Carolina Panthers 7-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Pre-free agency edition

The offseason is just beginning...
Renardo Green
Renardo Green / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 7

Carolina Panthers select Johnny Newton

  • Defensive Tackle | Illinois Fighting Illini
  • Round No. 2 | No. 33 overall

One may argue that the Carolina Panthers must select an offensive lineman or wide receiver with their first pick. It is a valid argument surrounded by the preface of protecting second-year quarterback Bryce Young and giving him the skill players necessary to succeed at the next level.

However, some talents may be difficult to pass on even if it is on the defensive side of the ball.

Johnny 'Jer’Zhan' Newton is the type of talent you simply cannot pass on. He is a player who makes the team as a whole better with how disruptive he is in the trenches. While finding another five technique isn’t high on the priority list for the Panthers, the prospect would be an upgrade alongside star interior force Derrick Brown.

The 2023 consensus All-American was discovered to have a Jones fracture during medical examinations at the combine. An injury during the pre-draft process could cause him to fall out of the first round entirely. Newton, Pro Football Network’s No. 1 ranked defensive tackle, is still a quality talent worth drafting.

Newton offers a sudden first step that forces blockers on their heels quickly. He wins with power and quickness and provides a nice step of rush moves and counters that make him a handful. The player's hands are always active and he is consistently making plays in the backfield.

The two-time first-team All-Big Ten is the definition of the best player available. Newton would also fit Ejiro Evero’s defense to a tee.