Just over two weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers made one of the biggest trades in NFL history, swinging just the 13th deal ever for the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Their motive was clear: get a franchise quarterback. The mystery remains which one. With four top-tier quarterback prospects available, the Panthers have kept their cards close to their chest, giving no indication whether they intend to pickCJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson. At last week's NFL annual meeting, though, a majority of rival executives and coaches expect the Panthers to grab CJ Stroud, a redshirt sophomore quarterback from Ohio State.
“The Carolina Panthers would have you believe they moved up from No. 9 to No. 1 in the draft without knowing which quarterback they're taking,” reported Dan Graziano of ESPN. “As you'd expect, some people don't believe that, and a very unscientific poll of sources to whom I spoke at the meeting tells me most people believe they're taking Ohio State's CJ Stroud.”
Despite the consensus around the league, the Panthers maintain that they're keeping their options open as they head into the home stretch before the draft on April 27th. Notably, this isn't the first high-profile draft cycle rodeo for new Panthers coach Frank Reich, who was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator when the Eagles moved up to nab Carson Wentz with the second pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
“”Just going through the process and knowing how important it is to be patient,” Reich told Graziano about what he learned from his time in Philadelphia. “You might see a throw, or you might sit down with a guy and you say, ‘I love this guy. This is it.' But just finish the process. Be patient. You've got time. We don't have to make this decision today. Stay true to the process.”