What the Panthers can expect from Deonte Brown in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) Deonte Brown
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) Deonte Brown /

What can the Carolina Panthers expect from their mammoth interior offensive lineman Deonte Brown during his rookie season in 2021?

Getting better from a protection point of view was absolutely essential for the Carolina Panthers this offseason. Time and time again this area of the field became their undoing in critical moments – especially in passing situations – and the fact Matt Rhule’s men lost a mind-boggling eight games by one score is a damning indictment of where they need to improve.

The Panthers didn’t really address this area in free agency, prioritizing the defensive side of the football instead. They did bring in Pat Elflein and Cam Erving, but considering the struggles endured by both in recent seasons, it would be a huge risk starting them in 2021.

One encouraging sign was the prospects Carolina managed to get their hands on during the 2021 NFL Draft. The Panthers traded up in the third round to take left tackle Brady Christensen out of BYU, with another potential Day 1 starter also falling into their laps on Day 3.

Deonte Brown could be a steal for the Carolina Panthers.

Deonte Brown enjoyed a phenomenal career at Alabama and played a leading role in their convincing national championship triumph in 2020. There are some issues that need to be monitored – which we’ll get to shortly – but as far as value goes this might end up being the steal of the draft where the Panthers are concerned.

To say Brown fits the mold of what an NFL guard should look like is a huge understatement. He is an absolute monster of a man who has surprising quickness for a player his size, so if this can be harnessed in the right way then there is nothing to suggest he cannot go on to have a productive career at the next level.

Brown excels in creating holes in the run game and is nimble enough to make his presence felt thwarting opposing pass-rushers getting into the backfield. He might find things a little more difficult against bigger and stronger defensive linemen in the NFL, but the fact he didn’t give up a single sack from 865 snaps with the Crimson Tide indicates there is a lot to work with from a talent standpoint.

Drafting a player like Brown comes with complications. His weight is a big concern and will need to be closely watched by Carolina’s coaching staff. Any slight slip could result in a detrimental impact on performance.

The Panthers spent time working with Brown at the 2021 Senior Bowl, where he didn’t exactly shine in one-on-one drills. It would be a risk playing him at left guard if Christensen is occupying the left tackle position from the word go, but there are a couple of veterans who might be able to perform adequately over the first few weeks while the rookie fully acclimatizes.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether or not Brown can transition his dominance to the pro ranks. Sixth-round picks tend to be a crapshoot when it comes to impact at any stage, but the Panthers appear confident in the prospect to hit the ground running and become an important piece of the puzzle sooner rather than later.

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If Brown isn’t starting on Day 1, nobody should panic. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is going to be key and there is a lot to like about his long-term potential with hard work and dedication.