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One final defense if the Panthers select QB Bryce Young No. 1 overall

The Panthers have reportedly not decided on who they will draft first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here is one final defense if they decide to go where all signs are currently pointing.

Syndication: USA TODAY Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Panthers have a decision to make on Thursday, a decision they haven’t publicly announced they’ve figured out just yet.

While the team is obviously taking a quarterback, who that is going to be is a hotly contested topic among Draft and fan circles alike. At first CJ Stroud seemed like the consensus pick, then Bryce Young quickly picked up steam over the last week or so. Heck, even Will Levis entered the conversation on Tuesday over a rumor he was telling friends and family the Panthers were going to take him. It has been an exhausting lead up to the draft for this reason. However, my take is simple; don’t overthink this.

Bryce Young entered the offseason as the consensus number one ranked quarterback for a reason. Via Next Gen Stats, they have him graded as one of only two elite graded offensive players in this draft, the second being running back Bijan Robinson.

While he’s got his issues as both the smallest quarterback to be drafted in the top 10 in quite awhile and not possessing the elite arm strength that you’d like to see in the top pick, Young mitigates those factors with his high end processing ability and work inside the pocket. He was able to win games and make plays despite not having the high end talent around him you’re typically used to seeing from an Alabama quarterback prospect. He can make all the throws necessary to be effective in the NFL, and keep drives going. You know what the Panthers have lacked at quarterback since Cam Newton’s best days? A quarterback who keeps the offense on schedule.

I see why fans clamor for CJ Stroud, as he has the better arm and appears to be more accurate. I see why some fans clamor for Anthony Richardson, as we haven’t seen an all around athlete quite like him in an very long time. Young is worse in both departments, as he is not the same thrower as Stroud and not the same athlete as Richardson. However, Young showed the ability consistently in college to make plays outside of structure and to make big boy throws when he needed to. Bryce Young is simply a play maker, and one who will command the offense from day one with his mental ability and as a player who is consistent at keeping the offense moving on schedule while showing he can make a play when a wrench gets thrown into the offense’s face.

I wouldn’t be upset with Stroud or even Richardson as the top pick, but I believe with the first overall pick, you have to go with the guy who shows you everything you want in a franchise quarterback before he even steps on the field. You have a quarterback who threw for over 8,000 yards and 79 TDs in his last two seasons at Alabama, a school where you will face great teams. He’s shown his high end processing ability both pre-snap and during his progressions after the snap. All of that shows me that he will be the quickest to acclimate to the chaos that is being a rookie quarterback, and one that can stay poised when he will likely see schemes and packages he didn’t sniff in college.

I want the mentals in a rookie quarterback, I want poise, and I want someone who will quickly become a leader (of men as Ron Rivera would say) to be the quarterback of my team. While I know both Stroud and Richardson likely also have that ability, the one I see it with the most and in spades is Young. I see a quarterback ready to take the field right away. I see someone who has the “it factor” that the quarterbacks of this day and age often need to have to elevate the team around them. My only concern is durability, but I believe if the pick ends up being Young, then this vaunted coaching staff isn’t worried about that. In which case, neither am I.

So while this is all simply a projection, and none of us will really know anything until week 1 or later, I do firmly believe that they should not overthink it. Bryce Young walked in as the best overall quarterback in this draft as a prospect despite the flaws identified in his game, and he should be the first pick.

What are your thoughts, Panthers fans?