Carolina Panthers Hope Rookie Quarterback Can Start Right Away

The Carolina Panthers made one of the most dramatic moves in NFL Draft history when they traded with the Chicago Bears to acquire the first overall pick in this year's draft, and they're not shy about their intentions of nabbing a franchise passer. Speaking with reporters Monday, head coach Frank Reich revealed his intention of feeding their rookie quarterback reps in order to prepare him for starting right away.

The Panthers traded multiple first-round picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore in order for the right to have the first choice in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they've yet truly to tip their hand as to who they intend to take. Declaring that they hope their rookie passer can start right away may suggest they're leaning toward a more polished product, which may favor Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud.

There was a time teams resisted playing first-overall pick quarterbacks right away. Typically, teams drafting first overall don't have the talent in place necessary for a young passer to flourish. But the Panthers are an unusually competent team to be drafting this high: they finished 7-10 last season. Few first-overall picks have entered the NFL with a more realistic chance at immediate success. 

Starting first-overall pick quarterbacks right away has become increasingly common: the last three passers to be drafted with the top pick (Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray) were all Week 1 starters. The Panthers are no strangers to the practice: they gave Cam Newton the keys to the offense immediately after drafting him first overall in 2011, and he rewarded them with an Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign and a top-five scoring offense. 

Photo Credit: © Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports