Carolina finished at the bottom of the NFC South last season at 5-12, which makes two five-win seasons in two years under Matt Rhule. Inconsistent play from Sam Darnold and Cam Newton at QB plus an injury-riddled season that limited star RB Christian McCaffrey to just 7 games doomed the Panthers in 2021.
Last April, Carolina made a splash when they traded three draft picks to the Jets to acquire Darnold. Then, following 2021 1st-round pick Jaycee Horn’s injury in September, the Panthers sent TE Dan Arnold and their 2022 3rd-round pick to the Jaguars for CB C.J. Henderson and a 2022 5th-round pick. All that resulted in the Panthers being left with just six picks in the 2022 Draft, and just one over the first three rounds.
That first pick lands at No. 6, and after Darnold’s inconsistent play in 2021, Carolina could very well be the first team to take a QB in this year’s draft. They’ve already hosted a number of QB prospects, including Malik Willis (Liberty), Matt Corral (Ole Miss) and Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh). Following the failed Teddy Bridgewater experiment in 2020 and what’s looking to be a failed Darnold experiment, the Panthers are desperate to find their next franchise QB. Panthers GM Sam Fitterer said the team doesn’t want “to force a quarterback decision,” so if it’s not QB for Carolina at No. 6, they’ll hope that one of the top tackles in this draft, Evan Neal from Alabama) or Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State), is available. Either Neal or Ekwonu would give Carolina stability at LT, a position that’s plagued the team for nearly a decade.
Following their first rounder, the Panthers don’t own a pick until the 4th round (No. 137). Look for them to target an edge rusher after seeing Haason Reddick, who led the team with 11 sacks last season, leave for the Eagles in free agency. If the Panthers do end up selecting a QB with their top pick, they’ll likely add a tackle or two with one of their five selections on the third and final day of the draft.
Click here for the entire 2022 NFL Draft order and keep reading to see where the Panthers will be making picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Coverage of the latest news from around the NFL is available all year round on PFT’s Peacock channel.
Panthers 2022 Draft Picks:
Round 1: No. 6 – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Round 3: No. 94 (from KC via NE) – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Round 4: No. 120 (from NO via WAS) – Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
Round 6: No. 189 (from WAS) – Amare Barno, LB, Virginia Tech
Round 6: No. 199 (from LV) – Cade Mays, G, Tennessee
Round 7: No. 242 (from NE via MIA) – Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor
Check out draft picks for other teams in the NFC South