Who Should the Carolina Panthers Draft First in 2020?

By Noah Davis in NFL
| April 21, 2020 3:06 am PDT
Carolina Panthers 2020 NFL Draft

The Carolina Panthers started 2019 off nicely enough, but Cam Newton was lost to a foot injury, and the team crumbled from there.

That was the second time in two years that had happened, which forced the front office to hit the reset button. Carolina did pay stud offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey via a record-setting contract extension, but they booted Cam Newton and started over at a lot of other spots.

There was also the abrupt retirement of star linebacker Luke Kuechly, which loudly tells you how different the Panthers are going to look in 2020.

It is unlikely Carolina turns around and makes a playoff run after all of this change, but they sure can try by landing a stud with the 7th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Let’s see how they can do that with a look at their major needs and the best prospects they should be targeting with that first pick.

Carolina Panthers’ Biggest Draft Needs

  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Offensive Line
  • Quarterback

The top need for the Panthers undoubtedly has to be inside linebacker, as the retirement of Luke Kuechly unsurprisingly leaves a huge hole.

Another problem comes at cornerback, as James Bradberry left in free agency, and they have question marks as a whole in their secondary.

Carolina improved at left tackle in a trade for Russell Okung, but it cost them a stud guard in Trai Turner. They brought in some help, but bringing in another body for the offensive line — if even just for depth and looking forward — would be a solid move.

Quarterback is one more “big picture” option, especially if the team isn’t sold on Will Grier and/or doesn’t see recently signed Teddy Bridgewater as the future for the franchise.

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

The Panthers need to replace Kuechly somehow. If a freak athlete like Simmons slides to the 7th spot, this just feels like a match made in heaven.

It isn’t really fair to dumb Simmons down to just being a sideline-to-sideline defender, but that’s certainly part of his game due to his elite instincts and outstanding athleticism.

Simmons is just a pure athlete and playmaker, though. He’d be an ideal fit on the inside of this defense, but he honestly can be deployed all over the field.

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

I am not seeing a cornerback really worth the 7th pick barring a free fall from Jeff Okudah, so the Panthers could consider nabbing a stud defensive lineman like Derrick Brown.

Brown is such a force up front due to his size and athleticism, and there’s little doubt the league’s 29th-ranked run defense of a year ago could use his tenacity.

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Panthers fans may balk at this, but hear me out. The franchise just kicked Cam Newton to the curb and, for all intents and purposes, replaced him with spare parts.

Kyle Allen is gone, Will Grier was not good last year, and Phillip Walker is an unproven commodity. In addition, Teddy Bridgewater is at best a game-manager and at worst simply a bad signing.

Love is compared to Patrick Mahomes due to his mobility, moxie, and ability to make impossible throws on a regular basis. He’s a reach at 7, but sometimes you have to sell out for a major move to jolt the franchise.

Who Will the Panthers Draft First?

There is merit in the Panthers taking a big shot on a franchise quarterback. I also wouldn’t knock them for beefing up a suspect run defense with a stud interior presence like Brown.

But if he’s there, all roads lead back to Isaiah Simmons.

Not only is Simmons truly athletic and talented enough to be a top-three pick, but the need is just so great here. Luke Kuechly constantly gave Carolina an insanely reliable presence over the middle of the field, and they do not want to face a future where they visibly see how much they miss him.

Bringing Simmons in feels perfect. For Carolina’s sake, let’s hope it happens.

It’s one thing to think about who the Panthers will draft, but you can also bet on it. Check out the best 2020 NFL Draft betting sites to place bets on this year’s draft.



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