With the NCAA Tournament coming to a close, the next event on our sports calendar is the NFL Draft. This will give us a chance to get a glimpse of the future of the NFL. Some teams will get franchise saviors, and others will swing on draft busts.
We’ve already had a massive trade shake up the top of the order. The Carolina Panthers traded up to the first overall pick, meaning that they control the board and are on the clock. The quarterback is obviously the top need, but who do they take?
With four quarterbacks expected to go in the first round, the Panthers have a variety of options for the new coaching staff. However, not all choices are created equally. This decision will determine the future of this franchise for as long as the player drafted remains on the roster.
The Panthers have a history of taking swings and missing at the quarterback position. After trading for both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, the Panthers are left without a quarterback. So, who will they take? Let’s break down the options.
• CJ Stroud (-270) at Caesars Sportsbook
Since the Panthers traded up, CJ Stroud has been the favorite. He was always seen as one of the top three options, but the best odds for him at this point stay at -270 via Caesars Sportsbook.
Stylistically, this makes plenty of sense. Frank Reich has a history of working with large quarterbacks who stay strong in the pocket, and Stroud has the prototypical size of an NFL franchise quarterback. His leadership and accuracy are desired traits, and his size makes him a durable option in any system that likes to throw the ball.
The issue is that no one specifically thinks he is the best quarterback. People just believe that the Panthers think that he’s the best. Those are two different equations. This doesn’t mean that he won’t be the pick, but it makes it hard to invest in negative odds.
The Panthers gave up a lot of capital to make this pick. They can’t afford to miss.
The Best Option
• Bryce Young (+240) at Caesars Sportsbook
If you want the best quarterback in the draft, you should take Bryce Young. He is the best leader out of the class. He won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football. He’s incredibly accurate, and he has better pocket awareness than anyone to come out of the draft since Joe Burrow.
Now, people will point to Young’s height and weight as reasons not to draft him. They’ll say that a quarterback won’t hold up with a body like that. However, players with any body type run the risk of getting injured, and he’s held up well at Alabama in the SEC.
Young is also elusive in the pocket and doesn’t look for contact, meaning he won’t take as many hits as someone like Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen. He plays like a point guard, and his ability to see the middle of the field and extend plays while looking to pass will make him an asset in the NFL.
• Anthony Richardson (+1100) at Caesars Sportsbook
Richardson is a project. Out of the four quarterbacks looking to go in the first round, he is currently the least prepared to start in the NFL. However, he also has more raw talent and athleticism than almost anyone.
He is a freak of nature, and he’s great at the things that you can’t coach. If the football aspects develop, he will be a Pro Bowler.
The issue is that Richardson is not ready to play as a rookie. If he goes first overall, he will be pressured to start before he is ready. It would be better for him to play in a place like Las Vegas or Detroit. They have cemented starting quarterbacks and could teach him the ropes before putting him out there.
Richardson has the highest ceiling, but the timeline doesn’t work with the Panthers.
Who Will Go First Overall?
If you want to take an absolute flyer, take Richardson at great value. However, my favorite bet with the value remains Bryce Young. There are conflicting reports on who the Panthers want, and Young remains the best quarterback. Behind a good offensive line, he should thrive in the NFL.
I also don’t see the point in trading so much to move up for Stroud. He’s not seen as QB1 in this class, and the Panthers could have manipulated the board and gotten better value.
If you move up to the first overall pick, I think you have to take the best player available.
Pick: Bryce Young (+240) at Caesars Sportsbook