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Linebacker Sione Takitaki would be an ideal mid-round Panthers pick, but then again I’m a homer

After nailing my previous BYU homer picks of running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Fred Warner, it’s time to seriously consider linebacker Sione Takitaki.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight year I get to tap into my BYU bias and spotlight a player from my alma mater who would be a good fit with the Carolina Panthers. Based on my track record it’s about time the Panthers start listening to me.

In 2017 I advocated for BYU running back Jamaal Williams who was ultimately drafted in the fourth round (No. 134 overall) by the Green Bay Packers. Through two seasons he has churned out 1,020 rushing yards, 472 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.

Last year I stumped for Brigham Young’s stud linebacker Fred Warner who was drafted in the third round (No. 70 overall) by the San Francisco 49ers. Warner started all 16 games as a rookie in 2018 and racked up 124 tackles in 16 starts.

Both Warner and Williams have been great value picks for third- and fourth-round selections.

With “BYU value pick” in mind my 2019 Brigham Young University homer selection is linebacker Sione Takitaki. In four seasons in Provo he compiled 241 total tackles (including 119 in 2018), 15.5 sacks, and 33.5 tackles for loss. His strong performance in the East-West Shrine game earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

Walter Football ranks Takitaki as the No. 14 inside linebacker and projects him to be a Round 4-6 selection. NFL Draft Scout labels him as a mid-round value.

Takitaki performed relatively well at the combine. He finished second among linebackers in the broad jump and seventh in both the bench press and vertical leap. In the running drills he finished right among the middle of the pack. For fun, here’s how Takitaki compares to Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson, but keep in mind Luke had a legendary combine performance:

Sione Takitaki combine results

Name 40 Bench Vertical Broad Jump 3 Cone 20-yd Shuttle
Name 40 Bench Vertical Broad Jump 3 Cone 20-yd Shuttle
Sione Takitaki 4.63 (12th) 24 (7th) 37 (7th) 125 (2nd) 7.21 (12th) 4.28 (11th)
Luke Kuechly 4.58 27 38 123 6.92 4.12
Shaq Thompson 4.64 N/A 33.5 117 6.99 4.08

By not re-signing Thomas Davis the Panthers are alarmingly thin at linebacker. Outside of Luke and Shaq the Panthers have basically no depth. After being so deep at linebacker for so long, it’s more than concerning to see a former position of strength become one of such potential weakness. If Luke Kuechly suffers another injury, Jared Norris isn’t the answer.

The Panthers have several roster holes to fill and linebacker may not be at the top, but if Sione Takitaki is still available in the fifth or sixth round I’d be thrilled with the Panthers investing a pick in him.


How concerned are you about the Panthers linebacker depth?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Totally chill - Not worried at all
    (24 votes)
  • 26%
    Comfortable - Luke and Shaq will play a ton and we can easily find other depth
    (113 votes)
  • 61%
    Somewhat concerned - With our struggling defensive ends and secondary, we need more quality depth at linebacker
    (267 votes)
  • 6%
    Freaking out - Nobody outside of Luke and Shaq are competent and this is a disaster in the making!
    (30 votes)
434 votes total Vote Now