Peter King lays out scenario where Panthers could flip first overall pick in NFL Draft

By , Audacy Sports

The Carolina Panthers recently made waves by acquiring the first overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft from the Chicago Bears.

But are the Panthers done wheeling and dealing? A longtime NFL insider isn't so sure.

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According to Peter King of NBC Sports, there are whispers that the Panthers may be infatuated with former Florida Gators dual-threat quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Richardson is one of the more polarizing players in this draft, and is widely regarded as a boom-or-bust prospect, with both a very high ceiling and a very low floor.

While King, writing in this week's "Football Morning in America" column for NBC Sports, isn't yet sold that the Panthers have settled on Richardson, he believes that they would be willing to trade out of the top spot if in fact they do land on him as their preferred target:

Trading to number one and choosing Richardson might turn out to be brilliant. But picking Richardson number one after dealing five prime pieces for him is a major risk.

However, if Richardson become The Guy, I expect Carolina to consider a minor trade-down. This would be tricky. When teams make draft trades, the team trading up doesn’t usually admit who the player target is. In this case, the Panthers, if trading from one to, say, Houston at two, would have to be assured the Texans weren’t taking the quarterback Carolina wants. That would require some trust, obviously. Going much beyond two would be a chancy venture.

The Panthers acquired the No. 1 pick from Chicago on Friday, in exchange for wide receiver D.J. Moore, two first-round picks, and two second-round picks.

Carolina has been seeking its next franchise quarterback since the decline and eventual departure of Cam Newton. The Panthers' move up to the top spot all but assured they would eventually select one of the top signal-callers in this year's draft - either Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, or Richardson.

Among them, Young and Stroud are generally considered to comprise a top tier, though there are some mild concerns about Young's relatively diminutive stature ( he was measured at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine).

Levis seems to have prototypical size and arm strength, but his production in college was underwhelming, while Richardson, who is relatively raw as a one-year starter in Gainesville, has the size and speed combo that makes scouts drool.

But as King notes, Panthers head coach Frank Reich throughout his career has coached on teams that seem to prefer bigger quarterbacks, which might indicate a preference for someone other than Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.

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