Are the Panthers smoking teams out from atop the 2023 NFL draft?

Love is in the air in Charlotte, N.C. . . . or maybe it’s just smoke.

Ever since the Carolina Panthers acquired the first overall pick of the 2023 NFL draft, they’ve been intimately linked to each of the class’ top three quarterbacks. Whether it’s Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Florida’s Anthony Richardson—there are, reportedly, butterflies abound in that front office for at least one of these kids.

Let’s take a look at the timeline of rumors and rumblings since the trade went down . . .

  • Friday: League insiders believe Panthers will draft CJ Stroud with No. 1 pick (Joe Person, The Athletic)

  • Saturday: There’s a belief that David Tepper loves Bryce Young, Frank Reich likes CJ Stroud (Adam Schefter, ESPN)

  • Saturday: There’s a “little buzz” about Panthers having interest in Anthony Richardson (Todd McShay, ESPN)

  • Monday: Frank Reich “loves” Anthony Richardson (Peter King, NBC Sports)

  • Monday: Panthers choosing between CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson (Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network)

  • Tuesday: Panthers are “really comfortable” with two quarterback prospects (Albert Breer, MMQB)

So, are they the promiscuous Panthers or the plotting Panthers? Do they really have an affinity for each of these players or are they leaking out misinformation to muddy the waters?

Well, one of those may be possible. Young, Stroud and Richardson all present their own appeal—as a poised playmaker, a polished passer and a potent prospect. (To those with an alliteration kink, you’re welcome.)

But at the same time, general manager Scott Fitterer is always in on every deal. If the braintrust really is comfortable with multiple quarterbacks, then why not try to spook the Houston Texans into thinking you’re taking “their guy” (whomever that may be) and force them to trade up from the No. 2 spot for some extra captial.

Or maybe, just maybe, they’re the pondering Panthers. Perhaps they aren’t exactly sure about who they love most yet. Perhaps the move up from No. 9 was more of a preemptive strike to assure themselves a shot at a franchise passer. And now, that they have the golden ticket, they’ll just take the next six weeks to decide.

Whatever the case may be, Carolina now controls the draft board—and that’s all they can really ask for.


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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire