5 initial observations from Panthers unofficial 2021 depth chart

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Daviyon Nixon
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Daviyon Nixon /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Daviyon Nixon and Derrick Brown /

Daviyon Nixon could have a big role to play

One player with more questions than answers heading into training camp was Daviyon Nixon. The defensive tackle plunged to Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft before the Carolina Panthers picked him up in the fifth round, which was down to some serious character concerns that saw some teams cross him off their board entirely.

The Panthers felt this was a risk worth taking at the time. Nixon seems to be repaying their faith so far with strong production on the field and exemplary behavior away from drills.

Perhaps being in a true camp environment at Wofford College in Spartanburg was all Nixon needed to make a smooth transition. His talent was never in question – he had a second-round grade from most analysts – so the Iowa product keeping his nose clean was arguably his biggest objective.

Carolina’s first unofficial depth chart has Nixon right in the thick of the defensive tackle rotation. He might even be the primary backup to Derrick Brown and DaQuan Jones by the time Week 1 rolls around.

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Again, this is a fluid situation and preseason performance will play a substantial part in the Panthers’ final decisions. Nixon has made a good first impression – which was important considering the chatter about his attitude during the evaluation process – so this could end up being one of the draft’s biggest steals when it’s all said and done.