Carolina Panthers full 7-round 2022 NFL mock draft ahead of Week 1

(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) Elijah Cooks
(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) Elijah Cooks /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images) James Empey /

James Empey – C (BYU)

While all eyes were on quarterback Zach Wilson when studying the BYU games in 2020, the production of his offensive line was something else that really stood out. The Carolina Panthers ended up trading up in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Brady Christensen, who is moving from his usual left tackle position judging by what we’ve seen during the preparation period.

It might be worth the Panthers going back to the program for more offensive line help next spring. Matt Paradis is out of contract and needs to show out in no uncertain terms in pursuit of an extension – even though he’ll still count more than $9 million against Carolina’s salary cap after a contract restructure this offseason.

The team has hopes that Sam Tecklenburg could be a potential long-term option at the center spot. But someone with the skill set of James Empey is an option that shouldn’t be ignored.

Empey has a lot of likable traits. He is a strong communicator that more than holds his own either against the run or in passing situations, so it’ll be interesting to see how the lineman copes this season with a new signal-caller and reworked protection after many around him left to take their chances at the next level.

If he reaches or even exceeds last season’s performance, then Empey should have more than a few suitors looking his way during the evaluation process.