CJ Stroud Dazzles the Panthers at Ohio State Pro Day, But is He Their Guy?
Ohio State held their pro day on Wednesday and quarterback CJ Stroud put on a show. Stroud launched effortless darts downfield and drew the oohs and ahhs of those in attendance.
Of those in attendance were the Carolina Panthers. I firmly believe that the Panthers were enamored with Stroud well before his pro day performance on Wednesday. Stroud was a significant reason they traded DJ Moore, and a bevy of draft picks to the Bears a couple of weeks ago to move up to No. 1. I think he’s the main reason they pulled the trigger on that deal.
The Panthers want you to believe that they’re not all-in on Stroud. Even after he stole the show at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and duplicated his performance this week in Columbus.
We will know whether that’s tactical or truthful on the evening of April 27. So, the Panthers are definitely considering making Stroud the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. But they’re not considering Stroud alone.
“From my understanding, they’re considering three of these quarterbacks right now. It’s unclear which ones but I believe that Bryce Young would also be in that conversation.”
That’s what NFL insider Ian Rapoport said on NFL Now on Wednesday.
So, Stroud, Young, and one of either Anthony Richardson or Will Levis is where the Panthers’ search for their next franchise QB stands, according to Rapoport. I believe that if that’s true, it’s Richardson, not Levis, that Carolina is considering with Stroud and Young. But regardless, it’s a three-QB race right now, per Rapoport.
Whoever it ends up being, it’s essential to remember this—the Panthers have put themselves into a position to get their guy, no matter who it ends up being.
If the Panthers are — as I believe — in love with Stroud, and he’s head and shoulders above the rest, they take him first overall in Kansas City next month. But, if there are two quarterbacks the Panthers view as equals, they can get one and regain some of the draft capital spent to reach the top pick. Carolina could move back to No. 2, allowing Houston to have their choice, and take the other at No. 2 and gain some high-value picks in return.
This is a pretty viable scenario if these teams see the top quarterbacks as I think they do. If Houston loves Bryce Young enough to flip spots with Carolina, the Panthers will land Stroud and picks.
Regardless of how it plays out, it’s a win-win for the Panthers.
Frank Reich, GM Scott Fitterer, and owner David Tepper are playing this perfectly right now. Not only are they in control of how the draft shakes out, but they’ve also done some impressive things in free agency.
Carolina added tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Miles Sanders in free agency. They also added veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen and safety Von Bell and re-signed center Bradley Bozeman. They’ve also built a pretty impressive coaching staff around Frank Reich.
For Bears fans hoping that the 2024 Panthers pick heading to Chicago will be a top-five, I wouldn’t bet on it at this point. Especially if the Panthers have a successful draft.
The Panthers are in a pretty good spot right now.