The Carolina Panthers are currently tied with the Cleveland Browns for the 14th pick in the NFL Draft. Yes, this is the most relevant development following the team’s loss at home yesterday to Washington in Week 13. The team is now riding a four-game losing streak with only four games left to play in the season.
Don’t worry, though, we still haven’t entered mock draft season. It is still hilariously early to prognosticate who the Panthers will be looking at with this hypothetical draft pick. There is plenty of time left in the college season for stars to rise, fall, and get injured. There is also still a lot of room for this team’s needs to develop.
It is unclear how they will feel about their current depth at quarterback, cornerback, defensive line, and offensive line. It is even less clear who will be making the decisions and/or having the feelings about that depth.
The only thing we do know is that the Panthers are on track to repeat a small piece of the ignominy of their 2018 season. The Panthers finished that season with the same overall record as the Atlanta Falcons. Those records led to the Panthers picking behind the Falcons in the draft (16th vs 14th) while still finishing third in the NFC South to the Falcons second.
The 2019 Panthers are currently tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 5-7, with the Bucs having sole possession of second place in the NFC South. They also are currently projected to pick 13th to the Panthers 14th.
This is possible, if embarrassing, because the tiebreakers in the NFL for division standings and draft order are different. The Bucs have a marginally better divisional record than the Panthers at present (2-3 vs 1-3) but have played a weaker schedule this season. Division standings prioritize division record over strength of schedule. Draft order is the opposite.
Welcome to the 2019 Carolina Panthers. Everything is at least marginally sad or silly, and nothing is new. Not even the weird rule quirks that make everything that much sillier and more sad.