Photo Credit: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK
It’s all up to the Carolina Panthers which college prospect — specifically, which potential franchise quarterback — will be made the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s NFL draft.
Where Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was once the heavy favorite, the odds have fluctuated plenty throughout the spring, especially Thursday.
FanDuel Sportsbook moved Alabama quarterback Bryce Young into co-favorite status with Stroud at -110 on Thursday at noon ET, amid reports that several people within the Panthers organization prefer the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.
By Thursday evening, though, Stroud was bet back up to sole favorite status; he sat at -195 with Young not far behind at +140.
On March 10, the day after the Panthers traded with the Chicago Bears to obtain the No. 1 pick, Stroud was a -320 favorite at FanDuel to be selected first overall.
The Panthers hired Frank Reich as their new head coach this offseason, replacing Matt Rhule. Longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown will be Reich’s offensive coordinator, and according to NBC Sports, McCown has raved about Young to friends, one of “several influential voices in the organization” leaning Young’s way.
The odds gap is narrow at other sportsbooks, as well; BetMGM has Stroud a -175 favorite and Young at +130, and DraftKings also lists Stroud at -175 with Young at +125.
Stroud worked out at Ohio State’s pro day on March 22, and Young followed suit at Alabama’s pro day the next day. Several key NFL decision-makers were present at both pro days.
The Athletic reported Thursday that the Panthers have scheduled top-30 visits with the top four quarterback prospects — Young, Stroud, Anthony Richardson of Florida, and Will Levis of Kentucky — for next week.
Young threw for 8,356 yards and 80 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in three seasons with the Crimson Tide. His 47 touchdown passes in 2021, the year he won the Heisman, set an Alabama program record.
Stroud finished his Ohio State career with 8,123 yards, 85 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions in 25 games (21-4) as a starter. He was a two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year and the first quarterback in conference history to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes.
–Field Level Media