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2018 NFL Draft: Linebacker Fred Warner would provide late-round depth for the Carolina Panthers

Yes, I’m a homer

Boise State v BYU Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

The 2017 season was brutal for BYU football as the 4-9 Cougars stumbled to one of the worst seasons in school history. I am a lifelong BYU fan and graduated from Brigham Young in 1999 and I’m just going to pretend 2017 never happened.

There are some former Cougars making an impact in the NFL. Guys like Detroit’s defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, New England’s linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Kansas City’s safety Daniel Sorensen, and Green Bay’s rookie running back Jamaal Williams (who I profiled last year) are all starters on good teams.

And then there’s rookie Taysom Hill (or TAYSOM HILL!!! if you’re an NFL broadcaster), the darling of the New Orleans Saints, who may be the eventual replacement at quarterback for Drew Brees or he may make the Hall of Fame as a once-in-a-generation special teams talent. Get ready, Canton. His name is spelled T-A-Y-S-O-M.

Even though BYU football was absolutely awful this year there is one Cougar who could help the Panthers, and that’s outside linebacker Fred Warner.

Warner is a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who played all four years at BYU. As a junior in 2016 he registered 86 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss. The numbers from his 2017 senior season were similar – 87 tackles with nine TFLs. He has great anticipation, closes quickly on the ball, and is a sure open-field tackler.

Warner is also competent in pass coverage. He was credited with 11 passes broken up between his junior and senior seasons. You can get a sense of this from this highlight video from his junior season.

Walter Football ranks Warner as the NO. 22 outside linebacker in the 2018 Draft and projects him to be selected between Rounds 4-6. He flashed enough potential this season to get invited to the Senior Bowl, so he is showing up on the national radar.

Interestingly, ESPN’s Todd McShay lists Warner as an inside linebacker and ranks him as the No. 9 overall prospect at that position.

The Panthers need to start replenishing depth at linebacker. A.J. Klein left in free agency before the 2017 season, Thomas Davis is retiring after 2018, and Luke Kuechly’s lingering concussion issues could force him to miss multiple games at any given time. Investing a late-round pick in Fred Warner could provide the Panthers with a potentially better version of David Mayo.

Yes, I just compared BYU’s best NFL prospect to David Mayo.

Needless to say, things in Provo today aren’t quite as upbeat as they were during BYU’s 1984 National Championship season, but at least in 2017 we had Fred Warner. I’d be thrilled to have the chance to keep cheering for him as a member of the Carolina Panthers.

And if Warner doesn’t work out, we BYU fans will always have the incomparable TAYSOM HILL!!!


Should Carolina invest a late pick in a linebacker?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Yes - It’s a position of need
    (83 votes)
  • 16%
    No - There are bigger roster holes to fill
    (21 votes)
  • 16%
    Irrelevant - Trade as many picks as necessary to get TAYSOM HILL!!! from the Saints
    (21 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now