Panthers 2021 Draft: OL takes focus in latest 7-round mock

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Landon Dickerson
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Landon Dickerson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Patrick Surtain /

How will the Carolina Panthers approach the 2021 NFL Draft with a new general manager in place?

A new general manager has finally been appointed by the Carolina Panthers, so now Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer can start putting together a plan to get the most out of the resources available to them during the offseason. The organization has some big decisions that need to be made sooner rather than later and which conclusions the duo and others come to could have some significant ramifications in their pursuit of entering the postseason discussion at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Carolina Panthers drafted extremely well overall in 2020 – which was the first time in NFL history a team had allocated every pick on the defensive side of the ball. Rhule will get the chance to see some prospects up close at the 2021 Senior Bowl after being selected to coach at the event, with Fitterer also sure to be close behind casting a watchful eye from the sidelines.

It is going to be vital for Carolina to bolster problem areas with college recruits that can immediately contribute. This will be expected from their top-end selections no matter what, but if they can find players such as Bravvion Roy and Stantley Thomas-Oliver once again, it will undoubtedly serve them well.

We took at which way the Panthers might go at No. 8 overall and the rest of their picks using The Draft Network’s mock machine.

Pick No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Patrick Surtain /

Patrick Surtain – CB (Alabama)

With the top-three quarterbacks off the board, the prospect of the Carolina Panthers trading down to get more picks is a realistic one. Much will depend on what the market is and how the draft plays out, but getting more in the way of options might not be the worst idea in the world if Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson aren’t around as expected.

There is also the possibility of Carolina boosting other areas of the field. Patrick Surtain is a tremendously gifted cornerback who is the son of an All-Pro and comes into the league with a Pro Bowl ceiling.

His man coverage skills are exceptional, which is an area where the Panthers struggled without Donte Jackson in 2020. Surtain’s strong showing in Alabama’s convincing National Championship triumph over Ohio State has only bolstered his stock further and he is a virtual lock to be one of the first names called this spring.