During a recent segment on the NFL Network, former NFL stars Joe Thomas and Willie McGinest were discussing Sam Darnold's potential with the Panthers. During that segment, McGinist showed some love to the Panthers' defense and believes they could be one of the best units in the league.
"The defense, they'll have a top 10 defense. They'll be really good. There's a lot of No. 1 picks - five of them I think and a lot of high draft choices on that side of the ball."
Over the years, the Panthers have drafted some really good defensive players. From Julius Peppers to Thomas Davis to Luke Kuechly to Shaq Thompson to Brian Burns and several others.
Once Matt Rhule took over as the head coach last offseason, that side of the ball needed to be addressed at every level. They did so by making all seven of their selections defensive players. At the top of last year's class, they snagged defensive lineman Derrick Brown and safety Jeremy Chinn. Both had solid rookie seasons and look to be very important pieces for the Panthers to build around. In this year's draft, the Panthers went with a defensive player again in the 1st round and took South Carolina cornerback, Jaycee Horn.
The Panthers may be the youngest team in the NFL but they have a defense that has a ton of talent at all three levels. Just take a look at the projected starting 11 and where they were selected when they were drafted.
DE Brian Burns - 1st round, 16th overall (2019)
DT Derrick Brown - 1st round, 7th overall (2020)
DT DaQuan Jones - 4th round, 112th overall (2014)
DE Yetur Gross-Matos - 2nd round, 38th overall (2020)
LB Shaq Thompson - 1st round, 25th overall (2015)
LB Denzel Perryman - 2nd round, 48th overall (2015)
LB Haason Reddick - 1st round, 13th overall (2017)
CB Jaycee Horn - 1st round, 8th overall (2021)
CB Donte Jackson - 2nd round, 55th overall (2018)
S Jeremy Chinn - 2nd round, 64th overall (2020)
S Juston Burris - 4th round, 118th overall (2016)
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