Carolina Panthers could make surprising NFL Draft decision after trade

The Carolina Panthers could select Anthony Richardson with the first overall pick in next month’s 2023 NFL Draft. The Panthers are set to pick their franchise quarterback after trading a haul to the Chicago Bears for the right to pick first, with four potential options standing out.

Ahead of next month’s draft, the Panthers made a huge jump nine places and have their pick of the talent. The franchise traded the ninth overall pick, the 61st overall pick, a 2024 first-round selection and a 2025 second-round selection as well as star receiver DJ Moore to the Bears.

Last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis saw a strong showing from the quarterback class with Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Anthony Richardson of Florida all receiving rave reviews either from the workouts or interview process. Richardson is perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the four after he showcased his raw ability at the combine. 

Carolina owner David Tepper, general manager Scott Fitterer and new head coach Frank Reich were clearly willing to move pieces to get one of the leading prospects on offer – and it appears to be for Richardson. According to reports, Reich ‘loves’ Richardson and may utilise the top pick on the Florida Gators quarterback. 

Richardson is flying up draft boards after impressing at the combine, which isn’t uncommon as teams traditionally fall for raw talents based on their athleticism showcased at the annual event. In the 2023 draft class, few possess the physical traits Richardson does. 

Richardson even claimed he has always identified with Panthers icon and 2015 MVP Cam Newton, an exciting quarterback who can beat defences with both their arms and their legs. The 21-year-old showed off his speed by clocking a 4.43 second 40-yard dash time, which wowed those in attendance. 

Ultimately, Richardson is an incredibly raw talent. He started just 13 games for the Gators – 12 of those in 2022 as a redshirt sophomore – while he passed for 2,549 yards last season along with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 654 yards and nine scores as a rushing threat. 

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His ceiling as a prospect is undeniably high but there’s also a floor to his talents. Richardson’s inconsistent throwing mechanics and worrying inaccuracy saw him complete just 55% of his passes during his time in college – but NFL franchises are intrigued.

Richardson wants to leave a legacy in the NFL and his confidence combined with his athleticism makes it hard to deny. He told reporters: “I want to be a legend. I want to be like Patrick Mahomes, I want to be like Tom Brady. I want to be one of the greats – I will be one of the greats.

“Just watching different films, watching Joe Burrow, watching Justin Herbert, watching Josh Allen last year with my coaches – I feel like I’m able to do those same things that those guys are able to do. They’re great on their teams, so I’m ready to get on my team and get in my system and become great just like those guys.”

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