Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Matt Corral traded, franchise QB landed

Matt Corral
Matt Corral / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers
C.J. Stroud / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

Carolina Panthers draft C.J. Stroud

  • Quarterback | Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Round No. 1 | Pick No. 1

Perhaps it's stubbornness. Perhaps I'm old school. Perhaps I value pure passing brilliance above all else. 

But despite the growing momentum surrounding Bryce Young, the pick is still C.J. Stroud. Even if the Carolina Panthers might have other ideas based on reports. 

As I have stated numerous times, the Panthers put themselves in a position where there are two - maybe even three - right answers. Everyone has their preference and agendas are being pushed across social media among the fanbase, but that doesn't change the bigger picture outlook where those in power are concerned. 

Stroud might have scored lower than Young on the S2 Cognitive Test, but he was still in the elite category according to rumors. More importantly, this comes across on tape thanks to smart decision-making and expert ball placement at all three levels. 

The former Ohio State gunslinger is a methodical genius under center. There aren't many situations that can rattle the signal-caller, who takes complete command pre-snap, knows his side adjustments, and processes the field extremely well for good measure. 

Stroud is also more athletic than he's given credit for. He's been a supreme leader throughout his stint with the Buckeyes and seems like the perfect fit for head coach Frank Reich and Thomas Brown's system.

The pick could easily be Young and nobody will complain. But there's just something about Stroud that makes me genuinely believe this is the man to lead the Panthers back into legitimate contention.