Expert Analysis


3 min read

Fitterer: Panthers Keeping Options Open at No. 1 Pick in NFL Draft

Scott Fitterer general manager Carolina Panthers
Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Carolna Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After trading for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers are keeping their plans close to the vest. In a news conference on Monday, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer wouldn't reveal which quarterback is at the top of Carolina's board but did say the team is working through multiple options.

"At the combine, we said, if we're going to go up, we better have conviction," Fitterer said. "We have conviction about players at the top that we feel good about. We're still going through the process. You're not going to make a move like that without having that pretty much cemented. Now, we're going through the process of talking to the players and getting to know them... We do feel good about the group up top."

Fitterer mentioned negotiations with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick started in a hotel at the NFL Combine last month. Fitterer met with Bears general manager Ryan Poles twice in Indianapolis and had three to four more conversations after the two returned from the event.

>> READ: Who Won Bears-Panthers Trade? 

The Panthers are expected to decide between Alabama's Bryce Young (scouting report), Ohio State's C.J. Stroud (scouting report), Florida's Anthony Richardson (scouting report) and Kentucky's Will Levis (scouting report) at the top of the draft.

The 33rd Team's latest mock draft has the Panthers select Stroud because he would fit well in new coach Frank Reich's offense.

Reich, who also spoke on Monday, said he likes all four of the top quarterback prospects.

"I think they all have really good traits," Reich said. "I'm excited about all of them. I love this for the NFL. You have four guys who are going to make an impact in this league. Every one of them will have a different journey."

Fitterer emphasized how the Panthers' activity in free agency will make the life of whichever quarterback they select easier. Carolina added running back Miles Sanders from the Eagles and tight end Hayden Hurst from the Bengals before bringing in veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen after the Vikings released him.

Thielen, who signed a three-year deal, started all 17 games for Minnesota in 2022, catching 70 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns. Sanders racked up 1,269 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season, while Hurst had 52 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns.

Whoever the Panthers take at No. 1 should have some solid options to work with from Day 1.

WATCH: Panthers Underpaid for No. 1 Pick