7 defensive ends the Panthers could pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
Gregory Rousseau – Miami
Once considered a lock for the first round, Gregory Rousseau seems to have slipped for whatever reason and could even fall out of the top-32 depending on how the draft plays out. If he somehow makes it down to the Carolina Panthers at No. 39, they would have a big decision to make regarding the former Miami standout.
Rousseau enjoyed a dominant 2019 campaign for the Hurricanes on his way to 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Opting out of the 2020 season seems to have hurt his stock more than most, but he looked in fantastic shape at the 2021 Senior Bowl without participating and has all the intangibles needed to make a real go of things at the next level.
Much like Kwity Paye, the Panthers have other needs. But there appears little doubt Rousseau represents outstanding value if he dropped into the second round.
Joseph Ossai – Texas
There is a lot to like about the skill set Joseph Ossai brings to the table. The Texas edge rusher has all the physical attributes needed to become a real star in the NFL and providing his transition to the professional ranks is a smooth one, the sky is the limit.
Ossai looks a lot like Yetur Gross-Matos as a prospect, who the Panthers took No. 38 overall in 2020. He can operate with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end or standing up as an outside linebacker, with the prospect also possessing the sort of explosiveness that gives opposing offensive linemen nightmares.
Just where Ossai will be available is unclear. He is projected to go anywhere from early in the second to the third depending on what mock draft you read. So there might be a chance for Carolina to grab him once a couple of other positions are secured first.