At 1-8, the Carolina Panthers are in position to land the no. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The only problem is, that pick goes to Chicago thanks to the trade that netted them Bryce Young in this year's draft.
The Panthers have issues. They boast a ton of holes and need to surround Young with the appropriate talent if he's going to wind up developing correctly. But, without a first-round pick and little draft capital right now, what do the Panthers do?
Draft day is a ways away, but it's safe to say the Panthers should start exploring trade scenarios. That's how they fix the current slate of issues.
The Carolina Panthers make a big trade to start this 2024 NFL mock draft
This might be a bit rich of a return for the Patriots to move up just one pick, but using our simulator, this trade was, in fact, accepted.
Here's a sensible scenario, too: New England wants to reset at the quarterback position but doesn't draft one in the first round. A guy like Riley Leonard or Michael Penix Jr. falls out of the first round, leaving Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft desperate to make a move and land their guy.
From here, the Panthers have much more draft capital to work with and immediately go after a weapon for Bryce Young.
To get things going, the Panthers select a guy at no. 34 who could come in and be their true WR1 for Young in Washington's Ja'Lynn Polk. First and foremost, Polk comes into the league as a 6-foot-4 monster. His frame is perfection for a guy you want to dominate on the outside and become an alpha for your offense.
Secondly, Polk has some of the best hands you'll find in this class, if not the best. He pairs those hands with strength, physicality and the ability to make defenders look silly after the catch. He takes no prisoners with the ball in his hands. He's ready to get to the end zone and move the chains.
With Polk as the team's no. 1 and pressure taken off Jonathan Mingo, the Panthers' wide receiving core looks a whole lot different thanks to just one draft selection. Polk is the type of receiver a young quarterback loves to have in the early stages of his pro development. Not only is he a security blanket, but Polk will do a lot of the work to make Young look even better, and thus raise his confidence.