The 2020 NFL Draft is just about a month away, which means that The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be looked at heading into this year’s draft including what their needs are and who they could be targeting. The Carolina Panthers will be the seventh team evaluated.
The Carolina Panthers came into the year that if they were healthy and played well enough they could potentially sneak back into the playoffs. There was a lot of uncertainty about Cam Newton ‘finally’ being healthy. That lasted two games and then the Panthers started undrafted free agent Kyle Allen. Allen joined an exclusive group winning his first four starts. He even won five of his first six, but after that, the Carolina Panthers did not win a single game. The 5-3 Carolina Panthers lost eight straight games. Christian McCaffery’s MVP like play and the great defensive unit the Carolina Panthers had cannot get over the fact that they did not have stability at the quarterback position. This was reason for the Panthers to move on from nine-year head coach Ron Rivera with four games left in the season. The Panthers hired Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to replace Rivera and rebuild the team. Rhule’s specialty as a coach is changing a team’s culture and rebuilding college teams from the bottom up. He has already done a good job of changing the team’s image.
Christian McCaffrey was the Carolina Panthers’ offense this year. McCaffrey’s play kept the Panthers in games even though they were extremely unstable at the quarterback position. He was third in the league in rushing with 1,387 yards and touchdowns with 19. He also had over 1,000 yards receiving as well. He is one of three running backs in the history of the NFL to have 1,000+ yards rushing and receiving in a single season. McCaffery isn’t the only young offensive weapon to come into his own in Carolina. DJ Moore had his first 1,000-yard season and established himself as the Panthers number one receiver. Curtis Samuel also had a good season being the Panthers’ second wide receiver. After bringing in Matt Rhule the Panthers have made some major changes to the offensive personnel. He released former pro bowl tight end Greg Olsen and former MVP Cam Newton and traded away five-time Pro Bowler Trai Turner. The Panthers have signed Teddy Bridgewater to a longterm contract to replace Newton. They have also signed deep threat Robby Anderson who played for Rhule at Temple.
The Panthers had one of the most underrated defensive units in the league. Under head coach Ron Rivera the Panthers usually had a pretty well run defense. After adding Bruce Irvin and Gerald McCoy the Panthers’ defensive unit was one of the best in football. Brian Burns was one of the best defensive rookies throughout the entire league. Under the new regime, the Panthers defense might not play as well considering they have lost a few major contributors and starters along their defense. Those names include Gerald McCoy, Bruce Irvin, James Bradberry, Eric Reid, Mario Addison, Dontari Poe and Luke Kuechly. Kuechly has the most first-team All-Pro’s in the history of the franchise and had a Hall of Fame Career. Kuechly retired due to issues with concussions he had throughout his career.
2020 NFL Draft Picks
Carolina will have eight picks to use in the 2020 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick): No. 7
Second Round (one pick): No. 38
Third Round (one pick): No. 69
Fourth Round (one pick): No. 113
Fifth Round (two picks): No. 148, 152
Sixth Round (one pick): No. 184
Seventh Round (one pick): No. 221
Edge Rusher- Mario Addison was not only a veteran presence, but one of the team’s best pass rushers. Brian Burns will likely take on Addison’s role as number one edge rusher, but he will need help.
Defensive Line- The Panthers lost Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy to the Dallas Cowboys, even after adding Stephen Weatherly the Panthers need to add some defensive lineman to play next to Kawan Short.
Cornerback- James Bradberry signed a very nice deal with former Panthers general manager David Gettleman and the New York Giants. This left a gaping hole at cornerback. Donte Jackson has been great since entering the league, but needs someone opposite him to lock down the other side of the field.
Safety- The Panthers cut Eric Reid and replaced him with Juston Burris. Burris is an okay option, but the Panthers should bring in a rookie to compete with him for the starting job.
Interior Offensive Line- The Panthers questionably traded away 5x Pro Bowler straight up for Russell Okung and let Greg Van Rotten sign with the Jets. John Miller was signed to start at one of the guard positions, but the Panthers need to bring in another starting-caliber guard to their roster.
Linebacker- No one can replace Luke Kuechly’s production and what he meant to the franchise, but the Panthers can bring in another middle linebacker to help fill the void. Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead are two of the teams starting linebackers, but they need one more if they are going play in their new 4-3 scheme.
Tight End- The Panthers drafted Ian Thomas to potentially be the heir to Greg Olsen, but at this point, he looks like a depth piece rather than a starter. The team is going to need a security blanket option for Teddy Bridgewater next season.
2020 NFL Draft Targets
Pick No. 7: Isaiah Simmons, DEF, Clemson
Yes, Isaiah Simmons is listed as defender, because that is what he is. Simmons can do anything asked of him. He can play middle linebacker, strong safety, cover and rush the passer. He is a versatile tool and a swiss army knife like the league have never seen before. His player comp is an All-Pro version of (Michigan) Jabrill Peppers, Deone Buccanon and Mark Barron. He cannot be Luke Kuechly, but is the only prospect that can confidently be as impactful on defense.
Pick No. 38: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The Panthers go close to home to figure out their hole at cornerback. Even though Terrell got burned at the end of the National Championship Game by Ja’Marr Chase, he was regarded as a potential first-round pick before that. Terrell is a talented cornerback who could help fill the void left by James Bradberry.
Pick No. 69: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Neville Gallimore was regarded as a low first round-second round prospect early in draft season. However, due to the depth of this defensive line class, Gallimore had dropped down the board. He can be a steal for the Panthers in the third round. If drafted by Carolina Gallimore can be a solid starter for their defensive line in his first season.