The biggest knock on Stroud, however, is his lower ceiling. Most NFL analysts and scouts believe he will only be a top-10 quarterback if he reaches his potential, just short of the caliber of player who could single-handedly carry a team to the Super Bowl.
It does leave Anthony Richardson, who delivered a record-breaking performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. Richardson has drawn NFL comparisons to Cam Newton and Josh Allen, but most believe he needs a year to develop behind the scenes with coaches before he should become a starter at the next level.
While discussing the blockbuster trade between Carolina and the Chicago Bears, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that the Panthers are split over which quarterback to pick.
“Just hung up the phone with someone in the organization and I said, ‘There’s a belief that David Tepper likes Bryce Young, Frank Reich likes C.J. Stroud. We love all these quarterbacks and we’ve got 48 days to make a decision on which one we’ll be taking.’”
Tepper might have the final say, considering it’s the first pick in the NFL Draft, and whichever quarterback Carolina picks could one day become one of the highest-paid NFL players. However, he just signed head coach Frank Reich to a lucrative contract and Reich was hired specifically because of his background in quarterback development.
Ultimately, the Panthers have more than 40 days to reach a consensus on which quarterback they want to draft. While there are some early rumors that Carolina is open to trading the first pick, the price they paid makes it evident NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will likely kick off the 2023 NFL Draft by declaring the new Panthers’ quarterback.
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Publish Date:2023-03-12 00:20:24