The Carolina Panthers reportedly traded for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to have their choice between University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Ohio State University quarterback C.J. Stroud.
Carolina gave up a massive haul in a deal with the Chicago Bears for the top selection, trading away wide receiver D.J. Moore, its first-round selection in this year’s draft at No. 9, a late second-round pick (No. 61), a 2024 first-round selection and a 2025 second-round pick.
It’s a lot to give up, but it gives general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Frank Reich options to find the team’s franchise quarterback.
“Fitterer and Reich insist they’re still early in the process, that they haven’t narrowed their focus to one or even two players,” ESPN’s David Newton wrote. “But according to a source with direct knowledge of Carolina’s trade with the Chicago Bears that moved them from No. 9 to No. 1, the deal was done to have their choice of Stroud or Young, rated by most draft experts as the top quarterbacks.”
Both Young and Stroud had terrific seasons in the 2022 campaign, and Young won the Heisman Trophy in the 2021 season for Alabama.
While Young’s numbers are great, there have been concerns about his height and how he will transition to the NFL level. Young addressed those size concerns earlier this month with a confident message.
Stroud’s most impressive performance may have come in the College Football Playoff last season in the team’s narrow loss to the University of Georgia. The Ohio State quarterback threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns (no interceptions) while carrying the ball an additional 12 times for 34 yards.
The Bulldogs were widely considered to be the best defense in the country last season, so it was impressive to see Stroud put up such big numbers against them.
Last season, Carolina started Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker at quarterback. The team has not found a franchise signal-caller since moving on from Cam Newton, but Young or Stroud could be the quarterback to lead the Panthers for years to come.
While the team clearly wanted to keep its options open by getting the No. 1 selection, the Panthers are also opening the door for lots of criticism if they choose the wrong player.
While Anthony Richardson has also been discussed as an option for the No. 1 pick, it seems unlikely, based on this report, that he ends up in Carolina.
The Panthers will make the No. 1 pick on Thursday, April 27 when the 2023 NFL Draft begins.