Carolina Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: A new era dawns

(Stephanie Scarbrough/The Enquirer via IMAGN Content Services) Tyler Scott
(Stephanie Scarbrough/The Enquirer via IMAGN Content Services) Tyler Scott /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Stroud /

Carolina Panthers select C.J. Stroud

  • Quarterback | Ohio State Buckeyes

Lo and behold, the Carolina Panthers secure their future franchise quarterback in C.J. Stroud.

This mock trade-up with the Arizona Cardinals would be the move that could save Scott Fitterer’s job and define Frank Reich’s first year as the team’s head coach. For the last three years, it feels like the organization has made one mistake after another when it comes to the quarterback position.

There was the Sam Darnold experiment that failed as expected, though there was a good stretch of play at the end of this season. Baker Mayfield’s trade failed miserably, leading him to be benched and let go in October, finding a new home with the Los Angeles Rams.

Plus, there was Teddy Bridgewater, a broken Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker. Here, the Panthers end the recent purgatory under center with a resolution.

Stroud doesn’t have a true elite trait that stands out, and that’s perfectly okay. He offers great traits and intangibles that teams want in their potential franchise quarterback.

The prospect displays ample arm talent and accuracy on all three levels of the field. This is thanks to incredible field vision, football IQ, and clean footwork.

The former Heisman Trophy finalist suffered criticism throughout the season for not showcasing the off-script skills that could make him an even more intriguing prospect than he already is. Against the Georgia Bulldogs in the college football playoffs, Stroud displayed good mobility, pocket navigation skills, and the ability to create plays when everything collapses around him.

There is so much to like about Stroud. With him under center, the Panthers could make a run for the postseason in Reich’s first year as head coach.