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The Panthers may already have acquired their new QB1 when they traded three picks to the Jets for Sam Darnold. The franchise hasn’t ruling out picking another quarterback, though and in yesterday’s pre-draft press conference, general manager Scott Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule said there is a top 2021 QB prospect who they feel fits their team.

Based on the latest reporting from the Athletic, we can probably scratch two names off the list. According to Joe Person, the front office is “not enthralled” with either Alabama’s Mac Jones or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

“And my sense — based on conversations with multiple sources — is the Panthers are not enthralled with Mac Jones and Trey Lance, both of whom may follow Lawrence and Wilson within the top four picks.”

Jones and Lance are typically considered the fourth and fifth-best QB prospects in this class. Their order depends on who you ask. If we can eliminate those two from consideration for the No. 8 pick, then it becomes pretty clear who Rhule and Fitterer have their eye on.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is easily the most pro-ready quarterback in this class and is virtually guaranteed to go to the Jaguars at No. 1. Trading up to get him would cost an unholy amount of draft capital and this organization simply isn’t going to do that after sending three picks to New York. The same principle applies to BYU’s Zach Wilson, who is expected to be selected at No. 2 and replace Darnold as the Jets’ starter.

That only leaves one QB prospect who might be there at No. 8: Ohio State’s Justin Fields. As it happens, all of the solid reporting we’ve read over the last few months indicates that the Panthers are in love with Fields. If he’s there, we expect he will be the pick.

If he isn’t available, then fans should expect a trade down into the teens. Fitterer says the team has 16 prospects with first-round grades this year.

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Panthers trade down for left tackle in 7-round 2021 mock draft by NFL.com

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