Panthers Legend Thinks Team Will “Surprise” With First Overall Pick

Panthers First Overall Pick

The Carolina Panthers recently acquired the first-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but it’s still anyone’s guess as to what they’ll do with the selection. While the current consensus is that they’ll draft CJ Stroud out of Ohio State, former Panther Thomas Davis expects the team to surprise a few experts, and called out one specific prospect that the team could target.

Thomas Davis: Panthers Could Surprise With First Overall Pick

While appearing on NFL Total Access, a conversation arose concerning Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft. While Jeremiah believed the Panthers would select Bryce Young with the first overall pick, Davis wasn’t so sure.

Reacting to the mock, Davis said that “[the Panthers selection] will be a very, very, surprising pick” before adding that “[t]here are a couple of guys upstairs that are enamored with the physical ability of Anthony Richardson.”

Obviously, this is just one report, so you should take it with a grain of salt. That being said, Davis’ long history with the organization is more than enough to give his opinion merit. For the younger readers out there, Davis spent 13 years with the Carolina Panthers, establishing himself as one of the faces of the franchise while at his peak. He obviously made a few connections during his time with the organization, and seeing as he only left the team following the 2018 season, it’s also safe to assume that a few of those connections are still employed in the building.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Carolina’s alleged infatuation with the Florida product, either. During the NFL Combine, reports leaked stating that Carolina “loved” Anthony Richardson and would be willing to trade up to secure his services. Not long after that, the Panthers traded up and got the first overall pick.

Who Should the Panthers Select?

Based on all reports, it appears as though the Panthers are struggling to choose between three quarterbacks: CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, and Anthony Richardson. Each player has their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s see what each guy has to offer.

Stroud is easily the safest choice of the bunch, as he possesses elite accuracy and an impressive ability to process a defense. However, he lacks the physical gifts to become an elite quarterback. Unless he gains a Manning-esque knowledge of the game (which is a completely unreasonable expectation) his ceiling is probably in the neighborhood of Kirk Cousins.

Bryce Young, meanwhile, probably has the best combination of floor and ceiling. If everything pans out for him, he’ll be the next Russell Wilson, but his small build is a natural injury concern, as is his complete unwillingness to utilize the middle of the field.

Anthony Richardson, meanwhile, will either be a top-five quarterback or a backup in three years, and there isn’t much room in between. The quarterback possesses physical traits that put Josh Allen and Cam Newton to shame, and if he puts it all together, he’ll be unstoppable. That said, he has atrocious accuracy and he’ll need some time to develop.

You need an elite quarterback to win in today’s NFL, and with that in mind, the Panthers should be going after either Young or Richardson. However, if they want to play it safe and land a quarterback that will definitely keep everybody’s jobs safe for a few years, then Stroud is probably the best option.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports