The Panthers trading up for the number one pick should implicate they want a quarterback. Last season, the carousel of play callers had Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and PJ Walker starting for Carolina. All of them have signed with other teams.
They were busy in the offseason by adding Adam Theilen, Miles Sanders, and Hayden Hurst to the pass-catching group. They also signed veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, so whomever they choose could have a mentor with over a decade of experience.
So let’s look at who could be the future quarterback in the Frank Reich era.
2023 NFL Draft Best Bet For Overall No. 1 Pick
Odds courtesy of FanDuel
QB CJ Stroud (Ohio State) -300
When you watch his tape, he already looks like an NFL quarterback. He can get the ball out quickly, is above average at throwing through tight windows, and can spray the ball throughout the field. Stroud put on a stellar throwing performance at the Combine and got better throughout the drill.
He is more of a traditional pocket passer, but although he doesn’t take-off-and-run mindset like some of his counterparts, he’s not entirely immobile.
With an arm like his, why wouldn’t you want him to throw? The intangibles of being a leader and great signal caller also set him apart, and he has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback.
He’s certainly the player who can elevate these new pieces vertically.
QB Bryce Young (Alabama) +245
Young has been touted as one of the best quarterbacks prospect to come into the draft over the last few years. His athleticism and playmaking ability make him unique. What he’s been able to do over the last couple of years has shown that he can lead a team. At Alabama, he played behind a below-average offensive line and used his extraordinary mobility to be productive. As a result, he earned won the Heisman Trophy and made a National Championship appearance.
Last year he lost most of his starting wide receivers from the previous season and was still able to elevate them. You saw the young pass-catching core get better every week. His importance was more evident with the game he missed against Texas A&M, and the Tide struggled in the passing game.
If he can bring that same presence to Carolina, he could quickly elevate this team.
Anthony Richardson – Florida +400
Richardson was a huge winner at the Combine. His size, rushing ability, and big arm have people comparing him to another former Panthers quarterback, but there are things to work on. The accuracy could be better, and he sometimes makes dangerous throws.
Rumors are swirling that the Panthers love Richardson and ideally want to choose him with that pick.
With quarterback whisperer Frank Reich as the new head coach, if there’s a guy that can develop Richardson into an NFL starter, it would be him.
I advocate for raw players going to the right team and system where they can be successful. To me, that’s possible with the combination of Richardson and Reich.
Developing Richardson might take more time, but the ceiling could be higher than his constituents in this draft.
In my last mock draft article, I said that Stroud is my favorite prospect in this draft. All the elements are there to be the guy who can come in and carry a team. He isn’t the flashy quarterback that the NFL is tailoring toward, but if you want a guy that can play the position well and commands an offense, Stroud is the guy.
I get that Stroud’s odds are not much of a return. As mentioned, insiders believe the Panthers want Richardson. If you’re looking for the best long-shot wager, go with him.
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