The Carolina Panthers kicked the new league year off in a big when they moved up to obtain the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Now with the draft less than one month away, all eyes are on how the Panthers will address the first overall selection.
In 2022, the Panthers finished with a 7-10 record. Now with a new staff in place, and a roster that includes several new pieces, they are looking to turn things around in 2023.
By moving up to the first overall pick, the Panthers mortgaged their future. In the deal, they gave up both draft picks and their longtime WR1 in star pass catcher DJ Moore. But in preparation for the draft, they have added several playmakers on both sides of the ball. With a new quarterback likely in the mix in the near future, the team has put together a roster that should help him find success.
With the first pick in the draft, the Panthers could have several players on their radar. While the team will likely walk away with a quarterback, it is nearly impossible to tell which one is their QB1. Depending on how the team views the 2023 campaign, it could heavily impact which player they select.
Here are three players the Panthers could target with the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida
Heading into the draft, the Panthers have done their due diligence on all of this year’s top quarterback prospects. This includes Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
While Richardson is labeled as the “project” quarterback of this year’s group, he does have arguably the most potential of any quarterback in the class. Between his overall athletic ability, playmaking skills, and natural athleticism, he could be a star at the next level. But by adding Richardson, the Panthers would be selecting a quarterback that lacks experience.
During his time at Florida, Richardson started just 13 total games, with 12 of them coming in 2022. Richardson finished the 2022 season throwing for 2,549 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. On the ground, he added 654 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
While at Florida, Richardson regularly showed that he has the skill set to be elite at the next level. But he also proved that he may not be ready to step onto the field on day one.
If the Panthers select Richardson, they could very well choose to let him sit on the bench for his rookie season. Through free agency, the team added veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. With Dalton on the roster, Richardson could sit behind him and learn the NFL game.
Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama
While at Alabama, Bryce Young at times looked to be a near-perfect prospect. Along with taking home the Heisman in 2021, he looked to be a true leader on the Crimson Tide.
Over his two years as Alabama’s starting quarterback, Young stuffed the stat sheet. While taking the field in 27 games, he threw for 8,200 passing yards, 79 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. On the ground, he added seven touchdowns over these two seasons.
When watching Young, the biggest flaw comes with his size. At the NFL combine, he was measured at 5’10” and 204 pounds. Young is widely believed to weigh less than 200 pounds, and at his height, his size has potentially scared some teams away.
But regardless of how big or small Young is, it can’t be denied that he is a playmaker. While at Alabama, he thrived on a week-to-week basis. Upon his arrival in the NFL, he could do the same.
Young doesn’t have the biggest arm or is the most agile prospect, but he has shown throughout his collegiate career that he can make the big throws and can extend plays on the ground. If the Panthers are looking to add a potential star at the position, Young could be just that.
CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State
Since the Panthers made the move to the first overall pick, there is no quarterback they have been linked to more than Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. During his Pro Day, the team was well represented. After he took the field, he and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown had a conversation that leads many to believe he will be their pick.
By adding Stroud, the Panthers would be selecting arguably the safest quarterback of the bunch. But him being safe doesn’t mean that he won’t be a star.
Throughout his two seasons as the starter, Stroud took the field in 25 total games. Over this stretch, he threw for 8,123 yards, 85 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Stroud did not regularly use his legs during college, but he has proved that he can make plays on the ground. As Ohio State took on Georgia in the College Football Playoffs, he showcased his talent on the ground in a way that he never had before.
If the Panthers choose to take Stroud, they will be adding a quarterback that could quickly become the face of the franchise.