Panthers 2021 Draft: Pre-free agency 7-round mock draft

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chazz Surratt
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chazz Surratt /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) Trey Lance /

Round No. 1 (Pick No. 8)

Trey Lance – QB (North Dakota State)

Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer may have said all the right things about Teddy Bridgewater being their quarterback. But their actions during the early period of the offseason tell a different story.

The Carolina Panthers almost acquired Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions before the Los Angeles Rams swooped, with the reported package including Bridgewater. Fitterer made sure that the signal-caller was kept up to date, which he reportedly handled with “real class”.

Speculation continues to mount regarding a potential trade for Deshaun Watson, although whether the Houston Texans will be more receptive closer to the draft is up for debate. The free-agent pool of players at the position doesn’t appear to be the strongest, so it might be prudent for the Panthers to take their chances with a top college prospect.

With the top-three quarterbacks off the board by the time Carolina was on the clock, the choice is North Dakota State phenom, Trey Lance. This represents a feast or famine move by the Panthers, of that there is little doubt. But if the player makes a smooth adjustment to the pro ranks then it could be a franchise-altering call that benefits them in the short and long-term.

Lance can make every throw possible and has a cannon for an arm. He is composed in the pocket and can also gain significant yards running with the football, so this game-changing and exciting ability is something that Carolina could use to take them forward.

There is a lack of activity over the last year to consider. Lance also had things all his own way in a small program at the college level, so it’s going to take a big adjustment to make an instant impression at the next level.