Panthers solidiy both sides in CBS Sports three-round NFL Draft mock

C.J. Stroud
C.J. Stroud / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

The Carolina Panthers solidified both sides of the football in the latest three-round 2023 NFL Draft mock published by CBS Sports.

It's been a pre-draft period full of excitement and fierce debate for everyone associated with the Carolina Panthers. Of course, this is because general manager Scott Fitterer made his move to No. 1 overall after striking a bombshell deal with the Chicago Bears

Every fan has their favorite. Some are enamored with Bryce Young's magician-like qualities, others seem to like C.J. Stroud's potential as a pure pocket passer within Frank Reich's new system, and a section of the fanbase is willing to risk it all for a feast-or-famine prospect like Anthony Richardson. 

Nothing is off the table right now. That's the way it'll likely stay right up until draft night as the Panthers embark on meetings to gather various opinions from leading personnel in keeping with their new, corroborative approach to personnel led by Fitterer.

Carolina Panthers draft C.J. Stroud in CBS Sports mock

That hasn't stopped analysts from drawing their conclusions. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports had the Panthers taking Stroud in his latest three-round mock draft, although - and I cannot stress this enough - they cannot go wrong with either.

"C.J. Stroud had a great pro day (we were there -- check the video above to watch our recap!) and it further solidified his case as one of the top-two QBs in this draft class. We've heard that the Panthers are high on Stroud -- and for now, we have him going No. 1 because it's easy to envision him transitioning from Ohio State to a Carolina staff that includes Frank Reich and Jim Caldwell."

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

Stroud is a phenomenal passer that can make every NFL-caliber throw. He recognizes pressure well, makes smart decisions, and can manipulate defenders' eyes with relative comfort - traits every productive signal-caller needs at the next level. 

Once Stroud gets to grips with Carolina's exceptional coaching staff and trusts his legs more, this is a Week 1 starter with top 10 upside. Something the Panthers have sorely lacked since the days of Cam Newton's first go-around with the franchise. 

Wilson's second-round pick bolstered the pass-rush by taking B.J. Ojulari at No. 47 overall. The former LSU standout has three years of solid college production under his belt and is another that could make an immediate impression as a 3-4 outside linebacker within Ejiro Evero system depending on where the coordinator deploys Frankie Luvu.

Perhaps the most surprising pick from Wilson's was Byron Young at No. 93 overall. While the Tennessee product has the capabilities and versatile to be a core defensive line depth piece at worst, this ignores a far more pressing need at cornerback over the first three rounds given they haven't addressed the position in free agency as yet. 

If the Panthers are in a position to take the best player available, then Young becomes more realistic and double-dipping on the front seven should be considered. Until then, it's about filling needs and Carolina has too many for this luxury currently. 

It's going to be fascinating to see what conclusions Carolina comes up with. These decisions will be franchise-altering beyond all doubt and if influential figures hit on the majority - especially at quarterback - then the Panthers can quickly emerge as a postseason contender along the way. 

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