Young? Stroud? Panthers reach consensus on first draft pick

CHARLOTTE. NC (AP) — Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich says he and general manager Scott Fitterer have agreed on which quarterback the team will select with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

But Reich says the team won’t announce who it is until Thursday night when the draft begins.

The Panthers are picking between Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson in a bid to improve a quarterback position in transition for five seasons.

Fitterer said last week that he waited to ask Reich who he preferred to No. 1 so that nothing clouded the judgment of either decision-maker. But on Monday, Fitterer finally walked into Reich’s office and asked the question of who he prefers – and the two agreed on the same QB.

“It was kind of like a proposal – and I said yes,” Reich joked Tuesday. “But there is consensus and we are delighted.”

Young remains the heavy favorite to be the first Panthers QB selected No. 1 overall since Cam Newton in 2011, according to FanDuel Sportsbookalthough Levis edged out Stroud.

He’s a hugely important pick for Carolina, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017, largely due to inconsistency at the QB position.

Reich praised Fitterer and the scouts for keeping an open mind throughout the process.

“We all went into this with ideas and inclinations, but there are ebbs and flows in the process,” Reich said. “Is there a change of heart? I wouldn’t say there’s a drastic change of heart, but there are ups and downs on how much you like a guy. And that is why we must resist the temptation to decide too soon.

“The coaches and scouting staff have done a good job of not falling into this trap and taking it for what it is, taking it day to day, watching the tape and going through the process.”

Reich said the team’s coaching staff’s beliefs about who to take “built incrementally” over time.

With the first pick decided, Reich said the team is now focusing its attention on its other five picks in the first five rounds of the draft, including the 39th overall pick.

“We’re thinking about that 39th pick and 93rd pick of all scenarios – (trade) up, (trade) down, or stay there,” Reich said. “What if (that guy) is there; and if it is not. Hey, tell us how this guy fits into the plan. These were dynamic discussions and I think we are prepared for these scenarios. » ___


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