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The Panthers have been a team that seems to go up and down as the years go on, especially after Super Bowl runs. The days of Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith were good times and they seemed to recapture that with Cam Newton and company in the mid 2010’s but have tapered off since.
The Panthers need a fresh start now, a new regime and face that revamps the team’s hope and pays off in the end. The draft is where that new reign starts and here is how it could shake out.
Round 1, Pick 6: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
The Panthers need a new signal caller and fast!
In 2021, they traded for former New York Jets first round pick, Sam Darnold, only to bench him for their prodigal son Newton mid-season. Needless to say, neither panned out.
Pickett isn’t the best quarterback in the draft but he is the most drastically improved. Every year in college he ascended higher and higher, and he could see that trend continue in the NFL.
He benefits from watching guys like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert who saw similar ascensions that has made them young top throwers in the NFL. Pickett throws a smooth short to intermediate football and excels at the “up and out” deep ball that Drew Brees and Payton Manning had so much success with. The Panthers should look to set up their future here in day one.
The Panthers don’t possess any day two picks but don’t fret, they could easily make some moves to acquire some.
Possessing the 6th overall pick and picking a QB is paramount but they could trade down to pickup a second and some thirds depending on if a team loves a guy that much. They could also trade up and mortgage some 2023 picks.
It is a matter of how the board falls but they have good enough players in the current roster that they may stand pat on what they have and wait until day three.
Round 4, Pick 3: Cade Mays, OL, Tennessee
Round 5, Pick 1: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Round 5, Pick 6: Jaylen Foster, Safety, South Carolina
Round 6, Pick 21: Grant Calcaterra, TE, SMU
Round 7, Pick 26: Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami
Day three will be a traditional scramble for depth but Carolina definitely can find some diamonds in the rough.
Mays is a solid guard that can play on either side of the offensive line and could start if needed day one.
Rambo is a receiver lauded for his leadership and is a “get open and catch the ball” kind of wideout. He isn’t flashy but he does his job very well and could find himself as a slot receiver on the roster.
The two players that could really make an impact early, are Calcaterra and Foster.
Calcaterra is a field stretcher with elite size that can win the 50/50 balls. His frame fits the modern tight end archetype and he would provide possible first-round pick Kenny Pickett with a safety valve.
Foster is a versatile read-and-react player who slots as a natural strong safety at the next level. His ability to head off routes and bait quarterbacks is exactly what you look for in a backend defender and something Carolina needs behind the corners they have. If he is chosen, the Panthers will have one of the most talented defensive backfields in the league for a long time.
The Panthers could set themselves up for a run of dominance if this draft scenario plays out. They are a few pieces away from another good team and these players could be the ones to put them over the top.