The NFL Draft is less than three weeks away so it’s time to crack down on these mock drafts. Right now the Panthers have seven total draft picks: 1.16, 2.47, 3.77, 3.101 (compensatory selection), 4.115, 5.154, 6.187.
Carolina has many needs, but the consensus top-3 are Edge Rusher, Free Safety, and Offensive Tackle.
Last year, the Panthers drafted players based on speed and versatility. That model has been the case for the past 2-3 years now so I would expect Carolina to continue leaning in that direction.
In 2018, Carolina picked DJ Moore, Donte Jackson, and Rashaan Gaulden with their first three selections. In 2017, it was Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, and Taylor Moton.
This Mock Draft was formulated using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Simulator.
Round One, Pick 16: Brian Burns, Edge Rusher, Florida State
The Panthers’ largest hole on the roster is the edge rusher spot. Carolina has Mario Addison, Marquise Haynes, Efe Obada, and newly-signed Bruce Irvin currently holding down the position. Brian Burns would be an immediate starter as a speedy defensive end. If he’s available at 16, the Panthers should not hesitate to pull the trigger.
Round Two, Pick 47: Darnell Savage, Safety, Maryland
Darnell Savage is an instinctual, fast, rangy safety. That’s exactly what the Panthers need. Paired with Eric Reid, Savage would be an immediate starter and finally secure a secondary that has been lackluster ever since the 2015 NFL season.
Round Three, Pick 77: Terry McLaurin, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Wide Receiver is an underrated need for the Panthers. While they have Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore as quality young pass-catchers already, most teams are running 3-WR sets. McLaurin is a spectacular route runner who formed a dangerous duo with Parris Campbell last season at Ohio State. You can never have enough playmakers.
Round Three, Pick 100: Tytus Howard, Offensive Tackle, Alabama State
With the compensatory pick awarded to Carolina from Andrew Norwell’s free agency in 2018, the Panthers select a project offensive lineman. Rivera stated at the NFL meetings that he believes that all five OL starters are on the roster already. Howard could learn behind either Moton or Williams for a year, and in 2020, likely start.
Round Four, Pick 115: Devin Singletary, Running Back, Florida Atlantic
Ron Rivera has also stated the importance of getting another RB to take some of the load off of star Christian McCaffrey. Singletary is a tough runner that would fill the power back role. He would likely be slotted as the second running back on the roster immediately above Cameron Artis-Payne.
Round Five, Pick 154: Cameron Smith, Linebacker, USC
The Panthers like drafting linebackers. They currently have Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, Jermaine Carter, and Andre Smith. With a switch to a 3-4 scheme, the Panthers need two stand-up starting caliber linebackers. Thompson may be tried as a situational Edge this year (which I believe would suit him much better than a coverage linebacker, which means the Panthers need another player in the front seven. Smith is a high-IQ, instinctual player that would compliment Kuechly very well.
Round Six, Pick 187: Clifton Duck, Nickel, Appalachian State
If the Panthers view Ross Cockrell as a depth outside corner, it opens the door to selecting a pure nickel. Duck is exactly that. Duck has 12 total interceptions in his three years at Appalachian State. He also adds another option as a punt and kick returner. With late round picks, the Panthers should look to add players that can play two phases of the field, either offense or defense with special teams. Duck fits that mold.