After trading a king’s ransom to acquire the top pick in the 2023 draft, the Carolina Panther’s appear dead set on drafting a QB on Thursday night. Who will it be? Let’s vote on it (below). First, let’s look at the candidates.

C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

C.J. Stroud seemed to be the runaway favorite just a couple weeks ago only to get some bad press from a variety outlets in the past few days. On the positive side Stoud has the size, arm strength, accuracy and was, most of the time, a man amongst boys at the college level. Including an outstanding CFP playoff performance against the nation’s top college defense.

Negatives: Stroud possed one of the most outrageous arsenals of receivers this side of Ken Dorsey. Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Emeka Egbuka and, most of all, Marvin Harrison Jr. represent the most preposterous set of receiving weapons of any college quarterback in college football history. However, that’s not the reason for recent C.J. Stroud slide.

Stroud scored dead last (18th percentile) on the S2 cognitive exam, a test that NFL executives are known to take very seriously.

Bryce Young

Long considered to be the top pick in the draft, Bryce Young shocked family and friends when he came in at 5-foot-10 1/8 inches and only weighed 204 pounds (the same size as Kyler Murray without the speed). Bryce Young does everything really well. He’s accurate, he moves well in the pocket and outside, he tested very high on the S-2 cognitive exam, and was a Heisman winner at Alabama. Height is the only box Bryce Young doesn’t check. If the Panthers do not select him, he likely will be gone at #2. As of Monday, the odds have now soared in the other direction and Bryce Young is now favored to be first QB off the board by a hefty margin.

Anthony Richardson

An explosive talent with a cannon for an arm, Anthony Richardson has been shooting up draft boards since his last game as a Florida Gator. Breaking records for athleticism at the NFL combine, Anthony Richardson will be one of the best athletes on the field regardless of position.

Negatives: Obviously the college game and NFL game are vastly different. But. Anecdotally, I seem to remember Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes being superstars in college and Mitchell Trubiski being an “ok” one-year starter. Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray all had seasons where they really appeared men amongst boys (even for little Kyler Murray). Anthony Richardson, despite a litany of highlight reel plays, never produced that kind of season.

Will Levis

After a solid 2021 year, Will Levis entered 2022 with the highest of expectations for his Kentucky Wildcat squad. Needless to say, it went about as bad as it could have gone. Kentucky struggled with the protection and thus Levis struggled with injuries. On a brighter note, Levis has a big frame and throws with terrific velocity (the best in the class). He tested well on the S-2 exam and, when given time in the pocket, showed he can make all of the throws. That being said it’s not a particularly good look that he was unable to beat out Sean Clifford during his time at Penn State.

Let’s Vote!

Ok, let’s vote on it. The options have been weighted slightly based on the real-time odds as of Monday, April 24th. You can vote once every three hours.

Who should the Panthers Draft at #1?

Panther’s Previous Number 1 Picks

The last time the Panthers selected a quarterback in the first round was Cam Newton which went pretty well…at least for a little while. The year before they took Jimmy Clausen in the second round so let’s not get too carried away with all the Panther’s ability to see the future. Here’s a list of every Carolina first draft selection since 1995:

  1. 1995 – Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State
  2. 1996 – Tim Biakabutuka, RB, Michigan
  3. 1997 – Rae Carruth, WR, Colorado
  4. 1998 – Jason Peter, DE, Nebraska
  5. 1999 – Chris Terry, OT, Georgia (2nd round, no first-round pick)
  6. 2000 – Rashard Anderson, CB, Jackson State
  7. 2001 – Dan Morgan, LB, Miami
  8. 2002 – Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina
  9. 2003 – Jordan Gross, OT, Utah
  10. 2004 – Chris Gamble, CB, Ohio State (1st round pick traded to New England Patriots)
  11. 2005 – Thomas Davis, S, Georgia
  12. 2006 – DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis (1st round pick traded to New York Jets)
  13. 2007 – Jon Beason, LB, Miami
  14. 2008 – Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
  15. 2008 – Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
  16. 2009 – No first-round pick (traded to Philadelphia Eagles)
  17. 2010 – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame (2nd round, no first-round pick)
  18. 2011 – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  19. 2012 – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
  20. 2013 – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
  21. 2014 – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
  22. 2015 – Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
  23. 2016 – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
  24. 2017 – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
  25. 2018 – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
  26. 2019 – Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
  27. 2020 – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
  28. 2021 – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
  29. 2022 – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State