Just a few short weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers looked like the most likely team to trade up for a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Panthers appear to understand the importance of quarterback and do not seem afraid to invest heavily in the position. However, after trade for Sam Darnold, investing significant capital to trade up for another quarterback simply is not going to happen. That being said, if the right quarterback were to fall to No. 8, Carolina should still consider making a move at the position.
Darnold has been brought in to be the Panthers’ starting quarterback and he deserves an opportunity to turn his career around. While he has been bad through the first three years of his NFL career, the New York Jets certainly did not do him any favors. Darnold is undoubtedly a talented player and he could certainly have success with more support around him. However, we cannot act like Darnold is guaranteed to be successful going forward.
With this in mind, quarterback should at least be partially on the Panthers’ radar at No. 8. Nothing is more important than finding a true franchise quarterback and taking multiple shots at the position to increase the chance of success would not be a bad plan of attack. However, it all depends on who is available for Carolina at No. 8.
Which quarterback should the Carolina Panthers target?
If all of the whispers are to be believed, Mac Jones will be the pick for the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 overall. This will leave Trey Lance and Justin Fields on the board after the first three picks, with one of the two talented quarterbacks likely to be available at No. 8. In this scenario, the Carolina Panthers have to at least consider making another big quarterback move.
By taking a high upside quarterback like Fields or Lance at No. 8, the Carolina Panthers would protect themselves from the Darnold trade not working out. With quarterback being such an important position, why not take two bites of the apple and improve your chances of success?
They could let Darnold start the 2021 season. If he is great and proves himself as a true franchise quarterback, then you are set up for success going forward and should be able to trade their young quarterback and get fair value next offseason. If Darnold struggles, turn to the rookie and move forward with him as the franchise guy.
When it comes down to it, it is unlikely that the Carolina Panthers actually make this move. Addressing the offensive line or making a defensive addition be the safer/more traditional move. That being said, it is incredibly difficult to compete without a true franchise quarterback. Making the move for Darnold is fine but is not difficult to see why having another potential franchise quarterback waiting in the wings would make sense for this team.