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Bryce Young may be best option for Carolina Panthers

Who is the best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft? Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are the consensus top prospects in most of the current QB rankings. However, this year’s class delivers a lot of intrigue with endless debates regarding the top draft-eligible quarterbacks.

While it is too early to determine how many quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round in 2023, the depth of this class is an even bigger debate. After Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, evaluations vary widely on names like Will Levis and Anthony Richardson. However, the previously highly touted Levis was not as impressive under NFL Combine scrutiny.

1: Bryce Young, 247 Sports’ No. 1 quarterback out of high school in 2020, met every expectation at Alabama. In his 2021 Heisman season, Young led the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff, scored 50 total touchdowns and showed phenomenal arm strength and touch throwing to Jameson Williams and John Metchie. In 2022, Young played through injury and overcame a receiving corps that fell far short of the Alabama standard yet still finished sixth in Heisman voting. Young is more than ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He boasts above-average arm strength with the touch and timing through adjusted velocities to put the football anywhere all over the field. Just as important for modern NFL offenses, he is adept at throwing on the move, using different arm angles to get accurate passes off consistently.

Paired with his functional athleticism, allowing him to evade pressure and make plays on the run, the physical tools and mental capacity that franchise-caliber quarterbacks have can all be found in Young and make him the consensus No.1 player in 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings. Poise, accuracy, mobility, great eyes and is advanced beyond his years mentally, Young has so many tools for an NFL coach to build from. But the elephant in the room is his size.

Carolina Panthers' general manager Scott Fitterer recently elaborated on the progress Young has made regarding his physical development - particularly with his lower body strength and continued to talk about the myriad ways the team could improve on the elements needed for Young to compete at the NFL level. "You learn something new about a guy every time you sit with him," Fitterer said during a recent pre-draft press conference.

2: The recent history of Ohio State quarterbacks not performing well in the NFL will be a negative that is used against CJ Stroud, but his talent speaks for itself. Stroud’s 6-foot-3 frame immediately checks off the box for prototypical size. As for his physical talents, Stroud’s outstanding velocity and quick release are crucial heading to the next level with tight windows and defensive backs that react much faster to throws. He demonstrates above-average arm strength for an NFL quarterback prospect, with consistent mechanics that lead to smooth passes even when pressured. Crucially, he also knows when to get rid of the football and how to progress through his options. He can stand in the face of pressure, make throws with pinpoint accuracy, and displays more than enough functional athleticism to make him a threat at the next level. There are more than enough tools and intangibles to work with that a team can bet on Stroud to become its franchise quarterback. One of those teams happens to be the Carolina Panthers.

C.J. Stroud is almost flawless as a quarterback prospect. He looks tailor-made for Frank Reich's new offensive system and considering the offensive line in front of him, the signal-caller has a great chance to hit the ground running right out of the gate, something the organization has been craving at the position for years. The speculation will continue to mount leading into the draft. Carolina will not show their hand until the last minute as they bask in the glory of attaining the No 1 pick, so the debate is going to rage on among a fanbase that appears split on who the right guy is. Nobody would complain if Stroud was their choice. The same goes for Young given how closely the two prospects are matched. There is no wrong route the Panthers could go unless those in power gamble on Anthony Richardson.

3: Richardson offers elite athleticism. He rushed for 100-plus yards four times in two seasons and had seven games with at least 60 rushing yards. It is at the level where you could project Richardson to rush for 600-plus yards per season at the next level. Of course, it also makes him even more difficult to bring down for sacks and the ability to buy time can also open things up for his receivers.

It is also critical to mention Richardson’s arm strength, which would put him on a level with some of the best gunslingers in the NFL. Similar to Levis, the 21-year-old can physically drop a football at about any location on the field. These two building blocks are what NFL coaches dream of.

4: The 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings become hotly debated after Stroud and Young. Will Levis stands the best chance of being a top-10 pick after his two peers. He is also an example of scouts and general managers ignoring box scores, focusing purely on physical abilities and what a player can do at the next level with better coaching. What NFL play-callers will love even more is the ability to create a scheme around Levis’s mobility. With those physical tools also comes the rare skill of making throws off-platform. Whether it is a 40-yard strike to the opposite hash while rolling out or fighting off a sack and still throwing a 20-yard dime, he can do it and it looks easy.

The deciding vote for the Carolina Panthers' next era quarterback will be cast in just eight days as the entire football world watches events unfold in Kansas City. As of this week, however, many conversations point toward Bryce Young being the most likely pick after the prospect canceled all remaining team visits. This is a departure from just a week ago. No matter who the Panthers select, this is a no-fail mission if David Tepper wants to keep Panthers fans happy.


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