Having already looked at how the Panthers might be able to approach the draft should they look to trade down and add picks, let’s go the other way and consider how the Panthers might fare if they took the opposite approach, that of trading up aggressively to get the player they want most – and then trying to get the best out of what they have left.
Before you jump on social media to blast me – I’m not advocating this strategy, just trying to make the best out of what would be an….interesting decision by the Panthers to trade up as they’re trying to rebuild their roster. With that caveat in mind, what could this super-aggressive path look like for the Panthers?
TRADE: The Panthers send picks 7, 38, 69, 152 to Detroit for picks 3, 109 and 182.
There are essentially only three ways the Panthers are going to be able to make a trade up work, and while putting all of their top three picks together is far from ideal, it seems better than the alternative of throwing in future picks or a player. While this depletes the Panthers’ ability to take advantage of a strong second day, they do pick up an extra day three pick in return to give them some chance of filling out what is quite a thin roster.
3rd Overall: Jeff Okudah, CB (Ohio State); 6-1, 205 lbs
There are only a couple of non-quarterbacks in this class who are attracting significant interest as trade-up options – and Jeff Okudah is one of them.
While no prospect is perfect, Okudah is about as good as cornerback prospects get – with great movement skills and footwork with enough flashes of ball skills to be optimistic about his ability to be productive in terms of interceptions and passes broken up. For the Panthers, this also fills one of their biggest needs with James Bradberry gone, Donte Jackson somewhat unimpressive as a sophomore and Ross Cockrell still unsigned.
Okudah would likely be expected to immediately step into the #1 cornerback role immediately and would certainly answer one of the Panthers most significant needs in that regard. Trading up for Okudah would be a massive show of faith – and Marty Hurney would be betting his job on Okudah – but in a draft class that isn’t super strong at the top outside of a couple of players, this would be one of the ways to make sure they get a top-tier option to help fuel their retool.
109th Overall: Bryan Edwards, WR (South Carolina); 6-3, 212 lbs
This would likely be a long wait for the Panthers, as they would have spent the entire second day watching player after player leave their board without being able to be a factor at all, but having waited this far, they would likely be extremely happy to see Edwards fall to them – especially when the defensive line class at this point in the draft isn’t particularly attractive. Edwards is an excellent route runner, gets consistent release off the line and can be a consistent factor at the catch point and after the catch. He would not only be excellent value at this point in the draft but would also be a good compliment to the other receivers on the roster, working underneath alongside McCaffrey which, in turn, would allow the likes of Samuel, Moore and Anderson to work further down the field to create big-play opportunities for the Panthers’ passing attack.