Should the Carolina Panthers trade up for C.J. Stroud in 2023?

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Stroud
(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Stroud /

Should the Carolina Panthers trade up for quarterback C.J. Stroud after his sensational performance in the college football playoffs?

Despite the recent resurgence within the Carolina Panthers since Steve Wilks became interim head coach, their needs haven’t changed. This is a team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback – someone they can build around for future success.

Considering how tight money is for the Panthers before sacrifices and early cuts come to fruition, one anticipates a talented prospect from the college ranks coming into the fold next spring. Carolina also has the capital to get creative in pursuit of finally solving this complex riddle under center.

Matt Corral is the only quarterback under contract in 2023. There is a chance Sam Darnold returns on a short-term deal after looking rejuvenated of late, but this would be a band-aid fix when more is required.

Much will depend on where Carolina ends up in the pecking order. But one thing that cannot be called into question is the potential of the top-two quarterbacks emerging from the college level later this year.

Carolina Panthers should consider trading up for C.J. Stroud

Bryce Young’s incredible display for Alabama was swiftly followed by a mesmerizing show from C.J. Stroud that almost led Ohio State to a shock playoff victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. This was confirmation that these two prospects are head and shoulders above anything else in the 2023 class.

Stroud was nothing short of phenomenal, completing 67.64 percent of his passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a lofty QBR of 93.8. He also gained 34 rushing yards from 12 carries.

This silenced almost every remaining doubt about Stroud. But the player had very little left to prove after two fantastic seasons as the Buckeyes’ starter, in all honesty.

There are some that will still hold concerns regarding Ohio State quarterbacks and their lack of accomplishments at the next level. Justin Fields is shifting this narrative slightly with the Chicago Bears, and scouting the prospect, not the program is rule No. 1 when it comes to draft assessments.

Stroud’s poise, ability to make every throw and composure in the face of pressure are traits that could indicate he’s a Day 1 starter somewhere. Landing in the right fit will be crucial, but there’s plenty of evidence that suggests a prolific career is in the offing.

If the Panthers are truly convinced about Stroud with Wilks or someone else leading the charge, then trading up for the signal-caller is a real possibility. Should Young go No. 1 to the Houston Texans as many anticipate, there could be an opportunity to shift up the board.

Not every team atop the draft will be looking for a new quarterback. There is also the presence of Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter to consider – two elite defensive linemen capable of wreaking havoc right out of the gate.

After a series of failed trades for underperforming veterans, this could be a nice change of pace. But the Panthers would need to strike quickly and with conviction to avoid Stroud landing anywhere else.

No draft pick is guaranteed to thrive. However, after deciding not to trade up for Justin Herbert and overlooking Fields in recent years, this is the time Carolina needs to shoot their shot.

And who knows, Stroud might be the key that propels the Panthers back into contention.

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