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Panthers trade up for a quarterback in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft

The Panthers “instantly become a must-watch offense every Sunday” with pick.

NFL Combine - Day 2

Mel Kiper is predicting that the Carolina Panthers will make a daring move in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Kiper, who unveiled his new mock draft on Tuesday, predicts that the Panthers will acquire the No. 3 pick in the draft from Miami to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In return, the Dolphins would move down to No. 8 and acquire what could be a 2022 first- or second-round pick (plus more considerations). With a loaded quarterback class, Miami is in a great position to trade down a few spots and still fill its needs, notes Kiper.

The draft guru calls it “a win-win trade for both teams.”

Here’s what Kiper wrote on the pick:

We’ve seen the Panthers be aggressive to try to add a quarterback this offseason — in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes — and it’s clear that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t their long-term answer at the position. I think the top four quarterbacks will be off the board by the time Carolina picks at No. 8, which means it is going to have to keep up that aggressiveness if Matt Rhule & Co. like Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Fields could be eased in as the starter, and he’ll have a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver with DJ Moore. The Panthers would instantly become a must-watch offense every Sunday.

Fields led his team to the College Football Playoff National Championship in January, losing to Alabama 52-24. He was also a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019.

Fields threw for 2,100 yards and reached the endzone 27 times over eight games in a shortened 2021 season.

The year before that he threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns, and added another 10 scores on the ground.

Carolina brought in Teddy Bridgewater to take over the passing reigns last season. Bridgewater, a Pro Bowler back in 2015, had spent the previous two seasons in New Orleans as Drew Brees’ backup.

Bridgewater threw for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over 15 games in 2021. He added five scores on the ground.

The Panthers have the No. 8 overall pick in the draft after dropping nine of their final 11 games of the season to finish at 5-11.