It goes without saying that the Carolina Panthers’ biggest need remains under center. But, we’ll say it anyway . . .
The Carolina Panthers need a quarterback!
Now, heading into the 2023 season, their best chance at getting one is probably through the NFL draft. And luckily for them, there will be a handful of options in handful of different rounds.
So, let’s look at one quarterback prospect Carolina should target in each round they have a pick in this year.
First round: Anthony Richardson (Florida)
Currently in the ninth overall slot, the Panthers are unlikely to nab either Bryce Young or CJ Stroud without trading up. That, however, does not mean they have to miss out on a potential franchise quarterback, as Richardson—the prospect with the most potential in the class—could be staring right at them when their turn comes around.
Richardson, perhaps, possesses the closest skill set we’ve seen to that of franchise great Cam Newton. He’s got the rocket arm, extreme athleticism, big build and a sky-high ceiling that can turn the Panthers offense into a multi-faceted machine once again.
Second round: Tanner McKee (Stanford)
If, for whatever reason, the Panthers are unable to find their answer in the first round—they won’t be completely out of luck. This draft should have some deeper cuts, starting with Stanford’s McKee.
At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, McKee may be what general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Frank Reich are looking for. In the mold of his former teammate in Davis Mills, he possesses the size, arm strength and accuracy that’ll make a second-round investment a worthwhile one.
Third round: Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Perhaps the most popular passer on this list, Hooker lit up the college football scene this past season. Before an ACL injury took him out, he tossed for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions over 11 games.
But why might he be left in the third round if he’s so good?
Well, for one, that torn ACL will put his availability for 2023 in question. Outside of that, Hooker’s inconsistent mechanics and smaller frame may raise some concerns.
There is, though, certainly hope that he can be develop over time—even if he has to “redshirt” early on.
Fourth round: Malik Cunningham (Louisville)
Cunningham possesses an intriguing skill set. His rushing ability, a weapon that’s helped him run for 1,591 yards and 32 touchdowns over the last two seasons, is like none other in this class.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder does not, however, exclusively fit in as a runner. He is also a fairly skilled passer, one that can often deliver balls with accuracy and zip.
While he likely does not possess enough arm strength and arm talent to be an immediate starter in the NFL, his blend of athleticism and accuracy could help him become a legitimate dual threat at the next level.
Fifth round: Jaren Hall (BYU)
One of the more gifted quarterbacks available in this territory, Hall has a lot of the necessary tools to be a successful dual-threat quarterback in the NFL. His ability to make plays outside of the pocket and use his live arm to push the ball downfield could help him launch up draft boards rather quickly.
Hall is likely not able to start from day one given his lack of elite arm talent, his inexperience under center and the gimmicky offense he’s coming over from. But if there’s anyone to take a swing on in the later rounds, it’s Hall.