Adding Sam Darnold cost the Panthers some. They sent a 2nd round draft pick, a fourth-round draft pick and a 6th round draft pick to New York. On the other hand, Sam Darnold gives the Panthers a little bit more freedom to draft other positions. This is a good thing and gives the Panthers the ability to really shore up the roster for 2021. The Panthers start out having 8 draft picks in 2021.
Round 1 Pick 11 via NYG
The Panthers were able to trade back to 11 with the Giants and still nab Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts. This draft pick gives the Panthers the best tight end by far- in the entire draft class. Pitts has a 7.19 prospect grade from NFL.com, putting him considerably higher than the next closest tight end, Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth at 6.30. Pro Football Focus ranks Pitts atop the tight end leaderboard. The mock draft game gave this pick an A, but this one was really a no-brainer.
Round 2 Pick 7
The Panthers stay put here and grab an interior lineman to protect their new investment, Sam Darnold. Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC is NBC Sports’ top-ranked interior offensive lineman and carries a strong 6.43 prospect grade from NFL.com. The Panthers need to shore up the line to protect Darnold and open up holes for Christian McCaffrey. This doesn’t solve all the problems the line has, but it’s a big step in the right direction. This one got an A+ grade.
Round 2 Pick 21 via TEN
In another trade, the Panthers added a second and third-round draft pick from the Titans. This allows them to draft a playmaker to fill the hole left in Curtis Samuel’s wake. Amon-Ra St. Brown out of USC is the pick here. St. Brown was given an 8.4 PPV by Sports Illustrated, which puts him to potentially be a solid starter- not bad for a late second-round pick and your third overall wideout. A- was given here.
Round 3 Pick 9
Again, the Panthers stayed put here, as well. Despite the recent addition of A.J. Bouye, the Panthers need a cornerback for the future to put alongside Donte Jackson. UCF’s Aaron Robinson carries a 6.30 prospect grade, with NFL.com stating that he’ll be a starter within two seasons. Perfect. Robinson is PFF’s 7th ranked corner and their second-best press corner in the draft. A+ sounds about right.
Round 3 Pick 36 via TEN
Here’s the other draft pick Carolina grabbed from Tennessee. Here, they decided to go with a linebacker. Things really haven’t been the same since Luke Keuchly retired. North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt isn’t Keuchly, but in the late 3rd round, it’s hard to pass on him. He ranks as the third-best inside linebacker for Sports Illustrated, making him even harder to pass up. Surratt started as a quarterback, replacing Mitch Trubisky, before switching sides. This pick was given an A+, as well.
Round 4 Pick 8
It’s really just Shaq Thompson or bust in the linebacker room for Carolina. They desperately need help there, so doubling down on solid linebackers gives them much-needed depth. That’s why Cameron McGrone is the pick here. NFL.com’s 6.10 prospect grade is just a hair below Surratt’s, so the value is there in the 4th round. This gives the Panthers some depth at linebacker and makes the defense younger, something they are very intent on doing given that last year, every pick was on defense. Another A+ was given.
Round 5 Pick 18 via LV
Carolina wheels and deals here in the later rounds to get the players they like. That starts with moving to 18th in the 5th round, swapping picks with Las Vegas. Eli Howard out of Texas Tech has the versatility to play defensive end or outside linebacker, giving the Panthers some pass-rushing depth alongside standout Brian Burns. A+ here, too.
Round 6 Pick 19 via CIN
More wheeling and dealing allows the Panthers to move into the 19th pick here. The Panthers sincerely need offensive line help (they have forever) and shoring up the tackles is a good idea since Russell Okung is no longer on the roster. Greg Little is solid and Taylor Moton is exceptional, but Moton is on the franchise tag and outside of those two, it’s slim pickings. Adding Nebraska’s Brenden Jaimes gives them some depth and flexibility on the line. Another A+ pick.
Round 6 Pick 21 via CHI
Despite going with a tackle in the previous draft pick, the Panthers can’t pass up on ECU’s D’Ante Smith. Smith is rated the 7th best-left tackle in this class, and has a potential value of nine, putting him in the All-Pro range, via Sports Illustrated. It doesn’t get much better in the late 6th round. A+ might not be doing it justice.
Round 6 Pick 28 via CLE
The Panthers close out this year’s draft on defense. Texas Tech’s Anthony Hines fills out the linebacker room and gives inside/outside linebacker positional flexibility. Linebacker is one of the biggest holes on the roster, and Carolina has spent a lot of capital to improve it. This pick received an A+, as well.