This is the second edition of the five part series I’m doing on potential defensive players the Panthers might select in the upcoming Draft. Last week I started off with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama, and today I’m selecting a teammate of his. But as long as you’re selecting someone from an Alabama defense you really can’t go wrong.
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (OLB)
Courtney Upshaw is the highest ranked outside linebacker in the draft, and like Kirkpatrick, also comes from the winning heritage of Alabama. He has surprisingly great speed for a 265 lb man as well. He comes from a defense that uses the same schemes as defenses in the NFL and that will only add to his intrigue from NFL teams. He has a motor that is constantly running and great instincts, which always put him in the right spot to make a play.
His most valued asset would be his ability to rush the passer from the linebacker position, having totaled 17 sacks in his last two seasons. That is something Carolina could desperately use, seeing as how they ranked towards the bottom of the league in total sacks this past season.
The Panthers also need to find a replacement for Thomas Davis, who had his third ACL injury this year, and Upshaw could be a perfect fit. He has the speed, size, and pass rushing skills that could make him one of the elite linebackers in the league after a couple of seasons. With Jon Beason, James Anderson, and Courtney Upshaw flying all over the field making tackles, they could easily be considered as one of the best linebacking trios in the NFC. And with Ron Rivera being a defensive minded coach I’m sure he’s contemplating adding this kid to his roster.