Saturday, January 22, 2022

Carolina Panthers 2022 NFL Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, we will update our Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Carolina Panthers from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Panthers:

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/20)

6. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Pickett has ties to Matt Rhule, and we know how much Rhule loves former recruits and players. The Panthers have to fix their quarterback spot.

ESPN - Mel Kiper (1/19)

6. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

This is an easy call based on Carolina's biggest weakness: It has to get a better left tackle. The Panthers ranked last in the league in yards per play (4.6) and 28th in sacks allowed (52). They went into the season with journeyman Cameron Erving manning the spot and finished with rookie third-rounder Brady Christensen filling in. Taylor Moton is a really solid right tackle, but they can upgrade the left side with this pick.

Cross took a big leap in 2021, allowing just a single sack while playing in a pass-happy Mike Leach offense. He can be a big-time NFL left tackle. This isn't a reach pick. The Panthers need to hit here because they don't have second- or third-round picks due to trades for quarterback Sam Darnold and cornerback CJ Henderson. This is a massive draft for coach Matt Rhule, who fired his offensive coordinator and might have to make the playoffs in 2022 to keep his job.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/19)

6. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

If the Panthers strike out on their quarterback options in free agency and on the trade market, this could be the spot where we see the first quarterback drafted. This is Carolina's only draft pick in the top 100, putting even more pressure on Matt Rhule and the organization to get this selection right.

Cross is talented enough to be OT1 on some team's draft boards. He has the athleticism and movement patterns to be comfortable pass-blocking on an island, and his hands are well-timed and precise. Cross should be able to start from day one as a rookie.

PFF - Austin Gayle (1/17)

6. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Safety isn't a premium position, and it is relatively low on the positional value chart because of it, but Kyle Hamilton is different. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the Notre Dame star legitimately has all of the sideline-to-sideline range, size and ball skills to be a game-changer, regardless of scheme or role at the next level.

Baltimore Sun - C.J. Doon (1/14)

6. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

If coach Matt Rhule wants to stick around in Carolina, he needs a better quarterback than Sam Darnold or Cam Newton. The 6-3, 220-pound Pickett is far from a sure-thing after breaking out in his fifth college season, but his experience and poise in the pocket could be just what the Panthers need to get the most out of a talented offense.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fischer (1/13)

6. Drake London, WR, USC

As much as ownership would love to sort out the QB position or head coach Matt Rhule would love to shore up the offensive line, London can turbo-charge the offense given his size, catch radius and ability to post up in the end zone. The team has lacked that true No. 1 since Steve Smith left and Sam Darnold's fellow Trojan can assume the mantle almost right away as a rookie.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

6. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Matt Rhule recruited Pickett while he was head coach of Temple and actually got him to commit before a bigger program was able to lure him away. This time the Heisman finalist won't have the final say if the Panthers can't land Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers this offseason.

Pickett is most dangerous outside of the pocket when he goes off script. He has good size, overall athleticism and solid arm talent, but needs to work on his anticipation throws and his comfort within the pocket.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/12)

6. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

After the failed Sam Darnold experiment and Cam Newton's flameout as a substitute starter, Carolina seems like a strong candidate to be the first team to select a quarterback in the draft. But owner David Tepper's sense of urgency for finding a franchise signal-caller might point the Panthers toward an answer in the trade market instead. Whoever takes over behind center will need a significant upgrade in blind-side protection, and Cross is an alluring candidate. The redshirt sophomore has showcased considerable tools as a pass blocker while still signaling substantial room for growth.

For The Win - Charles McDonald (1/12)

6. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The Panthers get their quarterback. Kenny Pickett is kind of like the anti-Sam Darnold, which is probably pretty appealing to the Panthers right now.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/10)

6. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The Panthers are in a challenging position with the need to find multiple starters along the offensive line and secure a worthwhile direction at quarterback. Finding the answer to both where cap space is tight and the draft capital is limited is nearly impossible. A trade back makes a lot of sense, but if Carolina believes in Kenny Pickett then he has to be the pick.

As will be said numerous times this draft season, Pickett once committed to play for Matt Rhule at Temple and owner David Tepper is a Pittsburgh native and Pitt alum. Pickett just delivered arguably the best quarterback season in ACC history and has elevated himself to the first-round conversation. He is a very logical projection to Carolina in the top 10 at this point in the process.

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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