Perfect Picks: Carolina Panthers
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Panthers owner David Tepper has been ultra aggressive this offseason. He hired head coach Matt Rhule to a seven year deal and then paired him with Joe Brady. Brady was the mastermind behind Joe Burrow’s success at National Champions LSU and will look to revamp the offense in Carolina. Here’s some draft prospects the Panthers could target come April.
Round 1 - Pick 7 - Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Cam Newton enters the final year of his deal in Carolina but could have played his final game for the Panthers. With a new head coach and offensive coordinator, now seems the perfect time to reset the franchise. The issue for Carolina is that by pick 7 the top three QBs may be off the board.
If that’s the case then the Panthers should revert to their draft board and take the best player available. Derrick Brown is likely to reside on that list. Gerald McCoy signed a one year deal last offseason and recorded five sacks for the Panthers. He hits free agency again this year and should he move on, Brown is a ready made replacement. The defensive tackle gets great interior pressure and is surprisingly athletic for an interior lineman. Brown would be a great piece to rebuild the defense around.
Round 2 - Pick 38 - Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
If the Panthers do miss out on a first round quarterback then they could address the need in the second round. New offensive coordinator Joe Brady is widely credited for transforming Joe Burrow from ‘regular Joe’ to the Heisman trophy winner last year. The Panthers may feel he can work wonders with a project like Jake Fromm.
Fromm fought off the likes of Justin Fields and Jacob Eason to secure the starting spot at Georgia. Despite that, there are plenty of question marks about his ability at the next level. Fromm’s arm talent is average and at times it felt like it held the Bulldogs offense back. However, his leadership and grit are unquestionable. If the Panthers believe Brady’s scheme can transform Fromm they may be happy to hand over the keys to him in year 1.
Flex Pick - Pick 38 - Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
There is going to be a large hole in the Panthers’ defense next year. The retirement of Luke Kuechly due to recurring injury issues means that Carolina go into 2020 without their leader. It will be near impossible to replace a player of Kuechly’s caliber. However, should the Panthers find a solution to the QB issue they may look to address linebacker early in the draft.
The linebacker class isn’t particularly deep in 2020. Isaiah Simmons is head and shoulders above the rest. Elsewhere, Kenneth Murray is a downhill thumper, Patrick Queen is talented but inexperienced and the rest of the group have a heap of question marks. That could cause a player like Jordyn Brooks’ stock to rise. Brooks is ultra athletic and has been a force on the Texas Tech defense. Pairing him with Shaq Thompson would give the Panthers a dynamic duo at the second level of their defense.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 69 - Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Since Josh Norman’s departure from Carolina in 2016, the Panthers have lacked an elite cornerback. Starter James Bradberry and rotational piece Ross Cockrell both hit free agency this offseason. It’s questionable if either are retained with both grading below par according to PFF. Donte Jackson has flashed potential but is still prone to give up big plays.
One solution to this lack of depth would be Utah’s Jaylon Johnson. On the face of it this years draft looks deep at the cornerback position. Finding Johnson still available in the third round would be a boon for the Panthers. Johnson has great speed and sticky coverage and was a major cog in one of the nation’s top defenses. He could be a late riser in the process. West coast talent can get overlooked in the season due to their lack of primetime action. Once the draft community catches up, don’t be surprised if Johnson is off the board at this spot.
Utah CB Jaylon Johnson allowed only 112 yards in coverage over his last seven games in Pac-12 play.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 31, 2019
One of the biggest movers up the PFF draft board this season. pic.twitter.com/6nissCoGhb
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 134 - Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
There was further confirmation this week that the Panthers identity was undergoing a full remodel. The news was released that the team would part ways with long-time Tight End Greg Olsen. Not only was Olsen a leader in the locker room, he had been a major force in the passing game until injuries derailed recent seasons. With diminutive receivers like Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore, a receiving tight end and redzone target appears to be a must.
Dayton’s Adam Trautman is a name that has garnered plenty of attention recently. He made himself plenty of money during the Senior Bowl. The event holds particular importance for small school prospects. It is their first opportunity to pit themselves against elite college talent. Trautman more than held his own, displaying excellent route running as well as being a physical blocker. Replacing an elite player like Olsen is difficult but Trautman has the potential to be a great player at the next level.
Draft in full
7. Derrick Brown (DT)
38. Jake Fromm (QB)
69. Jaylon Johnson (CB)
103. David Woodward (LB)
134. Adam Trautman (TE)
164. A.J. Dillon (RB)
192. Keith Ismael (C)
Feature Image Credit: Chuck Burton (Associated Press)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com