Panthers Draft: 5 potential replacements for Russell Okung in 2021

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) Penei Sewell
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) Penei Sewell /
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Russell Okung, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Russell Okung /

If the Carolina Panthers are planning to move on from Russell Okung in 2021, then his long-time replacement can be found in the NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers arguably their strangest decision of the offseason when they traded away Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner in exchange for Russell Okung. This has left its interior protection with more questions than answers. And there are also some serious doubts about what sort of production they are going to get from the left tackle in 2020.

Okung has secured plenty of success during his career. He is a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl winner. So if the lineman can stay healthy, he should be able to provide quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with a blindside presence to give him a fighting chance of making the most out of another starting opportunity with the Panthers.

Whether Okung’s stay in Carolina will be anything more than a one-year deal remains unclear. The player is heading into the final year of his contract and will make a base salary of $13 million in 2020. It appears highly unlikely that the organization will keep him around at this sort of financial sum. And they might decide that this money would be better off giving Taylor Moton a long-term extension.

If the Panthers choose to go in this direction, then a replacement will need to be sought either during free agency or via an incoming college recruit in the NFL Draft. There are plenty of intriguing prospects at the top-end. But much will depend on where Carolina ends up picking and just what sort of needs they have elsewhere with their first or second selections.

Here are five prospects that Carolina’s scout team should keep a close eye on if there is a college season in 2020.