The Carolina Panthers are having a disappointing season, losing their last seven games after starting a strong 6-2. It currently looks as if they will hold a top-10 pick in the draft.
This offseason, they will have numerous holes to fill after losing many of their seasoned veterans. The futures of Julius Peppers, Mike Adams, Greg Olsen, and Thomas Davis are uncertain, and we already know that longtime center Ryan Kalil will be retiring.
The even-year curse has once again stuck the Panthers.
Round One: Deionte Thompson, Safety, Alabama
It’s likely that the Carolina Panthers bring back Eric Reid, who has far-and-away been the team’s best safety. However, adding a player that gives speed, agility, and tremendous coverage skills could only benefit the defense as a whole.
Thompson had two interceptions and five passes defensed for the Alabama Crimson Tide this season. He was largely the best player in the secondary of a front-seven heavy team, despite having five-star recruits in almost every starting spot.
Round Two: Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
Standing at 6-foot-5, Ferguson was an absolute freak for Bulldogs this year. He recorded 17.5 sacks and 26 total tackles for a loss, including two sacks against Mississippi State. This level of production has enabled Ferguson to break Terrell Suggs’ career record for total FBS sacks.
Adding a young edge rusher to an aging position for the Carolina Panthers should be one of their top goals this offseason, whether it be in free agency or the draft. Ferguson certainly aids in this.
Round Three: Chris Lindstrom, Guard, Boston College
The Carolina Panthers desperately need interior offensive lineman. Lindstrom could emerge as one of the top plug-and-play linemen in the draft, and the Panthers would add some much-needed protection for Cam Newton with this selection.
Lindstrom began his career for Boston College as a freshman, and depending on how he tests at the combine, could vault into a day two pick as I project here.
Round Three (Projected Compensatory Selection from Losing Andrew Norwell): Mike Weber, Half Back, Ohio State
Carolina needs to find a way to preserve Christian McCaffrey, even if it means spending a third-round pick on the running back position. Weber displayed elite strength and speed at Ohio State and might be the perfect change-of-pace back, after the CJ Anderson and Cameron Artis-Payne experiments seemingly failed.
In a backfield-by-committee in Urban Meyer’s final year as head coach of the Buckeyes, Weber tallied 858 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught 20 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Round Four: Ross Pierschbacher, Guard/Center, Alabama
The Panthers take another interior lineman with this pick. RP has been great with the Crimson Tide, finishing as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy and finishing as an AP All-American.
Carolina now gets two pieces to an interior offensive line that needs a lot of work. It must be noted, however, that Pierschbacher may not last until the fourth round.
Round Five: Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Wide Reciever, Texas
It’s doubtful that Devin Funchess returns after a disappointing contract year for the Carolina Panthers. Lil’Jordan Humphrey could be a player that steps in with ease. He could fill a team’s need for a red zone threat, should he last this long.
After missing on Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, maybe a flyer on Lil’Jordan Humphrey late in the draft could jumpstart an already-young Panthers WR-core. Humphrey finished with over 1100 yards and nine touchdowns in his junior year at Texas.
Round Six: Clifton Duck, Slot CB, Appalachian State
The Panthers currently have Captain Munnerlyn and Corn Elder in the slot corner position, which is… not very good. Getting a high-impact player in the slot could benefit a struggling defense tremendously.
In 38 games for the Mountaineers, Duck totaled 158 total tackles, 12 interceptions, 19 passes defensed and has become an electrifying player worthy of being drafted out of a small(ish) school.
Round Seven: Olive Sagapolu, Nose Tackle, Wisconsin
Sagapolu was having a stellar senior season when his year, unfortunately, came to an end after suffering an arm injury. Adding more interior defensive line depth helps the Panthers, especially when Kendrick Norton didn’t necessarily work out like intended last offseason.
Sagapolu recorded 4.5 tackles for a loss in eight games for the Badgers in 2018. He played in a total of 28 games over the course of four years at Wisconsin.
Round Seven (via Buffalo Bills; Kaelin Clay/Kevon Seymour Trade): Khalil Hodge, Linebacker, Buffalo
Adding another linebacker may play to the Panthers advantage this season, and Hodge was a production monster in 2018. Oh, and he’s really consistent.
Hodge tallied 419 tackles in three years for Buffalo. He also recorded one interception and 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2018.
Mock Draft Class Summary:
Round One: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Round Two: Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
Round Three: Chris Lindstrom, G/OT, Boston College; Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
Round Four: Ross Piercshbacher, C/G, Alabama
Round Five: Lil’Jordan (LJ) Humphrey, WR, Texas
Round Six: Clifton Duck, sCB, Appalachian State
Round Seven: Olive Sagapolu, NT, Wisconsin; Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo