We’re closing in on the 2021 NFL Draft here on Dueling Mocks with Nick Wilson and Will Palaszczuk. This week, we’re focusing solely on the Carolina Panthers with a seven-round full team mock draft.
Nick’s 7-Round Panthers Mock
8th Pick: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon – The two absolute best case scenarios for Carolina are that Oregon’s Penei Sewell or Ohio State QB Justin Fields are available at 8 given that quarterback and left tackle are still the biggest needs for Carolina in my opinion. Penei Sewell might not be Jonathan Ogden but he’s the clear and obvious best tackle in this draft. If you can’t upgrade over Sam Darnold, you have to protect him to give him his best chance to reach his ceiling. Carolina FINALLY has their replacement for Jordan Gross 8 years after his retirement.
39th Pick: Richie Grant, S, Central Florida – Another safety? Given the way Panthers HC Matt Rhule drooled all over Grant at the Senior Bowl, this feels like a no-brainer. Grant can play single high safety or split safety and would likely start right away next to Jeremy Chinn forming a lethal defensive backfield. Alongside Donte Jackson, he gives Carolina another ball-hawking defensive back to steal the ball back for Carolina. If Carolina lands a LT in round 1, this would be a great spot to move back and add more picks, given a run on tackles could happen between picks 35-45.
73rd Pick: Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame – Matt Rhule love’s ascending athletes. The focus of last offseason was to find players that fit that bill. This perfectly describes Tremble (6’3, 240 lb) who was underutilized in the Notre Dame passing game. According to the Athletic’s Dane Brugler, he has room to grow as a route runner but the raw athleticism is there.
113th Pick: Drew Dalman, C, Stanford – Dalman has NFL bloodlines (Dad, Chris, was a NFL offensive lineman) and he’s a good fit to grow into the Panthers starting center when Matt Paradis hits free agency in 2022. My only concern is that he doesn’t have the positional flexibility that Matt Rhule & Co. seem to favor out of their offensive lineman. Its center or bust in the NFL for Dalman.
151st Pick: Cade Johnson, WR, North Dakota State – Depth beyond Robby Anderson and DJ Moore can absolutely be upgraded after the team lost Curtis Samuel in free agency this offseason. Level of competition is cited as a concern with Johnson and he is undersized at just 5’11, 185. Yet he offers a lot as a developmental receiver and his threat after the catch could add a boost as WR3 or WR4 in Carolina.
193rd Pick: Bryan Mills, CB, North Carolina Central – Scott Fitterer has stated his preferences for longer corners and Carolina’s roster is most bereft of that kind of corner at the moment. Mills is 6’1 but a little underweight at 175 lbs but he has the length and athleticism that makes a perfect developmental corner to hide and develop on your roster.
222nd Pick: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State – Christian McCaffrey is a stud but as last year proved, you need depth at the position. Reggie Bonnafan has the upside to be the CMC-clone as his backup but Hill replaces Mike Davis. He runs physically while also offering some pass catching ability too.
Will’s 7-Round Panthers Mock
TRADE: Carolina trades #8 overall to New England in exchange for #15 overall, #96 overall (compensatory third-rounder), the Patriots’ 2022 First Round pick, and the Patriots’ 2022 Second Round Pick.
15th Pick (from New England): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina – Using the PFF Mock Draft simulator, I saw no options with the way the draft played out for the Panthers at #8. Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts & Justin Fields were all off the board, and I didn’t feel that the Panthers would have felt comfortable choosing between Rashawn Slater or Patrick Surtain based on need alone. While they could have gone QB with Mac Jones or Trey Lance, they instead receive a treasure trove for New England for another pick in this year’s draft along with New England’s first two picks next year. Jaycee Horn gives you a big & physical corner who can slot in on the opposite side of Dante Jackson to give the Panthers the help they need on the back end. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer & Defensive Coordinator Phil Snow will fall in love with Horn’s ability to stick to receivers & also get guys on the ground. New England takes North Dakota State QB Trey Lance with this trade up to #8.
39th Pick: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State – There’s more high-end talent at cornerback along with a significant dropoff beyond the top three, but that’s not the case with offensive lineman. Radunz would be a great acquisition for a team that has had a gaping hole at left tackle since the departure of Jordan Gross. If you can’t get Sewell or you don’t trust Slater to bump outside & play tackle, Dillon Radunz has the goods to be a guy who you figure can start day one with a full offseason. He’s not the biggest, but he makes up for that size with the kind of agility you need in a back-side protector.
73rd Pick: Kendrick Green, OG, Illinois – There wasn’t anyone I absolutely loved in this position, so I contemplated another trade down, but the options didn’t present themselves. The second-highest rated player on the board at that time was Kendrick Green, a guy who can play guard as well as center. Lance Zierlein of NFL Network says his best fit is a team that’s an outside zone running scheme which fits like a glove into what the Panthers should look to do with Christian McCaffrey. He might still be a backup to both Pat Elflein & Matt Paradis, but with a year under Pat Meyer’s tutelage he can develop into a starter for Carolina.
96th Pick (from New England): Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina – The Panthers get a Day Two surprise with a guy who they loved at the Senior Bowl falling to them with their recently-acquired extra third round pick. Carter solves the problem at backup running back, and can even feature in multi-back sets with Christian McCaffrey at the slot. He grades well in pass protection for a guy who measures at 5’8”, but also is someone who can do well with the ball in space. If McCaffrey is not himself coming off his injury, Carter represents an ample insurance policy.
113th Pick: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson – A mini-reach by the Panthers in this spot, only because I didn’t think he’d be available when the draft came back around to them. Rodgers is someone who can feature right away for the Panthers on punt & kick return, while also fitting into the slot position battle with newly-signed free agent David Moore. Rodgers showed tremendous promise in his first full season back after a torn ACL. He brings great agility with the ball in space, but needs the right supporting cast in order to gain separation from defenders.
151st Pick: Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame – The only pick between Nick and I which corresponds is the tight-end from Notre Dame, Tommy Tremble. While Tremble won’t draw comparisons with fellow Irish tight ends Cole Kmet & Tyler Eifert, Tremble did set a program record at his position with a 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash at Notre Dame’s Pro Day. He will be the blocking tight end primarily after the departure of Chris Manhertz, but he can work his way into a pass-catching role if his Pro-Day tape is any indicator.
193rd Pick: Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas – Marshall is a guy who has experience playing the nose tackle, but could be more suited to playing more off the ball. While his only year of starting came last season, his Pro Day measurables & numbers moved him off the undrafted free agent route to a guy who will get some guaranteed money. He’s plenty bulky at 310 pounds, but will need to showcase more of the athleticism he displayed in Fayetteville in order to stick at the pro level.
222nd Pick: Chris Brown, S, Texas – Just like tight end at Notre Dame, the safety position at Texas has a history of producing top NFL talent. He’s not Roy Williams by any comparison other than his alma mater, but he does bring experience playing on Special Teams, which is an important way for late-round picks to contribute. His biggest game came in the biggest spot for Texas against Oklahoma, where he racked up nine tackles, one for a loss as well as forcing & recovering a fumble.
What to look for in 5.0: Nick & Will give their final predictions for how the full first round will go.