At the 2023 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers made a bold move, as the franchise traded a fortune to move up the board. In doing so, the front office essentially gutted the team and several of its future assets. Although Bryce Young was a worthy selection at No. 1 overall, the current roster doesn’t give the young quarterback a chance.
Did the Panthers trade too much for Bryce Young?
First, let’s assess what Carolina traded to secure Bryce Young.
•No. 9 Overall (2023)
-the pick became OT Darnell Wright after a trade-down
•No. 61 Overall (2023)
-the pick became CB Tyrique Stevenson after a trade-up
•Future First-Round Pick (2024)
-the pick currently sits at No. 1 overall
•Future Second-Round Pick (2025)
•WR D.J. Moore
•No. 1 Overall (2023)
-the pick became QB Bryce Young
It remains to be seen what the Bears do with the other two picks involved, but the price already looks steep. Perhaps — even more important than the picks — was the decision to trade D.J. Moore. Chicago demanded the veteran pass catcher be involved in any trade for the No. 1 pick, so Carolina had its hands tied.
But this deal left the Panthers with a rag-tag group of wide receivers for Young’s rookie campaign. No shade at Adam Thielen, as he is a reliable veteran — but at this stage of his career, he is nothing more than that. And the offense desperately needs more.
D.J. Chark and Terrace Marshall are low-end WR3s on their best days, and the tight end room does little to inspire faith in their ability as pass catchers. You might think, “Well, this is a suitable setback to land a franchise signal-caller”. Frankly, that is a fair stance to have. Nothing is more important than getting the quarterback position right.
However, far too many times, we have witnessed talented passers have their careers negatively impacted by such moves. Truly transcendent talent can overcome just about any roster ailment, but Young never graded out as that type of prospect. QB1 material? Absolutely. Generational talent? Absolutely not.
Hiring head coach Frank Reich was supposed to smooth this transition for Bryce Young. As the team sits at 0-4, many are now wondering if Reich was the right man for the job. His post-game remarks this past weekend put even more fuel to the flames.
A stellar rookie class makes Young’s slow start stick out more
It also doesn’t help that C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson have had immediate success for their respective teams. But herein lies the rub. The Texans and Colts didn’t put all their eggs in one basket by trading away several high-end assets. Instead, the rosters have been constructed with the idea of amassing as much talent as possible around the ascending signal-callers.
Young faces more of an uphill climb, as the Panthers roster is not as close to a playoff contender as once thought. The front office has an ample amount of cash to spend, so maybe strides can be made on the free agent market in the offseason. Tee Higgins will likely become available, and he would provide Carolina with a true building block at wide receiver.
Unfortunately, reinforcements will not come through the 2024 NFL Draft — at least not on Day 1. If the season ended today, the Panthers would send the No. 1 overall selection to Chicago as part of the Bryce Young trade. There is still time for Young to make good on Carolina’s brash move, but things couldn’t be uglier right now.