NFL draft: Teddy Bridgewater trade shifts focus for both Broncos, Panthers

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Eric Edholm
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A trade involving a sixth-round draft pick to the Carolina Panthers could have a major effect on the top of the 2021 NFL draft.

The Panthers agreed to deal QB Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos for a sixth (No. 191 overall) on Wednesday. 

On the surface, you might not think this deal has teeth. But reading between the lines, it wouldn't be stunning to see this alter the first-round approaches of both teams.

They're picking back to back, Nos. 8 (Carolina) and 9 (Denver) overall in Round 1. It could lead to the top 10 changing shape Thursday night.

Let's take a look at what the effects might be for each team:

How it affects the Panthers

Moving Bridgewater financially helps Carolina and it thins out the QB depth chart by one.

Newly acquired Sam Darnold is the presumptive starter, and P.J. Walker (who started a game last season) is still there, along with 2019 third-rounder Will Grier and Saints castoff Tommy Stevens.

Is that enough to make the Panthers comfy? We'll see.

So could Trey Lance or Justin Fields be in play at No. 8? Maybe. Or maybe they move back — hello, New England? — and peddle the pick to a QB-needy team and grab one later.

In our revised final mock draft, we gave them Lance. Before that, Penei Sewell was the pick. It wouldn't stun me if they like him enough to take him there either.

The trade-down option, however, has been blowing in the wind for weeks. We think they'd prefer to move back.

Cornerback and offensive line are two spots Carolina could address.

(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

How it affects the Broncos

The Broncos were one of the possibilities to either grab a quarterback there, or move up for one. That possibility feels quite unlikely now. Bridgewater figures to challenge Drew Lock for the starting role, setting up an interesting battle.

It wouldn't hurt to take Lance (if he's there) and put him on ice for a few years. But we also could see head coach Vic Fangio pressing for more immediate help as he tries to cling to his job. Will new general manager George Paton go that route?

Sewell certainly could work, as could Northwestern's Rashawn Slater; they need a right tackle badly. And Fangio has been pining for a great inside linebacker for a few years now, so that's certainly a position they could target if the right player is on the board.

But the gut feeling here is that a QB at 9, after just trading for Teddy, no longer feels right.

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