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Panthers need to protect future franchise QB. These O-line draft options can help

Clemson offensive lineman Jackson Carman (79) blocks against Furman during the third quarter in Memorial Stadium in Clemson on September 1.

Clemson offensive lineman Jackson Carman (79) blocks in opposition to Furman throughout the third quarter in Memorial Stadium in Clemson on September 1.

The Anderson Independent Mail

The Panthers appear to be heading within the route of drafting a quarterback within the first spherical of the 2021 NFL Draft. But in the event that they don’t, offensive line appears to be the following logical possibility.

Four of Carolina’s 5 beginning offensive linemen can be free brokers this offseason. And whereas the Panthers can’t substitute all of them within the draft, they can no less than choose one or two gamers on the place.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule has stated his want is to get youthful on offense. And new common supervisor Scott Fitterer stated that constructing a franchise begins up entrance with the offensive line.

The 2021 draft class is alleged to be deep with offensive linemen. Carolina wants offensive tackles and offensive guards, with the previous being most essential.

This yr’s draft is April 29 by means of May 1. Here are some gamers to look ahead to the Panthers:

Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon

Sewell, who’s 6-foot-6, 331 kilos, is the best rated offensive lineman by most draft specialists.

He’s anticipated to go as excessive as No. 3 within the draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going No. 5 to the Cincinnati Bengals, which is sensible given the Bengals have already got a franchise quarterback and certain need to protect him.

Sewell opted out of the 2020 season. However, he received the 2019 Outland Trophy, given to one of the best inside lineman within the nation.

While many draft specialists anticipate Sewell to be off the board by the point the Panthers decide at No. 8, there’s at all times the chance he may fall.

“Could Penei Sewell be there at 8? Maybe,” stated Ryan Wilson, who covers the NFL Draft for CBS Sports. “But only if there is a run at quarterbacks.”

Left deal with is the Panthers’ largest need as they’re unlikely to re-sign Russell Okung, who missed 9 video games within the 2020 season with a groin and a calf harm. The former Pro Bowler may even be 33 subsequent season.

Carolina hasn’t had a constant beginning left deal with, or one who’s stayed longer than two years, since Jordan Gross, who retired in 2013. They had hoped Greg Little, the previous 2019 second-round decide, may grow to be that, however to this point he hasn’t carried out up to expectations.

Good left tackles have a tendency to be costly in free company, so drafting one for comparatively low cost could be a great funding.

Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Slater, who’s 6-foot-3, 305 kilos, additionally opted out of the 2020 season. But throughout the 2019 season, he didn’t permit a single sack in 789 snaps at left deal with.

Slater is flexible. He performed each deal with positions at Northwestern. He was a guard in highschool, and he’s been figuring out at middle this offseason.

He caught eyes when Northwestern confronted Ohio State in 2019. Slater went up in opposition to future No. 2 decide and 2020 NFL defensive rookie of the yr Chase Young and received the matchup.

“If you go back and watch him play 2019 against Chase Young, he ain’t messing around,” Wilson stated.

Slater is taken into account by many draft specialists because the No. 2 offensive lineman within the draft. He’s anticipated to go someplace within the 10 to 15 vary.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, Southern Cal

Vera-Tucker, who’s 6-foot-4, 315 kilos, initially performed guard at USC however moved over to left deal with in 2020. Tucker dominated in his first season on the place, Wilson stated.

Some like him forward of Slater, he added.

Vera-Tucker initially declared for the draft when the Pac-12 introduced its season could be delayed, however finally opted again in.

He may play both guard or deal with, which might make him an intriguing decide for the Panthers, in the event that they select to go that route.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has him going 14th total to the Minnesota Vikings in his newest mock draft. Wilson additionally has him 14th. But he additionally stated he doesn’t suppose Vera-Tucker is a nasty decide at No. 8.

Potential Day 2 picks

If the Panthers don’t select an offensive lineman within the first spherical, they may look to the second and third rounds for one.

Here are just a few offensive linemen Wilson stated could possibly be obtainable on Day 2.

Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama: Leatherwood is 6-foot-6, 312 kilos and performed 4 years with the Crimson Tide, who received a nationwide championship this yr. Wilson stated Leatherwood “does a lot of things well” and is constant. He may sneak into the primary spherical, however Wilson expects him to be drafted on Day 2.

Liam Eichenberg, OL, Notre Dame: Eichenberg is 6-foot-6, 302 kilos. He was voted to the AP All-America second staff in 2020 and was an Outland Trophy finalist. Wilson stated Eichenberg isn’t “insanely athletic like Sewell,” however he “gets the job done.”

Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State: Jenkins is 6-foot-6, 310 kilos. He performed within the Cowboys’ first seven video games, however opted out after struggling an harm. Said Wilson of Jenkins, “He plays extremely angry and plays with an edge.” He added that Jenkins manhandled a few of the higher defensive linemen he went up in opposition to. Some draft specialists have him going within the late first spherical, early second.

Samuel Cosmi, OL, Texas: Cosmi is 6-foot-7, 309 kilos. He was a four-year participant at Texas, and began in 34 of the 35 video games he performed. He was first staff All-Big 12 choice in 2020. Wilson stated Cosmi is a “really solid player,” and “incredibly consistent.”

Jackson Carman, LT, Clemson: Carman is 6-foot-6, 326 kilos. He performed three seasons at Clemson and began in 27 video games. He was liable for defending quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s blind aspect. He was voted second-team All-ACC in 2020.

“He wasn’t quite as consistent as he was as a sophomore, but he has the size and athleticism to be really good at the next level,” stated Matt Connolly, who covers Clemson for The State. “He faced off against some really good pass rushers during his time at Clemson and performed well, including against Chase Young in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.”

Jonathan M. Alexander is a local of Charlotte. He started masking the Carolina Panthers for the Observer in July after working on the N&O for seven years, the place he lined quite a lot of beats, together with UNC basketball and soccer, Duke basketball, recruiting, Ok-12 colleges, public security and city authorities.
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