Sunday, April 30, 2023

Carolina Panthers 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Carolina Panthers? What are they saying about the Panthers' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B

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. Mingo was an excellent value in the second round and Johnson could blossom as an edge rusher in time. Carolina sent a third-round pick to New England last year to pick quarterback Matt Corral, which has not paid off thus far.

The Panthers only had two Saturday picks due to trades. Zavala is a powerful blocker who adds depth to the Panthers' offensive line. Robinson's instincts and agility will earn him playing time as a rookie.

ESPN - Grade: B

After an offseason coaching change and a huge trade up the board to acquire the No. 1 overall pick, the Panthers have a fresh start and a new franchise quarterback. Bryce Young, my top-ranked passer in this class, can be a superstar. The 5-foot-10 passer processes the game so quickly and sees things before they happen. I've said before that if he were four inches taller, he'd have a similar grade as some of the best I've ever scouted. The reality is this pick has some risk because we've never seen a pocket passer under 6 feet tall have consistent success at the NFL level; Young is 2 inches shorter than Drew Brees. Young can maneuver the pocket and scramble better than Brees, but Young isn't a great runner like Kyler Murray, who also is 5-foot-10. This pick is going to be a litmus test for how NFL teams evaluate signal-callers going forward.

This Carolina roster has a ways to go, especially after losing wideout DJ Moore as part of the trade with Chicago. The organization gave up a 2024 first-rounder and a 2025 second-rounder in the deal too, and it had just five picks in this draft. Wide receiver Jonathan Mingo (39) is a big riser since the end of the season; he has a great mix of size and speed, and he is great after the catch. I'm lower on edge rusher DJ Johnson (80), who I thought went about two rounds too early. Chandler Zavala (114) could be an impact guard. Safety Jammie Robinson (145) had a stellar week of practices at the Senior Bowl in February. I like his potential.

This class is all about Young and what he becomes, but the 2024 first-rounder Carolina gave up looms large over the next year. If Young & Co. struggle, Chicago might have a top-five choice.

SI - Grade: A

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.

PFF - Grade: B+

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 Eviro Ejero 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.

Fox Sports - Grade: B

Points for being ambitious and paying a hefty price to move up to No. 1 for quarterback Bryce Young, taking control of the draft. But second-round WR Jonathan Mingo felt like a reach, and third-round edge DJ Johnson had nine sacks in six years of college football. This draft will ultimately be judged based on whether they correctly identified Young as the best of this year's quarterbacks. The rest is just a footnote.

USA Today - Grade: A-

They only landed five players and, hey, second-round WR Jonathan Mingo and/or fifth-round S Jammie Robinson could be winning lottery tickets. But 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 Ringer - Grade: B-

The Panthers secured their quarterback of the future in Alabama's Bryce Young at no. 1, and that's really all that matters here. While I love Young's college tape and think he has some special abilities as a processor, he is a historical outlier because of size, making him a very risky pick. The Panthers had the right idea on day two in trying to get Young some help with Ole Miss receiver Jonathan Mingo, but I thought taking Mingo no. 39 was a big reach—Mingo ranked 90th on my board after failing to post big numbers in any of his four seasons in Oxford. I liked Carolina's day-three selections of North Carolina State guard Chandler Zavala and Florida State nickel Jammie Robinson, but the success of this draft class will hinge on whether Young is the guy the Panthers think he is—and right now, it doesn't seem like he has a strong enough supporting cast.

Sporting News - Grade: A-

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.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B+

The success of this draft of course depends on how well Young plays at the next level. I might have preferred C.J. Stroud here, especially given what the Panthers had to spend for the first overall pick, but we're splitting hairs here. If Young was 6-foot-2 and weighed 220 pounds, nobody would have a question, and he has every other attribute you want in a franchise quarterback. Mingo might be a bit of an overdraft here to me, but there are a lot of people I respect who like him better than I do.

Johnson is a hybrid end whose production last season made him a bit underrated, and I absolutely love the last two picks. Zavala is one of the better power guards in this class, and he has a positive history with former college teammate Iken Ekwonu. And Robinson might be a bit undersized, but you wouldn't know it when you're watching his tape — he has a tonesetter's alpha personality that shows up all over the place. The Panthers were clearly going for players who could win in the locker room as well as on the field.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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