The first day of the 2021 NFL Draft is now in the rear-view mirror, and while the Panthers addressed one of their main areas of interest when they selected Jaycee Horn from South Carolina with the eighth pick, they now need to add to that with a strong second day. While the stars of the class are usually found in the first round, finding high quality starters on day two is what separates promising draft classes into good ones.
With the Panthers holding the seventh pick in the second round, they should have a chance to select from the very top of the stack of remaining names, but who are some prospects they might be especially keen on? We’ve highlighted who we think might be their top seven options entering day two.
Teven Jenkins, OT (Oklahoma State)
Jenkins is something of a surprise to still be on the board at this point, with many expecting him to be taken inside the top twenty picks, and he would also quench the Panthers’ notable first for offensive tackle help. He isn’t the flashiest athlete, and he is likely to have some limitations against better speed rushers, but he shows good footwork to cover ground laterally in pass protection and has the power to make a real impact in the run game.
Where he could be better, however, is with his pad level, as he can get quite straight-legged at times which then impacts both his balance and his arm extension. This also causes him to lean into blocks at times and there are more whiffs than you would like to see. As an older prospect (he is 23) he might not have the same developmental upside as a Samuel Cosmi or a James Hudson but he is the top tackle prospect remaining and that is going to get the Panthers interested.
With all that said, while Jenkins is the top tackle prospect left, his fit with the Panthers is less clear, because of his lack of top-tier ceiling in pass protection he is largely expected to stay on the right side in the NFL, and though the Panthers might feel differently about this, he would likely make the most sense for them if they aren’t optimistic about retaining Taylor Moton long term.
Trevon Moehrig, S (TCU)
Another player who it is surprising to see still on the board come day two is TCU’s Trevon Moehrig. Moehrig is largely viewed as the top safety prospect in the class, which is supported by the fact that no safeties were taken in the first round, and while he lacks any one elite trait, he is a very well rounded player who the Panthers could move around the defense as they see fit.
Moehrig is a good athlete, with the quickness and movement skills to play man coverage from the slot while also having the size and strength to match up with tight ends. He moves very fluidly in space, both in man and zone, and while he might not have the top-tier range to play centerfield in a cover three scheme, he shows good instincts and ball skills to be an impact player from deep zones.
As a run defender, he is an excellent tackler who takes good angles to the ball and a reassuring understanding of gaps responsibilities and leverage. If he is asked to play around the box a lot, he will need to show that he can consistently work off blocks at the point of attack but this is a skill he hasn’t been asked to use so far rather than an actual weakness.
For the Panthers, Moehrig would give them a long-term partner for Jeremy Chinn at safety, and while Moehrig might not be an All-Pro, he should be a very good player early in his career with the scheme and usage flexibility the Panthers covet on defense.
Wyatt Davis, OG (Ohio State)
While the Panthers clearly have an interest in tackle, they have needs all across the offensive line, and the strength of this offensive line class early on day two, aside from Jenkins, is on the interior. Davis is a pure guard, and is not the completely polished article, but he is an already solid technician who has the upside to be one of the best interior linemen in the league.
He has good quickness, bend and balance to cover laterally in pass protection effectively while also having the power to move people off the ball in the run game, though he could stand to improve his pad level. In pass protection, he shows good footwork to keep his weight over his feet allowing him to work back and forth effectively. He locates his hands well to the frame of defenders with good arm extension, though he needs to make sure he keeps his arms inside to help protect his frame.
In the run game, his knee bend can be a bit limiting at times but he shows flashes of being able to use quick footwork to create rushing lanes laterally and consistently locates his hands well with pretty good arm extension, though pad level can cause him to bend at the waist at times. He also moves very well in space, and in a scheme that asks him to get out on screens or as a pulling blocker will get value from him in that regard as well.
Davis isn’t perfect, but he is a very good guard right now and has a chance to be elite with times. He might not solve the Panthers issue at tackle, but he would give them a key building block inside.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB (Notre Dame)
Another player who it is surprising to see on the board come day two, Owusu-Koramoah is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft, as a linebacker-safety hybrid who some teams will struggle to find a role for but who others might view as a key match-up piece. The Panthers are certainly a team that values that versatility on defense, and while linebacker is far from the Panthers’ most pressing need, a player like Owusu-Kormoah would make Chinn’s transition to safety all the easier.
He is certainly a good athlete with great quickness, the speed to run with tight ends and running backs as well as most receivers and the strength to aggressively take on blocks at the point of attack. In coverage, he does need to continue to work on his footwork as he can get a little flat-footed at the head of routes, and he is yet to demonstrate that he can make consistent plays on the ball in zone, but with his athletic traits he should be a high-quality man coverage player right away with the potential to improve in zone with time.
As a run defender, he aggressively takes on blocks with good arm extension and hand placement, though his knee bend could be more consistent. He can certainly pack a punch as a tackler but needs to make sure he sets a more consistently base to make him less vulnerable to late changes in movement. Importantly, he shows good gap discipline and pursues effectively while maintaining control.
This would be something of a luxury pick for the Panthers, but Phil Snow has made it clear that his defensive philosophy is to put talented versatile players on the field and then fit the pieces around them, and Owusu-Koramoah gives them a chance at another core building block defensively.
Kellen Mond, QB (Texas A&M)
While the Panthers’ decision to pass on Justin Fields for Jaycee Horn might be seen as an emphatic sign of their belief in Darnold, it is also worth noting that when Fitterer was with Seattle they made a point of taking multiple mid-tier moves at quarterback rather than spending a top pick at the position. While the 39th pick might be a little high for the Panthers to be able to justify taking a quarterback, Mond’s talent might push him into genuine consideration.
Mond has a very good arm, with the strength to push the ball down the field and the velocity to fit the ball into tight windows at all levels. He is also generally very accurate, with some really special tight window throws showing up on tape. Where he does need to improve is with his touch, as while his side-to-side accuracy is very good, he can struggle at times when looking to drop the ball into vertical windows down the field. This wasn’t a major part of what Texas A&M did, but he needs to show he can drop the ball into vertical spaces down the field.
On the mental side of the game, Mond is a very good decision maker with a game-manager ability to challenge any prospect in the class. He regularly worked past his first read and did so with an urgency that will likely benefit him when adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. He will have to run a more complex offense at the NFL level, and there is room for growth in terms of his anticipation, but this is still a strength of his game.
Mond might not have the elite arm of a Justin Fields or a Trevor Lawrence, but he has the talent to be a good starting quarterback at the NFL level, and the appeal of that is going to be harder and harder to pass on as the draft goes on.
Levi Onwuzurike, DL (Washington)
The Panthers major remaining need other than the offensive line is the interior defensive line, and while they signed Daquan Jones before the draft, he is more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher and with KK Short being released earlier in the offseason, there is a distinct lack of interior pass rush on the roster. Onwuzurike isn’t the finished product, something that wasn’t helped by how he was used in Washington, but he also does a lot of good things on tape to get teams excited.
He is a good athlete, with the quickness to pressure the foot speed and balance of blockers inside while also having surprising strength for his size to counter with an effective bull rush. He does flash a nice swim move as well as some fairly polished power counter, and he locates his hands well as a pass rusher, but he needs to improve the consistency of his pad level which should also help his arm extension. If he can do this while also continuing to add to his pass rushing repertoire then he can be a really valuable interior pass rusher.
As a run defender, he does a good job of shooting gaps, but again he could stand to improve the consistency of his pad level as at times he makes himself too easy to move. With that said, he does consistently locate his hands well with pretty good arm extension and there are encouraging signs of him being able to work off of blocks at the point of attack.
The Panthers are likely to move between three- and four-man fronts moving forwards, but whatever front they are in they need interior pass rush and, while Onwuzurike does need to continue to develop, he has a chance to be an impactful player early in his career with a chance to be very good with time.
Creed Humphrey, iOL (Oklahoma)
Humphrey is arguably the best player regardless of position and, given that he would also fill a need for the Panthers makes him possibly the best-case scenario for the Panthers with the 39th pick. He is an excellent athlete who is also technically very sound and has the flexibility to play across the interior that the Panthers value.
In pass protection, he is able to cover laterally with good balance and control to negate rushers’ quickness while also having the power, hand location and arm extension to handle power rushers one-on-one. He has room to improve further in terms of pad level, but this isn’t an active problem and he should be a high-quality pass protector at either guard or center from day one.
In the run game, he shows the footwork to generate rushing lanes laterally while also having the power to hold his own when blocking downhill. His good hand location and arm extension allow him to consistently secure blocks which is a valuable skill in any rushing scheme. He also moves well in space, and in a scheme that asks blocks to work directionally then he can be a highly valuable piece.
Interior offensive line play isn’t sexy, but Humphrey is very good and while the Panthers do clearly want to add a tackle, it is more important to get an elite player on the interior than to reach for a position of greater perceived need.
The back end of the second round fell about as well for the Panthers as they could have hoped, with multiple high-quality offensive linemen as well as all the top defensive tackles still being on the board. The Panthers could always go in another direction entirely or have a preference for another player at these positions, but these are the prospects who we think would be the Panthers’ top choices with the 39th overall pick.
(Top photo via UND Athletics)