On Friday night, with the third-to-last pick in the third round, and the 100th overall selection, the Carolina Panthers made QB Will Grier’s dream come true. It wasn’t just Will Grier’s NFL dream that came true, playing for his home team was now coming true. Prior to his days at Florida at West Virginia, Grier was lighting up opponents at Davidson Day only 30 minutes down the road from the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium. As a young boy, Grier grew up watching and cheering on the Panthers. He dreamed of playing for the hometown team. And now that dream is reality.
Based on the eye test, Grier’s selection by Carolina appears to be more a feel good story than anything else. He accounted for 88 TDs in 28 college games, and was, statistically, one of the most efficient passers in DI history. With the Panthers though, Cam Newton is the entrenched starter in, and the pick has been labeled by many as purely a “depth” selection. So, it seems that after an impressive collegiate career, Grier is going to have a wait at least a couple years to get his chance to contribute to his hometown squad.
However, when you look deeper into the situation, it is possible, if not likely, that Will Grier will be able to make an immediate on-field impact. Newton is coming off of his second shoulder surgery in three years, has yet to resume throwing. On top of that, nobody truly knows how Newton’s recovery will end up or how long it will take. Because of that, and the fact that the 2015 MVP still isn’t throwing, it is possible that Grier could be taking a large chunk of the first-team reps in OTAs and training camp. If Newton has to remain out for any part of the season, then the Panthers have a newly-drafted QB who just threw for 37 TDs and almost 4,000 yards in only 11 games last year.
If Newton’s rehab goes according to plan, and suffers no setbacks, then Grier will at least have an opportunity to compete for the primary backup job. Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen both started games in 2018 and will be back with the team this season, so the backup job isn’t necessarily Grier’s to lose. Both quarterbacks showed glimpses of potential in the games in which they played, however both are coming off injuries (like Newton), and neither proved themselves to the degree with which they needed. It’s almost certain that Grier has the most NFL potential, and was perhaps the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class, so it’s very possible that second-string QB could end up Grier’s role this season.
Aside from football, Grier can easily become a leader both on and off the field for Carolina. He is well-liked by his college coaches and teammates, works hard each day, and is married with a child, and is the quiet, “unknown” brother to social media stars Nash and Hayes Grier. He’s 24 years old, and one of the oldest players in this year’s draft, so he is a bit wiser than a lot of the younger players. Grier hasn’t been a liability off the field, aside from a PED suspension while at Florida, which he vows to have been unintentional. So, it’s easy to see Grier as an easy-going, likable guy who can bring a positive impact to the Panthers’ locker room.
Regardless of what Will Grier’s role is with the Panthers in 2019, he has the potential to have an impact both in the short and long-term in Charlotte. He’s a positive influence, had an outstanding college career, and is a hometown kid who already has family, friends, and fans in the area. It’s likely that he’ll end up being Cam Newton’s backup this year, and it’s possible that he could see some significant playing time this season. If not this year, then he has a chance to be the future in Carolina. The Panthers didn’t make him their first drafted QB in 8 years for nothing.
*All Stats From Sports Reference CFB