Will The Carolina Panthers Regret Passing On CJ Stroud?

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Any quarterbacks who are selected with back-to-back picks in the NFL Draft are going to be compared for the entirety of their careers, for better or for worse. The Class of 2023 will be no different, as the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans both selected pass throwers at the top of the most recent draft, linking Bryce Young and CJ Stroud to one another and inviting years of comparisons.

Should The Panthers Have Selected CJ Stroud Over Bryce Young?

The returns haven’t been great for the Panthers so far, especially given how Stroud has performed for the Texans.

The Chicago Bears were the original owners of the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They dealt the pick away with hopes that they already had their franchise quarterback on their roster, and the Panthers gave up more than a handful of assets in order to acquire it. Carolina sent two first round picks, two second round picks, and the rights to #1 wide receiver DJ Moore to Chicago, and then turned around and made Alabama quarterback Bryce Young the first player taken off of the board.

Waiting in the wings with the second pick were the Houston Texans, and they opted for a quarterback as well. CJ Stroud out of Ohio State ended up being the pick, and through the first 9 weeks of the 2023 NFL season, it looks as though Stroud may have been the smarter pick at #1.

Young hasn’t been completely terrible. He entered Sunday’s action with seven touchdown passes to four interceptions, and had 200+ yards in each of his previous four games. He has looked like your typical rookie quarterback who is enduring the struggles of his first season in the league, and there isn’t any big cause for panic in Carolina.

But it is hard to ignore how well CJ Stroud has played, and the gap between the two players widened significantly in Week 9.

Stroud Widened The Gap In Week 9

Stroud and the Texans played in the early window on Sunday, and the rookie had the best day of his young career. He threw for an impressive 470 yards (a rookie record) and 5 touchdowns on the day, and was mistake-free, finishing with 0 interceptions as well. One of those touchdowns came in the final seconds, and ended up being the game-winning throw that improved Houston’s record to 4-4.

As Stroud finished up with his career-best day, Young was getting started on his career-worst. In a 14-point loss to the Colts, Young threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Kenny Moore II. He completed 24 of his 39 throws, and was sacked 4 times. He finished the day with a QBR of 11.2.

There is still plenty of time left in the current season for Young to make adjustments and improvements, and we are just scratching the surface of his time in the league. But the early returns may have the Panthers regretting their decision to select him ahead of Stroud, especially given the current direction of both franchises.
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