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NFL mock draft: Carolina Panthers will protect Sam Darnold

If the Carolina Panthers’ commerce for Sam Darnold this week did something, it opened up the chances for the 2021 NFL draft.

No longer is there as a lot of an urgency to get a quarterback within the first spherical with the No. 8 decide. Everything is on the desk, and the Panthers can tackle the various holes on the roster with the remaining seven picks on this 12 months’s draft.

The key to this draft must be doing what the New York Jets didn’t do for Darnold: Making positive he’s protected and has loads of weapons. The Panthers’ roster already has some gifted receivers and a man named Christian McCaffrey, however the offensive line wants some assist and a pass-catching tight finish is required.

Both sides of the road will seemingly be addressed, and normal supervisor Scott Fitterer mentioned that every one choices are on the desk for the draft.

“This doesn’t take us out of anything in the draft. (It) doesn’t take us out of taking a quarterback, doesn’t take us out of taking any position. What we wanted to do going into this draft … is to just get rid of all the needs that we have,” Fitterer mentioned earlier this week. “We just wanted to get to a place where our roster was in a good spot, where we can take the best available player at number eight, and we can always move up there, and, like I said, we can always move back, but this just puts us in a position to make the right football move for this team going forward.”

There’s little question that the Panthers are prone to commerce up or down sooner or later within the draft, however we’ll preserve the choices the place they’re at present positioned for this mock draft. Let’s get into the picks.

Mock draft 1.0

FIRST ROUND, PICK NO. 8: RASHAWN SLATER

Position: Offensive deal with

School: Northwestern

Class: Senior

Whether or not Oregon deal with Penei Sewell is off the board, this decide is actually an choice. If not less than considered one of them remains to be obtainable, the Panthers ought to have a tough time passing up the chance.

One of the various causes attributed to Darnold’s points in New York was the workforce’s lack of funding in a line to protect him and in offensive weapons. With Florida tight finish Kyle Pitts seemingly passed by No. 8, the opposite alternative right here could be a cornerback, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II could be an intriguing choice, but it surely’s time for the Panthers to get that deal with place taken care of. Slater presents the chance to just do that. I don’t suppose the correct quarterback will drop to the Panthers within the first spherical, however regardless of the Darnold commerce, it’s nonetheless a risk to take one right here.

Slater additionally has the power to play guard/heart and each deal with positions, which ought to attraction to the Panthers after placing a precedence on versatile offensive linemen in free company. But that’s not why Slater must be picked. As a left deal with in 2019, Slater gave up simply 5 pressures and 0 sacks, per Pro Football Focus. At 6-foot-4, 304-pounds, Slater affords three years of beginning expertise at Northwestern and is persistently ranked as one of many two finest tackles on this 12 months’s draft.

The Panthers nonetheless have work to do on the offensive line. This is an efficient first step.

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Georgia defensive again Tyson Campbell (3) covers a play towards Florida in the course of the first half of an NCAA school soccer sport, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux AP

SECOND ROUND, PICK NO. 39: Tyson Campbell

Position: Cornerback

School: Georgia

Class: Junior

The Panthers started to fill the holes at nook by signing A.J. Bouye this week. The 29-year outdated, nonetheless, is just not a long-term reply and is suspended the primary two video games of the 12 months.

Corner stays an space to be addressed, particularly with Donte Jackson coming into the final 12 months of his rookie deal, though an extension is a risk this offseason. The different choices on the roster are second-year nook Troy Pride, who is constant to develop, and veteran Rashaan Melvin, signed in free company.

I wished to take Florida State nook Asante Samuel Jr. right here, however his dimension scared me away. The Seattle Seahawks, the workforce that Fitterer spent the vast majority of his NFL profession with, are identified for less than deciding on corners which have arms longer than about 32 inches. Samuel got here in at 30 1/8. Maybe Fitterer gained’t deliver that philosophy with him to Carolina, however I do suppose it’s some extent of reference value holding in thoughts. Bouye’s arms measured 31 3/4 on the UCF pro day in 2013.

Campbell is available in at 6-1 and 193-pounds with 32-inch arms. He was a three-year starter at Georgia and is described by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein as having “undeniable physical traits and athletic tools.” In 2020 he began 10 video games and had 29 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and one interception. Campbell is probably going to enhance with time and might be a starter for years to return.

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Southern California defensive deal with Jay Tufele participates within the faculty’s professional day soccer exercise for NFL scouts Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

THIRD ROUND, PICK NO. 73: JAY TUFELE

Position: Defensive deal with

School: USC

Class: Redshirt junior

The Panthers are presupposed to be addressing the offensive aspect of the ball within the draft, however there are a few defensive positions that should be taken care of early.

After shifting on from Zach Kerr and Kawann Short within the offseason, a three-technique defensive deal with is excessive on the record of areas to deal with. Fitterer has additionally famous how he believes in constructing from the traces.

Tufele is a three-technique defensive deal with and described by Zierlein as having “ high energy with explosive brute strength to make his mark on the game.” His pace is considered one of his strengths, Zierlein notes, however he must work on his pass-rushing potential. He might match nicely into coordinator Phil Snow’s line of defense rotation.

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Boston College Eagles tight finish Hunter Long (80) catches a move towards Duke Blue Devils security Marquis Waters within the fourth quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Boston College Eagles gained 26-6. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports Nell Redmond USA TODAY Sports/Pool

FOURTH ROUND, PICK NO. 113: HUNTER LONG

Position: Tight finish

School: Boston College

Class: Redshirt Junior

Teams which have coached within the Senior Bowl have been more and more prone to decide gamers who they acquired a chance to educate. In this case, Long performed on the opposite workforce coached by the Miami Dolphins, however the Panthers had elevated publicity to him.

The Panthers want a pass-catching tight finish. Long may be that man. Dan Arnold was signed in free company, however that may’t be the one approach the place is addressed. It’s an excessive amount of of a gap.

There’s an opportunity Long isn’t nonetheless there within the fourth spherical, however he could be an important match. He was a high-volume reception tight finish at Boston College. Sixty p.c of his catches in 2020 have been transformed to first downs. That’s precisely what Darnold wants.

FIFTH ROUND, PICK NO. 151: DRAKE JACKSON

Position: Center

School: Kentucky

Class: Redshirt Senior

Jackson was coached by the Panthers workers on the Senior Bowl. With veteran Matt Paradis coming into the ultimate 12 months of his contract, the offensive line might do with a real heart on the roster. Pat Elflein, signed in free company, can even slide over to that heart spot, however some younger expertise is required there as nicely.

SIXTH ROUND, PICK NO. 193: SADARIUS HUTCHERSON

Position: Guard

School: South Carolina

Class: Redshirt Senior

The Panthers can’t add too many offensive linemen on this 12 months’s draft. There was a distinct normal supervisor and head coach, but it surely actually labored out the final time this workforce took an offensive lineman out of South Carolina within the sixth-round (Dennis Daley). Hutcherson performed proper guard, left deal with and left guard, his most pure place, with the Gamecocks and made 36 consecutive begins.

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Mississippi State working again Kylin Hill (8) runs previous Abilene Christian gamers on his strategy to an 88-yard landing move reception in the course of the first half of an NCAA school soccer sport, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Rogelio V. Solis AP

SIXTH ROUND, PICK NO. 222: KYLIN HILL

Position: Running again

School: Mississippi State

Class: Senior

Adding to the working again rotation is necessary after shifting on from Mike Davis within the offseason. Hill might be a developmental rotational participant.

With extra picks: Ideally the Panthers will commerce again so as to add a pair extra draft picks. I’d have favored to have taken a quarterback late within the draft and a linebacker, however ran out picks to take action.



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