The Carolina Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That pick alone may come to define Frank Reich’s inaugural class in Carolina, but a strong performance overall could truly change the trajectory of this franchise. Using the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, let’s conduct another Panthers 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
Latest Carolina Panthers 2023 NFL Mock Draft
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State | Round 1, Pick 1
If the Panthers have a preference at No. 1 overall, they’re playing it close to the chest. They were present at all three notable pro days last week — C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Will Levis — and they’ll be doing their homework on Anthony Richardson as well.
None of those four can be ruled out at this point, but I still think Stroud is the best fit for Frank Reich’s offense. Input Stroud in that offense, behind a strong line and with a veteran-laden receiving corps, and he should be able to hit the ground running with his football IQ, layering ability, and natural accuracy.
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State | Round 2, Pick 39
After bringing in Ejiro Evero from Denver, it’s likely that the Panthers will adopt his attacking 3-4 scheme. They already have the personnel for the 3-4 alignment, but Carolina could use more EDGE talent opposite Brian Burns, as their pass rush is lacking outside of him.
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In Round 2, Will McDonald IV is a phenomenal target for Evero’s scheme. At 6’4″, 239 pounds, with near-35″ arms, McDonald has length for days, and he’s also an elite athlete. His 11″ broad jump and 6.79 three-cone are indicators of his defining athletic traits — burst, agility, and flexibility, all of which he uses to terrorize pass protectors.
Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State | Round 3, Pick 93
In DJ Chark and Adam Thielen, the Panthers have a solid X-Z combination, and Terrace Marshall Jr. still provides upside in the rotation. But Carolina needs a completing piece — a versatile slot-ready receiver with the speed, burst, and route-running nuance to take advantage of space.
Jayden Reed fits that description perfectly in Round 3. On top of it all, he’s an elite catcher of the football, with acrobatic ability in the air and sure hands.
Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas | Round 4, Pick 114
Moro Ojomo is one of my favorite prospects projected to fall to Day 3, and especially in Evero’s defensive scheme, he has an exciting projection as a versatile 3-4 end. Alongside Derrick Brown and Shy Tuttle, Ojomo can wreak havoc in both phases with his combination of explosiveness (33″ vertical) and raw power (34.5″ arms at 6’3″, 293 pounds). In 2022, Evero helped mold a similar athlete — Dre’Mont Jones — into a star in Denver.
Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri | Round 4, Pick 132
The Panthers might want to double-up at EDGE in the 2023 NFL Draft. Burns is scheduled to be a free agent in 2024, along with Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes.
On Day 3, it’d be prudent to invest in a high-upside talent like Isaiah McGuire. McGuire has the size, length, and power of a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end, but he also has the burst, twitch, and ankle flexion to rush from outside alignments in Evero’s scheme.
Jay Ward, DB, LSU | Round 5, Pick 145
The Panthers need cornerback depth, and it wouldn’t hurt to have versatile players in the depth wing, either. Jay Ward provides that. Ward can play boundary cornerback, nickel, or as a field safety.
At 6’1″, 188 pounds, with 32.5″ arms, he has great athleticism, as evidenced by his 11″ broad jump. Ward is fluid, physical in support, and provides exceptional utility this late.