Mar 13, 2023 - Sports

Panthers trade up with eye on "Big Four"

Photo illustration of CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Andy Lyons, Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire, Sean Gardner, Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bears and Panthers shook up the National Football League draft on Friday, with Chicago sending the No. 1 pick to Carolina in exchange for the No. 9 pick, a 2024 first-round pick, wide receiver D.J. Moore and two second-round picks.

Why it matters: This is just the seventh time since 1990 — and third time this century — that a team has traded up for the No. 1 overall pick.

  • 2016: Los Angeles Rams acquire No. 1 pick from Tennessee Titans, draft quarterback Jared Goff
  • 2001: Atlanta Falcons acquire No. 1 pick from San Diego Chargers, draft quarterback Michael Vick
  • 1997: Then-St. Louis Rams acquire No. 1 pick from New York Jets, draft offensive tackle Orlando Pace
  • 1995: Cincinnati Bengals acquire No. 1 pick from Panthers, draft running back Ki-Jana Carter
  • 1991: Dallas Cowboys acquire No. 1 pick from New England Patriots, draft defensive tackle Russell Maryland*
  • 1990: Indianapolis Colts acquire No. 1 pick from Falcons, draft quarterback Jeff George

State of play: The Panthers will reportedly use the next seven weeks to decide which of the "Big Four" QBs they want: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis?

  • Stroud (Ohio State) is the favorite at sportsbooks and among NFL insiders, who think he's "bigger than Young, more accurate than Richardson and more of a playmaker than Levis," per The Athletic ($).
  • Young (Alabama) is No. 1 in the latest consensus big board and widely considered the most NFL-ready QB in this class. But the 5-foot-10 Heisman winner would be one of the shortest passers ever drafted.
  • Richardson (Florida) blew up the combine and is the type of talent who can convince teams to make a big move. But there are concerns about his inexperience (13 starts) and inaccuracy (53.8% completion percentage).
  • Levis (Kentucky) is the least likely of the four QBs to go No. 1 overall, but his rocket arm and prototypical size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) will keep him in the conversation.

*The Cowboys traded up to try to sign Notre Dame star Raghib "Rocket" Ismail after the Patriots failed. But when he spurned the NFL to sign a huge deal with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, Dallas ended up with Maryland instead.

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