After positioning themselves at No. 1 overall, the Panthers make a bold move in this mock draft by selecting a polarizing prospect with limitless upside.
The Panthers made the blockbuster of all blockbusters earlier in the offseason, sending DJ Moore and a slew of picks to Chicago, netting the No. 1 overall pick in exchange. With it, Carolina is expected to select a potential franchise cornerstone at quarterback.
The franchise has lacked a difference-maker at the position since Cam Newton’s prime. Band-aids like Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield crashed and burned in Carolina, but things have changed since the start of the offseason.
Matt Rhule is long gone, leaving behind one of the most disappointing first-time stints for an NFL coach. In the wake of his departure, the steady hand of Frank Reich took over the head coaching position. Since then, the Panthers have shown why this era will be night and day different from the previous one.
Panthers 7-Round Mock Draft: Carolina Shocks NFL Draft World at No. 1
Reich hired an all-star cast of well-respected coaches around the league, mixing in grisly veterans with ascending youngsters, resulting in one of the most stacked coaching staffs around. Now, Carolina must pick the right signal-caller to cap off a transformative offseason for the franchise.
Round 1, No. 1: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Full disclosure, I have Bryce Young and CJ Stroud ranked higher than Anthony Richardson on my big board. However, there are valid questions centered around the ceilings of Young and Stroud. Perhaps the Panthers take a safer approach, but after pushing all the chips to the center of the table, it might make more sense to shoot for the moon with Richardson.
The Florida star is less of a project than most think, but he undoubtedly has a ways to go before reaching his sky-high ceiling. If Frank Reich believes he can bring this ceiling to fruition, it is well within reason that Carolina takes Richardson and bets on the upside.
While others are more polished at this point, no quarterback in the class matches the physical traits of Richardson. He can throw the ball to outer space with ease and showcases elite running prowess, combining speed and raw power to make him a force as a runner. Reich specializes in pocket passers, so if anyone can smooth out Richardson’s rough edges, it is him.