Panthers 7-round 2023 mock draft: Addressing needs and taking risks

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Hendon Hooker
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Hendon Hooker /
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Carolina Panthers
(Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports) Will Anderson /

Carolina Panthers select Will Anderson Jr.

  • Defensive End | Alabama

This would be a dream.

If Will Anderson Jr. made it this far down the draft, the Carolina Panthers shouldn’t hesitate. Although it would take a brave team to pass on the exceptional pass-rusher out of Alabama.

Anderson remains in contention for the No. 1 overall selection despite some teams looking to take advantage of an outstanding quarterback class. His explosiveness is out of this world and matched by ruthless finishing that’s taken the college football world by storm.

The edge presence has one sack, three tackles for loss, and 10 tackles over his first two games with the Crimson Tide in 2022. Carolina’s pass rush was almost non-existent against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, which made things extremely difficult for the secondary to meet some lofty expectations.

It would be jaw-dropping if Anderson fell to No. 8, in all honesty. He is a generational talent that can become an instant difference-maker at the next level, which the Panthers could need opposite Brian Burns if Yetur Gross-Matos cannot step up his performance levels.

Should Anderson be available for Carolina, it’s a no-brainer. The Panthers aren’t blessed with much draft capital after offseason trade activity, but this represents as close to a sure thing as you are likely to find.