Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Building around franchise QB

Kayshon Boutte
Kayshon Boutte / Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers
Trenton Simpson / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers draft Trenton Simpson

  • Linebacker | Clemson | No. 39 overall

General manager Scott Fitterer has spoken about the need to add a speedy linebacker at some stage. It's been a quiet free agency at the second level despite extending Shaq Thompson, so all signs point to the Carolina Panthers taking one from the college ranks in 2023. 

This is a top-heavy draft for linebackers. There's a notable drop-off after the first five or six prospects and if the Panthers want to find an immediate difference-maker, then examining possibilities at No. 39 overall should be considered. 

In this particular scenario, they get a stroke of good fortune. It would also see the streak of never drafting a prospect from Clemson come to an end. 

Trenton Simpson looks like a first-rounder in size, physical, and athleticism. Fitterer got to see this for himself at Clemson's pro day earlier in the week, which was extremely notable considering how busy the front office figure was with free-agent targets at the time. 

Simpson is exactly what the Panthers have been looking for since Luke Kuechly retired in 2020. He is a dominant, instinctive, and physical presence that impacts the game in all three phases, which suits Ejiro Evero's scheme down to the ground.

Whether Simpson will be around by this point is highly debatable. If he is, then the Panthers shouldn't think twice.