2023 Carolina Panthers Mock Draft

Justin Ford/Getty Images

2023 Carolina Panthers Mock Draft

2023 NFL Draft

2023 Carolina Panthers Mock Draft


Justin Ford/Getty Images

There is a new team taking over the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and that is the Carolina Panthers. On March 10, the Chicago Bears traded the first pick to Carolina for the ninth overall pick, 61st overall pick, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and wide receiver D.J. Moore. With the trade to first, this is what the draft could look like for the Panthers.

*Mock draft simulated using the PFF Mock Draft Simulator. 


Round 1: Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama 

Quarterback is the area the Panthers need to address, and by trading up to first overall they have their pick of whoever they want under center. That pick ends up being Bryce Young. Over two seasons as the starter for the Crimson Tide, he completed 610 passes for over 8,000 yards and 79 touchdowns. What he also brings is rushing upside. Young is able to manipulate the pocket to avoid the pass rush while remaining poised. When he senses the pressing closing in, he takes off and can run, which was shown by his 594 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Young brings a dynamic to this offense that has been missing, and with his leadership, will be able to help the team excel right away.

Round 2: Josh Downs, Wide Receiver, North Carolina 

With trading away D.J. Moore, the Panthers need to add receiver help. At this spot, Downs was the top receiver left on the board and made perfect sense for this offense. Downs is a fast, shifty receiver who stretches the field quickly to put stress on opposing defenses. Downs has also been a quarterback’s best friend with how he can adjust to throws and manipulate defensive backs with his slight movements. Between 2021 and 2022 he had two back-to-back 1,000-plus receiving yard seasons and 19 touchdowns. Even in contested situations, Downs has done well hauling in 72% of them, showing that he is an all-around playmaker. 


Round 3: Karl Brooks, Edge, Bowling Green

Under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, he will most likely use multiple defenders in a rotation across the defensive line. Brooks has starter qualities and brings versatility. He has shown multiple times he has an excellent feel for working off blocks and playing with leverage effectively. His pass rush arsenal is extensive, as he wins with multiple counters. Brooks is coming off his best season with 69 pressures, 12 sacks, and 36 run stops. Brooks has plenty of athletic upside left to unlock as well and can develop into another young star. 


Round 4: Deuce Vaughn, Running Back, Kansas State

After trading Christian McCaffrey, there is a glaring need at the running back position for a starter. Vaughn is a decisive runner that displays good vision to work his way through traffic and hit a second gear to get upfield. He is even versatile as he has shown the ability as a receiver as he has been able to run multiple routes and is elusive with the ball in his hands. To put up back-to-back 1,400-plus rushing seasons and 350-plus receiving seasons, Vaughn is ready to be a playmaker in the NFL. 


Round 4: Dorian Williams, Linebacker, Tulane

Damien Wilson was released, and now Carolina needs depth at the linebacker position. Williams is a sideline-to-sideline player due to how fluid he moves in space. The instincts that he has as well allows him to get to the right gap to make a run stop, or cover effectively as well. Williams can struggle occasionally at the point of attack with his hand counters, as well as staying balanced. He will still provide depth value as a rookie, with the potential to develop into a starter down the line.


Round 5: Zack Kuntz, Tight End, Old Dominion 

The Panthers need more stability at the tight end position, and at this spot, Kuntz is an underrated tight end that can provide that. At Old Dominion, he had 836 yards over the last two seasons and eight touchdowns. He has advanced route running that allowed him to line up in the slot and out wide while providing mismatches with his 6’8, 245 pound size. That in addition to his 61.1% catch rate would greatly help a rookie quarterback. 

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