Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup, 2.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 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:

Rotoworld - Thor Nystrom (8/21)

4. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

How perfect would this be? The best receiver in the class reunites with former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady, now the wunderkind OC of the Panthers. Meanwhile, Carolina, in need of receivers to stock Brady's wide-open system, could enter 2021 with a scary top four of Chase, Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel. Carolina could also consider a quarterback if they're picking this high, though it's worth noting that Teddy Bridgewater is essentially guaranteed the job through 2021 – it would take a $20 million cap hit to move on from him after this season, but only $5 million to cut Bridgewater following Year 2 of his three-year deal.

PFF - Mike Renner (8/19)

5. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The lack of a fall season is going to hurt Lance in his quest to unseat Lawrence and Fields as a top-two pick, but it still ain't dropping him out of the top five -- that's how freaky his tools are. His blend of arm strength, accuracy and mobility is better than even Carson Wentz‘s was back in 2016. Oh, and he just turned 21, whereas Wentz was already 23 when he was drafted.

The Draft Network - Kyle Crabbs (8/19)

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Carolina may be hoping for QB Teddy Bridgewater to allow them to skip the line at quarterback and avoid needing to invest here. But if the pick comes in at No. 3 overall, Bridgewater likely hasn't elevated the team enough to avoid this prime opportunity. Fields manning Joe Brady's passing offense is a nice fit, given that Ohio State also spaces the field and makes the reads easy for the gifted passer.

Pro Football Network - Oliver Hodgkinson (8/16)

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The Carolina Panthers 2020 class had Matt Rhule's defensive influence written all over it with zero offensive selections. Expect that to change in 2021. Additions across the offensive line are to be expected for the Panthers, but their 2021 NFL Draft needs will depend heavily on the success of Teddy Bridgewater in his first year with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. If they select early, Bridgewater could be replaced.

The former backup quarterback to Jake Fromm at Georgia saw his stock soar with an impressive 2019 season for Ohio State. With the ability to make all the throws, a ruthless efficiency, and mobility to extend the play, Justin Fields will be right at the top of any quarterback-needy team's board at the 2021 NFL Draft.

ESPN - Todd McShay (8/12)

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Yes, Teddy Bridgewater looked pretty good in five starts last season, his first prolonged game action since his serious knee injury, but he also turns 28 this year and was dead last in air yards per attempt out of 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts (5.8). He is signed through 2022, but there is a possible out with just $5 million against the cap after next season. Bottom line, the Panthers are still looking for a quarterback to build around. Fields has shown high-end accuracy, a quick release with some zip on the ball and the ability to adjust arm angles to make difficult throws off-schedule. If his game continues progressing, he would be a great get for Carolina here at No. 4.

The Draft Network - Jordan Reid (8/10)

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The Panthers' blueprint under the first offseason of the Rhule-Hurney pairing was clear. The regime wanted to add pieces to the offense via free agency and build up the defense through the draft. The franchise became the first team in the common draft era (started in 1967) to spend all of its draft selections on defensive prospects. With somewhat of a foundation built on defense, the team flips the focus to the other side of the ball.

The team signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal during the offseason, but he may be in a similar situation to what he found himself with the Jets prior to being traded to the Saints days before the 2018 season. With Fields now in the fold, Rhule has his quarterback of the future to find surrounding pieces while still having Bridgewater in the picture until the Ohio State quarterback is ready to take the reins.

Pro Football Network - Matthew Valdovinos (8/9)

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Similar to Washington, I don't necessarily think that Carolina needs a quarterback as I've long been a believer in Teddy Bridgewater. However, if the Panthers find themselves selecting in the top five, it likely means Teddy struggled this season. If one of the top three quarterbacks is still available when they're on the clock, it will be difficult to pass on them.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (8/3)

4. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

After investing all of its draft capital in 2020 on help for the defensive side of the ball, it's time for Carolina to find help offensively. There's no better way to do that than investing in a new franchise quarterback to pair with offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

Lance is 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds with tremendous athleticism. Leading the Bison to a National Championship in 2019 and named MVP of the title game, Lance had an incredible redshirt freshman season. Lance completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions to go with 1,100 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. With Teddy Bridgewater signed through 2022, this is the perfect opportunity for Lance to come in and develop.

Previous update: Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup 1.0

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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