With the conclusion of the 2019 scouting combine in Indianapolis this week, the first major step of NFL draft season is complete.
That means the Carolina Panthers, along with 31 other teams, got their first looks at as many prospects possible. Now, they’ll try to narrow down the best players available and match them with team needs as they create their draft board.
Here’s what pro football analysts are now saying about Carolina’s pick at No. 16:
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network (Mock 2.0): Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State
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What Jeremiah thinks: “My comp for Bradbury is Ryan Kalil. He could take over for (retired center Ryan) Kalil in the middle of Carolina’s (offensive) line.”
What I think: Bradbury is a great fit for Carolina at No. 16, especially after a stellar workout at the combine that was sure to boost his draft stock. At 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, Bradbury ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash, cranked out a whopping 34 repetitions on the bench press, and showed his quickness and fluidity with a 4.53-second 20-yard shuttle and 7.41-second three-cone drill, the best time among offensive linemen.
Peter Schrager, NFL Network (Mock 1.0): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
What Schrager thinks: “If he slips to 16, he becomes the heir apparent to Greg Olsen and an immediate contributor to an offense that has added two talented players with first-round picks in the past two drafts (D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey).”
What I think: The heir apparent to Olsen is actually Ian Thomas, who was drafted in the fourth round last spring and has blown away coaches and teammates with his potential both as a pass-catcher and a blocker. With Olsen set to return in 2019 to play alongside Thomas (despite concern he might be a candidate for the Monday Night Football analyst opening), selecting a tight end in the first round with so many other needs would be baffling.
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network (Mock 6.0): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
What Crabbs thinks: “The Panthers’ offensive line is a hot mess ...Targeting an athletic pass protector like Dillard will continue their preferred approach of keeping an athlete on the edge, but even Dillard, with all of his warts, is an immediate upgrade over (left tackle Matt) Kalil.”
What I think: With right tackle Daryl Williams likely testing the free agent market next week, and Kalil’s health and status with the team still a little murky, Dillard becomes an intriguing possibility for Carolina at No. 16. He’s athletic and quick, with lots of pass protection experience — but the Panthers will value a prospect who can run block well, too.
Dan Kadar, SBnation: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
What Kadar thinks: “Gary had himself a fine combine with testing numbers similar to Bradley Chubb, the fifth pick in last year’s draft. But his draft placement is varied because he didn’t put up big sack numbers at Michigan. He fits Carolina’s biggest need for an edge player, and on some plays he could move inside.”
What I think: Gary is an potential choice for Carolina, particularly because of his versatility. With NFC quarterbacks trying to get the ball out faster than ever, vertical (up the middle of the pocket) pressure is increasingly important. Gary’s experience as an inside and outside defensive lineman could be valuable — but has he been consistent enough?
Chad Reuter, NFL Network (Mock 3.0): Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
What Reuter thinks: “Ferrell would be a great addition to the Panthers’ defense following the retirement of Julius Peppers.”
What I think: After watching Ferrell’s podium session at the combine last week, I came away with the belief that whoever drafts Ferrell will be getting one of the most well-rounded prospects in the draft, both as a player and a person. That’s what the Panthers had in Julius Peppers — and if they’re really trying to find Peppers’ replacement, Ferrell is in that mold.