Of all the playoff teams from last season, the Carolina Panthers quite possibly had the most question marks heading into the offseason. The receiver group was depleted, the offensive line was a mess, and depth and talent needed to be added to all three levels of the defense. If Carolina hopes to keep trending up in 2018 they needed to have a strong draft. So here is my Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL draft review.
Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft Review
1st Round – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
The Panthers knew they had to get more weapons for Cam Newton in the offseason. Moore is a big addition to that wide receiver group and should be a day one starter next year. He is quick and elusive in confined space. He also show the physical tools you would look for in a true number one pass catcher. While not one of my top two rated receivers in this class, I would still call this a good pick for Carolina.
2nd Round – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire NFL draft. His can run with just about anyone he’ll see in the NFL and has all the physical tools needed to succeed. This isn’t the type of corner the Panthers have drafted in the past, but with all the turnover with the defensive staff it seems they are moving in a new direction. This was a need for Carolina and depending on what they want to do on defense moving forward, Jackson could be a day one starter.
3rd Round – Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee.
A double dip and corner on day two, the Panthers were clearly filling big needs on their team in this draft. Gaulden is a little bit different mold than Jackson is and will bring more value up towards the line of scrimmage. I’d expect him to see some work in the slot and potentially even at safety in three safety looks.
4th Round – Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
Star tight end, Greg Olsen, is starting to get up there in age and the Panthers need his eventual replacement. Thomas can work as a backup tight end and big slot this year and potentially take over for Olsen if he retires next season. While he lacks ideal size, Thomas is a playmaker who certainly can catch the ball. He should be a nice addition for Newton and the passing attack.
4th Round – Marquis Haynes, EDGE, Ole Miss
Haynes is a pure pass rusher who was very disruptive in college. Whoever, he might be a man without a position at the next level. He’s too small to be a full time defensive end and lacks experience playing in a two point stance and hasn’t shown the linebacker skills needed. He can be a project with potential as a pass rusher in Carolina.
5th Round – Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland
The Panthers need depth at linebacker. With Thomas Davis facing a suspension to start the year and Luke Kuechly having an extensive history of injury, it’s a certainty that several linebackers will be forced into action in 2018. Carter is a little undersized and may prove to struggle getting on the field even with the need at this position. I’d expect him to make the team as a special teams player and developmental upside.
7th Round – Andre Smith, LB, North Carolina
More competition for linebacking depth, Smith brings a different style than Carter. Smith is more of the physical thumper in the middle who looks to inflict pain on ball carriers. While he lacks the same special teams player, he will get a look here also. There’s a good chance that only one of Smith and Carter make this team.
7th Round – Kendrick Norton, DL, Miami
With Star Lotulelei leaving town for Buffalo, the Panthers needed to replace that depth on the roster. Norton can come in and be the backup nose tackle to start the year. He has good strength and is a good run defender. He doesn’t bring much as a pass rusher, so his upside is limited, but he should do well in his specific role.
Draft Grade: B-
Best Pick: DJ Moore
Biggest Reach: Marquis Haynes