NOTE: This write-up was submitted before the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold.
Perhaps it’s still plausible? Former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum still thinks the Panthers could take Justin Fields.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
With the 8th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Justin Fields, Quarterback, THE Ohio State University.Despite a 5-11 record in 2020, the Panthers look like a team on the rise. Matt Rhule came in as one of the more hyped college-to-pro coaches of recent years and didn’t flinch in the bigger spotlight. The Panthers have a chance to take control of the future of the NFC South with the retirement of Drew Brees and the aging of Matt Ryan (I’d say the aging of Tom Brady, but in truth we all know he’ll be playing at an MVP level into his 60s).
So, where does this roster stand, and what does this team need?
Offensive Tackle – Russell Okung may have made some genius moves investing in bitcoin, but he struggled last season with both his play and his health. Greg Little is promising, but he’s been beset by injuries, including an ankle injury that put him onto the IR late in 2020. Trent Scott doesn’t look like the answer either. The Panthers will also try and fill that hole with free agent acquisition Cameron Erving, but Erving’s 44.4 PFF grade since 2018 is dead last among the 151 offensive linemen who have played at least 1,500 snaps in that time. Regardless of who’s behind center, the Panthers are going to need some help protecting him.
Defensive Back – The Panthers need help at cornerback, and to a lesser extent, safety. Former Eagle Rasul Douglas played well for them early in 2020, but then struggled as the season went on, allowing 6 touchdowns and a 108.5 passer rating when targeted. Third year starter Donte Jackson looked better, but it’s a position they needed to improve. On the safety front, Tre Boston received a 3 year, $18 million contract before the season and rewarded his team by allowing a 95.0 passer rating when targeted. Tight End – Chris Manhertz is a glorified offensive lineman, recording only 6 receptions for 52 yards despite starting 12 games. It’s a position with a desperate need for improvement, especially if you’re trying to develop a young QB.
Quarterback – The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to a 3 year, $66 million contract in 2020 with $33 million guaranteed, while he looked good at times, it’s clear that this is the biggest position for the Panthers to fill. Bridgewater carries a $23 million cap hit in 2021, and while he may stick around in 2021 due to a $20 million dead cap hit if he’s released, it’s unlikely he will be on the roster in 2022 ($26 million cap hit, $5 million dead cap if released).The Panthers are clearly trying to move on at QB. This offseason, they’ve put in bids on nearly every QB who’s even been rumored to be on the trade block. You can count on them continuing to be aggressive, whether it’s trading for a NFL QB like Sam Darnold or Jimmy Garoppolo or moving around in the draft. Thankfully for the Panthers, this mock has lined up perfectly. While Kyle Pitts and Penei Sewell would be contenders for this selection if they were still on the board, in this scenario, would likely jump at the chance to draft a potential franchise quarterback. The Panthers were at Fields’ Pro Day where he looked every bit the game changer he did in the national semifinal against Clemson, throwing well and clocking a 4.44 second 40-yard dash, the fastest timed run for a quarterback prospect since RG3 ran a 4.41 in 2012. Fields has the size and athleticism to be a game changer at QB. His speed and ability to run and throw, in tandem with Christian McCaffrey, could make the Panthers’ RPO absolutely terrifying to opposing defensive coordinators.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2021 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242): WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers (wildcatlh): QB Justin Fields
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22):
10) Cowboys (Kephas):
11) Giants (Billmington):
12) Eagles (ablesser88):
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle):
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees):
15) Patriots (SakPrescott):
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL):
17) Raiders (dshelton5):
18) Dolphins (J. Wil):
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm):
20) Bears (Happy24):
21) Colts (CSsdV):
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan):
23) Jets (Asap Stocky):
24) Steelers (Gregnado):
25) Jaguars (“Snax”):
26) Browns (gerouxman1956):
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom):
28) Saints (grantspectations):
29) Packers (Philly_Philly):
30) Bills (doublefry):
31) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Carolina Panthers draft at No. 8?
This poll is closed
OT Rashawn Slater
LB Micah Parsons
WR Jaylen Waddle
QB Trey Lance
QB Mac Jones
1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins: TE Kyle PItts
7) Lions: WR DeVonta Smith