We have about a week to wait before we know who the No. 1 overall pick will be in the 2023 NFL Draft, and as it turns out, even the team with the first selection says it isn't sure which name will get announced first. The Carolina Panthers have the first pick and still deciding which quarterback they want to add to their squad.
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer says they have some top choices, but have yet to finalize their draft board.
"Obviously, through this whole, since February, the combine, everything else, there's been some clarity," he said (via NFL.com). "But we've put a conscious effort to keep an open mind about this, be continuous throughout the process. We have the last kind of group in today. We have the coaches Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and at that point, we'll get together and kind of make that decision but we've got some clarity through this process."
The Panthers traded up to get the No. 1 pick and will be taking a quarterback, with multiple top prospects to choose from. It is looking like Carolina will pick Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud.
Young canceled the rest of his visits on Monday, making many think the Alabama product will be the Panthers pick. Fitterer denies telling Young that he is a lock for the first pick, but said he's glad the team is in the position it's in. Young's size, but the Panthers are adamant that it is not an issue. Fitterer said smaller players can learn to play to their strength.
"I'd hate being at No. 9 right now trying to figure this out," Fitterer said, referencing Carolina's former draft position.
The Panthers are hosting Stroud and Kentucky's Will Levis on Tuesday. Levis is expected to fall lower in the draft, but with the visit the team clearly has some interest in checking out the QB.
Whoever it ends up selecting, Carolina is making sure it sets realistic expectations for the rookie.
"It's not like we're expecting this quarterback to come in and instantly just make everything happen," Fitterer said, adding that becoming a star in the NFL does not happen overnight.
"Everything changes immediately. I mean, you've seen it with like Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen. It takes time. And you have to surround them with the right people and you have to surround them with the right coaching, but I think we've done that. We're not going to force this quarterback on the field. We're not going to ask him to do anything they can't do. We're going to ask them to just play their game and deliver the ball and make the right reads and make the right decisions. So for that reason, we have spent time doing that on that No. 1 spot."