There is already too much chaos in this world for me to entertain a man who willingly puts mayonnaise in his coffee. I do not need this guy starting at the most important position on my favorite football team.
If it isn’t clear who I’m referring to here, it’s Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, one of the top prospects eligible for selection in this year’s NFL Draft. Back in July of last year, the story broke that Levis enjoys his morning cup of Joe with a hearty helping of Miracle Whip. Why he wasn’t immediately arrested for domestic terrorism is still unclear.
Over six months later, Levis is considered one of the top quarterback prospects available in the 2023 class. And, lo and behold, the Panther have a top-10 selection at No. 9 overall.
There have been rumors linking the Panthers to Levis over the last several months, including a December report by the Charlotte Observer stating Panthers owner David Tepper was interested in taking Levis if he fell to Carolina in the draft.
Levis has been mocked to the Panthers in several places, including a recent CBS mock that had Carolina trading up to No. 1 overall to select the Kentucky QB — a scenario that would assuredly give me a brain aneurysm.
Despite Levis’ impressive physical traits at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, the big knock against him is his accuracy. This past season, Levis completed 65.4% of his passes — an average number — while only tossing 19 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. Over the past two seasons, Levis has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of just 1.9, while other top prospects Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud had ratios this season of 6.4 and 6.8, respectively.
Levis will be a project wherever he lands, and I don’t think the talent is exciting enough to make a franchise-altering trade to acquire. For my money, I’d rather Carolina stay put at No. 9 and take someone like Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, a similarly polarizing prospect with a cannon for an arm but who, importantly, doesn’t have any disgusting culinary habits I’m aware of.
Richardson, nicknamed AR-15 because of his initials and number (woof), is a 6-foot-4, 232-pound dual threat who threw for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns against nine interceptions this past season. He also ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns.
If trading up to No. 1 is a possibility, the Panthers should also consider taking Young or Stroud, who — in my opinion — are vastly superior prospects to either Richardson or Levis.
Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, had an overall offensive rating of 91.5 this past season, according to Pro Football Focus, ranking him sixth in the country. Over the past two seasons, Young has thrown for over 8,000 yards and 79 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions.
The big knock on Young is his size, at 6-foot-even and 195 pounds, but he has shown time and time again he has the poise and the confidence to perform under the brightest lights.
Stroud, for his part, didn’t have as strong of a 2022 season as Young, but he did turn things up when they mattered most. In Ohio State’s loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals, Stroud completed 23 of- 34 passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Stroud possesses not only the ideal size for a starting quarterback at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, but he is also seen as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in this upcoming class. After years of watching Sam Darnold and the rest of the Panthers’ traveling band of quarterbacks play catch with opposing corners, I’m ready for a new guy to come in and get his own teammates the ball — a novel idea, I know.
Nailing this draft, along with their next head coaching hire, will be key for Carolina to save itself from an even longer rebuild. If the Panthers are able to land either Stroud or Young, or even Richardson, in this draft, it could be the missing piece a talented roster needs to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Just, for the love of God, don’t draft the mayo guy.
Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.