Carolina Panthers 2023 NFL re-draft: How much would the team change?

Hindsight is always 20/20. Would the Carolina Panthers do anything differently if they had a redo in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Chris Kwiecinski/Tribune / USA TODAY
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Round No. 5 (Pick No. 145)

Carolina Panthers draft Puka Nacua

  • Wide Receiver I BYU Cougars
  • Previous pick: Jammie Robinson (S)

Is there another correct answer here? Going a whopping 32 picks after Jammie Robinson, Puka Nacua's rookie season was historic to say the absolute least. The wide receiver set the NFL record for receptions and yards by a pass-catcher in their first season.

Nacua caught a stunning 105 passes for 1,486 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He ranked No. 4 league-wide in receiving yards and No. 9 in receptions. His 160 targets ranked No. 7 in the league.

Now, to be fair here, playing with Matthew Stafford and in a Sean McVay offense surely helped Nacua's stats during his rookie season. Even if the Carolina Panthers drafted him, he'd have been prolific.

Nacua finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, earned a Pro Bowl nod, and got himself a second-team All-Pro distinction as well. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, the wideout possesses good size to win one-on-one matchups with opposing defensive backs. His 4.57-second 40-yard-dash time isn't eye-popping, but he wins the right way with elite route running and physicality.

Had the Panthers come away with Nacua, they'd have had one huge position filled. The WR1 slot is becoming more valuable in the NFL as the league has turned into being pass-heavy. While Carolina got respectable production from Adam Thielen in 2023, he's not Nacua.

Hindsight is indeed 20/20. If the Panthers had come away with this 2023 NFL Draft instead of their original selections, perhaps we would have had different conversations about this team.