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Carolina Panthers reportedly leaning toward surprise selection at No. 1 in NFL Draft

When the Carolina Panthers send their pick to the podium to kick off the 2023 NFL Draft, the name that is read may not be the one many fans and experts are expecting.

The Carolina Panthers shook up this year’s draft when they beat out several other interested teams — including the Las Vegas Raiders — to leapfrog eight spots and trade their way into the top pick in April’s event. The team had to send the Chicago Bears quite a return to acquire the No. 1 overall selection, but it was a bold and understandable decision for a quarterback-needy team in a year with a strong QB class.

Related: Raiders reportedly failed in trade for Bears’ No. 1 draft pick for specific reason

Heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, there are at least four QBs that have a first-round projection. However, one-time Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, and Ohio State star CJ Stroud are universally viewed as the top two options at the position. But, in recent weeks, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has been flying up draft boards due to his raw potential.

Carolina Panthers record (2022): 7-10, second place in NFC South

Richardson’s fantastic showing at this year’s NFL Combine only intensified the growing aura around his abilities to be a franchise QB. Nevertheless, in most mock drafts around the industry — including in our own NFL Mock Draft –Richardson is not expected to be taken before Young or Stroud.

carolina panthers
Credit: USA Today Network

However, when it comes time to make the pick, it seems Richardson has a major fan in the Carolina Panthers organization. In a recent edition of Peter King’s “Football in America” column, the highly respected NFL insider revealed a man with a whole bunch of sway in Carolina that seems to prefer that the team make Richardson their top selection in 2023.

“I’ve heard the same rumors everyone else has — that Frank Reich loves Florida QB Anthony Richardson. And he may be the pick. But I’m a bit skeptical. Nothing against Richardson, who is one of the most interesting QB prospects in the past few drafts. I wonder, though, about trading two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and one of your five best players for a player with a high ceiling but with one year as a college starter. Trading to number one and choosing Richardson might turn out to be brilliant. But picking Richardson number one after dealing five prime pieces for him is a major risk.”

– Peter King (h/t Panthers Wire)

Frank Reich was hired to be the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers in February and will be trying to rebuild an offense that had traded away their top two skills players in the last six months and have a major hole on the depth chart at QB.

While there are many scouts and evaluators that rave about Anthony Richardson’s upside, the common belief is that he needs to sit at least a season or two to be coached up to and NFL level. However, Stroud and Young are seen as players that can jump into the league in year one and be starting quarterbacks.

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