6 first-round targets for the Carolina Panthers in the 2022 NFL Draft

Dean Jones
(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu
(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via IMAGN Content Services) Tyler Linderbaum /

Tyler Linderbaum – C (Iowa)

The Carolina Panthers and center Matt Paradis could be set for a parting of the ways next spring. Things just haven’t gone as expected over his three years with the team, although one can make an argument that a lack of talent around the Boise State product on the offensive line interior hasn’t done him any favors.

Even if the Panthers cut their losses with Paradis this offseason, they’ll still be paying him north of $9 million in dead cap money in 2022 as part of his contract restructure. A necessary evil due to the current financial climate.

Finding a replacement for Paradis is of critical importance. Not only from a continuity standpoint but also to improve the team’s long-term aspirations regarding their protection.

Tyler Linderbaum is the best center prospect entering the NFL in 2022. His quickness to the point of attack is a sight to behold and this is matched by a ruthless streak that stands out consistently.

The Iowa player has a nice mixture of brute strength and solid technique – two traits that are normally highly coveted by teams across the league. Not only this, but the Hawkeyes also get Linderbaum out on space during screen designs a bunch, which is another potential asset at the next level.

Taking a center early in the draft is normally reserved for teams with fewer holes elsewhere. But the Panthers are in no position to be ignoring the best player available at any offensive line position depending on where they are drafting.