Panthers surge up for their franchise QB in 2023 NFL mock draft

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

The Carolina Panthers made a daring surge up the pecking order to land a potential franchise quarterback in a recent 2023 NFL mock draft. 

Frank Reich is putting together an outstanding coaching staff to ensure the Carolina Panthers hit the ground running under his leadership next season. But until they figure out the quarterback position, the same complications could emerge.

There’s never been a better time for Carolina to hit the reset button. Only Matt Corral is likely to make the roster from their current options, so forming a long-term plan for progress should be the team’s highest priority this spring.

General manager Scott Fitterer has made no secret of his desire to draft and develop. Molding a contender around a rookie deal is the most proven method of success, although a daring trade for Lamar Jackson might also enter their discussions if team owner David Tepper has his way.

This is one of the most fascinating drafts in recent memory. An abundance of teams in the top 10 are in desperate need of a quarterback, so if the Panthers want to get their guy, it’s highly likely they’ll move up from No. 9 overall to make this dream a reality.

Carolina Panthers move up for Will Levis in The Bleacher Report’s mock draft

The hot topic was recently discussed by The Bleacher Report’s scouting department in their latest mock draft. In this scenario, the Panthers struck a deal with the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 3 overall selection, which cost them four high-end picks this year and next.

With C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young already off the board, Carolina selected Will Levis out of Kentucky. The quarterback has all the physical intangibles needed to make a successful NFL career for himself, but concerns about a lackluster final college campaign with the Wildcats are making some fans extremely nervous about the possibility.

Analyst Derrik Klassen discussed the situation in-depth if Levis did end up in Carolina. Something the writer feels could be a tremendous match working alongside a capable coach in Reich.

"“(Frank) Reich’s offenses with the Colts were at their best when they used heavier formations, ran the ball downhill and worked play-action to generate chunk plays. That’s the kind of setup Levis needs in the pros to succeed. (Will) Levis thrives on deeper concepts that showcase his arm talent and limit the number of eligible receivers he can target. He’ll need to work on consistency within his decision-making and pocket management to up his game. Reich is a good enough coach to allow those things to happen.”"

Levis has some ungodly arm strength and can make every NFL-caliber throw with ease. His release is rapid and already worthy of serious consideration in the top 10, which is matched by enough mobility to make things happen off-script.

Perhaps the main flaw Levis must resolve is decision-making, which is often suspect and will be punished more heavily against elite NFL defenses. Learning to be more efficient and taking what’s given is something else that would stand him in good stead.

If the Panthers went in this direction, it would cause division among the fans considering how they generally perceive Levis right now. However, teams don’t draft players for what they’ve done, but rather for what they could be upon moving to the next level.

Levis is a polarizing prospect, there’s no getting away from that. And risking valuable draft capital on potential alone is a significant gamble all things considered.

Asking Levis to assume starting responsibilities immediately should also be avoided. That’s why the Panthers should also explore the best veteran available as a short-term solution if this was the path they chose to go down.

The speculation and rumors will only increase in the weeks ahead. Even if some won’t like it, Levis is sure to be under strong consideration despite the feast-or-famine upside he brings to the table.

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