The Carolina Panthers took a big swing on Friday evening as they moved up to No. 1 in the 2023 NFL Draft. Carolina pulled off a trade with the Chicago Bears which saw them send the No. 9 pick this year, three more picks (including a first-round selection in 2024), and productive wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Windy City in exchange for the ability to take any player they want.
As for who that player is going to be, the safe bet is that the Panthers will go with one of the four big name quarterback prospects in this draft. You can make a case for any of them, but according to Joseph Person of The Athletic, the belief is that Carolina has its sights set on Ohio State signal caller C.J. Stroud.
Via The Athletic:
The party line from the team will be that Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer will use the next seven weeks to evaluate which of the big four quarterbacks they want: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson. But league insiders believe it will be Stroud, who’s bigger than Young, more accurate than Richardson and more of a playmaker than Levis. Stroud put on a show of precision passing at the combine last week, and proved against Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals that he’s not afraid to leave the pocket when necessary.
While Stroud isn’t considered as mobile as the other three players and doesn’t have the sorts of jaw dropping physical tools that have shot Levis and Richardson up draft boards, his mix of size (6’3, 214 pounds) and polish as a passer may make him the safest option of the bunch. In two years as the starter in Columbus, Stroud completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.