Is a QB Still in Play for Carolina at No. 7?
The NFL Draft is scheduled to take place next month, but could be pushed back due to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the plan is to not change any further plans with the draft. If that is the case, this could hurt several teams in their evaluations and relationships with the players they are looking to select.
Carolina is in the midst of a rebuild and hold eight picks in this year's draft. According to Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated, "The Panthers really can’t go wrong if they just take the best defensive player available throughout this draft."
It's hard to disagree with that analysis. I would be completely and utterly stunned if the Panthers use the No. 7 pick on an offensive player. Now, they could select an offensive lineman at that spot, but all of the top defensive players are all off the board. One interesting note from Benoit is that there could be a possibility that Carolina could take a quarterback with the seventh pick.
"If Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert make it to 7, the Panthers would have a decision on their hands. If they don’t, the seventh pick will likely come down to whomever falls between Clemson LB, Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah and Auburn DT Derrick Brown."
It would be difficult for the Panthers to pass on either of those quarterbacks should they be available, but they have bigger needs and have invested into Teddy Bridgewater.
So, let's lay out the options and let you decide.
CB Jeff Okudah (Ohio State)
If you look at his stats while at Ohio State, nothing really jumps off the page, but don't always fall in love with the numbers. He recorded only three interceptions during his three years in Columbus, but that's because teams feared throwing in his general direction. He has an aggressive style to his coverage and rarely gets beat. Okudah possesses all of the tools needed to become a successful NFL corner, but will be challenged by NFC South rivals - who have an abundance of big time threats at the receiver position.
DL Derrick Brown (Auburn)
The Panthers lost Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Bruce Irvin, Vernon Butler Jr., and Mario Addison off of the defensive line so this is a huge need. Carolina doesn't really have any "star power" up front and Brown could be that guy for them. They need immediate help on the interior of the defensive line and Brown has the ability to step in day one and make an immediate impact.
LB Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
The guy that is considered as the prohibited favorite by Panther Maven as Carolina's first round pick is a can't miss prospect. His versatility is what makes him so valuable. He can line up as an edge rusher, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, can cover the slot and even safety as well. He ended this past season with 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. With Luke Kuechly no longer in service, the Panthers need to do due diligence in finding a replacement. Current Panther linebacker Shaq Thompson is figured to be a candidate, but he doesn't seem like a guy that will move to the inside full-time.
QB Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Big time arm, with a quick release. He can really push the ball down the field and can hit targets on all three levels of the passing game. Herbert is not just a pocket passer- he has the ability to tuck and run with the ball and have success doing it. He displays a high football IQ and knows where to go with the ball on most occasions, but struggles with consistency. When he's on, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the college game, but when he's off, it's extremely shaky. Will force some passes instead of going through his progressions thoroughly.
Wildcard: QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
It is very unlikely that Tua is still available at No. 7, however, if he is the Panthers must take a long, hard look at him. Bridgewater is the guy for now, but if they don't feel like he is the long-term answer, Tagovailoa may be your selection here. Again, this, to me, is probably the least likely scenario.
So, if you're Marty Hurney, what do you do? Are you trading out of the seven spot or do you take one of these guys listed above? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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