This past season, the Carolina Panthers finished with a 5-12 record and ended the season with a seven-game losing streak. The worst thing was that the Panthers were all in on the Sam Darnold experiment and like any quarterback Carolina has touched since 2020, it has failed miserably. Fans of the Panthers have expressed their displeasure on social media, taking their anger out on Matt Rhule and asking for his termination.
The biggest question for Carolina in the 2022 NFL Draft is "Who will be their quarterback"? Obviously, Sam Darnold cannot be the starting QB come Week One or fans will protest at Bank of America Stadium so the Panthers will either draft one with their sixth overall pick or trade down. Carolina has been linked to any and every quarterback that has been in the trade market for weeks and it is the biggest need for the Panthers in this draft. The Carolina Panthers have a bunch of needs but only one pick in the top 100, so here is how they could use their selections in this Mock Draft on the road to the 2022 NFL Draft.
1.06 (6th overall)
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Last season, the Carolina Panthers had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Although Carolina has made some moves in free agency at O-Line, the tackle position has not been addressed yet. In comes Charles Cross.
Cross, who many experts consider the best offensive tackle in this year’s draft class, is consistent in all facets of the game. All but certain to be a day one starter, Cross would be an incredible addition to a team that needs major help in protecting whoever the quarterback may be. From the perspective of general manager Scott Fitterer, this is a slam-dunk pick for Carolina.
4.31 (137th overall)
Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
Sadly, thanks to the questionable decision by the Panthers’ front office to trade for Sam Darnold, they will have to wait until Day 3 to pick again, unless they make some moves to acquire some Friday selections. Meanwhile, one of Carolina’s most vulnerable groups is the linebacker unit, with their only notable move in that department being Cory Littleton, who came in on a one-year deal to be a solid backup linebacker and special-teams contributor. But now, enter Terrel Bernard.
Bernard may be undersized, but he excels in coverage. During his time at Baylor, he totaled 16.5 sacks, 317 tackles, and three interceptions. Injuries may bring a little doubt to his projections but he is worth a fourth-round pick.
5.01 (144th overall)
Zach Tom, OT, Wake Forest
The late-round picks should be used to supplement the positions needed. Carolina has already drafted Charles Cross but they would need backups at multiple line positions. Zach Tom fits the bill.
Zach Tom started at left tackle for Wake Forest and, despite being undersized for his position, he excelled in pass protection. If drafted, Tom would have to move back to the interior, but he has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line. This fifth-round pick is very valuable for the Panthers as Zach Tom would receive quality playing time as a backup at either of the guard posts or even at center.
5.05 (149th overall)
Cordale Flott, CB, LSU
A cornerback with potential. Carolina has several quality corners on the roster but there is always room for a developing player. Cordale Flott is another corner from LSU that fits the mold. However, there is a chance he could even develop into a fantastic cornerback.
Flott possesses the coveted speed and length that all coaches are looking for. The motor is there and he can play outside and in the slot. Give him a few years in development and some more muscles, and he is certainly capable of turning into one of the best corners on the team.
6.19 (199th overall)
Percy Butler, S, Louisiana
Surprisingly, there is a shortage of safeties on the Carolina Panthers’ roster. Percy Butler would be a great late-round selection. Yet, as he is nowhere near the caliber of Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods, he would need time to develop.
Butler is a big hitter with solid range and zone coverage ability, but his weakness is tackling, which would be a problem if he wants to be a starter. Even if a backup safety isn’t in the front office’s plans for this pick, Butler would make an impact on special teams and that would be his value as a sixth-round pick. Once he improves his tackling skills, he should work his way into the rotation.
Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Recap
The picks that are selected here should supplement the positions that the Panthers have a need for. Two picks for the O-Line, a linebacker who can be a rotational piece, and a few special teams contributors. This draft could make, or break, the future of the organization, so every pick counts.
Note: This mock draft assumes that the Panthers will be trading for either Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. Therefore, drafting a quarterback is neither mentioned nor discussed. The safe bet would be to wait until the first-round ends to see what Carolina will do to upgrade the most important position on their 2022 roster.