5 players for the Panthers to pair with DT Derrick Brown in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /

What sort of player should the Carolina Panthers pair with Derrick Brown?

Derrick Brown had plenty of expectations on his shoulders when he was selected No. 7 overall by the Carolina Panthers. The defensive tackle was widely regarded as one of the best college prospects entering the NFL this year and there does appear to be plenty to work with if his efforts as a rookie are any indication.

The former Auburn standout has been a tremendous addition on running downs and leads all rookies with 18 run stops this season. Brown could use some work in getting after the quarterback to further boost his overall influence. But this is something the Carolina Panthers were fully aware of during the evaluation process.

Who the organization chooses to pair with Brown in 2021 and beyond is going to be crucial. It doesn’t appear as if veteran Pro Bowler Kawann Short will still be around after two seasons of injury frustrations and a $20.83 million cap hit. So finding a long-term partner for their first-round pick will do their rebuilding the world of good.

Here are five potential candidates that are sure to be strongly considered this offseason.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Zach Kerr /

Zach Kerr – Carolina Panthers

The answer to a partner for Brown might already be on the roster.

Zach Kerr came into the starting lineup when Short underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and has relished the extra responsibility given to him by the coaching staff.

Kerr has been a relentless presence on the interior who seems to be able to make a difference on a three-down basis. Carolina has used Efe Obada in specialist pass-rushing situations. But the level of production provided by their free-agent signing has been immensely encouraging.

The former Delaware standout has nine quarterback hits, seven pressures, two sacks, and 27 tackles this season. Kerr also boasts an eye-catching 84.9 grade from Pro Football Focus from his efforts this season and he is a leading contender to occupy the role.