Re-grading Panthers 2017 NFL Draft class after four years

(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
1 of 4
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

How is the Carolina Panthers’ 2017 NFL Draft class shaping up following their first four years in the league?

If the Carolina Panthers can generate anything like the success in the 2021 NFL Draft as they did in 2017, it will do their chances of entering the postseason discussion next season the world of good. This was one of the best classes of college recruits in franchise history and although it came with one noticeable dud and a decision with a late-rounder they’d like to have back, one couldn’t really ask for anything more.

This hasn’t transitioned into a deep postseason run at any stage since 2017. But it’s clear Carolina is heading in the right direction after a period of stagnation that resulted in head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney both being fired within the space of a year.

Just what’s going to happen before this year’s draft is anybody’s guess. There remains plenty of speculation surrounding a bombshell trade for Deshaun Watson, with a host of other options being explored in pursuit of an upgrade on Teddy Bridgewater.

With the draft in mind, we decided to re-grade the 2017 class following their first four years in the league, with the group collectively being a massive hit overall.

Seventh-Round Pick

Carolina Panthers
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Harrison Butker /

Harrison Butker – K (No. 233)

  • Draft grade – F

This grade had nothing to do with the pick, which was fine and probably what the Carolina Panthers needed. But rather what came after with Harrison Butker.

The kicker was released after apparently not doing enough to convince the coaching staff he was worth keeping around. This has obviously been a grave error in judgment with Butker going onto the Kansas City Chiefs and winning a Super Bowl in 2019.

There were some shaky moments where he was concerned in the 2020 postseason. But it’s hard to look at Carolina’s current kicking situation and not think Butker wouldn’t be a significant upgrade.