The Carolina Panthers have the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Which direction should they go with a pick inside the top ten? As I type these words, the Panthers are still immersed in the Sean Payton sweepstakes. While the chances of the team landing Payton seem to dwindle with each passing day, it’s clear that the franchise is wanting a serious change to help bring them back to life.
Matt Rhule was fired in the beginning of the 2022 season, which then paved the way for interim head coach Steve Wilks to take over. He managed to guide the team to a 6-6 finish and kept them in the division hunt for the remainder of the season.
The NFC South is an interesting case for a couple of reasons, and I think these reasons could be why the Panthers take a certain route with their ninth overall pick:
- Carolina has the best roster in the division, given Tom Brady leaves Tampa Bay
- The division appears to be wide open for 2023 and beyond
- Adding a veteran quarterback to this roster would about guarantee a playoff spot
Carolina’s roster is better than people think. Their defense has studs like Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, and Jaycee Horn, and their offense features and improved offensive line and good weapons like DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall, and Laviska Shenault.
To me, the team should consider adding a quality veteran quarterback like Derek Carr, and should consider doing these three things with their top pick:
Carolina Panthers: 3 options with their top pick in ’23
Trade up for the long-term quarterback answer
Carolina does not have a long-term answer at quarterback in the building, so the most logical conclusion here is that they use their ninth overall pick to trade up for one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
However, could there be a scenario where one of them falls into their lap? Maybe, but not likely. The likely scenario is that the first five or so picks should see the top quarterback talent get taken, so Carolina should shoot for that range for their long-term answer.
Add another weapon on offense
The team needs some production out of the tight end spot and another wide receiver. Trading Christian McCaffrey did eliminate some production on the ground and through the air, so adding someone to the offense will only boost that unit’s talent and make it easier for a potential new quarterback to come in and play well.
I don’t think offensive line is in play here, as they have two solid tackles in Taylor Moton and Ikey Ekwonu, and their interior is competent.
I also do not believe they have urgent needs on defense, so adding an offensive player here might be the smart move.
Trade down for more capital
Round 1, Pick 9 overall
Round 2, Pick 39 overall
Round 2, Pick 60 overall (from SF)
Round 3, Pick 92 overall (from SF)
Round 4, Pick 111 overall
Round 4, Pick 128 overall (from SF)
Round 5, Pick 142 overall
Round 7, Pick 225 overall (from BUF)
Having four picks inside of the top 100 is insane, and if the team wants to further boost their capital, they could always trade down if their guy is not there at ninth overall. More dart throws equals more of a chance to hit a bullseye.
Turning that ninth overall pick into something in the teens while adding a day two pick or more might be the a good bet for them. They could also take a chance on a quarterback in the second or third round, for example, if they were to acquire someone like Derek Carr.
The way I see it, the Panthers are in great shape.