The Carolina Panthers are in desperate need of a franchise-changing quarterback. After his impressive Combine performance, Florida's Anthony Richardson looks like the perfect fit. Even if the Panthers have to trade up in the 2023 NFL Draft, landing Richardson would be worth it for Carolina.

Richardson ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, the fastest among quarterbacks in the last 10 years. His 40.5″ vertical and 10'9″ broad jump both set combine records for quarterbacks. The former Florida star proved he is one of the more athletic quarterbacks entering the NFL in recent history.

Richardson's flaws are his lack of experience. His final season at Florida was the only time Richardson attempted more than 70 passes in a year. Richardson threw for 3,105 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He ran for 654 yards and nine additional scores.

The NFL knows that Richardson will be a project. However, his athleticism makes him the most tantalizing project in the 2023 NFL Draft. Because of that, Richardson's draft stock has risen as the QB is now projected to potentially be a top-five pick.

Sitting at No. 9, Carolina would likely have to trade up to land Anthony Richardson. The Seattle Seahawks sit at No. 5 but just signed their QB Geno Smith to a long-term extension. If the Seahawks – or any NFL team – are open to it, the Panthers should definitely be interested in trading up and drafting Richardson to be their quarterback of the future.

Trade of the times

The Panthers know that trading up for Richardson won't come cheap. But Carolina has gotten a pretty solid view of what to expect in an NFL Draft trade. While losing future assets might cost the Panthers, the upside in Richardson is worth it.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, two teams traded up to land a quarterback in the top-11 picks. The 49ers traded up select Trey Lance at No. 3. They dealt away three first-round picks and a third-rounder to move up. The Bears traded up to No. 11 and took Justin Fields. Chicago dealt two first-round picks and a pair of late-rounders.

While Richardson has high potential, he is still behind Bryce Young and CJ Stroud in the eyes of most NFL pundits. If Carolina could pull off a trade similar to what Chicago gave for Fields, the Panthers' long-term outlook would only take a slight hit. Losing a first-round pick hurts, but Richardson offers a unique QB opportunity.

The price for Carolina has essentially been laid out for them. They should be able to navigate a trade for Richardson while keeping the present and future in mind.

Panthers Project

The Panthers swung and missed on both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Richardson likely isn't going to be an immediate NFL starter for Carolina or any team. But for the Panthers, Richardson taking time to develop could actually be a good thing.

Carolina traded for Sam Darnold prior to the 2021 season. He ended up making 17 starts with the Panthers, going 8-9. Darnold completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The Panthers then decided to take a stab at Baker Mayfield. He lasted just seven games total and went 1-5 as a starter. Mayfield completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.

With Frank Reich becoming the Panthers' next head coach, he is looking for a QB to build around. In Richardson, Carolina doesn't have to make dart throws on random QBs. While their quarterback play may suffer in the short-term, they would have their long-term QB waiting in the wings. Having to wait a year or so for Richardson is much better than trading for a veteran QB with major red flags.

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Richardson is different 

In this year's Super Bowl, both the Chiefs and Eagles quarterbacks brought something to the field that many other QBs around the league don't have. In today's NFL you need a playmaker under center who can flip a game on its head. Richardson could be that guy for Carolina.

For the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes has dazzled on a weekly basis since becoming Kansas City's starter. Not only is he arguably the league's best passer, but his agility and ability to fit passes into tight windows has made him elite. The Chiefs have become a much better team due to what Mahomes can do with the ball in his hands.

Jalen Hurts has become one of the NFL's elite runners with the Eagles. On any given play, Hurts has the ability to run for a touchdown. With Hurts under center, Philadelphia has transformed themselves into one of the best offenses in the league. Without Hurts' rushing ability and overall playmaking skills, who knows where Philly would be.

If the Panthers are going to trade up, they need to be sure that the quarterback they add will actually make a difference in their franchise. Anthony Richardson has the ability to do just that. In time, Richardson's athleticism gives him the chance to be one of the more lethal weapons in the NFL. Carolina should do everything in their power to ensure Richardson is wearing a Panthers jersey when he's making those jaw-dropping plays.