ESPN projects familiar Carolina Panthers first-round pick
Carolina Panthers add familiar face to pass rush in latest ESPN mock draft.
The NFL Draft is fast approaching and as it nears analysts from around the country are honing in on making their mock projections. While only those involved in the Carolina Panthers war room know who exactly is on the short list for round one – one thing is certain, the team needs immediate assistance on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Weakened by injuries and retirements, respectively, both front line units for Carolina are in need of a young star. General manager Marty Hurney has a long history of home run first-round picks, although his record following may be less than stellar, fans should have full confidence in his decision. Wide receiver D.J. Moore was the selection one year ago and after slowly working his way into the lineup, he should be poised for a big season following the team electing to not re-sign Devin Funchess.
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In the most recent NFL Nation Mock Draft, the Panthers didn’t execute a trade and remained in place at No. 16 overall. When on the clock, they selected Florida State hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Brian Burns. In three years with the Seminoles, Burns tallied 24 sacks including nine and one-half as a freshman and 10 last season.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera has hinted at shifting the defensive front from his base 4-3 to more 3-4 schemes next year. Doing so would mean adding players outside who can play both in coverage and apply pressure when needed. Burns is a solid fit for this type of position and could serve as a rotational end during base packages.
The need has been so apparent that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper named Burns the Panthers pick back in January during his first mock draft. At the time, defensive end Julius Peppers‘ future status was unknown (eventually announcing his retirement) but Kiper pointed toward Carolina needing someone who could “grow into a defensive end.”
Tune in to see who the Panthers select during the first-round of the NFL Draft scheduled for Thursday, April 25 at 8:00pm EST.