With the NFL just past the halfway point, more than a few teams including the Panthers don’t have much to play for other than spoiling a few team’s seasons. For those not making the playoffs, it’s time to look forward to the 2021 NFL draft. If the season ended today, the Panthers would hold the ninth overall pick and Vegas’ odds to win the SuperBowl in reverse has them finishing with the 8th pick.
With a less than favorable schedule, it’s reasonable to think they will finish with a top 10 draft pick. With that in mind, here are a few players that should be on Panthers’ fans draft watch.
Micah Parson, LB, Penn State
If you’ve watched the Panthers you know how bad the LB core has been, particularly Tahir Whitehead. Parson’s would come into a young defense and be an immediate impact player; he has the size (6’3 245 lbs) to play true Mike LB and the athleticism to cover and make tackles in space. With teams leaning towards athletic TE’s and pass-catching RB’s, he’s a perfect fit for the new NFL. With a potential run of 5 QB’s in the top 10 and a Penei Sewell, it’s not unreasonable to think he could fall into the 8-10 spot.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Rasul Douglas has been a stellar post cut signing this season and has flawlessly stepped into the number one corner spot and has gone head to head with Deandre Hopkins, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin. While leading the charge of the middle of the road pass defense, his counterpart Donte Jackson has been a disappointment for a 2nd round pick. He is having his best year, but he is not cut out to play outside corner and would be best served in the slot.
Surtain has the size (6’2 203 lbs) needed in the NFC South to match up with the monsters that line up outside on opposing teams. He’s been clocked at 4.5 40 yard dash which is plenty fast to hang with the best. Wrap it up with an NFL pedigree, his father played 11 seasons in the NFL, and you’ve got yourself a number one corner for years to come.
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
While QB is not the most pressing issue for the Panthers, you can’t pass up the opportunity to draft a better signal-caller. Teddy might not lose you games, but he isn’t going to win you any either. Wilson has good athleticism and the ability to move around and get out of the pocket to extend plays. He has impressive arm strength in both deep ball and zip. He’s been nicknamed “The Mormon Manziel” for his electrifying play that makes viewers have to watch. He plays with a fun attitude and energy that this team needs. Put a more mobile QB with a willingness to take shots downfield in Joe Brady’s offense, and it would be deadly.