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Carolina Panthers reportedly investigating QB prospects; 3 players they could take in April’s draft

Jason Burgos

There is no doubt that the Carolina Panthers need an upgrade at the quarterback position. However, their pursuit of Deshaun Watson failed. Baker Mayfield isn’t interested in joining the franchise. Matt Ryan was moved to Indianapolis and Carson Wentz was shipped off to lead the Commanders. Outside of Jimmy Garoppolo coming off of shoulder surgery, the pick-ins are getting real thin for the Panthers.

As time passes it seems more and more likely that the team will have to find a savior in the 2022 NFL draft. And the latest reports reveal that General Manager Scott Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule have been kicking the tires on some of the top prospects in this class.

Unfortunately for the franchise, this QB class is on the weak side, and they don’t have picks in the second or third round of the draft. Meaning they will have to go for the gusto at sixth overall or find a gem in the fourth round and back.

With that in mind, here are the three QBs the Panthers are most likely to take, and then pray they can become a franchise signal-caller for the next decade.

Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington

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Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Barriere might be the biggest dark horse QB in the entire draft. At Eastern Washington, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound talent started 29 games and put up some absurd numbers during his four years in Cheney. He racked up 13,089 passing yards, 121touchdowns, and only 29 interceptions. Not to mention, he rushed for over 1,500 yards too.

Barriere also enters the draft on high after dropping 5,070 yards and 48 TDS last season in the Big Sky Conference. He has a big arm and a world of athleticism, however, not playing against elite competition leaves a whole bunch of question marks.

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Nevertheless, there is a good chance he will still be on the board once round four comes along. Meaning he could be a steal of a project for a team like Carolina with low expectations and nothing but time to develop in 2022.

Malik Willis, Liberty

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Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Willis is the belle of the 2022 QB class ball. While Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett has a rapidly rising stock, Willis is the lock to get selected in the first round. During his final year for Liberty, he racked up 2,857 passing yards, 27 TDs, and 12 INTs in the ASUN Conference. The numbers don’t jump out like Barriere but his today’s NFL game do.

Willis is not just a great athlete who is always a threat to tuck and run like Cam Newton or Baker Mayfield. No, he is more in the mold of Patrick Maholmes and Aaron Rodgers and uses those gifts to extend and make plays.

The big question is, when in the first round should he be taken? Sportsnaut’s first-round mock draft projections him as a late pick in the opening round. Meaning he would be there at six if the Panthers wanted to reach a bit because they believe he is more than just the best talent in a weak QB class.

Brock Purdy, Iowa State

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Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State star Brock Purdy is the biggest of these QB draft options at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. During his four-year run in the Big 12 Conference, against legitimate competition, he compiled 12,170 passing yards, 81 TDs, and 33 INTs. What makes Purdy such an intriguing prospect is his unique intangibles.

Purdy is coachable and has the kind of toughness every coach wants. He has a strong understanding of the game, but underrated escapability to make something out of nothing on the fly. While his performances and stats may not jump off the page like other prospects, as a pick in the fourth or fifth wrong, any team could do far worse than trying to groom Purdy into being a solid and sound NFL starting quarterback.