Panthers given QB leftovers in CBS Sports 2023 NFL mock draft

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper and Scott Fitterer
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper and Scott Fitterer /

There’s no doubt the Carolina Panthers are looking for a quarterback, but they are forced to play a waiting game in CBS Sports’ latest 2023 NFL mock draft.

Many fans and analysts are expecting the Carolina Panthers to make a bold quarterback move during the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager Scott Fitterer‘s preference to build around a rookie contract makes this the most likely scenario, although moving up from No. 9 overall is the only way they can land their prospect of choice.

This is the subject of fierce debate among supporters right now. Fitterer said the Panthers would go up and get their guy if they were 100 percent convinced, with the Chicago Bears reportedly set to shop the No. 1 overall selection for multiple high-end picks to assist with the team’s rebuild.

If the Panthers strike with conviction, they can achieve an important objective. However, a situation could emerge where another quarterback-needy team gets there first in pursuit of solving their own problems under center.

Carolina Panthers select Anthony Richardson in CBS Sports mock draft

Although it would be a disaster for the Panthers, it’s entirely possible. Something that was recently highlighted by Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports in his latest mock draft.

In Wilson’s hypothetical scenario, the Indianapolis Colts moved up to take C.J. Stroud at No. 1. The Houston Texans selected Bryce Young with the second pick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers surged up for Tom Brady’s successor in the form of Will Levis.

This leaves the Panthers out of luck and settling for leftovers. Anthony Richardson, to be precise.

"“(Anthony) Richardson is one of the most exciting prospects in this class. The problem: he’s short on experience, and while his physical tools are rare, the (Carolina) Panthers are in dire need of a starting QB right now. David Tepper could choose to go the free agency route (again), but that has been, shall we say, a crapshoot. At the end of the day, Carolina may have to move inside the top five if it’s a quarterback it really wants with Day 1 starter potential.”"

While this is disappointing to many, Richardson is not a bad consolation prize by any stretch. The former Florida star has arguably the highest upside of any signal-caller entering the NFL this year, even if it might take some time for everything to come together.

Richardson made outstanding strides as the 2022 campaign went on. His electrifying dual-threat prowess has always been there, but some key areas such as pocket presence, decision-making, and recognizing pressure also developed encouragingly.

Nobody should expect Richardson to come in and start Day 1. His exceptional attributes need to be nurtured effectively before he takes the field, which is something head coach Frank Reich could undoubtedly do if he ended up in Carolina.

Providing his transition goes smoothly and his current trajectory remains steady, Richardson could be ready much sooner than most anticipate. But taking the raw prospect at No. 9 overall is a risk all things considered.

In this situation, Carolina might not have much of a choice. And there’s a chance Richardson doesn’t make it past the Las Vegas Raiders depending on how they approach free agency and the trade market.

One thing the Panthers won’t want is to be on the back foot in their quest to find the right guy. If that’s Richardson, fair enough, but those in power might have far grander ambitions than to sit on their hands at No. 9 overall and hope for the best.

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