Grading Panthers position groups on defense after the 2021 draft

(Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Daviyon Nixon /

Carolina Panthers DTs

The defensive tackle position may have been the area that had the most questionable moves of the entire offseason for the Carolina Panthers heading into the draft.

After a year with rising star Derrick Brown sealing up the middle beside backup turned starter Zach Kerr, the future looked bright for a team that seemed to just need another player to slot in with those two bulldozers and rotational piece Bravvion Roy.

However, things didn’t exactly turn out that way.

Kerr was released and the Panthers didn’t address the position in free agency until very late in the process, keeping us all on our toes. While DaQuan Jones is a good player and a solid run stuffer, he is not necessarily the big splash the fanbase expected the team to make to solidify the position.

Some hope finally came to the room in the fifth round where the Panthers selected Daviyon Nixon out of Iowa. While there are apparently some character concerns that caused the prospect to fall farther than most expected, his on-field production warrants a second look after he bullied offensive lines to the tune of 13.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 2020.

However, if Nixon cannot get things right from a character standpoint, the position looks dangerously thin even when you consider Morgan Fox’s three-technique ability.

The Panthers did use their final pick on another defensive tackle, Phil Hoskins out of Kentucky. While no one should expect him to be a revelation at the next level, if the prospect makes the team he could find himself as a quality rotational player much like Roy.

Grade: C+

This grade could have been much higher had Carolina gone after any of the higher quality free agents on the market. However, there is a lot to like about the position heading into 2021, especially if Brown continues to produce and develops into an even more disruptive player like most expect and Jones can be a quality running mate to take some pressure off of the second year player.

This looks to be a solid, albeit not a spectacular, group.