Where would Panthers 2020 class go in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE
- 201 NFL Draft placing – Second round
There was some promise shown by Yetur Gross-Matos during his first season with the Carolina Panthers, although there were some complications with injury and COVID-19 away from the gridiron. The Penn State product’s explosiveness made a smooth transition to the pro ranks and providing there is further work done to his game this offseason, more in the way of reps could be coming his way on a pass-rush that also includes Brian Burns and free-agent signing Haason Reddick.
This year’s draft class isn’t considered the deepest for edge rushers, which would probably put Gross-Matos in the same place he was taken in 2020. Despite the prospect having a first-round grade from some analysts, he slipped down to Carolina at No. 38 when former general manager Marty Hurney even considered moving up to take him before getting lucky.
Jeremy Chinn – Carolina Panthers S/OLB
- 2021 NFL Draft placing – Top-15
Nobody could have envisaged the level of impact Jeremy Chinn would have on the next level when the Panthers traded back into the second round to select the Southern Illinois standout at No. 64 overall. He was nothing short of a revelation in Carolina after winning a starting job at outside linebacker during training camp and completely ignited a defense that parted ways with some established veterans in free agency.
Chinn was extremely unlucky not to come away with the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after putting up some lofty numbers. He also made history by becoming the first defender to score touchdowns on consecutive plays at the Minnesota Vikings, so even though the Panthers will probably move him back to his preferred position of safety next season, this should not affect his overall influence.
If teams knew what Chinn was capable of last year, he would have gone in the first round. Considering this year’s class is pretty strong, he’d have been considered in the top-15, for sure.