5 local program draft prospects the Panthers could select in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chazz Surratt
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chazz Surratt /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /

Jaycee Horn – CB (South Carolina)

The son of four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, 6-foot-1 Jaycee Horn projects to be a solid starting outside cornerback on Sundays when he gets to the next level.

The junior defensive back recorded 101 total tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 23 pass deflections in three seasons for the Gamecocks. At 205 pounds, Horn is big and physical but fast for his size and showed good downfield ball skills at South Carolina.

Draft analysts have expressed concern about his tackling and his tendency to get handsy in off coverage. Like Travis Etienne, early mock drafts project Horn as a mid-to-late selection in the first round so the Carolina Panthers could trade down or wait until the second round to see if the talented prospect falls into their laps

Unlike Etienne, he plays a position the team needs to address so drafting him wouldn’t be a surprise.

Chazz Surratt – LB (North Carolina)

When head coach Mack Brown was hired as the head coach at North Carolina in 2019, Chazz Surratt made it clear to him that it was his goal to play in the NFL.

Both agreed Surratt’s best chance to make it was by switching positions from quarterback to linebacker. That decision has paid off for the 24-year-old from Denver, NC, who will now get his shot at making a name for himself in the pros.

Appearing in all 13 games in 2019, Surratt led the team with 115 tackles while also recording 6.5 sacks. In 2020, he was the best player on the Tar Heels defense and helped carry them to the Orange Bowl and an 8-4 overall record.

The switch from quarterback has been a blessing and a curse according to draft experts. His experience as a signal-caller allows him to know what the opposing player under center is thinking at the line of scrimmage. But he still needs more reps to fully get a grasp of playing linebacker.

If he gets the hang of it, his elite burst and athleticism will also be a huge enticement for Matt Rhule as he searches for the long-term answer at middle linebacker.

For now, Surratt is graded as a second or third-round player, although Mel Kiper ranked him as the second-best inside linebacker prospect in December.