Carolina Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Starting over edition

(Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch via IMAGN Content Services) C.J. Stroud
(Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch via IMAGN Content Services) C.J. Stroud /
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Carolina Panthers
(John Reed-USA TODAY Sports) Owen Pappoe /

Carolina Panthers select Owen Pappoe

  • Linebacker | Auburn

Finding a long-term solution at middle linebacker has been a constant problem for the Carolina Panthers since Luke Kuechly hung up his cleats after the 2019 season. Damien Wilson’s erratic production so far means the chances of him being extended are slim at best, so those in power must find someone capable of manning the second level via the draft if fourth-rounder Brandon Smith doesn’t progress as anticipated.

If a prospect such as Owen Pappoe is still available at this juncture, Carolina should seriously consider bringing him into the fold. The Auburn prospect’s physical attributes are absolutely off the charts and matched by athleticism that allows him to be around the football consistently.

His production matches these attributes. Pappoe has 206 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and six sacks throughout his career with the Tigers, also boasting a knack for impacting games in coverage that won’t go unnoticed by NFL scouts.

One could argue that Pappoe hasn’t reached the heights expected considering his athletic traits. He is also a little undersized for the next level which could put teams off from taking him high.

With that being said, there is a lot to go off where Pappoe is concerned. And if the Panthers do end up taking him, then it would also be wise for the organization to get Pappoe and Kuechly in the same room early and often during the player’s transition.