April 7, 2023 12:00pm

The NFL and the Draft

The last time the Carolina Panthers had the first overall pick of an NFL draft in 2011, they selected a quarterback who would take them to a Super Bowl – Cam Newton.

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

The last time the Carolina Panthers had the first overall pick of an NFL draft in 2011, they selected a quarterback who would take them to a Super Bowl – Cam Newton.

The Panthers again have that first overall pick of the 2023 draft and a franchise quarterback potentially awaits them there. But who is it? That’s the lead question in this week’s NFL Power Poll. We asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters which of the four elite college quarterbacks should be the first choice of the Panthers: Will Levis of Kentucky, Anthony Richardson of Florida, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, Bryce Young of Alabama.

In our second question, we asked our panel of football experts if you owned an NFL team, who would you want running your draft? We offered up five options: Dick Haley (Pittsburgh), Jimmy Johnson (Dallas), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore), Bill Walsh (San Francisco) and Ron Wolf (Green Bay).

The quarterback choice of our panel was Stroud, who received 97 of the 187 votes cast. Young was next with 65, followed by Richardson at 19 and Levis at 6.

Stroud was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes and a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. He won 21 of the 25 games he started, throwing 81 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions. He is leaving Ohio State after his junior year.

Young also was a two-year starter and the Heisman Trophy winner in 2021. He won 23 of his 27 starts, throwing 80 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions. He also is leaving Alabama after his junior year.

Richardson started only one season at Florida, posting a 6-7 career record. He threw 24 TD passes against 15 interceptions. But he also rushed for 1,112 career yards and 12 touchdowns. He is another leaving college after his junior year.

Levis started his career at Penn State and spent two years there before transferring to Kentucky. He started two years for the Wildcats, posting an 18-8 record with 46 TD passes and 25 interceptions.

“I don’t know if I’d take a quarterback with the first pick of this draft,” said former Hall of Fame voter Vito Stellino. “There are four candidates none of them are Bradshaw, Elway, Peyton (Manning) or (Andrew) Luck.”

In our second question, Ozzie Newsome was the choice with 65 votes, followed by Walsh (34 votes), Johnson (32), Wolf (31) and Haley (11). Others mentioned were Kevin Colbert, Jim Finks, Bill Polian, Art Rooney Jr., and Brett Veach.

Newsome always impressed me because no matter where he was drafting in the first round, he always seemed to find a great player. He drafted Hall of Famers Ed Reed at 24 and Ray Lewis at

26. He found Pro Bowlers G Ben Grubbs at 29 and TE Todd Heap at 31. He also drafted Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden and pass rusher Terrell Suggs, soon to be a Hall of Fame candidate.

“Ozzie Newsome built two Super Bowl champions in Baltimore in this century,” said Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers. “It has never been tougher to build, win and sustain it. Ozzie was a consistent draftsman.”

Newsome built his Super Bowl champions with two different head coaches and two different quarterbacks. Walsh built the 49ers into the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1980s and Johnson did the same in Dallas, building the Cowboys into the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s.

Wolf was a master of the late rounds, drafting Pro Bowlers WR Donald Driver, CB Doug Evans and G Adam Timmerman in the seventh round, Pro Bowlers TE Mark Chmura, QB Matt Hasselbeck and G Marco Rivera in the sixth round and Pro Bowlers QB Mark Brunell, DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and HB Dorsey Levens in the fifth round.

“A lot of people don’t remember that it was Wolf who oversaw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft in the early years and selected the players who helped the expansion franchise make the playoffs by their fourth season,” said Nick Pugliese, the sports editor of the Palm Beach Post. ”Plus, he spent a lot of successful seasons with the Raiders.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

More on This Poll

More Polls

More on This Poll