The Carolina Panthers loaded up on defense in the 2020 draft becoming the first team in the common draft era dating back to 1967 to use all seven draft picks on defensive players. Marty Hurney and co. entered the draft with eight picks but flipped a fifth rounder (No. 148) to move up five spots from No. 69 to No. 64 to nab defensive back Jeremy Chinn.
As a recap, the Panthers selected defensive lineman Derrick Brown in the first round at No. 7 overall. In the second round Carolina took defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (No. 38) and safety Jeremy Chinn (No. 64). Next came corner back Troy Pride Jr in the fourth (No. 113), safety Kenny Robinson Jr in the fifth (No. 152), defensive tackle Bravvion Roy in the sixth (No. 184), and corner back Stantley Thomas-Oliver in the seventh.
Overall, Panthers fans are thrilled with the first draft of the Matt Rhule era. In a recent poll here at Cat Scratch Reader, 71 percent of the CSR community gave the draft an “A” grade with another 25 percent giving it a “B”. So, are we as Panthers fans just homers who view our team with rose-colored glasses? Let’s see how the national media graded Carolina’s draft:
2020 draft grades
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco was high on the selections of Brown, Gross-Matos, and Chinn but he thinks fourth rounder Troy Pride Jr. still has some developing to do. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter really liked the Panthers Day 1 and Day 2 picks, giving both days an “A” grade, but he wasn’t as high on the picks in Rounds 5-7.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar used words like “dominant” to describe Derrick Brown, “physical and athletic” for Yetur Gross-Matos, and “big, fast, and explosive” for Jeremy Chinn. Among the later draft picks, Kadar views fifth round defensive back Kenny Robinson Jr as the one who could make the quickest impact. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit was skeptical if Derrick Brown was worth the No. 7 pick because of his inability to rush the passer, but he views Gross-Matos becoming an immediate contributor.
Pro Football Focus also viewed Brown as a good player, but not an elite one. They described Gross-Matos rushing technique as “awkward” and his lack of college production “gives (them) pause.” PFF had similarly tepid reviews of all of the rest of the Panthers picks except for sixth rounder Bravvion Roy whose production is “up there with any other pure nose tackle in the country.” Yahoo’s Eric Edholm’s favorite pick was Jeremy Chinn who “could be a tight end eraser in time” and his least favorite pick was Kenny Robinson Jr. whose XFL play was “up and down.”
Only time will tell how well this draft class ages in Carolina. Based on the initial draft grades, Panthers fans have reason to be optimistic for good things to come.