Carolina Panthers: A 2021 NFL Draft Preview for Carolina

The Carolina Panthers have high hopes going into the 2021 NFL Draft. Panther fans remember the team selected all defensive players in last year’s draft. The team finished 5-11 overall and allowed 25.1 points per content under first-year Defensive Coordinator Phil Snow. In seven of the team’s losses, the Panthers were within one score.

Taking all things into consideration from last year, injuries and free agency the Panthers have some glaring needs. Offensively, the biggest question remains is who will lead the team under center. They made a trade for Sam Darnold but could draft a rookie quarterback. The team also needs some help on the offensive line, depth at wide receiver, a complimentary tight end to Dan Arnold.

Defensively, the biggest need is in the secondary. The Panthers will need to draft a cornerback to complement Dante Jackson or a safety for depth behind Jeremy Chinn.

David Tepper buys Carolina Panthers
Courtesy USA Today Sports Images

First Round – No. 8 Overall

This is the hardest pick to make. The team hasn’t been clear on its QB situation but has said it wants to select the best overall player. The answer to the Panthers’ first pick is going to be answered with who hasn’t been picked?

If Carolina does want to select a signal-caller I believe they go with one of three choices, none of which may be left. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or Alabama’s Mac Jones are all names that have been mentioned in the Panthers’ circles. However, if those players have been chosen then I expect the team to pounce on the first tight end, selecting Florida’s Kyle Pitts. Once again, if Pitts has been selected then the team will select Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell (if he’s not gone already) or Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater.

Second Round – No. 39

Once the Carolina Panthers make their first selection the second becomes a compliment to the first. For example, if they grab a QB then look for them to draft either a tight end or offensive lineman. More than likely the Panthers go offensive lineman. A few names to consider are North Dakota State offensive tackle Dillon Radunz, Texas offensive tackle, Sam Cosmi, Alabama offensive tackle/center Alex Leatherwood, Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg. Another option at this pick is more than likely a tight end. Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth or Kenny Yeboah from Ole Miss.

Third Round – No. 73

The Panthers will likely continue the trend of offensive players, focusing on wide receivers in this round. Elijah Moore from Ole Miss, North Carolina’s Dyami Brown or Louisville’s Tutu Atwell could be the pick.

Carolina could look to find value in some defensive players. North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt or Mizzou safety Joshuah Bledsoe are names to consider.

Fourth Round – No. 113

The fourth round will likely be one where the Panthers will look to add depth at cornerback or wide receiver.

If Carolina eyes cornerbacks, I think they draft either Syracuse’s Trill Williams, LSU’s Kary Vincent or Michigan’s Ambry Thomas.

Offensively, the team could select wide receivers Tamorrion Terry from FSU or Sage Surratt from Wake Forest. The Carolina Panthers could also consider a running in Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert or UAB’s Spencer Brown.

Fifth Round – No. 151

Defensive depth becomes the focus to close out the draft for the Panthers. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, Texas DE/OLB Joseph Ossai and West Virginia inside linebacker Tony Fields II could be the pick.

Sixth Round – No. 193 & 222

The Panthers’ secondary is very young. I look for the team to continue to build depth and take either a corner or safety, perhaps both. Look for cornerbacks Keith Taylor Jr. (Washington) and Thomas Graham Jr. (Oregon) to be selected.

Don’t agree with Michael’s ideas on whom Carolina should draft? Let us know.

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Follow Michael Christopher on Twitter @chop2datop.

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