Each day leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we will take a look at prospects that should be on the Carolina Panthers' radar. We will look at roughly eleven prospects per round to give a better idea of potential draftees beyond just the first round.
Here's our schedule for the next 80 days:
1st Round: Feb. 8th - Feb. 21st
2nd Round: Feb. 22nd - Mar. 6th
3rd Round: Mar. 7th - Mar. 18th
4th Round: Mar. 19th - Mar. 29th
5th Round: Mar. 30th - Apr. 8th
6th Round: Apr. 9th - Apr. 18th
7th Round: Apr. 19th - Apr. 28th
Prospect No. 17: EDGE Joseph Ossai
Height: 6'4" Weight: 254 lbs
Draft range: Early 2nd round
Analysis: Over the last two seasons, Big 12 offenses have been pestered by Texas outside linebacker/defensive end Joseph Ossai. In his last 22 games as a Longhorn, Ossai tallied 145 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks.
Ossai has an arsenal of moves in his back pocket that he can pull out at any time. He is not a one-trick pony and is just as successful rushing outside as he is ripping through the inside of the line.
Although the Panthers don't necessarily have a pressing need for a pass rusher, they could use some help. Brian Burns will be the guy the Panthers build around, but the biggest question mark is whether or not Yetur Gross-Matos is going to develop into a legitimate starter. If there are some concerns with Gross-Matos, then choosing Ossai in the 2nd round wouldn't be a terrible pick.
Coming off of a solid 2019 campaign, Ossai made the move from linebacker to full-time edge rusher in 2020. What followed was his best season in a Longhorn uniform, finishing with 5.5 sacks, 33 quarterback pressures, and 15.5 tackles for loss. While not an over-the-top athlete, the 6-foot-4 253-pounder is one of the top edge rushers in the 2020 class. Thanks to his experience as a linebacker and his willingness to learn, he is also a solid defender against the run. However, his motor, leadership, and passion for the game, in particular, are what set him apart from a lot of other edge rushers in the class. Ossai likely projects immediately as a standup 3-4 or situational pass rusher rather than a traditional hand in the dirt-type defensive end, but given the time to develop his mechanics and his strength, he has every chance to become an every-down pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme.
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