Carolina Panthers make controversial pick in PFN’s latest 2023 mock draft

(Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) Will Levis
(Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) Will Levis /

The Carolina Panthers make a controversial selection to improve their quarterback situation in Pro Football Network’s latest 2023 NFL mock draft.

Finding a long-term fix at the quarterback position is almost a necessity for the Carolina Panthers in 2023. No longer can the team gamble on trades for veterans down on their luck – now is the time to find an elite prospect from the college ranks and build around them.

Carolina looks like they could be in with a shot at winning the NFC South as strange as that might sound. It’s been a rocky first half of the campaign, but the weakness of this division overall means nobody is out of it just yet.

Depending on who comes out on top could have huge ramifications on Carolina’s eventual draft standing. One that could take them out of the top end and into the late teens with playoff success.

While that’s not what many fans wish to hear, interim head coach Steve Wilks is fighting for his own job status within the organization and the players under his leadership are keen to ensure he wins the job long-term based on their improved efforts since Matt Rhule was fired.

Carolina Panthers select Will Levis in 2023 mock draft

There’s a lot of football and plenty of twists to come. But a recent mock draft from Cam Mellor from Pro Football Network saw the Panthers go down an extremely controversial route with their 2023 selection.

With Bryce Young still on the board at No. 3 overall, Mellor sent Kentucky’s signal-caller Will Levis to Carolina, instead. Betting on traits rather than proven college production is a big risk, but one the writer believed cannot be ruled out thanks to the way players like Josh Allen thrived with additional development.

"“The prototypical quarterback from the SEC, and it’s not Bryce Young. In fact, Will Levis heads to the Carolina Panthers with the third-overall pick as the franchise needs a complete rebuild. Who better to build your franchise around than a bright and up-and-coming potential superstar with elite traits and a powerful arm? Levis is all of those and is still continuing to ascend.”"

According to Joe Person of The Athletic, general manager Scott Fitterer was among the Panthers’ personnel in attendance for Kentucky’s game against Tennessee on Saturday. Levis was outshone in no uncertain terms by Hendon Hooker, who is surging up draft boards and is now a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy after an exceptional series of performances.

Levis was underwhelming at best in front of Fitterer. Taking him represents a project that would likely need a veteran to fill the void until get gets up to speed, but the arm strength and athleticism might dictate a first-round grade given the current trend across the league.

Fitterer and his staff are doing the groundwork. But much will also depend on how a new head coach perceives the situation and the prospects entering the league next year.

If the Panthers ended up taking Levis over Young, it would spark outrage among the fanbase. Their next move under center must be correct and although the Alabama product has some concerns about his size, he’s easily the most poised prospect emerging next spring and has all the makings of a franchise player at the position.

Who knows what’ll happen between now and when the time comes? However, Levis has to do much more to warrant such a lofty draft status.

Should Carolina end up in the top three, they should turn their attention elsewhere.

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