2022 Panthers mock draft 2.0


Round 1: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

In my last mock draft, I had us trading down several times, including once in the first round to recoup our second and third round picks. Due to Scott Fitterer's tendency for trading down, I could very well see us doing this, but for the purposes of this mock draft, I am not going to have any trades. 

The first reason for this is because we did a really good job addressing most of our needs in free agency, so it's not like we desperately need those early round picks. The second reason is because Fitterer has openly said that if a "franchise player" is available with this pick, he will not hesitate to draft him, and won't consider trading down. 

The final reason is because the draft is a continuous, years-long process, and we can look forward to having all of our picks in the 2023 draft.

With all that being said, the obvious choice for our first round pick is a left tackle. This is a position that we've been lacking talent and consistency at ever since Jordan Gross retired, and is the last piece we need to finish our rebuild of the offensive line.

I'm sure they'll consider a quarterback with this pick, but considering that this is one of the weakest quarterback classes in recent history, paired with the fact that we have to pay Sam Darnold next year anyway, we might as well ride out Darnold's last year. Assuming Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu are likely to be gone by this pick, Cross will most likely be the next best tackle available.

Round 4: James Skalski, LB, Clemson

Even though we did sign some linebackers in free agency, they only seem average at best, and aren't likely to be that much of an upgrade over Jermaine Carter. 

Considering we plan to keep Jeremy Chinn as a safety, and Shaq Thompson is better suited as an outside linebacker, we still desperately need more help in the middle of the field. Skalski is known to be a solid run defender and reliable tackler, so he should be a quality addition for our team.

Round 5: Isaiah Thomas, DE/OLB, Oklahoma

Considering our best pass rusher in Haason Reddick just left in free agency, it would be wise to get some more depth for the defensive line. Thomas makes sense for us because he's versatile enough to play at defensive end or outside linebacker.

Round 5: Aaron Frost, OT/G, Nevada

While we've done an admirable job in building our offensive line through free agency, our depth still leaves a lot to be desired. Frost should be a good fit for us because has experience playing at tackle and guard.

Round 6: Cole Kelley, QB, Southern Louisiana

Even though we will be looking ahead to the 2023 draft for our next quarterback in this scenario, that shouldn't stop us from getting some competition for Darnold. Kelley has a big arm so we could try to develop him into a quality backup, and even if that doesn't go well for him, he is 6'7, so a transition to a hybrid tight end/quarterback role could work for him.

Round 7: Akial Byers, DT/DE, Missouri

We have a solid defensive line, but our depth in the middle was lacking at times, so it wouldn't hurt to get a versatile defender like Byers here.

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