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Did the Panthers screw up not drafting CJ Stroud? 

The Carolina Panthers are abysmal, sitting at 0-5, it feels like the season is already lost.

Cam Newton isn’t coming back to reignite the locker room, Steve Wilks isn’t around to rally the troops, there isn’t a spark in sight. Frank Reich looks way over his head; the play calling is basic and redundant, the staff has struggled getting the right personnel onto the field at times, and Bryce Young is being asked to do too much.

Carolina has structural problems that one person couldn’t fix, but the question continues to arise, whether or not the Panthers should’ve taken CJ Stroud at number one. 

If you think it’s way too soon for this conversation and it feels a little ridiculous, I can dig it, but five weeks in and here we are. 

Personally I think Stroud was the best option and should’ve been the first pick. What  stings the most is that Young was firmly billed as the “most ready prospect” at the QB position. It’s almost as if we were expecting some seamless transition, a world where Bryce Young could carry a mediocre supporting cast in year one. However that’s just not feasible, a rookie is going to be a rookie, yes Stroud is off to a hot start. 

He broke the record for most pass attempts without an interception for a rookie, 186  completions and counting. Through five games Stroud has thrown for 1461 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions, and he’s probably got the most popular touchdown dance in the league. Stroud and the Texans are 2-3 on the year, they’ve looked much more competitive than the Panthers.

Through five games Young has thrown for 750 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. Individually Stroud is playing better but he’s also been put in a better situation to succeed more so than Young has. 

The Texans have a good coach who believes in his guy under center, the playbook has been laid wide open for Stroud, he has more explosive weapons at the skills positions, and there is actual structure around him. Everyone in the organization seems to be on the same page.

Houston drafted well and their young players are producing, they also have veterans making a positive impact and providing leadership.

On the other side Young has seen dysfunction, he’s constantly forced to kill initial play calls from the staff, he’s shown the ability to make pre snap adjustments, that’s one area where Young has looked comfortable. 

We mentioned the line isn’t good, he doesn’t have a number one receiver, (maybe Jerry Jeudy is on the horizon), however we have to point out that Young is experiencing his own growing pains too.

Defenses are baiting him like we saw the Detroit Lions do, where Young was picked off twice, he’s held the ball too long at times causing avoidable sacks and fumbles. Young has to be more precise throwing the ball in tight windows, he’s got to put more velocity on throws. That’s part of adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and professional defenders. 

We see the flashes though, we see the competitiveness and the resiliency, what could be if this thing comes together. Young threw three touchdowns against a pretty stout Detroit defense, no other quarterback they’ve faced has thrown more than two touchdowns, including Patrick Mahomes.

Young can command this offense, they are capable of moving the ball and putting up points, but they have to learn how to put four quarters together.   

All in all Young is talented, he’s got what it takes to be a franchise guy in this league, anyone who’s watched the Panthers this year can see that much.

 Carolina has to do better by their quarterback, they need to push Andy Dalton to be more of a mentor if that hasn’t been established, they have to open the playbook up for Young to give him a true fighting chance. They have to play to his strengths and utilize his mobility, get more creative with his skillset.

No matter who the Panthers drafted at #1 they weren’t going to miraculously turn a struggling franchise around with obvious holes, and lack of talent to be frank with just one player.

Bryce Young just happened to be the dealer’s choice.






NFL/Carolina Panthers


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