The Carolina Panthers rattled the 2023 NFL Draft by agreeing to a trade with the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick.
The Panthers needed to trade up to have a chance to draft a QB in this year’s class after failing to land Derek Carr as a free agent. They sat at ninth overall prior to the deal and would have likely been out of the running for a QB had they not made the move.
The price was steep, with Carolina trading the ninth and 61st overall picks in this year’s draft, a 2024 first, a 2025 second and wide receiver D.J. Moore to Chicago. But the team was likely to move on from Moore given his 2023 salary, and this move gives the team financial flexibility to plan for the future, ideally with a star quarterback.
The decision now becomes what QB Carolina has its eye on at first overall. Reports emerged in December that owner David Tepper was fond of Kentucky QB Will Levis, but that might have changed with the trade to first overall.
A trade up to fifth or sixth likely would have been enough to land the Wildcats QB, meaning Carolina could be interested in either Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud or Anthony Richardson instead.
Young is the top QB prospect according to multiple draft analysts, but Stroud has more of the prototypical NFL QB build, while Richardson’s draft combine results and flashes of brilliance at Florida have propelled him into the conversation.
Carolina has been in QB purgatory since the organization moved on from Cam Newton for the first time after the 2019 season. Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker weren’t the answer — nor was Newton in his second stint. With the future of the NFC South up for grabs, the Panthers can make a quick leap by hitting a home run in the draft.
The first major piece of the 2022 draft puzzle fell into place on Friday, and it’s hard to blame the Panthers for giving up such a significant haul to get it done. It’s the price one pays to land a quarterback. Carolina knows as well as anyone that it costs even more not having one.
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Publish Date:2023-03-11 07:32:06