The Panthers have made it clear that they are in the market for a quarterback this offseason, which gives mock drafters plenty of reason to try and predict which quarterback they will take with the No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In his latest mock draft for ESPN (ESPN+ subscription required), Todd McShay takes a different approach and has the Panthers trading up to No. 3 overall to grab their guy before he is taken by someone else.
Carolina is closer to competing than its 5-11 record suggested, and a real game-breaker under center would go a long way toward getting the Panthers there. Teddy Bridgewater was more of a game manager last season, especially down the stretch, throwing only four more touchdowns than interceptions. Fields can make off-schedule throws or tuck it and run, but he has shown poise when he hangs in the pocket too. Accuracy pops on his deep balls.
I should note here that Trevor Lawrence was drafted No. 1 by the Jaguars (duh) and Zach Wilson was taken at No. 2 by the Jets.
Depending on who you ask, Fields is seen as either the second, third or fourth-best quarterback prospect in this year’s class, but he is almost unanimously in the top five* and it makes perfect sense that the Panthers would have to move up in the draft order if they wanted him. The chances of him falling to No. 8 are unlikely, so if he’s really the guy the Panthers want they’re going to have to pay to jump the line.
*- I can’t say with 100 percent conviction that he’s a unanimous top-five guy, because there’s always someone who will rank him lower. It happens every year.
I think it’s perfectly reasonable to predict the Panthers will trade up to get a potential franchise quarterback if they believe in the prospect and are worried he won’t last until the No. 8 pick. My only minor quibble with McShay’s pick is I don’t think the Panthers would be willing to trade up for Justin Fields. I’m not taking anything away from Fields here — I think he’s one of the top prospects in this year’s draft class — but I don’t think he’s as high on the Panthers’ board as McShay does. I don’t have any inside information so I could be wrong, but that’s just my gut feeling.
Do I think trading up for Fields is a good idea? I think it ultimately depends on what they have to give up to acquire him. Trading up to No. 3 overall would be costly, but if Fields becomes a franchise quarterback then it doesn’t matter what the Panthers had to give up. Getting a franchise quarterback and building a contender around him is the ultimate goal for every NFL team, and if they’re able to do that with Fields then it doesn’t really matter how many picks they have to trade away to make it happen. The one bright side to trading up in the draft instead of going after an established name (like Deshaun Watson) is that moving up five spots in the draft would be a lot cheaper. (Of course, they could have picked at No. 3 overall without having to trade up if not for ... ehhh, nevermind.)
What do you think of trading up to take Fields at No. 3, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts with us!
Would you trade up to No. 3 to draft Justin Fields?
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