With possession of the number one pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers are unofficially on the clock. Team personnel, including head coach Frank Reich, owner David Tepper and general manager Scott Fitterer have been making the rounds to all the top quarterback’s pro days, but lost in the media hoopla of daps and basketball pick up games, is the opinion and influence of a very important member of the Panthers’ coaching staff – offensive coordinator Thomas Brown.
Brown, who spent the last two seasons with the LA Rams where he won a Super Bowl ring as assistant head coach and running backs coach in 2022, will have a large say in who the Panthers select at quarterback with the top pick. So which of the top four quarterbacks – Levis, Richardson, Stroud, or Young – best fit his offensive style?
Here are a few things that Brown feels are important:
Point Guard Mentality:
In basketball, the point guard is the leader on the court. The point guard is the person who facilitates the offense, sets the tone, and makes plays – whether distributing or scoring – to help the team win. This is the type of mentality Thomas Brown wants in a quarterback.
“You’ve got to have great intangibles from a mental capacity standpoint,” Brown said in an interview with Panthers reporter Kristen Balboni. “We want to have a great leader who can step into the huddle and have that pocket presence and mentality. A natural thrower of the football. You can talk about different metric numbers when it comes to size and build. A lot of QB’s, like other players, come in different size and shapes, but they’ve got to have that point guard mentality. Be a facilitator. Get the ball to your play makers and when it comes time to play super man on third down and red zone, go be super man.”
Interestingly enough, Alabama head coach Nick Saban used that very phrase to describe Bryce Young on Stephen A. Smith’s Know Mercy Podcast.
“This guy plays quarterback like a point guard in basketball. He’s got eyes all over. He knows where everybody is. He can extend plays. He creates throwing lanes for himself, which is important for a guy at his size. He can make all the throws. He’s smart. So, he has a lot of the attributes — from a psychological disposition standpoint — that are necessary to excel at this position.”
In today’s NFL a quarterback doesn’t have to be dual threat, but he does have to be mobile. That’s something that Thomas Brown feels is important – a guy who is not afraid in the pocket, can escape when pressure comes, and make the necessary throws. He values a quarterback who possesses enough threat with his legs that it forces opposing defenses to respect the run.
Of this year’s top quarterbacks, Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson have been widely considered the most athletic. One of the knocks on CJ Stroud has been his reluctance to run, but in his best game of the season against Georgia in the college football playoffs, Stroud made plays inside and outside of the pocket.
Change the Math
Thomas Brown is a former running back and running backs coach, so expect not only just a run-first mentality, but creativity when it comes to the run and passing game. Brown likes to “change the math” by using motion to create different gaps. You saw that a lot in Los Angeles with Cam Akers this previous season.
Which quarterback will best execute this style of play?
With less than a month before the Panthers select their next QB1, the speculation about who that guy will be will only intensify, but rest assured Thomas Brown’s influence and philosophy will be all up and through the decision.