After the recent signings of Robby Anderson, Teddy Bridgewater, John Miller, and like 6 other receivers, it's been common thinking of Panther fans that we need to go all in on defense for the 2020 NFL Draft. I think this is a really good defensive class this year, including the likes of Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah, Derrick Brown, and Isaiah Simmons. So, this draft focused mostly on the defense.
Round 1 Pick 7: Jeffrey Okudah CB Ohio State
1 tackle for loss
9 pass deflections
1 forced fumble
After letting lockdown corner James Bradberry walk this offseason, the Panthers are in dire need of a No. 1 corner. The remaining corners on contract are Donte Jackson (whose play has been streaky), Corn Elder, Dominique Hatfield, and hybrid Cole Luke. They're not the most inspiring group :). With that said, Jeffrey Okudah is unquestionably the top cornerback in the class. He has the length to disrupt the big receivers, and the speed to match up with the deep threats. Okudah will bring more swagger to Thieves Avenue, and the play to back it up.
Round 2 Pick 38: Trevon Diggs CB Alabama
.5 tackle for loss
8 pass deflections
2 fumble recoveries
Trevon Diggs, the brother of newly-acquired Bills star receiver Stefon Diggs, has the potential to be a playmaker at the NFL level. He has great size and length at 6'2. He has good ball skills, and faced some stiff competition playing in the SEC. The addition of Diggs will be another step to building a young and competitive secondary for Phil Snow's multiple defense.
Round 3 Pick 69: Davon Hamilton IDL Ohio State
9.5 tackles for loss
1 fumble recovery
Many draft analysts have said that Hamilton will be a great run stuffer at the next level, which is great news for the Panthers. The 2019 Panthers defense let up an average of 143 rushing yards each game, only ahead of 3 teams . Under defensive line coach Mike Phair and defensive coordinator Phil Snow's tutelage, Davon Hamilton should be a solid anchor for the defensive line along with fellow Pro Bowl veteran DT Kawann Short.
Round 4 Pick 113: Bradlee Anae EDGE Utah
14 tackles for loss
1 forced fumble
Bradlee Anae is a highly underrated edge from Utah who could be in for a role in the trenches after the losses of DE Mario Addison, LB Bruce Irvin, and DT Gerald McCoy. During Anae's freshman year, he showed enough flashes at the bottom of the depth chart to be granted a bigger opportunity in which he flourished. In 2018, he put up a more than solid tape against former 1st round pick Andre Dillard, who's set to be the Eagles starting left tackle next season. With help from fellow youngsters Brian Burns, Stephen Weatherly, and Efe Obada, along with veteran acquisition Chris Smith, I'm sure Anae will have no problem adjusting to the NFL.
Round 5 Pick 148: Justin Strnad LB Wake Forest
2019 stats (ruptured bicep that limited him to 7 games):
5.5 tackles for loss
4 pass deflections
Justin Strnad is a sleeper in my book. He has great coverage ability to complement Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead's run stuffing tendencies. Here's what the ACC Network had to say, "A sure tackler, Strnad regularly takes sharp, but smart angles that stop offensive players from picking up big yardage when he's on the field."NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein describes Strnad as an "ascending playmaker" with the ability to be a middle round talent using his athleticism (which Rhule favors), third down play, and special teams contributions. I think he can beat Jermaine Carter Jr, Christian Miller, and Andre Smith, seeing as how coverage isn't their forte.
Round 5 Pick 152: Yasir Durant IOL Missouri
Yasir Durant is a towering presence at 6'6 331, and also has the athleticism and long arms to make him a very intriguing prospect. In 2018, Durant was a part of the Missouri offensive line that only allowed an average of one sack per game (least in the SEC). While attending the 2020 NFL Draft Combine, Durant was one of the players that met with Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and Co. New offensive line coach Pat Meyer may be interested in him, evidenced by Russell Okung's profile. Okung was noted for his athleticism, rare size, and long arms. Yasir Durant has been evaluated to most likely serve as a swing tackle or guard, with the potential to develop into a starting right tackle.
Round 6 Pick 184: Raequan Williams IDL Michigan State
7.5 tackles for loss
2 pass deflections
1 forced fumble
I think the Panthers will be getting an underrated defensive tackle who didn't get much play at Michigan State. Williams has long arms able to disrupt the play, and a nice tackle radius to go with it. He has sufficient athleticism for the position, recording a 5.04 40 yard dash. His go-to move is the bull rush, but struggles to fight through blockers when faced with power moves. The key trait for Williams is versatile. Matt Rhule has said that he wants versatile and "position-less players" on his team. Raequan has the ability to play as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE in an NFL defense. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow should love that after being quoted saying his defense will be "multiple."
Round 7 Pick 221: Isaiah Coulter WR Rhode Island
Isaiah Coulter is an intriguing developmental wide receiver at the next level, as noted by NFL analyst Lance Zierlein. He also says, "Coulter is an explosive, high-upside talent with functional-starter upside, but with a lower floor." Coulter adds more size to the wide receiver room in Carolina at 6'2. He offers an exciting skill set, but was overlooked while playing with his cousin and fellow teammate Aaron Parker at Rhode Island.
I hope y'all liked this draft. Give me your thoughts below in the comments. I personally like this draft for the most part. I'd be ecstatic if we got Okudah at 7, but nothing higher. Carolina needs to accumulate draft picks not distribute them. Anyways, thanks for the read!