Panthers Draft: 4 early first-round candidates in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) Penei Sewell
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) Penei Sewell /
5 of 5
LaBryan Ray, Panthers Draft
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) LaBryan Ray /

Panthers Draft: LaBryan Ray – DT/DE (Alabama)

Another player the Carolina Panthers draft team will be keeping a close eye on in 2020 is Alabama’s LaBryan Ray. The defensive tackle played well alongside Quinnen Williams before he was drafted by the New York Jets and is expected to take another leap forward with more responsibility on his shoulders.

Although Ray’s 2019 campaign was cut short thanks to a serious foot injury. Any delay in training camp due to the coronavirus pandemic will only be a good thing for the player as he looks to get back to his form of 2018.

Ray is a versatile defensive lineman that can operate on the end or as an interior presence. This sort of versatility is something the Panthers made a concerted effort to take with their 2020 class of recruits. It would be a shock if they went away from this method next year.

The prospect recorded 39 combined tackles (19 solo), two pass deflections, and 2.5 sacks during his sophomore campaign. Much will depend on how Ray returns from such a serious injury. But there is definite first-round potential regarding the player.

The Panthers may opt to boost this area of the field more after taking Derrick Brown No. 7 overall in 2020. Kawann Short will make a return from injury this season but is he does not get back to elite form, releasing him next offseason would represent a cap saving of more than $9 million.

Related Story. Panthers Draft: Projected return on investment from 2020 class. light

The Panthers used a sixth-rounder on Bravvion Roy. But Ray’s potential makes an intriguing proposition alongside Brown if he returns to full health.