5 players the Carolina Panthers could have drafted instead of Jaycee Horn in 2021

Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II
Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could have drafted Rashawn Slater

If you needed any further indictment of the failings of Matt Rhule, his comments on first-round pick Rashawn Slater say it all. Before the 2022 season, the former head coach said on a Charlotte radio show they didn’t pick the former NorthWestern star because of questions on his size to play offensive tackle and not to use a selection that high on the offensive line interior.

We’d already seen Rhule's infatuation with size and arm length. His refusal to deploy Brady Christensen at his regular position in 2021 despite him being the best edge protector on the roster at the time was damning.

Now it’s no surprise that Rhule’s premeditations on Slater were incorrect, protecting the blindside of stud Justin Herbert, He was All-Rookie, voted to the Pro Bowl, and made second-team All-Pro after just one season, quashing the concerns raised by the Carolina Panthers.

Even if the Panthers only valued him as a guard, they had a real issue at the position in any case. John Miller, Dennis Daley, Michael Jordan, and Trent Scott were never up to the challenge, so Slater would have been a Day 1 starter with instant upside.

The fact Christensen made the switch from tackle to guard and immediately beat out Jordan tells you everything. While the Panthers have solved their left tackle issues after drafting Ikem Ekwonu in 2022, having a stud like Slater alongside him would have been an improvement.