4 players the Carolina Panthers were smart to stay away from

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons /

Isaiah Simmons – LB

The Carolina Panthers had a big decision to make with the No. 7 overall pick. Both Isaiah Simmons and Derrick Brown were available after the former fell out of the top-five. But the front office stuck to their guns and went with the Auburn defensive tackle.

This was met by derision from certain sections of the Panthers’ fanbase. Simmons is a supremely gifted individual that has a rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism. And he was not on the board for long after as the Arizona Cardinals wasted no time in taking him at No. 8.

Brown has made a dominant start to training camp in no uncertain terms. He has been a nightmare to block on almost every down. And if there are any nerves regarding a big rookie year, then he is simply not showing them.

Whichever way one looks at it, taking Brown was the right call. Simmons could be seen as something of a luxury on a defense that has undergone a significant makeover in Carolina this offseason. And their eventual selection has the potential to become their interior anchor for the next decade.

Matt Rhule was keen to build from the inside out. There was no doubt a little temptation to go away from their original plan and take Simmons in the 2020 NFL Draft. They were hugely impressed by Brown’s character during the evaluation process. And they were right to stick to their guns in the end.