Why the Carolina Panthers Need to Draft Offensive Line

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • carolina panthers
  • DraftKings
  • Football
  • NFL
  • Offensive Line
  • Podcast
  • teddy bridgewater
By Bill Riccette December 8, 2020 0 Comment
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The Carolina Panthers were one of the more fascinating teams going into the 2020 season. They had their star running back in Christian McCaffrey (who just received a massive brand-new contract). They also had a quarterback change. Teddy Bridgewater replaced Cam Newton, who many regards as the greatest quarterback in Panthers history. Even new head coach Matt Rhule brought some intrigue, thanks to his success as head coach for two different collegiate teams: Temple and Baylor.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, 2020 has been a bit rocky. They sit at (4-8) headed into their bye week, but the arrow is pointing up for this franchise. There is one position group that absolutely must be addressed during the offseason to bring the Panthers back to prominence and it needs to be addressed in the draft. They should focus on the offensive line.

The Panthers have so many great options for fantasy football. Christian McCaffrey is a given, but Robby Anderson, has been one of the league leaders in receptions this year. Ian Thomas is also an under the radar option for the Panthers as well.

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Current Offensive Line Situation

During Week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings, the Panthers had all five offensive linemen play every snap for the first time in multiple weeks. With Russell Okung missing some time before returning in Week 12, the Panthers rotated between Trent Scott and Greg Little at left tackle. As weeks went by, the Panthers seemed to settle for Scott as the blind-side blocker, as he was playing somewhat better than Little. That can be a serious issue considering the club invested significant capital into Little by trading up 10 spots in the second round to select him ahead of Cody Ford.

Even with the current starting five up front, four of them (Okung, Chris Reed, John Miller, and Taylor Moton) are scheduled to become free agents this upcoming offseason. Only center Matt Paradis remains under contract in 2021; however, the Panthers can save almost $5 million by cutting Paradis. Reports out of Charlotte is that the team has not had talks with Moton about an extension, which could become a massive mistake. Moton has been the best and most consistent offensive lineman for the Panthers and has held down the right tackle spot for the past three seasons.

The 2021 NFL Draft is full of great options upfront for the Panthers to rework their offensive line.  This could open up the run game tremendously. It’s also important to protect whoever will end up being the quarterback of the future.

While the Panthers likely won’t be in a position to draft Oregon’s prized left tackle, Penei Sewell, there are plenty of other good players, both inside and outside, for Carolina to consider.

Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State

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Davis is a tank upfront for the Buckeyes. He may very well end up as the first interior offensive lineman taken off the board come April. His power in the run game is why Master Teague III and Trey Sermon have found so much success on the ground. He has also been excellent in pass protection for Justin Fields who picked up right where he left off last season. He could make for a great fit for the Panthers who do not have a capable starting guard signed next year and let go of Trai Turner the last offseason.

Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma

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While Davis has been incredible in 2020, let’s not forget about Oklahoma’s center Creed Humphrey. Humphrey surprised many by electing to return for his senior season with the Sooners. Humphrey has very good size for an NFL center (6’5, 316) and uses it plenty for power to move defenders in the run game. He can give Carolina a fresh, young face at the position and make the decision to move on from Paradis much easier should Caroline decide to part ways.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

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One intriguing name to keep an eye on at the tackle position comes from the Big Ten. While names like Samuel Cosmi and Jalen Mayfield garner attention after Sewell, Slater has really made a name for himself in 2020. He has become an enormous force for Northwestern’s offensive line and a big reason the Wildcats are closing in on a berth in the Big Ten Championship. Even if Slater has to kick inside (though he certainly can play tackle at the next level), he can give Carolina the versatility they need along the offensive line. Dennis Daley and Michael Schofield (who likely won’t be around next summer) are the only players on the roster able to play multiple positions up front for the Panthers. Carolina needs strong bodies upfront with versatility and Slater can be that guy!

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Billy covers the Carolina Panthers for SI Panthers and also hosts the Locked On Panthers podcast for the Locked On Podcast Network. He is also a contributor to 4For4 Fantasy Football. His work has previously been featured on Bleacher Report, Pro Football Network and Downtown Rams.

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