As the time for the Carolina Panthers to finally reveal their round one strategy in this year’s NFL Draft draws near, I thought I would take a moment and break down my best attempt at their big board. This projection is based on a number of factors including fit, need, public rumors, and yes whispers from people “in the know”. I take all of the aforementioned, mix them in a bowl, and the result is something that should look like the genuine article. It worked last year, let’s see what happens this year.
These eight players are in order of preference, so mark them off the list as they are drafted and move to the next name.
Projected Carolina Panthers Big Board
Myles Garrett – No shock here. Garrett is number one on most of the boards in the league I would imagine. Of course, a young stud of a defensive end is a huge need for the Panthers. Yes, they signed Julius Peppers and still have Charles Johnson, but these veterans are probably best as situational players at this point. Coming fresh off the bench would go a long way in maximizing their performance.
Leonard Fournette – I have made no secret of my thoughts surrounding this running back. The Panthers think very highly of him. The only way he is not the pick is if Garrett is off the board early, which he most likely will be.
Jamal Adams – This strong safety out of LSU would instantly improve the Carolina Panthers defense. While some would scream about giving Cam Newton no help, others would realize that a defense that does not force Newton to play from behind will be a tremendous help to him.
Solomon Thomas – Thomas is the second best defensive end in this draft and also thought of highly in Carolina. As with Garrett, keeping the veterans fresh while developing a young upstart is a recipe for pass rush success.
Marshon Lattimore – Much to the dismay of many Panthers fans, I have been saying a corner in round one of this draft is indeed a possibility. Pairing a round one corner with James Bradberry would give the Panthers the best starting corner combo in franchise history.
Gareon Conley – The other Ohio State corner. Some think he is actually the best corner in this draft. Should the Panthers stay true to the ole BPA strategy, he is definitely in play for round one. If the Panthers decide filling a more pressing need is more important (as they did last year in rounds 2 and 3) then both corners I have listed here will be skipped over.
Christian McCaffrey – The most talked about player in the draft in terms of the Carolina Panthers. Yes, the Panthers think highly of him. Such a dynamic player would instantly improve all phases of the offense and even special teams. How could you go wrong?
OJ Howard – Placing Howard behind McCaffrey is a judgement call on my part. Both players are thought of highly. I base this ranking mainly on how much the Panthers like two other tight end prospects in this draft. If it came down to it, I feel like McCaffrey is the guy that distinguishes himself more from other players at his position.