Panthers legend Thomas Davis offers his take on Bryce Young vs. C.J. Stroud in Carolina

Former Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Charlotte Knights next Thursday at Truist Field at 7:04 p.m. Roughly an hour later, the Panthers will choose the future face of their franchise with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Although Davis says the Panthers can’t go wrong with either Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, the three-time Pro Bowl defender believes Young is set up to succeed right away.

“I think that Bryce Young is a better quarterback,” Thomas said at his Ten58 Sports Bar & Lounge on Thursday. “And the reason why I say that — as you guys can see — Ten58 is based on my time at (the University of) Georgia. So, I’m partial to SEC guys. I got to watch Bryce Young play a lot, and he’s a guy that played against NFL competition almost every week. When you think about the number of guys that are drafted out of the SEC, and that go on to have really good, successful careers — I think Bryce Young, he’s going to be more suited, ready and molded to be prepared to play on Day 1.”

Davis — who spent 14 of his 16 NFL seasons in Carolina — doesn’t think Young’s undersized stature (5-foot-10 and 204 pounds) is a problem. Davis played against former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for the majority of his career.

Brees turned out to be an All-Pro talent at 6-foot and 209 pounds.

“People keep talking about this size thing,” Davis said. “One thing that has been completely dispelled — Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame (caliber) quarterback. I watched him from the other side of the field get it done time in and time out. So, there’s no issues when it comes to being short. You think about being more frail — I think in the NFL, you can’t even land hard on quarterbacks anymore anyway or it’s a penalty. So, that’s not going to be a big issue. . . . Expect Bryce Young to be, possibly, the No. 1 pick.”

Along with the Panthers’ need at quarterback, Davis has some other ideas for Carolina’s draft plans.

“I think with the loss of DJ Moore, you’ve got to do something at the wide receiver spot,” Davis said. “You’ve got to do something opposite (pass rusher) Brian Burns, when it comes to getting after the quarterback. So, those are areas of need, that first and foremost, we have to address. I feel like we made a huge step last year with the offensive line — having that continuity — drafting Ickey (Ekwonu). He turned out to be a really, really good draft pick, and he’s only going to continue to get better. So, I think, without a doubt, you add another wide receiver, you add some (pass) rush help, and we’re on our way.”

Davis has a busy schedule on Day 1 of the draft.

After he throws his second first pitch for the Knights, he will sign autographs for Panthers and Knights fans at Truist Field. Ten58 Sports Bar & Lounge will also be hosting a draft party next door.

And while he is excited about the first overall pick, Davis is also looking forward to the festivities that’ll take place in and around Bank of America Stadium on draft night.

“For me, it’s all about getting the fan base excited,” Davis said. “People are going to be excited about the Knights game, they’re going to be excited about what the Panthers are getting ready to do with this draft, and to be the start of that — it’s an amazing opportunity for me, and I’m really looking forward to that. I want to make sure I’m doing it in the right way.”