New 2025 Mock Draft has Carolina Panthers focusing on defense at No. 1

Could the Carolina Panthers pick at No. 1 again in 2025?
Abdul Carter
Abdul Carter / G Fiume/GettyImages

Although the Carolina Panthers are a long way from determining their 2025 NFL Draft status, scouts behind the scenes are already coming up with shortlists on which prospects could potentially be of interest heading into the upcoming college football season. For fans, they'll also have their favorites in the weeks and months ahead before the all-important assessment process arrives.

If Dan Morgan was on damage control this offseason, he'll be in a much better position to make moves and raise standards next year. The Panthers are loaded with nine selections in 2025 after getting a second-rounder from the Los Angeles Rams during a trade. Carolina must come out of the first season under Dave Canales with respectability, which could put them in a decent spot to take the next step with the assets at the team's disposal.

Of course, nobody could say with any guarantee how the Panthers are going to perform. Most projections have them in the lower echelons once again, so it's down to Canales and his new-look roster to shift the narrative and bring this once-proud franchise from rock bottom.

Carolina Panthers select Abdul Carter in 2025 mock draft

Not many early mock drafts have the Panthers anywhere other than atop the order once again. They'd have a whole heap of problems if this scenario came to fruition, but James Fragoza from Pro Football Network highlighted edge rusher Abdul Carter as someone who could be under early consideration to hear his name called first in 2025.

"Abdul Carter has yet to reach his potential, as Penn State has used him as a linebacker for the last two seasons. But, to the detriment of every QB he’ll face, Carter is moving to a full-time EDGE role in 2024. The transition should be natural for the athletic pass-rushing demon."

This is not seen as the strongest quarterback class. However, the defensive linemen set to emerge from the college ranks are nothing short of exceptional depending on how they fare next season.

Carter has more going for him than most. How he transitions to the edge position full-time with the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2025 will tell us plenty about his NFL aspirations. That said, his unique blend of size, explosiveness, and closing speed could see him enter superstar status if everything goes according to plan.

Looking at the Panthers' roster as it stands, they are short of dependable edge rushing options. Trading Brian Burns to the New York Giants means there is a gaping hole to fill. It seems unlikely that the options around will be able to compensate for the team's significant losses despite the presence of Jadeveon Clowney.

Depending on how Bryce Young performs, the edge rusher room could be Carolina's biggest need next offseason. Trading out of the No. 1 pick in this scenario seems advantageous, but someone like Carter could potentially become the next Micah Parsons - who hailed from the same college program - if he takes the college football world by storm as expected in 2025.

There's a long way to go and a lot of twists to come before attention turns to the 2025 NFL Draft. But this is a prospect Morgan and his staff should watch with a keen interest nonetheless.