NFL Rumors: Panthers Want to Trade Down, Like Kenny Pickett in 1st Round of NFL Draft

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 26, 2022

Quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) goes through passing drills during Pittsburgh's football pro day , Monday, March 21, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Carolina Panthers currently hold the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL draft, but they could trade back and target a quarterback later in the first round.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler broke down the team's potential strategy on SportsCenter:

"I'm told the Panthers would love to be able to move back because they don't have second- or third-round picks and still get a quarterback either in the teens or somewhere later in the first round.
"Kenny Pickett is a player they've done a lot of homework on. They like him, they believe he fits Ben McAdoo's offense and he's ready to play now, which is what the Panthers need with Matt Rhule coming off two losing seasons."

After the sixth pick, Carolina isn't scheduled to draft again until the 137th selection in Round 4. Adding more high picks could be extremely valuable for a team coming off three straight five-win seasons.

Unlike last year's draft that featured quarterbacks going in each of the first three picks, there also might not be a rush to draft one early this season.

Bleacher Report's Scouting Department listed zero quarterbacks among its top 16 players available. ESPN's Todd McShay reported "sources don't believe there is a team in the top 19 picks that will be drafting a QB," with the Pittsburgh Steelers potentially being the first option at No. 20.

It means Carolina could move into the teens and still potentially have its first choice at quarterback.

Pickett could be a quality option after a breakout 2021 season with Pittsburgh. The quarterback finished the year with 4,319 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, adding 241 rushing yards and five more touchdowns.

It was enough to finish third in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Sam Darnold remains under contract for the Panthers with a guaranteed $18.9 million in 2022, but the organization can find a new quarterback of the future in the first round Thursday.