Panthers Not Receiving Calls On No. 1 Pick; Team Down To Two QBs?


It would be unusual for a team to acquire the No. 1 overall pick and then trade out of that slot, but the Panthers did obtain this draft pick several weeks ago. And the team was believed to be comfortable with multiple options in this year’s draft.

But nothing is pointing to Carolina moving back again. The Panthers have not received calls on the No. 1 pick, per David Newton of (on Twitter). Sticking at No. 1 will affect the team’s quarterback search, which still may be a Bryce Young-or-C.J. Stroud call.

Anthony Richardson was on Carolina’s “30” visit schedule, and the Florida product’s athletic profile has generated extensive buzz during the pre-draft process. A report earlier Thursday indicated Richardson remains in the mix for the Panthers at 1. But a Richardson-at-1 plan does not appear to be universally viewed as realistic. The Panthers would likely only consider Richardson if they traded down, per Newton. Given the boom-or-bust strings attached to Richardson — a one-year Florida starter who completed less than 54% of his throws during that slate — it would be a massive risk to bet on the athletic prospect’s upside at No. 1.

Stroud is still scheduled to visit the Panthers on Tuesday, and ESPN’s Matt Miller said he joins Young in having “serious support” in Carolina’s building. But Young has overtaken the two-year Ohio State starter as the favorite. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. swapped the QBs on his most recent mock draft, sliding Stroud down to Houston at No. 2. The growing Panthers-Young connection should still be viewed as an indicator of where this process will end up, Newton adds (on Twitter).

Still, NFL execs, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, view Stroud as the clear-cut second-best QB in this year’s draft who brings prototypical size (6-foot-3) compared to the 5-10 Young. The two-year Crimson Tide starter graded as the polled execs’ most pro-ready passer available. Richardson and Will Levis, who will visit Carolina along with Stroud but is not believed to be in consideration for the Panthers, reside a tier below Young and Stroud here.

The Texans were deep in discussions about moving into the No. 1 slot, and the Bears were interested in a trade that would have seen them drop from 1 to 2 to 9. Houston backed out, but the Panthers and Texans’ involvement in those talks point to the NFC South team being open to multiple QBs and the AFC South franchise clearly preferring one. How the Texans proceed at No. 2 will become more interesting after the Panthers make their choice. It should be expected Carolina is closing in on a consensus, but with the NFL preferring to keep fans in suspense, the pick’s identity may not emerge until Roger Goodell reads the card.

Houston holds intriguing draft capital to move up, having two first- and third-round picks this year and two firsts in 2024, and Carolina did part with a lot to acquire this year’s top pick. Still, dealing such a package — one that included D.J. Moore — and then being fine with the second-best QB in this year’s draft would invite unnecessary risk into the retooled team’s draft. For teams interested in moving up, the Texans may entertain trade offers. The Cardinals are already doing so, with at least six teams having spoken with Arizona about the No. 3 choice.