We know you don’t care that it is too early to grade a draft class and we know you definitely don’t want to wait until 2024, when it won’t be too early. We’ll publish fuller context in the coming week for each grade, but here are your quick grades for all 11 players drafted by the 2021 Carolina Panthers.
The quickest grade is for the class overall:
GPA: 3.42 (B+)
I liked this class a lot and I see as many as six potential starters, with several other strong role players. That’s not to mention a new long snapper. That would be an A+ class, but a few interesting choices knock them down to the B+ range pending how these guys pan out. But you’re the audience who wanted grades before the test has been taken so these are the hot takes you get. Now for the individual grades:
Round 1, Pick No. 8 (No. 8 overall): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Great athlete, great corner. That’s the good news and the bad news. He wasn’t a quarterback and he wasn’t an offensive tackle. Still, he’s a damn good cornerback if he’s getting this grade when we’re upset it wasn’t a franchise quarterback.
Round 2, Pick No. 27 (No. 59 overall): Terrace Marshall, Jr., WR, LSU
Medicals? What medicals? I’m trusting the Panthers new medical staff to have cleared any reports they got about this guy. I’m also firmly on Team Give Joe Brady All The Toys He Wants and this is a nice consolation prize for missing out on presumed target OT Sam Cosmi earlier in the second.
Round 3, Pick No. 6 (No. 70 overall): Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
Top of the wishlist checked off with a big value pick in the third round. I have zero complaints. I would have fewer than zero if he were the second tackle we drafted that night, but that’s because I’m a glutton.
Round 3, Pick No. 19 (No. 83 overall): Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
I love his blocking ability, I love his potential. The only thing I don’t love is how many other needs the Panthers have that aren’t at tight end.
Round 4, Pick No. 20 (No. 126 overall): Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
The Panthers needed a running back since Mike Davis abandoned us for some other team that we’ll probably never hear about again. Hubbard is a big, bruising back who also brings speed to the table. Huzzah!
Round 5, Pick No. 13 (No. 158 overall): Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
Size and athleticism are the foundational aspects of any evaluation. Nixon has both in spades. The Panthers are drafting a group of athletes that Matt Rhule is betting he can coach into NFL stars. Strategically, this pick was a hit.
Round 5, Pick No. 21 (No. 166 overall): Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
Taylor is the first guy of this class who doesn’t capitalize the ‘a’ in ‘athlete’’ and yet he is still a bit of a project. The Panthers have a lot of holes and a lot of projects. It isn’t the best match, but at least corner is still a position of need.
Round 6, Pick No. 8 (No. 193 overall): Deonte Brown, G, Alabama
I mentioned size and athleticism. They got half of that here, which isn’t too bad given how deep he was picked in the draft.
Round 6, Pick No. 19 (No. 204 overall): Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Another gift from Team Give Joe Brady All The Toys He Wants. They get knocked because, at this point, the Panthers actually have a deep receiving corps.
Round 6, Pick No. 37 (No. 222 overall): Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama
Long Snapper fight! I’m taking youth over the 35-year old JJ Jansen. Let’s get it.
Round 7, Pick No. 4 (No. 232 overall): Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky
They picked a player at a relative position of need. He isn’t the fastest, but he is big enough to be relevant in camp. That’s a win in the seventh round.