The Panthers come in with the 16th overall pick in the 2019 draft. With plenty of good building blocks in place, the 2019 draft can be where the Panthers propel their team.
The Panthers are in a good position, having many of the major spots on their team occupied. They have their franchise quarterback in Cam Newton, a premier running back in Christian McCaffrey, and an excellent receiver in D.J. Moore. Greg Olsen looks to be remaining with the team but they have his eventual replacement in Ian Thomas.
What they could use is some extra receiver help. Devin Funchess left in free agency and Curtis Samuel, trending up, needs to stay healthy. They need a bruiser back or power back to spell McCaffrey as well. The offensive line could use an upgrade as well. Ever since Andrew Norwell left, Cam Newton has taken a beating.
Defensively they have two rock-solid young cornerbacks in James Bradberry and Donte Jackson. They also have veteran Captain Munnerlyn manning the slot. Eric Reid re-signed as whichever safety the team needs him to be but they could add another. Shaq Thompson made a leap last year, and is ready to take over the Thomas Davis role next to Superstar Luke Kuechly.
What they do need on defense is another defensive tackle to play next to Kawann Short in the middle. There is not much depth there. Julius Peppers finally retired as well and they need to find his replacement, luckily this draft is full of talented edge rushers.
Round 1, Pick #16 Montez Sweat, Edge- Mississippi St.
Montez Sweat showed how athletically gifted he is at the draft combine. He measure in at 6’6 and 260 Lbs. while running a 4.41 second 40 yard dash, had a 36 inch vertical, 125 inch broad jump and put up 21 reps on the bench press. Sweat also was said to have an irregular heart issue at the combine but was still allowed to compete. That leads me to believe it is not a serious problem and he should not drop due to it.
During his last two seasons in college he played in 26 games in the SEC. He put up totals of 101 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss, 22.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Peppers was a generational talent and is close to impossible to replace but Sweat has a chance to be that guy.
Round 2, Pick #47 Yodney Cajuste, Offensive Tackle- West Virginia
Cajuste is one of the strongest prospects in this year’s draft. At the NFL combine he put up 32 bench press reps. If you followed any of the Senior Bowl practices he routinely made some of the best edge rushers look inadequate. Cajuste is terrific in both pass and run protection, rarely being forced off of his blocks.
Once his initial block is finished, Cajuste constantly looks for somebody else to put his hands on. He would be a smart man to put your money on to Keep Cam Newton from getting hit.
Round 3, Pick #78 Charles Omenihu, Defensive Line- Texas
Charles Omenihu is a large and athletic prospect who did not really blossom until his Senior year. During his Sophomore and Junior years he was a solid contributor totaling 53 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, and seven sacks. Then came his Senior year where he racked up 45 tackles, an amazing 18 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks.
Omenihu is big enough to play inside coming in at 6’5 and 280 Lbs. He can even slide outside at times and get at the quarterback from the edge. A front four, now consisting of Kawann Short, Mario Addison, and rookies Montez Sweat and Charles Omenihu makes a solid pass rush group.
Round 3, Pick #101 Ben Powers, Offensive Guard- Oklahoma
Ben Powers is a three-year starter on a potent Oklahoma offense. Powers has a strong punch move and does not get moved off his block easily. He loves getting dirty and never shies away from contact. Cam Newton gets hit far too much and adding help to the offensive line should be a big priority for the Panthers.
They add two rookies who can start right away with Cajuste playing tackle and Powers playing either guard position. Powers has experience playing both guard positions and McCaffrey will love finding the holes created by powers.
Round 4, Pick # 116 Anthony Johnson, Wide Receiver- Buffalo
Football seems to just run in the blood in this family. Jadeveon Clowney and Jonathan Joseph of the Houston Texans are Anthony Johnson’s cousins. Both players have had great careers in the NFL. Anthony Johnson is a big bodied receiver with good hands.
In his past two years with Buffalo he totaled 133 receptions for 2,367 receiving yards, and 25 touchdowns in 24 games. The Panthers right now have D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey as their primary receivers, Adding a guy like Johnson replaces Devin Funchess and gives Newton a big red zone target.
Round 5, Pick #153 Devine Ozigbo, Running Back- Nebraska
The Panthers could use a backup running back and change of pace guy for Christian McCaffrey. One Thing Ozigbo has that McCaffrey does not have is size. Ozigbo checks in at 5’11 and 222 Lbs and adds above average speed especially for his size. He is a legitimate pass catcher as well so the game plan does not need to change when Ozigbo comes into the game.
Ozigbo did not get a lot of carries until his Junior year where he only produced 3.8 yards per carry. Then came his Senior year where he came out of nowhere to average 7 yards per carry. He finished his final season with 1,082 rushing yards. He runs with passion and sticks to his lanes to get to the second level quickly. Ozigbo makes a nice one-two punch with McCaffrey.
Round 6, Pick #189 Wyatt Ray, Edge- Boston College
Wyatt Ray was a nice complement to Zach Allen on the edge for Boston College. Ray may have been over shadowed a bit by Allen who is likely a day two pick. Ray was stuck behind Harold Landry the past couple seasons but this year was his first as a full-time starter. During that lone season he tallied 11.5 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
Ray is not the most athletic player but has great upper body strength and a very impressive reach. What he does lack in athleticism he makes up for in his passion. Ray can come in right away and be a rotational edge rusher with the potential to be more.
This is a very impressive haul for the Panthers. They attack every area of need outside of the safety position. Julius Peppers’ replacement is where they start by adding athletically gifted pass rusher Montez Sweat. That was then followed by signing quite possibly the strongest offensive tackle in the draft in Yodny Cajuste. He alone upgrades the offensive line and should give Newton some reassurance in protection.
In the third round they attack both sides of the line. With the first third round pick they grab versatile and strong interior rusher in Charles Omenihu. With the second pick in the third round they add a versatile guard who can play either side and again reassure Newton that he will be hit much less. In the fourth round the Panthers add to their pass catching corps and give Newton a replacement for Devin Funchess by drafting Anthony Johnson out of Buffalo. He is a big-bodied receiver with great college production and should help this team in the red zone.
In the fifth round, a change of pace from McCaffrey gets drafted. Devine Ozigbo is coming off of a great Senior season. He provides great size and does not lack in the pass catching department. With the final pick of the Panthers 2019 draft they add to the aid in replacing Julius Peppers and grab another edge rusher in Wyatt Ray. Well done by the Panthers in this draft.
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