The Carolina Panthers finished the 2020 season with a disappointing 5-11 record, but they probably weren’t as bad as all that.
They were missing one of the top three or four offensive weapons in the NFL (Christian McCaffrey) for all but three games, and that put them behind the eight-ball.
They traded away last year’s quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, and got a sixth-round draft pick in return. They weren’t unhappy about unloading the salary. But there are a lot of questions coming into this NFL Draft, and one of them is being asked by our friends at BetOnline among the many, many props they have on the draft, in which the first round takes place Thursday, starting at 8 PM ET in Cleveland.
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So here is the question, and an intriguing one:
Will the Panthers trade the No. 8 overall pick?
It is no secret that Carolina is desirous of solving its quarterback dilemma. Whether it is a real dilemma or not won’t be known until they get to training camp.
The Panthers executed a trade with the Jets that sent second and fourth-round picks in 2022 and a sixth-rounder this year for Sam Darnold.
It is safe to say that Darnold did not succeed in the Meadowlands. At the same time, it is fair to say that in the opinion of many, he just wasn’t surrounded by enough support. And Adam Gase has proven to be less of a quarterback “guru” than he likes to advertise.
Now Darnold is matched with the QB guru of the moment, Joe Brady. We must say this about Brady; he saw a guy like Joe Burrow, who could not beat out Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State, and believed he can turn something loose. You already know what happened with that.
I can only assume that Brady sees something special in Darnold, or else this deal probably wouldn’t have been made. He is re-uniting Darnold with the one receiver he clicked with in New York, Robby Anderson, and if they can deploy Christian McCaffrey all season long, everything will be easier.
I guess what I’m saying is that I think they’re going to give Darnold a fair chance to succeed before looking to go crazy with first-round draft picks at the QB position.
That having been said, they can do something very productive with this pick, and whichever way they go, it can serve to support Darnold.
In my own mock draft, left tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon manages to slip to the #8 spot, and if he is available, the Panthers should absolutely take him, because they simply need to protect their quarterback. It is the philosophy of first-year general manager Scott Fitterer (who came to Charlotte from Seattle, where he was VP of football operations) that you start with the bookends on the offensive line. So that should give BetOnline patrons an idea about who he’s thinking of first.
But if, by chance, Sewell is already off the board, Carolina will have an opportunity to scoop up a playmaking receiver. It might be Jaylen Waddle of Alabama. It might be Kyle Pitts, the tight end from Florida. Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith of Alabama should be out there by the time they pick as well.
And if you want to talk about outside possibilities, in the event the Panthers choose to go in a different direction, they could take linebacker Micah Parsons from Penn State, keeping in mind that they lack playmakers on defense and haven’t necessarily come close to replacing the retired Luke Kuechly.
Do you suppose it might mean anything that head coach Matt Rhule is a former Penn State linebacker himself?
Whatever happens ahead of them, I think the Panthers are going to find someone who can really help them here, so NO, I don’t think they’ll trade it and would lay the -200 price accordingly.
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