Schuyler Callihan's Final 2021 Carolina Panthers Seven-Round Mock Draft

A full projection of Panthers picks.
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Round 1, Pick 8: QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)

Once the trade went down to acquire Sam Darnold, I thought I would never put a quarterback in this spot once again, yet here we are. By trading Teddy Bridgewater, that leaves the Panthers with just Will Grier, P.J. Walker, and Tommy Stevens. That's not the type of competition that GM Scott Fitterer has been envisioning. Add Fields to the mix and now the Panthers are in a much better situation moving forward. They can let those two guys battle it out for the starting job and the right to be the future of the franchise. If Fields is gone, look for an offensive lineman to go here such as Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater.

Round 2, Pick 39: OT Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State)

After selecting a QB in the 1st round, it's time to add some protection. There are 2-3 really good offensive tackles that should be available early in the 2nd round but I'm going with Radunz who may be the most athletic of those still on the board. 

Round 3, Pick 73: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (Syracuse)

Melifonwu has great size (6'3", 215 lbs) and can match up with just about any type of receiver. He's physical over the middle of the field and tends to win the majority of the one-on-ones deep down the field. Throwing him into the mix with Donte Jackson. A.J. Bouye and Rashaan Melvin will help stabilize the corner position.

Round 4, Pick 113: TE Kenny Yeboah (Ole Miss)

After spending four years at Temple, Kenny Yeboah transferred to Ole Miss to finish out his collegiate career. He may not have posted the same numbers that some of the top tight ends in this class produced, but when he touches it, it's usually for a first down or a touchdown. During his one year with the Rebels, he only caught 27 passes, six of which went for a score. He has the ability to be a threat in the middle of the field in the intermediate passing game which is what he was mainly used as at Temple. However, he became more of a downfield threat at Ole Miss averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. 

Round 5, Pick 151: DL Osa Odighizuwa (UCLA)

There are very few prospects in this draft class that can affect the pocket better than Osa Odighizuwa. In his four seasons at UCLA, Odighizuwa registered 27.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Those may not seem like great numbers over four years but he did several things that disrupted a big play from happening that won't show up on a stat sheet. Odighizuwa appears to be a fourth-rounder but I wouldn't be all that shocked to see him slip to the fifth round. He's more of a specialist than an every-down player at the next level and I'm not so sure that many teams will want to draft that caliber of a player in the fourth round.

Round 6, Pick 191: WR Jaelon Darden (North Texas)

Carolina needs to add to the receiving corps despite the addition of David Moore. Darden brings tremendous value early in the 6th round with his blazing speed. After the show he put on at his Pro Day, I would not be surprised if he sneaks into the 5th round, maybe higher depending on what scouts think of him. This past season, he caught 74 passes for 1,190 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 16.1 yards per catch. He's a home run threat at all times.

Round 6, Pick 193: LB Grant Stuard (Houston)

After what happened last year with Tahir Whitehead, you never want to be put in that situation again. The Panthers need to have options at linebacker. Denzel Perryman should be a major improvement but he has to stay healthy. Stuard doesn't need to come in right away and make an impact defensively. He can serve on the special teams unit and learn all three linebacker positions until he is ready to settle into a role defensively.

Round 6, Pick 222: RB Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana)

It appears like the consensus is that Mitchell is going to be a 6th, maybe 7th round guy but I'm not sure why. He's an explosive back that can muscle through defenders for extra yardage and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He rushed for 1,147 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019 and ran for 878 yards and eight touchdowns in four fewer games this year. The value of Mitchell going this late reminds me a lot of James Robinson who actually went undrafted but had a stellar rookie year for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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