It feels like yesterday that a relatively unknown Kedon Slovis took over at quarterback for the USC football team. Before you know it, Slovis will be on an NFL roster as a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
We have not even gotten to the 2021 NFL Draft yet and while anything is possible, it would be shocking if Slovis is not a first-round pick in 2022. A big factor in where he gets drafted will be the 2021 season, but for now, it feels safe saying that he will be one of the first 32 prospects taken.
Slovis is anywhere from the second to the fourth-best quarterback projected to declare in the 2022 NFL Draft. Most pundits project Sam Howell to be the first quarterback taken in the draft with others such as Spencer Rattler and Tyler Shough being high on the list as well.
A lot is going to happen between now and then, not just for Slovis and these other quarterbacks, but for the NFL teams as well. Predicting the order of the 2022 NFL Draft before the 2021 NFL Draft even happens is a tall order, but we can set an estimation on where Slovis is most likely to be picked as well as what kind of teams will be in that range.
Personally, I see Slovis getting picked anywhere from No. 7 to No. 13 in 2022. Quarterbacks are important, so even if he ranks in the 20s on most people's big boards, he will likely still be picked high. A perfect example of this was Justin Herbert from the 2020 NFL Draft.
So what team will be in that range and wind up selecting Slovis? I think I have an idea.
Kedon Slovis is the future quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.
Yep, the Carolina Panthers. I know that feels like it is out of left field, but the timeline fits perfectly for the Panthers to be a team in that draft position who could take a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Panthers are picking eighth in the 2021 NFL Draft and they do not need a quarterback yet, as they have Teddy Bridgewater. And while having a high selection will naturally make the team better, they are not a great free-agent destination and are losing most of their already not-so-great offensive line to free agency.
Christian McCaffrey being back should make them better, but the Panthers still only won five games in McCaffrey's insane 2019 season. They will be better in 2021, but not by much. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the division, the New Orleans Saints should still be in the mix if Jameis Winston is their quarterback and the Atlanta Falcons should get better. The 2021 season screams six or seven wins for the Panthers.
The three 7-9 teams this season are picking 13th through 15th, so it is safe to say that the Panthers will probably be picking anywhere from ninth to 15th, the perfect range for Slovis.
But what about Bridgewater? Teddy B is the classic game-manager quarterback. He is someone who can keep your team relevant in a rebuild, but is not likely to lead a team to a Super Bowl. Teddy B is not the future of the Panthers, he is a stopgap quarterback.
Bridgewater has an out in his contract after the 2021 season that he probably won't exercise. However, he is a free agent after the 2022 season, setting up the timeline perfectly for Slovis and the Panthers.
Just like the Kansas City Chiefs did when they picked Patrick Mahomes at No. 10, the Panthers can sit Slovis for a season to help him learn from a true professional like Bridgewater, who is very similar to Alex Smith in terms of talent-level.
So if my prediction comes true, first, remember this article and come back to it in April 2022 and tweet me so I can feel like a genius. Second, that means we probably won't see Slovis as a full-time NFL starting quarterback until the 2023 season.
Of course, that is assuming that Slovis declares for the NFL Draft after his junior season. While it is pretty unlikely, Slovis could return to USC football for his senior season in 2022, throwing a wrench in this entire timeline.