After a disappointing 7-10 season and a coaching change, the Carolina Panthers have numerous areas to upgrade in the upcoming NFL Draft and improve their chances across North Carolina sports betting.
One of those areas will certainly be quarterback, where 35-year-old Andy Dalton is presently slated to be the signal caller. But Dalton is clearly a stop-gap, a veteran presence to help groom his replacement, and with quarterback-whisperer Frank Reich as the new head coach, it should be clear where the Panthers are headed with their top pick.
In a March trade with the Chicago Bears, the Panthers sent wide receiver D.J. Moore and four draft picks, including this year’s 9th pick, for the Bears No. 1 in order to guarantee a shot at the best quarterback available. Since the Bears appear happy with QB Justin Fields, getting a quality wide receiver and a slew of picks seemed a sensible move.
Conventional wisdom and incoming North Carolina betting apps say the first pick for Carolina in this year’s draft will be either C.J. Stroud of Ohio State or Bryce Young of Alabama, and fans favor Stroud by a margin of around 5%. Whomever the Panthers take at No. 1, the Houston Texans will likely pick the other guy at No. 2.
What are the differences between Stroud and Young? Let's take a look.
Who Do Panthers Fans Want At 1st Overall In NFL Draft?
Stroud The Betting Favorite, For Now
Let’s start with Stroud, who’s 21 years old and is the betting favorite at BetMGM Sportsbook to be the Panthers selection at -350. You won't be able to use it for the draft, but look for a BetMGM North Carolina bonus code as the state moves closer to legislation in the coming months.
At 6-3 and 214 pounds, Stroud was a two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist at Ohio State. He started 25 of 28 games for the Buckeyes and was 21-4. He completed 69.3% of his passes, throwing for 7,775 yards with 81 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. As a runner, Stroud had 1 carry as a freshman for a 48-yard TD. As a starter the following two years, he carried the ball 67 times for 54 yards.
Stroud ended his college career with a loss to eventual champion Georgia in the College Football Playoffs, but went out in style, throwing for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns in 42-41 barnburner.
He holds the Ohio State record for passing yards in a single game at 573.
Can Young Make Lasting Impression?
Bryce Young is also 21, and stands 5-10 and 194 pounds, a little small for today’s prototypical quarterback (Russell Wilson is 5-11 by comparison). He won the Heisman in 2021.
Young started 27 of 34 games at Alabama and finished with a 23-4 record. He completed 65.8% of his passes, but threw more than Stroud, and finished with 80 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, numbers almost identical to Stroud’s. Although Young showed quick feet in the pocket, his running totals were 139 attempts for 162 yards, a bit misleading because he did have some long runs balanced out by sneaks and sacks. He did score 7 touchdowns on the ground.
Young ended his college career with a 45-20 win over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. He holds the Alabama record for passing yards in a game with 559. At BetMGM, he is the second favorite to be picked by the Panthers at +225, a far cry from Stroud but well ahead of Florida's Anthony Richardson at +1000.
Richardson, a wildcard in this draft due to his uncanny athleticism, lacks the resume of both Stroud and Young but will likely be in play for the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 4 pick.
Who Goes No. 1?
Both Stroud and Young played at top-tier college programs against the nation’s best, and excelled under the bright lights. The biggest difference between them is size – Stroud has more of an NFL body.
But many NFL draft dreams have been dashed by quarterbacks who didn’t pan out, so there are no guarantees. The Panthers need to hope their due diligence is accurate and then their pick performs. It's as simple, and as hard, as that.
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Utilizing Survey Monkey, BetCarolina.com gathered 175 survey results from Carolina Panthers Reddit & Facebook groups to see who Panthers fans want their franchise to select with the 1st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.