Carolina Panthers 2021 draft tracker: Rumors, picks, analysis

Dean Jones
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Carolina Panthers NFL Draft screen
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Carolina Panthers NFL Draft screen /

Keep up to date with all the latest rumors and picks, together with instant analysis, in our live Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Draft tracker.

The Carolina Panthers are gearing up for a hugely important 2021 NFL Draft. Just what sort of quality comes to the organization will have a big impact on just what their hopes of progression will be next season, with plenty riding on the next few days for the likes of head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer.

Carolina did a nice job of bringing in some quality veteran pieces considering the financial constraints they were up against. However, there are some obvious holes that need to be filled and if the Panthers can do this, then they might just have enough talent to mount a surprise postseason push when competitive action gets underway.

There is so much unknown regarding just what the Panthers are going to do, which is probably how Fitterer and Rhule want it at this juncture. For fans, just buckle up, expect anything, and try to enjoy the ride.

Keep up to date with everything going on throughout the three days in this live 2021 NFL Draft tracker, which will be updated as and when anything occurs.

Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Draft tracker

Best remaining fits on Day 3 for the Carolina Panthers

Day 2 draft grades

Grading picks from an incredible draft Day 2 for the Carolina Panthers

How many picks do the Carolina Panthers have on Day 3?

  • Round 4 (Pick No. 109) – from Houston Texans
  • Round 5 (Pick No. 158) – from New England Patriots through Houston Texans
  • Round 6 (Pick No. 193)
  • Round 6 (Pick No. 204) – from Chicago Bears
  • Round 6 (Pick No. 222) – compensatory pick

Carolina Panthers draft picks so far

  • Jaycee Horn (CB) – Round No. 1 (Pick No. 8)
  • Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR) – Round No. 2 (Pick No. 59)
  • Brady Christensen (OT) – Round No. 3 (Pick No. 70)
  • Tommy Tremble (TE) – Round No. 3 (Pick No. 83)

Day 2 story recap

Sam Darnold gets major boost as Panthers pick Terrace Marshall Jr.

Carolina Panthers make bold move to acquire OT Brady Christensen

Carolina Panthers hit another home run with Tommy Tremble pick

3 takeaways from Scott Fitterer’s Day 2 draft management masterclass

Carolina Panthers pick up Sam Darnold’s option

Now that the dust has settled and the smokescreens have cleared, the Panthers made the move to exercise Sam Darnold’s fifth-year option after deciding to pass on Justin Fields at No. 8 overall. This is a bold move for Carolina whichever way one looks at it and it may even define the tenures of head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer for good or bad.

Darnold has all the tools, but there is just no telling what his failed stint with the Jets has done to his confidence. Only time will tell as to whether the Panthers made the right call, but one cannot deny how high the stakes are at this juncture.

Day 1 stories and looking ahead

Sam Darnold will define Jaycee Horn pick

Jaycee Horn’s shutdown potential

5 best fits on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft

3 big takeaways from Day 1

NFC South review

Jaycee Horn is the pick at No. 8

The Panthers went defense yet again and took South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn at No. 8 overall, passing on Justin Fields in favor of boosting their options alongside Donte Jackson and A.J. Bouye.

Instant reaction here.

Kyle Pitts is going to be a problem

The Atlanta Falcons decided to hang tight at No. 4 and take tight end Kyle Pitts, who is arguably the best talent entering the NFL this year. The former Florida standout has the potential to completely revolutionize the position if he reaches his ceiling and the fact Carolina is taking him on twice a year for the next decade represents a significant problem.

Pitts is going to blow up the league from the moment he steps onto the field. The Panthers will need to gameplan for him heavily and even that might not be enough.

Panthers moving up, or down?

NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport tweeted that the Panthers have received calls about moving down from No. 8. But they are also exploring the possibility of moving up to land their prospect of choice. Whether this would be a quarterback or someone like Kyle Pitts or Penei Sewell remains to be seen.

Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Steve Smith expects the Bears to make a big move

Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is part of the team at NFL Network covering the draft and he predicted a big move from the Chicago Bears in pursuit of their quarterback of the future.

Highlighting what’s at stake in 2021 for Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, Smith stated the Bears should go all out and trade up for Justin Fields if he starts to fall. This might impact Carolina if they are targeting the signal-caller despite trading for Sam Darnold, so it’s a situation they will undoubtedly be monitoring closely.

Dean Jones’ final mock draft

Yes, one last mock draft before we get down to business.

Site expert Dean Jones used The Draft Network’s simulator to form his selections, which were as follows:

  • Round No. 1 (Pick No. 8): Rashawn Slater – OT (Northwestern)
  • Round No. 2 (Pick No. 39): Kelvin Joseph – CB (Kentucky)
  • Round No. 3 (Pick No. 73): Richie Grant – S (UCF)
  • Round No. 4 (Pick No. 114): Jaylen Twyman – DT (Pittsburgh)
  • Round No. 5 (Pick No. 151): Dazz Newsome – WR (North Carolina)
  • Round No. 6 (Pick No. 191): Chauncey Golston – DE/OLB (Iowa)
  • Round No. 6 (Pick No. 193): Tommy Kraemer – OG (Notre Dame)
  • Round No. 6 (Pick No. 222): Shaun Beyer – TE (Iowa)

Five realistic/optimistic options at No. 8

As the time for final decisions to be made draws near, here are five realistic options for the Panthers at No. 8 overall.

  • Justin Fields – QB (Ohio State)
  • Rashawn Slater – OT (Northwestern)
  • DeVonta Smith – WR (Alabama)
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker – OL (USC)
  • Jaycee Horn – CB (South Carolina)

For those a little more optimistic, here are five dream options that might just fall in the right scenario.

  • Penei Sewell – OT (Oregon)
  • Kyle Pitts – TE (Florida)
  • Ja’Marr Chase – WR (LSU)
  • Jaylen Waddle – WR (Alabama)
  • Justin Fields – QB (Ohio State)

The speculation continues to grow. Thankfully, there isn’t much longer to wait.

Some view Justin Fields as a generational talent

The momentum seems to be building regarding the Carolina Panthers and Justin Fields. Whether he will still be around at No. 8 or not remains to be seen. But according to Joe Person of The Athletic, some within the organization view the prospect as a generational talent, according to sources.

"“Some Panthers officials see Fields as a generational talent and think the team should keep taking big swings at the position, according to sources.”"

Taking big swings sounds like something team owner David Tepper is willing to do until he finds the right guy. Sam Darnold hasn’t had his fifth-year option picked up yet and if Carolina does think this highly of fields, they’d be foolish not to pull the trigger.

Will Aaron Rodgers’ situation impact the Panthers?

Twitter exploded when Aaron Rodgers obviously leaked the news he was reportedly done with the Green Bay Packers and listed three teams as preferred destinations. The San Francisco 49ers were in deep talks about moving for the reigning MVP in a package that included the No. 3 overall selection, which could have some big ramifications on the Panthers.

Green Bay wouldn’t take a signal-caller there with Jordan Love waiting in the wings. This would put one more prospect into the mix potentially, although the Packers remain steadfast in their resolve in keeping Rodgers around.

Drew Lock interest?

Albert Breer stated in his recent article that Drew Lock might be on the trading block if the Denver Broncos can get a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Among those he listed as possible suitors were the Minnesota Vikings and, of course, the Panthers.

"“Carolina was one team I heard could be in the mix, but that’d be if they don’t draft one Thursday night (and I think they could).”"

Because why not at this point?

The stage is set

Panthers employee Bill Voth set the stage with a sneak peek of the NFL Draft stage ahead of what is sure to be a dramatic night of Round 1 movement across the league.

Saints looking for a big move up?

According to multiple sources, the New Orleans Saints are looking for a major move into the top-10. They’re believing to be targeting a non-quarterback, although one unnamed prospect at the position would make them change their mind if he is available.

It’s hard to envisage a team trading so far up not to take a quarterback. This means if the Carolina Panthers are actually targeting Justin Fields and it’s not just a smokescreen, they might have to make a move themselves in order to acquire him.

Teddy Bridgewater blew it in Carolina

Teddy Bridgewater only has himself to blame after he was traded to the Denver Broncos after just one season under center in Carolina.

Check out the full article here.

Carolina Panthers should draft a QB in Round 1

The Panthers should be treating new signal-caller, Sam Darnold, as a rental and target a quarterback at No. 8 overall if one falls to them, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

Read why here.

Rashawn Slater and Alijah Vera-Tucker on the hit list?

ESPN reporter Kimberley Martin stated on Sportscenter that the Panthers are considering selecting Rashawn Slater or Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round if they cannot or choose not to take a quarterback.

Much will depend on whether Slater isn’t taken beforehand or if Carolina trades back in Vera-Tucker’s case. But either would be a significant boost to the Panthers’ offensive line, which is an area of substantial need heading into the draft.

Carolina Panthers still receiving calls for the No. 8 pick

According to ESPN’s Kimberley Martin, the Panthers are still receiving calls for the No. 8 selection in the hours leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft. Nobody will be pulling the trigger on anything until they examine how the draft plays out in front of them. But an agreement in principle can be reached when one considers the timescale involved.

Martin added that she believes head coach Matt Rhule is looking to acquire more picks, so expect Carolina to move down at some stage during the three days.

Carolina Panthers pick up D.J. Moore’s fifth-year option

Unsurprisingly, the Panthers have informed D.J. Moore’s agent Drew Rosenhaus that they are picking up his fifth-year option, per ESPN’s insider Adam Schefter. This was inevitable considering the level of production demonstrated by the wide receiver since he was taken in the first round back in 2018, with a multi-year deal set to be offered at some stage over the next year.

Moore is a focal point of Carolina’s offense and has gone over 1,000 receiving yards in two consecutive seasons despite some obvious chemistry issues with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in 2021. The sky is the limit for the former Maryland standout moving forward and this is great – albeit predictable – news ahead of the draft.

Matt Lombardo’s mock has the Carolina Panthers taking Mac Jones

All the talk has been whether the Panthers will take Justin Fields or not at No. 8 despite their acquisition of Sam Darnold. However, FanSided’s national NFL insider Matt Lombardo’s lone mock draft has Carolina taking Alabama’s, Mac Jones.

The San Francisco 49ers opted to take Trey Lance at No. 3, with the Denver Broncos trading up to No. 7 to select Fields one spot before the Panthers. This would be a shock whichever way one looks at it and something that wouldn’t go down too well with large sections of the team’s fanbase.

"Mac Jones’ slide ends here, as the Panthers add long-term optionality at quarterback, even after trading a second-round pick for Sam Darnold earlier this offseason. Nothing else matters in Carolina until they find an elite franchise quarterback, and Matt Rhule now has the opportunity to stage a training camp competition for the starting job this summer."

Jones is a polarizing figure, of that there is little doubt. One thing is for sure, if the Panthers went in the direction it would define the tenures of Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer.

Best late-round gems the Panthers didn’t do enough with

Contributor Noah Bryce took a deep dive into the late-round gems who’ve been drafted by the Carolina Panther throughout history that the team didn’t do enough with. Some interesting names on the list.

Dean Jones reveals final Panthers mock draft

Cat Crave’s site expert Dean Jones revealed his final seven-round Carolina Panthers 2021 mock draft in the immediate aftermath of Teddy Bridgewater’s trade, which saw the organization select Justin Fields at No. 8 overall.

Check out his picks here.

Teddy Bridgewater traded – what now?

The Teddy Bridgewater experiment lasted just one season, which is not the way the player or the Carolina Panthers wanted things to work out. He will now get an opportunity to make another go of things with the Denver Broncos providing he beats out Drew Lock to the starting job and his former employers now have Sam Darnold leading the charge.

However, there is still a chance the Panthers take a signal-caller at No. 8 if everything falls into place. ESPN analyst Todd McShay stated that Carolina is serious about taking Justin Fields, which would be a big call to make after landing Darnold from the New York Jets.

Much will depend on how the draft plays out. But the move should not be counted out.

Carolina Panthers reportedly ‘love’ Jaycee Horn.

One player who has generated a significant amount of buzz during the evaluation process is Jaycee Horn. The former South Carolina cornerback enjoyed a phenomenal 2020 campaign with the Gamecocks despite coming up against some of the best weapons college football has to offer and this has clearly not gone unnoticed by teams across the league.

Super Bowl-winner turned broadcaster Bryan Broaddus recently stated that the Panthers were “in love” with Horn and could look to select him in the first round. This would probably come via a trade down, which might also be in the pipeline.

Are the Carolina Panthers open to trading down?

Getting more picks is something Scott Fitterer stated in his introductory press conference he was willing to do. The best way to do this would be to move down from No. 8 depending on which quarterback falls this far, with plenty of teams seemingly looking to make this sort of move should the opportunity arise.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Panthers and the New England Patriots have laid the groundwork surrounding a potential deal in this scenario. Putting provisional trades in place is not uncommon in situations, but obviously, things can change very quickly.

How to watch

Anyone wishing to view the 2021 NFL Draft online can do so on FuboTV’s streaming service, which can be accessed at this link.

The event will also be shown live on the NFL Network and ESPN.

Next. Final 7-round Carolina Panthers 2021 mock draft after Teddy Bridgewater trade. dark