By: Norris Thornburg
It’s almost here! We are less than a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft! The rumors and speculation will end and fans will see who the long-awaited picks will be. Will Carolina take Fields if he drops? Do they take Patrick Surtain Jr. to solidify the secondary? Will they trade picks? We will find out on Thursday!
It wouldn’t be draft season without a 4 Man Mock Draft write-up. This mock draft is a combination of several mocks I’ve done on a couple different mock draft engines. Anyone that knows me personally would tell you that I’m somewhat addicted to mock drafts, so there’s definitely been a ton of research put into this. Without further ado, let’s dive into the draft.
OT Penei Sewell – Oregon
I’m sure many are wondering what happened for Sewell to fall to eight.
1. Jags – Lawrence
2. Jets – Wilson
3. 49ers – Lance (or Jones)
4. Falcons – Pitts
5. Bengals – Chase
6. Dolphins – Smith
7. *Broncos – Fields
*Detroit was always the wild card in this scenario with the seventh pick. No one knew if they were going to take a receiver or a tackle. In this scenario they trade to nine with Denver and the Broncos take Justin Fields.
Sewell has been considered a generational talent at left tackle, even after opting out of the 2020 season. He’s quick off the line, has excellent hand placement on every play and has a very high football IQ. Sewell plays with good balance, has good pass protection and is a mauler in the run game. He’s one of the most competitive players in this draft and would anchor the left side for ten years, which is something Carolina hasn’t had since Jordan Gross retired.
Sewell isn’t the consensus number one tackle in this class, as it has been widely reported by several media outlets that a lot of teams have Slater at the top. I’m not sure Carolina is one of those teams but they could be. However, taking Sewell would give them position flexibility as well. Sewell can move to guard later in his career if needed, which sounds like something Matt Rhule may covet. Sewell’s Relative Athletic Score was 9.08 (out of a possible 10), which is considered ELITE. One thing is for sure….Getting a generational left tackle at eight is something every fan should get behind.
CB Eric Stokes – Georgia
There’s no denying that Carolina needs another starting corner in their secondary and Stokes would be a great fit. He has the length that teams covet at corner. Stokes is good in man coverage and he’s even better in zone coverage. He’s a willing tackler that will get the job done, even against the run. Stokes is a very smart player that never gets lost on the field. He wowed scouts at his pro day when he ran a 4.25 40 yard dash, so he has the speed that the team wants. His Relative Athletic Score was 9.99 (out of a possible 10), so he’s definitely the type of athlete Matt Rhule likes. This would be the perfect player to get in the second round that will make an immediate impact.
C Josh Meyers – Ohio State
Carolina goes back to the offensive line and drafts the Ohio State center. Matt Paradis has one more year on his contract and will turn 32 years old in October, so Carolina could get his replacement at pick 73. Meyers has good anchor, solid hand placement and has good lateral mobility. Playing Meyers at guard could work if it’s just for a year, which is what they’ll likely do here.
*Panthers trade pick 113 and a 2023 third rounder to the Cleveland Browns for pick 89.*
G Trey Smith – Tennessee
Carolina continues to build the offensive line. Smith is one of best guards in this draft, but has slid a bit due to health concerns. Carolina decided he was worth trading up for so they could solidify the line. Smith is really good in pass sets and he mauls players in the run game. He’s powerful at the point of attack and always has good hand placement. Smith understands all blocking concepts and has a high football IQ. He has position flexibility, as he’s played left tackle at the college level. Smith’s Relative Athletic Score was 9.8, which is ELITE. His measurables and metrics make Smith one of the best players in the draft. Bringing Smith in the play right guard will make Fitterer look like a genius and it will solidify the right guard spot for years to come.
S Caden Sterns – Texas
The Panthers could use a safety that has good upside to start in the near future. Enter Caden Sterns. Sterns has played multiple positions in the secondary and be understands the assignments of each. He’s a hard-hitting safety that won’t be a liability in the run game. Sterns is fairly opportunistic in regards to takeaways and should get his fair share at the next level. His Relative Athletic Score is 9.6, which is considered elite. His 4.41 40 yard dash time, 2.47 20 yard split, 1.5 10 yard split, 4.13 shuttle and 42 inch vertical had something to do with that. He could be the starting free safety this year and also has high upside on special teams.
CB Avery Williams – Boise State
The Panthers came into this draft needing a return specialist and a corner or two. Williams would fill both needs at once. He ran a 4.43 40 yard dash and ran a 2.57 on the 20 yard split. He’s only 5’8, so he will probably only be at corner for sub-packages but he holds tremendous value as a returner. He had nine return touchdowns in his college career (three kickoff, six punt). As a corner, he has sufficient ball skills, does well in zone coverage and understands situational football. Williams anticipates routes and is a willing tackler against the run. His RAS is 7.76, but that’s because his measurements brought his score down significantly. Carolina has met with his during the pre-draft process, so there is interest. Getting a day one contributor on special teams would be a win for Carolina this late in the draft.
WR Jacob Harris – University of Central Florida
It’s no secret that Carolina struggled in the red zone last year. Taking a 6’5 receiver with a 40.5″ vertical jump would help take care of that issue. Harris would also come to the Panthers with terrific speed for his size. He ran a 4.39 40 yard dash at his pro day (Carolina brass was in attendance), which raised a lot of eyebrows. So much so, that Carolina held a Zoom call with Harris recently. Harris is also really explosive, as he posted an 11′ 1″ broad jump at his pro day. On his RAS he posted a 9.96, which is considered ELITE. His pro day numbers and measurements were outstanding. He’s a little raw, but the potential to break out is there. Harris would be a solid pick here and would contribute fairly early with his skill set. Edit: It’s worth noting that Harris can play tight end as well.
This would be a significant haul for a Carolina team looking to fill the roster with athletes who will contribute. Some names you’ve seen before and some names you’re seeing for the first time. Getting a left tackle, corner, center, guard, safety, returner and a dynamic receiver/tight end would be best case scenario. Let me know what you think, Panther fans!