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Grading the Carolina Panthers’ 2019 draft class

The Panthers made some solid team-building decisions in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The 2019 draft has come and gone, and the Carolina Panthers leave the weekend with seven new players who they hope will be positive contributors in 2019 and beyond.

Below are my personal grades for each individual pick with an overall grade at the bottom. I graded on an A-F scale with no plus or minus grades (i.e. - no B+ or A- grades) and took several factors into consideration when making my grades: team needs, positional value and round drafted.

With that being said, here are my grades for the Panthers’ 2019 draft class.

Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

Selected: First round, No. 16 overall

The Panthers had a definite need for a pass rusher when the entered the draft on Thursday night, and they addressed that need with their first pick of the weekend. Adding a versatile rusher like Burns allows the Panthers to attack the opposing offense from multiple looks, and gives Ron Rivera a player who can fit both a 4-3 and a 3-4 scheme. Grade: A

Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Selected: Second round, No. 37 overall
(Carolina traded pick Nos. 47 and 77 to Seattle for pick No. 37.)

Offensive tackle was the Panthers’ second biggest need after edge rusher (and arguably their biggest need), so getting one of the top left tackles in this year’s draft class in the second round is certainly a fantastic value in a vacuum. The one issue I have is the price required to acquire Little at No. 37 overall. The Panthers had to trade their second rounder (No. 47) and their first third rounder (No. 77) to move up 10 spots in order to get the player they wanted. While trading up isn’t always the best idea, if Little develops into a franchise left tackle like the Panthers hope, this trade will be well worth it. Grade: B

Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

Selected: Third round, No. 100 overall

Opinions vary on whether or not the Panthers should have used a draft pick on a backup quarterback, but adding an insurance policy in case Cam Newton has a setback while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery is a solid strategy that shouldn’t hurt the Panthers too much, especially if Grier develops into a solid backup quarterback. It works out even better if Grier develops into a starting caliber player who can either be the future starter for Carolina or an enticing trade option for another team in need of a quarterback. Grade: B

Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama

Selected: Fourth round, No. 115 overall

It’s refreshing to see the Panthers acknowledging a need and attempting to fix it during the draft. Miller is the second pass rusher selected by Carolina, and though he dealt with injuries while at Alabama, he was a solid player who produced whenever he was on the field. There are concerns that he can stay healthy and contribute at the next level (otherwise he would have been drafted sooner), but if he’s able to get consistent playing time the Panthers could end up with one of the draft’s biggest steals. Grade: B

Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida

Selected: Fifth round, No. 154 overall

I’m not quite sure I understand this pick. Sure, the Panthers need someone to spell Christian McCaffrey so he’s not on the field for literally every single play, but that was supposedly the reason they brought Cameron Artis-Payne back during free agency. With other players who would have addressed bigger needs still on the board, it was frustrating to see the Panthers take a backup running back. Sure, it’s hard to get too upset about a fifth round pick, but it’s also hard to justify them making this decision. Grade: C

Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina

Selected: Sixth round, No. 212 overall
(Carolina traded pick No. 187 to Denver for pick Nos. 212 and 237.)

The Panthers traded down from their original sixth round pick (No. 187) and picked up an extra pick in the process (No. 237), so that already improves their grade for this selection. Add in the fact that they yet again addressed a major need on the roster (offensive line) and did so with a versatile player who can slide in at both tackle and guard, and it’s very hard to find much to complain about with this selection. Grade: A

Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia

Selected: Seventh round, No. 237 overall

The Panthers didn’t have a seventh round pick when the draft started, so this is essentially a free pick. They could have taken a gamble on a late round safety here, but taking a wide receiver who can also return kicks isn’t too bad of a decision so I can’t really hate on this pick even if I would have done something different with it. Grade: B

Final thoughts

Overall, I think the Panthers had a good draft. They came into the weekend with the mindset of making both the offensive line and pass rush better, and taking two players at each group helped them reach that goal. They also wanted a backup quarterback to develop, and while I feel like they probably should have taken a safety with one of their first four picks, it’s hard to argue against their decision to build some quality depth behind Cam Newton. The only true negative of this draft is their decision to reach for a running back in the fifth round, but if that’s the only thing I can find truly ‘wrong’ with their draft class then I’d say they did a pretty dang good job.

Overall grade: B


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What do you think, Panthers fans? Do you agree with these grades? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us!