Assessing the Panthers 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 Pick 8: CB Jaycee Horn SC

Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer must have thought highly of Horn to pass on presumed franchise quarterback Justin Fields. Horn is very impressive in man coverage, sticking to his receiver and locking them up with his "Seatbelt" celebration. Due to a better pass rush and a better corner room, Phil Snow will likely implement more man coverage to play to his defense's strengths. Jaycee Horn has the potential to be a lockdown corner in the NFC South, competing against the likes of Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, and Calvin Ridley. As I watch him more, I've learned to love this pick!


Grade: A




Round 2 Pick 59: WR Terrace Marshall Jr LSU

The Panthers get tremendous value in the late 2nd with Terrace Marshall, who offers an exciting blend of height, weight, speed, and production in Joe Brady's LSU offense in 2019. Marshall can definitely be an elite red-zone weapon, positioning himself for jump-balls in the endzone. Sam Darnold doesn't really have any excuses with all these weapons. With Robby Anderson set to hit free agency next offseason, Fitterer could be looking ahead for a possible replacement in Terrace Marshall Jr. While I think there were bigger needs they could've looked to address, the front office seems intent on selecting the best player available.


Grade: B+




Round 3 Pick 70: OT Brady Christensen BYU

Finally, an offensive tackle. Brady Christensen had the pleasure of protecting #2 overall pick Zach Wilson and performed admirably. With his shorter arms, there could be a move to the inside. However, Christensen seems to be a technician who has been able to adjust to his limitations when playing against elite pass rushers. Only time will tell how the Panthers starting left tackle will perform come Week 1.


Grade: B+




Round 3 Pick 83: TE Tommy Tremble Notre Dame

Dan Arnold and Ian Thomas were simply not cutting it for Rhule and Brady, so they ventured through different avenues such as the draft. Tremble is the best blocking tight end in this class and could be a game-wrecker for opposing defenses such as George Kittle with the 49ers. It's up to Brian Angelico (TE coach) and Joe Brady to unlock his potential.


Grade: A-




Round 4 Pick 126: RB Chuba Hubbard Oregon State

I love this pickup for many reasons. First, the Panthers need to find the right mix of McCaffrey and his backups to ensure CMC's health. McCaffrey was injured for most of the year, and we were able to rely on Mike Davis to carry the load. Hubbard should be a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball, and the ability to form a dynamic duo with the NFL's best running back in CMC. CHUUUUUUBAAA!


Grade: A




Round 5 Pick 158: DT Daviyon Nixon Iowa

Many experts were expecting Nixon to be drafted in Rounds 1 or 2 but he slid to the Panthers in the 5th due to possible character concerns. Rhule is confident in the players they selected so I wouldn't be worried about Nixon's future with the team. He has the potential to be a very good 3-tech, reminding some of former Panther Kawann Short. While I assume recent signee Da'Quan Jones will slot in as a starter, Nixon will likely have the chance to play some meaningful snaps down the road.


Grade: A+




Round 5 Pick 166: CB Keith Taylor Washington

Keith Taylor is a lanky physical corner who matches the prototype Snow likes to use in his defense. He should provide the Panthers with some upside for a depth piece behind Horn, Jackson, Bouye, Melvin, and Pride Jr. Fitterer has turned a weakness into a potential strength. Props to the front office!


Grade: B




Round 6 Pick 193: OL Deonte Brown Alabama

Deonte Brown was a mauler at guard in Alabama, weighing in at 346 lbs. While his weight could be a concern, the Panthers could've stolen a starter. Guards in the NFL that don't test very well don't have a great chance at success but we're hoping Brown is able to buck that trend. He has a massive body and could destroy anyone in his path.


Grade: B



Round 6 Pick 204: WR Shi Smith SC

Shi Smith is a true slot receiver and slides into the Panthers' stable of super talented pass catchers. Carolina shouldn't be too worried if any of their starters get hurt. Smith is just another weapon. I can't wait for the preseason!


Grade: B



Round 6 Pick 222: LS Thomas Fletcher Alabama

Even though Fitterer signed JJ Jansen to a one-year extension, there is no guaranteed money tied to that deal. Fletcher won almost all of the awards gifted to long snappers in college and has never had a bad snap in his career. Jansen is the longest-tenured Panther as of now but could be on his way out as the coaching staff may be looking to the future of the position. Make sure you check out the video of Rhule calling him to tell him he's getting drafted to Carolina. It's priceless!


Grade: B+




Round 7 Pick 232: DT Phil Hoskins Kentucky

Hoskins is likely a depth piece at this point in the draft. To be honest, I couldn't find any highlights on him. Listening to this interview seems to show his aggressive and competitive edge which likely resonated with head coach Matt Rhule. We will see how he performs in camp this summer.


Grade: C+



I really love this draft by Scott Fitterer, who showed us the benefits of trading back. While we addressed most positions of need, I would've liked to see them attack the free safety spot. Perhaps they feel confident with Burris, Hartsfield, or Franklin, who showed promise in the games he filled in for Burris last season.




What are your thoughts on the Panthers' draft? Did they address everything you hoped for? Did you like Fitterer's draft philosophy? Leave your comments below.


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