The Panthers were able to work with many prospects in the Senior Bowl, understand their motivations and skill set. It is very likely the Panthers will come away with a few of them in the upcoming NFL draft. The 2021 NFL draft is scheduled to be April 29-May 1.
Round 1 Pick 8: Penei Sewell OL Oregon
While it is highly unlikely that Sewell falls to the Panthers, Fitterer would be ecstatic to secure the Panthers 1st franchise tackle since Jordan Gross. Sewell is extremely athletic which will help him stop high profile speed rushers like JPP and Shaq Barrett from the Bucs. Analysts suggest that Sewell could make the transition to guard in order to extend his career life a few more years. NFL analyst David Jeremiah thinks he could be a more powerful 2nd coming of Taylor Lewan. That is high praise for the 20-year-old, who won't turn 21 until the beginning of the NFL season. With Sewell and potentially Moton as our bookends, Rhule & Fitterer have had a nice start to rebuilding this offensive line.
Round 2 Pick 40: Ifeatu Melifonwu CB Syracuse
With this pick, defensive backs coach Evan Cooper would be thrilled to acquire such an intriguing prospect in the 2nd round. At 6'2 212 lbs, Melifonwu is a physical specimen who can match up with the big receivers in the NFL South like Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones. Rhule's staff was up close and personal with Ifeatu in the Senior Bowl, and likely got a good impression of him in practice and in-game, where he recorded 2 PBs and 3 tackles. Melifonwu and Jackson would be a nice young duo to build upon in the secondary, along with stud safety hybrid Jeremy Chinn.
Round 3 Pick 72: Jamie Newman QB Wake Forest/Georgia
Hear me out, I would much rather grab a highly touted QB in the 1st round, but I'm exploring all the possibilities for the Panthers as they enter the draft in a couple months. Although he didn't have a great performance in the Senior Bowl, multiple offensive linemen on his team went down during the game, and he hasn't played in an actual game since 2019. Fitterer has displayed a willingness to explore all options, and he has drafted a 3rd round quarterback that hasn't been all too bad in Russell Wilson. Just kidding; He's really good. In a press conference recently with Scott, he mentioned that they tried to hide their interest in Wilson during the draft process, not even bringing him in for a visit. The hiring of Sean Ryan could be instrumental in developing Newman as an NFL starter, someone who I think will thrive with a big arm and lots of talent around him like Robby, DJ, and Christian. Plus, he is able to work with Joe Brady, another great offensive mind who could help highlight his strengths as a passer.
Round 4 Pick 112: Jaylen Twyman DL Pittsburgh
With the Panthers likely to cut veteran Kawann Short for $7 million in savings, it would be wise to address the position in the draft. Jaylen Twyman has been overlooked by many analysts due to his size (6'2), but Aaron Donald was undersized as well. While I'm not saying that he's Aaron Donald, he is a great pass-rushing defensive tackle from Pitt. Twyman, Brown, Gross-Matos, and Burns would complete our young defensive line that the staff has slowly been rebuilding.
Round 5 Pick 151: Tony Fields II LB West Virginia
Tony Fields II recently participated in the Senior Bowl, and collected Top Linebacker of the Week award, as voted on by his teammates. There is a high probability that Fields could be selected on Day Two after his great week. At West Virginia, he operated as a MIKE linebacker (the quarterback of the defense), but some analysts think he'd be better suited as a WILL linebacker due to his athleticism and playmaking ability. I think Fields could be our middle linebacker long-term if he falls into our laps in the 5th round.
Round 6 Pick 189: Shaka Toney DE Penn State
This athletic freak may need to put on some weight at the next level, but he can definitely rush the passer. In 2020, he racked up 7.5 sacks in 8 games, adding his college career total to 28.5 sacks. Toney could be another LB/DE hybrid for Phil Snow's defense, adding to the versatility already displayed last season. At worst he's a rotational pass rusher that comes in on 3rd down. Yetur Gross-Matos would get to welcome his former teammate to Carolina, and continue to improve each other's game. This is a high upside pick for the Panthers in the later rounds.
Round 6 Pick 219: Jaelon Darden WR North Texas
Darden would be a nice gem in the later rounds, with the potential to replace Curtis Samuel and his playmaking ability. At only 5'9, he's a little undersized but don't let that fool you. In 2020, Darden recorded his best season yet, with 1190 yards and 19 touchdowns. That is insane! He'll definitely need to put on some weight at only 174 lbs, but Jaelon could be another great player in Joe Brady's scheme.
Round 7 Pick 232: Robert Rochell CB Central Arkansas
Robert Rochell is one of those physical freaks. He is 6'0 and has 3238 wingspan, which is spectacular! With a good camp, he could beat out current nickel corner Corn Elder for the starting slot spot. This could be a great boost to the secondary along with Melifonwu.
What did y'all think of this mock draft? Do you like the idea of Jamie Newman? Leave your comments down below.