Although Sam Darnold is certainly making a case to at least stick around for 2023, there is a considerable chance that the Carolina Panthers move on from the fifth-year quarterback entirely. Whether that be through competition or a straight-up replacement, it’s likely his successor comes out of the 2023 NFL draft.
But, uh, things might’ve just gotten a tad more difficult for the Panthers in that particular avenue.
This past weekend, both University of Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State University’s C.J. Stroud balled out—reminding everyone why they’re destined to be locks at the top of the board come springtime. And that’s not a particularly great development for a certain quarterback-needy team that’s currently in possession of the draft’s ninth overall pick with one game left to play.
First up was Young, who had a clear command of his offense—finding multiple options routinely while effortlessly tearing apart the Kansas State defense en route to a five-touchdown performance. He proved he is a next-level passer and has every ability you would want to see from a franchise quarterback—including out-of-pocket plays and precision passing.
As for Stroud, he was similarly impressive against one of the top defenses in the nation in the Georgia Bulldogs. He showed traits we had not previously seen enough of, particularly his playmaking ability outside of the pocket.
Stroud showed off by making big plays under pressure, utilizing his legs to extend touches and hurling impressive off-platform throws. His 348-yard, four-touchdown outing almost knocked off the No. 1 team in the country.
Barring a trade, it is unlikely that the Panthers will be able to acquire either of these players in the draft. They may be left with the third or even fourth quarterback of the class . . . if they are willing to take that risk.
But, you never know. There’s a lot of time between now and April 27.
You couldn’t go wrong if one of these two miraculously lands in your lap—just like Justin Fields did for Carolina in 2021. This time, though, they’ll be hard pressed to pass on another gifted passer they desperately need.