Carolina Panthers: Did draft picks indicate confidence in Whitehead?

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead /
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Tahir Whitehead, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead /

The Carolina Panthers did not pick up a linebacker in the 2020 NFL Draft, which is good news for free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead.

Many people expected the Carolina Panthers to take a linebacker with one of their NFL Draft selections. It was a huge surprise that despite using all their allocated picks on defense, this did not include adding depth to the second level’s interior.

This became an area of considerable need for the franchise this offseason following the shock retirement of Luke Kuechly. The Hall of Fame-bound player called it a day after eight highly productive seasons in Carolina, citing long-term health as a reason behind the decision.

While the Panthers didn’t select a long-term option at the position. They did manage to secure the services of Tahir Whitehead from the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency thanks to a one-year deal that could be worth $2.5 million.

The former Temple standout has been a tackling machine over his last four seasons and is a low-risk, high reward pickup by the Panthers. Whitehead is expected to fill the inside linebacker position in Carolina’s new 4-3 defensive base and is a solid fit for the role.

Whitehead accumulated 234 combined tackles in his two-year spell with the Raiders, 167 of which were solo.  His stats also included one forced fumble, one interception, and six pass deflections during this span.

The eight-year veteran is not going to offer you much in terms of pass-rushing. But what he does do well is get to the ball quickly and finish off plays superbly well.

Given the number of defensive playmakers now on the roster in 2020, that might be all they need from Whitehead in the short-term.