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Panthers 2021 season opener countdown: 77 days to go

We’re counting down the days until the Panthers kick off the 2021 season.

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Carolina Panthers Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We’re 77 days away from the Carolina Panthers 2021 season opener, so today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 77 on the roster — guard Deonte Brown.

Don’t sleep on the Panthers’ rookie guard out of Alabama, Deonte Brown. After all, we tried to tell you a month back that there’s more than meets the eye.

While Brown wasn’t selected until the sixth round — No. 193 overall — NFL Network’s Charles Davis recently said Brown was the best pick in that entire round. One can probably take that to say that Brown easily could have been a fifth round draft choice.

“I think Deonte Brown competes to start at guard,” said Davis. “Gives Christian McCaffrey another body guard in the run game and helps Sam Darnold in the passing game. I think he’s a great value in the sixth round ”

Back in May, NFL Network’s “Draft Today” show had some glowing words for the guard.

“I love Deonte Brown. I think Matt Rhule might have found a starting guard in Deonte Brown,” said one of the scouts.

Interestingly, draft analyst Lance Zierlein projected Brown going in the fourth round, with an NFL comparison with Seattle Seahawks guard Gabe Jackson. Zierlein also sees starting potential for Brown.

“Brown has the potential to become a starter for a power-based rushing team that doesn’t adhere to strict traits standards,” writes Zierlein.

He got significant playing time over four years at Alabama, playing in all 14 games as a redshirt freshman for the national champions. The next season Brown got five starts at left guard as a sophomore, suiting up in 12 contests overall. He missed the final two games due to an undisclosed NCAA suspension, which also held him out the first four games of the 2019 season.

Brown returned to start eight of nine games played at right guard in 2019, and in 2020 he started all 13 games for the Tide at left guard, earning first-team all-SEC.

It goes without saying that there’s no guarantees that sixth-round guard will even play a down. But based on what the talking heads are saying, there seems to be something special about Brown.