Carolina Panthers Need to Trade Down in 2022 NFL Draft

Panthers NFL Draft

Following a disappointing 5-12 season, the Carolina Panthers currently have the sixth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In most circumstances, elite draft capital like this would give the Panthers a chance to land one of the best prospects in the game and reshape the franchise overnight. However, given the state of the 2022 draft class along with Carolina’s needs, the Panthers should be looking to trade back and acquire picks.

Why the Carolina Panthers Should Trade Down in 2022 NFL Draft

 The Quarterback Situation

It goes without saying that the quarterback is the most important position in football. In today’s pass-happy NFL, there is simply no way to compete without having a top-15 option under center. The Panthers organization clearly understands this, as the new regime has aggressively pursued potential upgrades over the past two years.

Unfortunately, none of those upgrades actually panned out. Teddy Bridgewater flamed out after one mediocre season, Sam Darnold proved that Adam Gase wasn’t solely responsible for the quarterbacks’ failures in New York, and Cam Newton looked like a shell of himself. It’s important to keep trying to find answers at the quarterback position, but the past two years clearly show that the team shouldn’t reach on unremarkable talent.

The 2022 quarterback draft class is one of the worst in recent memory. Malik Wills is generally considered the best quarterback in the class, and he probably would’ve been the QB6 in last year’s class. Put simply, using the sixth-overall pick on any of these prospects would be akin to giving up a second-round pick for Sam Darnold – a gross misuse of resources. Instead of using premium assets on an unremarkable prospect, the Panther should trade down, add extra draft capital, and draft somebody like Sam Howell or Desmond Ridder at the end of the first.

The Gap In the Draft

On paper, trading out of the sixth spot could mean missing out on an elite non-quarterback prospect. However, when looking at Carolina’s roster and current draft capital, it’s clear that trading back is the right move for the team.

As things currently stand, the Panthers would have to wait for 131 players to hear their names called before they had a chance to make their second selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Finding impact players in the draft is a difficult task even in the best of circumstances, but trying to build a competitive roster when you only have one pick in the first three rounds is basically impossible.

As is often the case of teams that finish with a 5-12 record, the Panthers are more than one non-quarterback away from seriously competing in their division. While the defense is solid, the entire offense needs an infusion of talent. D.J. Moore and a (hopefully) healthy Christian McCaffrey are the only weapons of note, and the offensive line remains one of the worst in the league. Put simply, one prospect alone isn’t going to fix this, especially if that prospect is not a quarterback.

Additionally, the NFL Draft is a crapshoot, and nobody is particularly great at identifying talent. In fact, PFF’s Timo Riske recently did a data study determining that it is actually cost-prohibitive to draft a non-quarterback in the top 10.

In short, the Panthers shouldn’t be taking any of these quarterbacks in the top 10, and Carolina’s 131-pick wait combined with the relative lack of value at the top of the draft make trading down an easy choice.

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