Monday, January 18, 2021

Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

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:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

8. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

In Matt Rhule's first draft with the Panthers, it was all defense (literally). In the previous iteration of this mock, I slotted Northwestern's Rashawn Slater here. With Russell Okung and Taylor Moton set to become free agents in March, that remains a possibility as does a potential long-term upgrade (Trey Lance) of Teddy Bridgewater. The winner of the John Mackey Award, given to college football's top tight end, Pitts is in the mold of Darren Waller and a mismatch for opposing defenses. In eight games, Pitts had 43 catches for 770 yards (17.9 Y/R) and 12 touchdowns.

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

8. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

I'd consider a quarterback here if Wilson or Fields were available. However, Rasul Douglas is clearly the weakest link in a young, up-and-coming defense. Farley is a physical press corner with elite athleticism and size (6-foot-2, 197 pounds) who also opted out due to COVID.

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The logical pairing for both the prospect and the franchise. Get Trey Lance a season behind Teddy Bridgewater.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The Panthers need to upgrade at quarterback. It will just come down to how they feel about those in the draft. The concerns with Lance are obvious (he has only made 17 starts, all against FCS competition), but his talent, work ethic and college production are strong selling points. And with Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker under contract, Carolina won't need to rush Lance's development.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

3. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

TRADE: Carolina receives 3rd overall pick from Miami in exchange for 8th overall pick, 72nd overall pick, 2022 first-round pick.

The Panthers showed some promise in Year 1 of the Matt Rhule era and the next phase of the rebuilding process for Carolina is finding its next franchise quarterback. In striking distance to land an exciting new option, the Panthers should be thinking about a move up the board. With Miami being only one year removed from drafting Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall selection and earning the No. 3 pick courtesy of the Laremy Tunsil trade and a poor season from the Texans, trading back to build the talent around Tagovailoa is a wise move. The Dolphins and Panthers are perfect trade partners. Wilson is a dynamic quarterback prospect that fits nicely with how the NFL game is trending and would provide Carolina with a potential difference-maker at the position. With a fairly complete set of weapons already in place and all the investments made on the defensive side of the football, Carolina is ready to pick a quarterback high in the draft.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

8. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

This is another spot where QB could be in play -- Teddy Bridgewater struggled down the stretch -- as well as an offensive line that will need to navigate free-agency issues. But what about Pitts? He would be a problem for opposing defensive coordinators, bringing size, speed and hands to a position that has lacked a punch for Carolina since Greg Olsen left town. Pitts caught 12 touchdowns in eight games this season at Florida, and he would be a real matchup advantage for offensive coordinator Joe Brady. No team had fewer passing yards when targeting a tight end in 2020 than the Panthers (195). Pitts would join 10 other tight ends to be drafted this high in the common draft era (since 1967).

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Teddy Bridgewater's viability as Carolina's starter took a significant hit when Matt Rhule left the team's outlook at quarterback open after benching the veteran in the season finale against the Saints. The 6-3, 224-pound Lance would change the face of the offense with his deep-throwing prowess and ability to burn teams on designed runs and scrambles. Given that Lance has started just 17 games at the Football Championship Subdivision level, Bridgewater could stay on as a starter and mentor until it's time to hand over the reins to the Panthers' attack.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

There's not a large sample size to judge Lance on but what he has put on tape has been impressive enough, combined with his physical attributes, to land in the top 10. Matt Rhule has an eye on building a sustainable team for years to come so he won't be scared off by any need to give the Bison star some time to sit and learn behind a vet like Teddy Bridgewater.

Previous update: Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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