Each Sunday, I'll be releasing a new Carolina Panthers seven-round mock draft. From now up until the first Sunday of April, I will not be projecting any trades.
RD 1, Pick 8: QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
Although I could see Justin Fields sliding all the way down to No. 8, I'm beginning to think it's more likely that he goes in the top three or four picks. Trey Lance will be the best quarterback option available for the Panthers if they choose to stay put at No. 8. He's not going to make an immediate impact and will likely need to sit and learn for a while as he adjusts to the NFL game. Not to mention, he only played one game this past fall due to the pandemic, so it's going to take him some time to get to where he wants to be.
RD 2, Pick 39: OT Alex Leatherwood (Alabama)
Leatherwood is a very athletic tackle that can get to the second level of the defense rather quickly. He does a great job of identifying who is coming on the blitz and who is dropping into coverage. Getting any sort of a pass rush on him seemed impossible for a lot of teams. Leatherwood has great balance, footwork, and stands defenders straight up to where they have a severe lack of movement. If there is any one flaw in his game, I would say it's consistency. His production isn't hit or miss from play to play but there's a lot of plays where I think he could do more. Maybe he was getting bored of dominating the guy lined up across from him?
RD 3, Pick 73: WR Rondale Moore (Purdue)
The Panthers might need to find a replacement for Curtis Samuel this offseason and Rondale Moore could be the answer. This guy is electric with the football in his hands and can take it the distance any time he gets a touch. He's got a ton of speed and has also taken some reps at running back - something Samuel did this past season. He may not be the biggest guy in the world (5'9", 180 lbs) but that won't matter. Moore can step right in and make an impact immediately.
RD 4, Pick 113: CB Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State)
Rodarius is the brother of former LSU corner and now Cleveland Brown, Greedy Williams. Rodarius was a four-year starter at Oklahoma State and a good one at that. Big 12 offenses often neglected to throw his way which is why he only has two career interceptions at the collegiate level. He's a great cover corner, but still has some room to develop. The Panthers went corner in the 4th round last year, and I think they do it again this year.
RD 5, Pick 152: S Caden Sterns (Texas)
Although it may not be a true Matt Rhule connection, Caden Sterns did face Rhule twice during his time at Baylor. Sterns emerged into one of the top safeties in the Big 12 throughout the course of his career, but there are still several areas of his game that he can develop. I'm not sure he would be quite ready to step in and make an impact right away but down the road, Sterns should bring some value to an NFL defense.
RD 5, Pick 185: OL Drake Jackson (Kentucky)
Matt Paradis has not lived up to expectations in his two years at Carolina. By drafting Jackson in the 5th, you can give him some time to sit behind Paradis until he's ready to take the job over. Jackson started 44 consecutive games at center and was named First Team All-SEC.
RD 6 Pick 195: TE Noah Gray (Duke)
Taking Gray at this spot may be a bit of a reach, but the Panthers want to add some competition to the tight end room. Ideally, Carolina could trade back and potentially acquire another late-round pick in 2021 or the future. With all that said, Gray will be the best available option at this point. He never developed into a star at Duke, but he does have the tools to become a very solid NFL tight end.
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