6 potential first-round targets if the Panthers make 2022 playoffs

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Bijan Robinson
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Bijan Robinson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Noah Sewell /

Carolina Panthers could draft Noah Sewell

  • Linebacker | Oregon

Another positional group that should be strengthened this offseason is the linebacking corps. Frankie Luvu and Shaq Thompson are playing at a high level, but others aren’t pulling their weight despite fourth-rounder Brandon Smith flashing with additional reps on the defensive rotation.

It’s unlikely Damien Wilson comes back and with Cory Littleton out of contract, using a high-end draft selection to finally fill the void left by Luke Kuechly should be considered if playoff football denies them the chance of securing a potential franchise quarterback.

If this scenario becomes a reality, then there are a few solid candidates to monitor. Clemson’s Trenton Simpson is among the best linebackers entering the league next year, but Noah Sewell is another that warrants significant consideration if he declares in the coming weeks.

The younger brother of Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell had a down year statistically. But that does not detract from the outstanding athletic attributes demonstrated by the Oregon standout.

Sewell is tough as they come, has an exceptional motor, and knows exactly what angles to take on any given down to make plays. Simply put, he has all the traits normally associated with a 4-3 inside linebacker at the next level.

If Sewell can become more disciplined and learn to finish off players with conviction consistently, this is a slam dunk for whoever drafts him. And that might be Carolina when it’s all said and done.