Panthers 2021 Draft: Defense forms early focus in Week 11 mock draft

(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Dylan Moses
(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Dylan Moses /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /

The defense is priority No. 1 for the Carolina Panthers in our Week 11 mock draft.

The Carolina Panthers are facing another crucial offseason period in 2021. Their performances so far in 2020 would indicate that much more will be needed to get themselves back in the playoff picture and although head coach Matt Rhule has made an encouraging start, this will count for nothing if they cannot make further strides next time around.

They have more financial resources at their disposal for free agency – providing the salary-cap isn’t impacted significantly due to COVID-19 revenue losses – but the Carolina Panthers also need a strong 2021 NFL Draft to further assist them during a critical period of their rebuild.

Carolina can take comfort in the fact that their top-three selections in 2020 all look like they can make a big impression in the coming years. Derrick Brown has been solid at defensive tackle, Yetur Gross-Matos has flashed his potential on the edge, and in Jeremy Chinn, the Panthers have a legitimate Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate who has been nothing short of a revelation.

The Draft Network’s machine has the Panthers picking at No. 9 given their current record. Here is what they might do with their picks in our Week 11 mock draft.

Round 1

Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Caleb Farley /

No. 9: Caleb Farley – CB (Virginia Tech)

The Panthers have some clear problems at the cornerback position that were exposed in no uncertain terms against the Buccaneers. Donte Jackson‘s lingering toe injury hasn’t helped them. But the unit does need another quality piece to put alongside him and an impressive free-agent acquisition in Rasul Douglas to get them to the next level.

Caleb Farley is an outstanding young prospect with shutdown potential. He is extremely athletic and has no trouble going down the field with receivers thanks to some eye-catching fluidity.

There will be the apparent temptation to select Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts, here. But if Farley falls this far he should warrant serious consideration.