Carolina Panthers find the perfect fit in The 33rd Team mock draft

C.J. Stroud
C.J. Stroud / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After a bold trade to No. 1 overall, the Carolina Panthers land their projected perfect fit in the form of C.J. Stroud during The 33rd Team's latest mock draft.

We are now in the midst of pro day season and the Carolina Panthers already have the No. 1 overall selection locked up. Their bold trade with the Chicago Bears represents a calculated gamble from those in power, but one that gives them their choice of the top quarterback prospects emerging from the college ranks this year. 

One could debate forever about which signal-caller is going to become Carolina's face of the franchise. Frank Reich and Scott Fitterer weren't giving much away during their media availability earlier this week, with a strong contingent expected at all four pro days associated with the leading contenders atop the 2023 NFL Draft. 

This was evident on Wednesday as the Panthers went all guns blazing into Ohio State's pro day to witness C.J. Stroud strut his stuff. It was another polished showing from the gifted quarterback, who came into the evaluation process on the back of yet another exceptional college campaign with the Buckeyes in 2022. 

Carolina Panthers draft C.J. Stroud in The 33rd Team mock

Stroud has everything. And according to the latest mock draft from The 33rd Team's scouting department, this is the perfect fit for Reich and the Panthers at No. 1 overall. 

"Frank Reich and the Panthers traded with the Bears for the No. 1 spot, and they land C.J. Stroud from Ohio State as their new franchise passer. Stroud is a good fit for the offensive scheme Reich will likely use in Carolina. If Stroud plays well in his rookie season, there’s a chance the Panthers can compete in the underwhelming NFC South. "

The 33rd Team scouting department

It makes a ton of sense to draft Stroud. However, the allure of a difference-maker like Bryce Young is something to seriously consider and the Alabama product seems to be gaining real momentum among various analysts at just the right time. 

In terms of Stroud, he has everything one looks for in a franchise quarterback. His accuracy, pocket awareness, arm strength, and vision are all first-class, which is matched by enough mobility to make things happen on the move providing the prospect learns to trust his legs a little more. 

Whether it's Stroud, Young, or a wildcard like Anthony Richardson, this is an exceptional set-up to join. The Panthers have left no stone unturned this offseason to form a coaching staff capable of guiding their rookie quarterback through an important transition, with veteran Andy Dalton also providing some extra assistance on the playing side after joining in free agency. 

Carolina is a little short at the wide receiver position after including D.J. Moore in the trade that got them to No. 1 overall. But the additions of Hayden Hurst, Miles Sanders, and Adam Thielen will be solid assets for Stroud to call upon if he is the guy. 

Nobody would grumble too much if it's Stroud. He is a player with Day 1 starting potential and has a high ceiling if expectations are reached, which is further evidence of the exciting new era the Panthers are embarking on without Matt Rhule's dark cloud of incompetence hanging over them. 

Stroud is an outstanding prospect. A leader of men capable of picking a team up on his back and driving them to victory.

It's been a long, long time since the Panthers had something like that under center.

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