Bryce Young was the best quarterback in the draft, so the team's bold trade for the No. 1 overall pick has a real chance to succeed. Jonathan Mingo was an excellent value in the second round and DJ Johnson could blossom as an edge rusher in time.
The Panthers only had two Saturday picks due to trades. Chandler Zavala is a powerful blocker who adds depth to the Panthers' offensive line. Jammie Robinson's instincts and agility will earn him playing time as a rookie.
They only landed five players and, hey, second-round WR Jonathan Mingo and/or fifth-round S Jammie Robinson could be winning lottery tickets. Naturally, this was all about the bold move following the scouting combine to pry the No. 1 pick from the Bears and turn it into former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. And GM Scott Fitterer, HC Frank Reich and owner David Tepper – had they not surrendered a slew of picks and WR DJ Moore – probably would have lost out had they not perhaps overpaid as early as they did. With Tepper's long-awaited QB1 finally in place, should be fun to see what Young can do – especially in a division that seems eminently winnable.
The Panthers received an A the second they submitted their draft card with Young's name on it. Carolina has its franchise quarterback and the team didn't waste time providing him with help. Mingo could develop into a quality downfield threat because of his sizable catch radius and sturdy hands. Some viewed Mingo as a reach pick, but his skillset will fit with wideouts DJ Chark and Adam Thielen. Johnson is long and explosive, similar to his new teammate Brian Burns. Robinson could help at safety with Jeremy Chinn possibly moving to linebacker. — G.M.
GM Scott Fitterer and new offensive-minded coach Frank Reich paid a steep price trading up with the Bears (including wide receiver D.J. Moore), but this grade reflects heavily how Young, despite the size concerns, has the "it" factor to live up to being an elite all-around QB. Mingo and Johnson were some real reaches for depth needs, but the Panthers closed well with value in Zavala and Robinson.
First and foremost, the Panthers got their franchise QB in Bryce Young and gave him an explosive weapon in Jonathan Mingo. They also scored exceptional value on Day 3, getting a potential starting guard in Chander Zavala and a versatile DB in Jammie Robinson.
The only major reach on Carolina's draft card was DJ Johnson in Round 3, but even he has the athletic tools that Ejiro Evero can work with. The Panthers' brass has a lot to be happy about.
Day 1: Carolina moved up to No. 1 overall and secured their potential franchise quarterback. Despite concerns about his size, Young was the top QB on the PFF big board, and his 92.9 passing grade led all players at the position over the past two seasons.
Day 2: Mingo was one of the biggest risers in the pre-draft process and finds himself in Carolina to team up with top pick Bryce Young. While his production in college was spotty, he has a good blend of size and athleticism to like his fit here with the Panthers. Not to mention, he flashed often on tape between unbelievable body adjustments and clean wins at the line of scrimmage.
This is one of the bigger reaches so far based on the PFF big board, with Johnson coming in at 237th overall. The Panthers are taking a swing on Johnson's athleticism on the edge (4.49-second 40-yard dash at 261 pounds). He's a 24-year-old prospect who recorded fewer than 50 career pressures on 786 defensive snaps in college.
Day 3: The Panthers have invested in improving their offensive line over the last several seasons and continue to do so with Zavala here. He played just over 1,000 snaps in the FBS but earned an 86.5 PFF pass-blocking grade last season and adds some explosiveness to the interior of their offensive line.
Carolina adds another defensive back for new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero to deploy in a deep secondary unit. Robinson's 16.0% forced incompletion rate illustrates his playmaking ability at the catch point when targeted. He plays fast, but that sometimes results in a missed tackle, with his 7.4% missed tackle rate on the high side.
Draft Grade: B+
View photos of Bryce Young, Jonathan Mingo, DJ Johnson, Chandler Zavala and Jammie Robinson as the Panthers' 2023 draft class.