Behold the Carolina Panthers, a team who a couple of days ago was sitting inside the top 10 of this year’s NFL draft, but now holds the No.1 overall pick. Of course, though, with great power comes great responsibility.
When looking at the Panthers, it’s not hard to see that this is a squad in dire need of a lot of new, hopefully, game-changing pieces to start turning their ship around. But above all, and most importantly, they need a new franchise QB.
With this year’s draft holding four high-level prospects at QB, all looking ready to be taken with that No.1 pick, who could be the best fit for Carolina?
The Best Choice: C.J. Stroud
Give me a reason why the Panthers shouldn’t take C.J. Stroud with the first pick of the draft and I’ll give you a handful of reasons why they should right back. The former Ohio State star is the kind of QB that needs little to no grooming to enter the league and hit the ground running.
Before the combine, Stroud was looking like the perfect second-overall pick, but a pristine performance has helped him take over the lead as the favorite to go first. It’s not just his combined performance that makes his case as the best fit for the Panthers.
If you look at Stroud’s numbers throughout his college career, one word comes to mind, consistency. Even in his last game with the Buckeyes, where his team would lose 42-41 to Georgia in last season’s CFP semifinals, Stroud put on a performance worth applauding. But then again, that’s what passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns, completing a whopping 67% of his passes can do, even in a losing effort.
The Owner’s Favorite: Bryce Young
The word around some of the top NFL news related sites is that Panthers owner David Tepper is all in for the team using their 1st pick to take former Heisman winner and Alabama star QB Bryce Young. But what makes Young such a hot ticket for Tepper?
In comparison to the other four QBs gunning to be taken first in the draft, Young looks the most pro-ready. And how could he not? He’s coming off playing in arguably the best, if not
top three, college football programs in the country.
His years under Nick Saban’s guidance since taking over Alabama’s starting gig in 2021, the year in which he won the Heisman, plus his numbers and skillset show that this is a QB almost too good to pass up.
Even after having a subpar year of sorts in his last season with the Crimson tide, Young still passed for 3,328 yards, 32 TDs, and five interceptions. Had Alabama’s offense not struggled as much last season, his narrative would be much different in his favor.
Biggest “What If”: Anthony Richardson
Let’s play with a wild idea for a moment. Remember the last time the Panthers drafted a QB with the first pick? The year 2011. Remember who it was? Cam Newton. When Newton was in his prime, he was touted as one of the best dual threats in the game. His ability to break through defenses running, while having a cannon for an arm made him Carolina’s dream QB.
Now that the Panthers are once again holding the coveted No.1 pick, why not go for this year’s most intriguing dual-threat QB, Florida’s Anthony Richardson?
Richardson rocked this year’s combine like his future depended on it, smashing the vertical and broad jump records and showing a level of physicality that had experts praising his left and right. The former Florida Gators star saw a massive hike in his stock after the combine, with draft pundits already putting him above Young and Stroud.
What does he have against him though? Experience. With only 13 starts for the Gators, playing time might be an issue for the rookie, but it’s undeniable that when push comes to shove, Richardson has the most potential.
Thanks, But No Thanks: Will Levis
He has the draft’s best arm. He showed a level of precision when passing the ball deep that is enviable. So why is he not getting as much hype as the other QBs?
Will Levis looks like a perfect guy to bring into the team, but only on paper. To have him ready for action from Day One, the Panthers would have to work day and night trying to polish some of Levis’issues. He needs to become more consistent when throwing deep and on some short routes as well.
While passing on his right side, Levis looks like a bonafide star. But it’s when he dishes the ball to his left that he looks bad, misses targets, and not understanding how to position his body in the best position to get the ball out.
Levis has a lot of upsides if groomed properly. Is he a first-overall pick kind of player though?
Not for now at least.