The Carolina Panthers are a bad football team.
This was true when the team slumped to an 0-8 finish in the 2nd half of last season, became worse when the best player on the defense retired, then was compounded with the unceremonious and disrespectful release of the greatest Quarterback in franchise history.
Indications that this team lacks serious talent are all over – a personal favourite being that Colin Jones was granted a release by the team during the heat of free agency. With all due respect, if Colin Jones feels like he’s above your football team, it might be worth asking if the guy who put it together really does have a steady hand on the tiller the way many in the organisation would want you to think.
Thankfully, the Panthers are well positioned at number 7 overall to get an elite level player to start their team turnaround, these are the 3 options I think the team should be highly considering – should they be there on the board
3. Isaiah Simmons – Linebacker/Safety/Just Put Him on Defense – Clemson
For a team with holes at basically every area of the defense, drafting a guy who can play a role at almost every single position seems like a smart option.
Widely seen as the best athlete in this draft – his combination of speed, size and explosiveness paired with impeccable table is so impressive that it would be a waste to peg him down to one position. That’s why it is so important for Simmons to go to the right spot, combining him with a smart DC to fully maximise his potential.
It remains to be seen whether Phil Snow is that guy, but should he be, Thursday could see the start of a very happy marriage between the Snowman and the new face of his Defense.
A fitting player to come in and pick up where Luke Kuechly left off.
2. Jeff Okudah – Cornerback – Ohio State
Of these 3 players, Okudah is the least likely to be on the board when the Panthers pick at number 7. In a deep class of corners, he has set himself apart as the consensus number 1 (save for the CJ Henderson truthers) and to many others is the number 2 overall prospect behind his teammate Chase Young.
It’s no secret that playing corner in the NFC South is a tough gig, but it’s Panthers DB’s who have it toughest of all. A combination of great offensive minds like Payton and Arians, top level wide receivers and Quarterback’s with stacked resume’s mean there are no easy assignments when it comes to divisional matchups.
The loss of James Bradberry this off season was a big one for Carolina. The team already needed more help in the secondary and the development of 2018 2nd round pick Donte Jackson seems to have been stunted, making corner a high priority need in this draft.
Should Okudah be there at 7, it would be the perfect pairing of need and best player available.
1. Tua Tagovailoa – Quarterback – Alabama
This one is the dream, the real kick starter. The one which will give life back to a fan base that has felt pretty disillusioned for about six months now. The funny part? He may be the player you can most realistically envision being there for us at 7. Talk continues to gather that his medical concerns are seriously putting teams off selecting him high in the draft, with Justin Herbert playing the defacto role of tall, white quarterback rising up draft boards – his 39 wonderlic score won’t do any harm for him either in terms of attracting teams without a clue what they’re doing.
The idea of Tua becoming a Carolina Panther after the last decade of incredibly questionable football decisions and awful mismanagement of a generational quarterback talent does make you wonder what sort of karma has been built up to make this team get so lucky twice. And while many fans feel like we may get even luckier next year in the form of a top 2 pick to take either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, my well guided pessimism makes me believe our team can do just enough to keep us out of the stakes for either of those franchise altering talents.
Unfortunately, there’s every chance Carolina passes on Tua should he be there. It’s been reported that at least 2 teams have flunked his medical, with the Panthers being circulated as potentially one of them.
Nobody doubts that there is risk tied to drafting Tua, but to get the guy deemed the consensus Number 1 Pick this time last year before the Burrow Boom, and to get him at number 7 overall? Well worth the risk. Players with a legit chance to be an elite Quarterback’s are very rare, so many teams settle for mediocrity and can waste years upon years as a result through the fear of where leaving the comfortable middle ground might leave them.
Team owner David Tepper prides himself on being a guy who likes to take ‘calculated risks’ – On Thursday night, There’s a good chance he’ll have a big one in front of him in the form of a potential new franchise Quarterback.