Carolina Panthers select Zion Tupuola-Fetui
- Edge rusher | Washington Huskies
- No. 179 overall
Don’t expect a sixth-round selection to be an immediate contributor. As great as it would be to find a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in these parts, the back end of the NFL Draft is about finding developmental talent to grow over time.
At the same time, it would be cool if the Carolina Panthers found a contributing pass rusher in the sixth round.
I think Dan Morgan will look to pursue a solid No. 2 pass rusher opposite Brian Burns, assuming he returns next season. While Carolina already has a developmental, rotational pass rusher, it never hurts to add another. Especially when this certain player was seen as a potential first-round pick a couple of seasons ago before injuries slowed him down.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui will occasionally flash the explosiveness and burst off the line of scrimmage that made him such a handful during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. This sounds like another D.J. Johnson, but he offers some legitimate semblance of a pass-rush skill set, using his hands to pop the opposing offensive lineman in the chest and get by with speed-to-power rushes.
Tupuola-Fetui is a sixth-year senior and will be 24 years old once he is drafted. Still, he offers good timing off the snap to win around the edge and the ability to drop into coverage as a stand-up outside linebacker.
There is a skill set here worth taking a chance on. Especially on a team that isn’t expected to win many games in 2024.