The Carolina Panthers have the luxury of taking the first quarterback in the 2023 NFL draft after making a trade with the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick. The deal sent the 9th and 61st overall picks in the 2023 draft, a 2024 first-rounder, a 2025 second-rounder, and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Bears. In return, the Panthers received the first overall pick in 2023. With Carolina giving up so much to get this pick, it is extremely important that they make the right choice. There are four players who have had buzz around them potentially being selected first overall through the draft process.
The first and most likely option to go first overall is Bryce Young. Young had an incredible career during his time with the Alabama Crimson Tide and ran a pro-style offense extremely well. He has a great arm and is an excellent decision-maker. The only gripe that scouts have had with him thus far is that he is a bit undersized, and will be unlikely to get up to an ideal weight as a result of his frame.
He is currently graded as the best quarterback in the draft by NFL.com, and many have compared his game to Drew Brees. This is extremely high praise as Brees was one of the greatest undersized quarterbacks to touch the field.
For a short stretch, it appeared as if C.J. Stroud would be the top pick in the draft. He was an elite quarterback at Ohio State, and his game reached a new level in the team’s biggest game of the year against Georgia. While Stroud was one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football last season.
NFL.com has him graded as the third-best quarterback in the class and compared him to Jared Goff. Recently, there have been a lot of questions about Stroud’s character and decision-making ability. He has caught a lot of flak for allegedly skipping the Manning Passing Academy and made headlines for scoring extremely low on the S2 cognitive test. Time will tell if either of these storylines end up having any effect on his draft stock.
Shockingly, Will Levis has made some waves to potentially be the top pick in the draft. Allegedly, he has been telling friends and family that Carolina would be selecting him first overall. This caused a flood of bets to come in for Levis to be selected as the number one pick. His odds went from 40-1 to 4-1 in only a day.
Levis has an absolute cannon of an arm, however, his college resume does not stack up to Young’s or Stroud’s. NFL.com ranks him as the 5th best quarterback in the class and compared his game to Jay Cutler.
The final quarterback that has a chance of being selected by the Carolina Panthers at number one is Anthony Richardson. Richardson turned heads after his incredible performance at the combine. He struggled through college, however, he did not have a talented roster around him by any means. When the Panthers went on their most recent Super Bowl run, it was with Cam Newton, who Richardson has drawn some comparisons as a result of his extreme athleticism.
Currently, NFL.com has him ranked as the 4th best quarterback in the class with a player comp of Cam Newton.
The Panthers should use the top pick to select Bryce Young. He appears to be the most pro-ready prospect out of this class. With Carolina giving up so much to get this pick, they are unable to take risks on players who could potentially be projects like Levis or Richardson. The front office did a solid job of bringing in some veteran weapons to surround their top pick with. With the NFC South being arguably the weakest division in the NFL heading into the year, the Panthers will want a quarterback that can help them win immediately, and Young is a player that can do that.
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