2021 NFL Draft: Kawann Short and Luke Kuechly replacements secured in latest mock

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Dazz Newsome
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Dazz Newsome /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater /

Which way would the Carolina Panthers go if they were to pick at No. 9 in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Carolina Panthers might be on a three-game winning run. But they are still projected to have a top-ten NFL Draft pick in 2021.

The Draft Network’s mock simulator has the Carolina Panthers selecting at No. 9 overall, which is still a sharp increase from the doom and gloom that surrounded the franchise heading into the campaign.

This might put them out of the running for top quarterback prospects such as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. But given the way the team has performed through five weeks with Teddy Bridgewater, they might have already found their long-term successor for Cam Newton, who parted ways with the Panthers in messy circumstances earlier this offseason.

Newton was idolized by Carolina’s fanbase, to put it mildly. However, even those who remain fiercely loyal to the 2015 NFL MVP seem to be coming around to what new head coach Matt Rhule is trying to put in place.

Winning definitely helps. But the level of progression this new-look roster is showing with every passing game is perhaps even more encouraging.

The Panthers will need another strong preparation period in 2021 in pursuit of becoming a prominent postseason contender in the future. They do have some extra cap space to make some moves in free agency and the draft is once again full of exciting prospects that can further help them in the long-term.

Let’s take a look at who the Panthers might end up with if they do eventually get the No. 9 pick.