Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich avoided specific details about the team’s draft strategy during a discussion with reporters Tuesday, but insiders continue to zero in on two quarterbacks: Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.


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Reich remained vague in nearly a half hour of questioning, praising Young and Stroud as well as Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis. When prodded about Young, however, Reich implied that the Crimson Tide’s passer had pro-level potential.

“But since you’re asking about Bryce, he’s good at being instinctive in the pocket and minimizing [hits],’’ Reich said. “If you’re a quarterback, can you minimize the number of big hits and the intensity of those hits? They’re all going to get hit. We know that.”

Reich and the Panthers organization have faced intense scrutiny since trading with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall pick on March 12. Carolina gave up the No. 9 and No. 61 overall picks in 2023, a first-round pick in 2024, second-round pick in 2025 and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

The Panthers’ massive move to get this year’s top pick, and control their own destiny in the process, was accompanied by several key signings to support the team’s rebuild. Moore may have departed for Chicago, but the front office managed to acquire running back Miles Sanders, tight end Hayden Hurst and wide receivers D.J. Chark and Adam Thielen. The offense will be radically different from last year’s team, which went 7-10 and missed the playoffs.

“So we’re kind of building this together and seeing it unfold. … Although there has not been that sit-down moment of let’s confirm this, I think along the way it’s developing together,” Reich said.

The issue of height came up repeatedly during Reich’s press conference, as Young’s 5-foot-10 frame differs greatly from Stroud’s, who stands at 6-foot-3. Reich made a connection between height and durability and said that the latter aspect was playing a part in the team’s evaluation process.

Reich accepted the job in Carolina shortly after the end of last season, replacing interim head coach Steve Wilks, who was in turn completing former head coach Matt Rhule’s tenure following his early dismissal in October. Reich was also fired before the end of the season by the Indianapolis Colts, another team that missed the playoffs with a 4-12-1 record.

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