After starting the 2021 season 3-0 things were looking good for the Carolina Panthers. However, that did not last long for them as they went on to lose 12 of their final 14 games. To make things worse they will now head into the draft with limited picks in the early rounds. They still have their first-round pick but traded their second and a fourth for Sam Darnold. They also traded their third-round pick in a package for C.J. Henderson while also adding the Jacksonville Jaguar’s fifth-round pick. Furthermore, they acquired another 2022 fourth-round pick in a trade with the Houston Texans in last year’s draft.
For this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Team Mock Drafts.
Round 1, Pick 6: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
There is a chance that Carolina decides to move this pick if they find a suitable trade partner. However, if not, the Panthers need to improve the offensive line. Their pass protection was awful and it showed last season allowing a total of 52 sacks. The good news is Cross is arguably the best pass protector in the draft. If selected he would make an immediate impact and would be a huge boost for whichever quarterback Carolina decides to go with next season.
Round 4, Pick 106: Alec Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
With no second or third-round picks, these late picks will be very important. Even if they get Cross in the first round they need to continue to bulk up the offensive line. Especially with Matt Paradis, who has been the Panthers center the last three seasons, expected to be a free agent. Lindstrom would a solid replacement for Paradis or he could likely make the switch to guard. He is the brother of current Atlanta Falcons guard and former first-round pick, Chris Lindstrom. Football runs in the family and taking a shot on the younger Lindstrom who is coming off back-to-back All-ACC awards would be a great investment for Carolina.
Round 5, Pick 143: Bailey Zappe QB, Western Kentucky
While Darnold is likely to be the starting quarterback next season a little competition doesn’t hurt. Zappe made a name for himself after having a record-breaking season racking up 62 passing touchdowns. It’s going to take some time for Zappe to develop and adapt to the speed of the NFL. However, he has good quarterback traits, makes good decisions with the ball, is accurate, and has a solid arm.
For more on Zappe, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 5, Pick 148: Montaric Brown, CB, Arkansas
The Panthers are set with Jaycee Horn as their No. 1 cornerback for the next several years. However, their No. 2 cornerback will be a question mark since they are likely to lose Donte Jackson and Stephon Gilmore in free agency this month. With some development, Brown could be just that. He had a very good senior season intercepting five passes to go with six pass deflections. Ultimately, he has good length and ball skills to be a potential starting corner in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick 197: Micheal Clemons, EDGE, Texas A&M
The Panthers already have some very good edge rushers. However, it never hurts to add more because depth is always important in the NFL. Clemons had himself a nice final season last year at Texas A&M. He ended the year with seven sacks including 3.5 in his final game with the Aggies. He has good bend and speed off the edge, which would translate well for his NFL career.
Round 7, Pick 244: Thomas Booker DL, Stanford
Booker is a former four-star recruit out of Stanford. He was good his first few seasons at rushing the passer racking up 7.5 sacks. However, over his final two seasons, he only recorded two sacks but made more of an impact in the run game. He ended his senior season with 59 total tackles and five tackles for a loss. He is a little slower off the snap but should be able to use his size to develop into an early-down run stopper.
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