Carolina Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Final countdown edition

Zack Kuntz
Zack Kuntz / Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers
Owen Pappoe / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers select Owen Pappoe

  • Linebacker | Auburn Tigers
  • Round No. 5 (Pick No. 145)

You must be asking as a Carolina Panthers fan, "Jared, why would you wait until the fifth round to address the need at linebacker?"

Over the last few weeks, I've been quite reluctant of being in favor of drafting a linebacker high in this draft class. It is not the best year for one, as no linebacker bestows a first-round grade on my board. To be fair, I have no idea where Carolina stands at the position and how they feel with the current group of inside linebackers.

While adding a Jack Campbell would be nice, the Panthers do not need to draft a linebacker early in this year, especially in a weak class. This is why I went the developmental route at the position with Auburn's Owen Pappoe.

Pappoe is a former five-star high school recruit and is shown on film. I like his ability to chase ball carriers from sideline to sideline with an awesome 4.39-second 40-yard dash speed to attack any portion of the field. He also does a good job making strong, secure tackles when he is under control at the point of contact.

However, Pappore has shown to be over-aggressive as a player and will cost himself valuable positions in the run game when it comes to attacking gaps and his coverage ability. At 6-foot-0 and 225 pounds, the prospect will be an undersized second-level defender at the next level.

I do believe he fits defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero's defense well and could develop into a starter at MIKE over time, potentially proving to be Shaq Thompson's successor in a couple of years.

Next. 5 critical Carolina Panthers observations entering 2023 draft. dark