Having drafted Derrick Brown with the seventh pick in the first round, the Panthers have addressed possibly their most pressing need for 2020 – they now go into day two with picks 38 and 69 and a number of different options to chose from in terms of how they approach the rest of the draft. While it is hard to pinpoint exact prospects for any team after the top twenty picks or so, here is a look at some of the players the Panthers might consider over the next two rounds, both in terms of addressing their remaining needs and finding good value on the most important day of the draft.
Options At Pick 38:
Trevon Diggs, CB (Alabama); 6-1, 205 lbs
The Panthers’ other major need going into the draft besides interior defensive line was cornerback, with James Bradberry having left in free agency and Ross Cockrell and Javien Elliot both still remaining unsigned. While it seems likely, having not addressed the position in the first round, that the Panthers look to find a veteran option from what is left of free agency, they would also do well to find a long-term option at the position. Diggs flashes tons of talent on tape but is also in need of a fair amount of refinement and would be a good candidate to bring on gradually behind a stopgap veteran.
Or, if you’re not concerned with giving up a lot of points, he might even be able to start in Week 1.
He has the speed to run vertically with most receivers, the movement skills to match up in man coverage, the physicality to play effective press coverage at the line and he defends the run well with pretty good ball skills, as well. However, his footwork in man coverage is still quite sloppy, relying too much on his ability to recover rather than making a point to stay in good position through routes. He also wasn’t asked to play a ton of read-and-react zone, so if the Panthers do want to play in this way a lot, this is another area where he could take some work – but if he is able to continue to refine his game then he could be a high-level starter on the outside.
Another cornerback option could be LSU’s Kristian Fulton.
Antoine Winfield Jr, S (Minnesota); 5-9, 203 lbs
The Panthers replaced Eric Reid at safety with Juston Burris this offseason, but Burris looks to be more of a hybrid corner/safety who should give them some flexibility in terms of deep zone vs slot man coverage. The Panthers could stand to add another safety that can play closer to the box with the ability to also play in deep zone at times, and that is exactly where Antoine Winfield might fit best.
He has the ability to play the run in the box, though he will need to continue to work at his hand usage in terms of working off blocks and has the movement skills to match up against tight ends in the slot in man coverage or as a deep defender in zone. He shows both great football instincts and good ball skills, and this should allow him to be a hugely versatile defensive piece for Phil Snow, while being a great fit with the other pieces at the position.
Josh Jones, OL (Houston); 6-5, 319 lbs
Jones isn’t the fully polished offensive line prospect that screams day one starter, but he is a good athlete and shows generally good hand usage and footwork even if his stance could do with some reworking. For the Panthers, he should be able to complete to start at guard in the short term while having the potential to kick out to tackle down the road with both Okung and Moton hitting free agency after the season. He has good foot speed, with nice balance and power, and shows the hand placement and arm extension – at least at times – to be able to control defenders as a run blocker and should be able to mirror rushers around the edge, and for schemes that ask for it, like the Panthers should, he has the movement skills to get out in space on screens and as a pulling run blocker.
Zack Baun, LB/EDGE (Wisconsin); 6-2, 238 lbs
Baun has the ability to play the run as an off-ball linebacker, drop into underneath zone coverage or rush the quarterback off the edge – and while he might not fill one of the Panthers’ biggest needs, he may well be the best player still on the board when the Panthers pick and his versatility would be of use to a Phil Snow defense that wants players who can play in different ways.
He shows good arm extension and hand placement with nice pad level as a run defender (as a linebacker he would probably be the best in the draft in this regard), and as a rusher he has the speed to threaten around the edge with a decent spin counter and enough strength to offer something of a bull-rush. He could do with lowering his pad level at times as a pass rusher, and like Derrick Brown in the first, could look to add further tools to his pass rushing tool box, but Baun would be able to be a rotational edge rusher for the Panthers from day one who can also drop into coverage at times.