Carolina Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Strike it lucky edition

(Brianna Paciorka/The Knoxville News-Sentinel via IMAGN Content Services) Byron Young
(Brianna Paciorka/The Knoxville News-Sentinel via IMAGN Content Services) Byron Young /
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Carolina Panthers
(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) Trenton Simpson /

Carolina Panthers select Trenton Simpson

  • Linebacker | Clemson Tigers

Once the Carolina Panthers address their biggest need, they can switch focus to other positional groups in dire need of reinforcements. And ever since Luke Kuechly’s bombshell retirement after the 2019 campaign, stability at the middle linebacker spot has been sorely lacking.

Production at the second level has improved slightly thanks to Shaq Thompson’s move to the interior. But the former first-round pick could be a salary-cap casualty before free agency given the savings of more than $13 million involved.

Frankie Luvu’s emerged as a key cog this season. But with Damien Wilson and Cory Littleton also likely to depart, spending multiple picks on linebackers during the draft cannot be ruled out entirely.

The Panthers have never selected a player from Clemson. However, if Trenton Simpson is still available by this point, the streak should end in a heartbeat.

Simpson is a ferocious presence that can impact any game on a three-down basis. He is strong against the run, can generate pressure when needed, and also boasts enough coverage skills to assist in this critical area for good measure.

There are very few flaws to Simpson’s game. He will need to be a little more composed in the NFL, but this is a prospect that looks tailor-made to fill the gaping void left by Kuechly in Carolina.