2021 NFL Draft Grades
1 (8) - Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina - B-
2 (27) - Terrace Marshall Jr WR LSU - B+
3 (6) - Brady Christensen OT BYU - B-
3 (20) - Tommy Tremble TE Notre Dame - A-
4 (21) - Chuba Hubbard RB Oklahoma State - C
5 (14) - Daviyon Nixon DT Iowa - B+
5 (22) - Keith Taylor CB Washington - B
6 (9) - Deonte Brown OG Alabama - A
6 (20) - Shi Smith WR South Carolina - A
6 (38) - Thomas Fletcher LS Alabama - N/A
7 (4) - Phil Hoskins DT Kentucky - C
- I, like many others, thought it was head scratching to pass up on Justin Fields or Rashawn Slater to take Jaycee Horn, but I did not hate the pick. They most likely would not get any other better corners in a pretty weak class at the position at a big position of need for them. Horn fits what they want to do on defense getting into a more press man type of scheme and with no other options on their roster for that type of style it makes sense they jumped all over Horn here. They followed that pick up with a great value one in Terrace Marshall Jr. He gives them size to a rather smaller receiver room giving Sam Darnold a nice target on the outside and in the red zone. Marshall Jr still needs work with his hands, but he has all the tools to be a great receiver. I see a little bit of Michael Thomas of the Saints in his game.
- In prior years the Panthers went heavy on defense, but outside of the Horn pick the Panthers went heavy on offense after that pick. They landed a talented receiver in Marshall Jr and sort of solved the left tackle issue with Christensen. Some think he can be a nice middle of the road left tackle to be had here. If you ask me that might be a tall task for him after playing against lesser competition throughout his career at BYU. However, he checks a need and if he does turn out okay there then this draft haul works out pretty well with how this draft is falling for them. Tremble gives them a talented tight end in the middle of the field they have been missing since Greg Olsen left them. The Notre Dame product is not an ideal fit as an end of the line type blocker, but he is a talented move tight end who can be utilized all over the field. I can see him being a nice safety blanket for Darnold. Meanwhile, my least favorite pick of the draft was Chuba Hubbard. I know they wanted to get some security behind Christian McCaffrey, but a lot of scouts were down on him leading up to the draft. I think they could have gotten him later in the draft and passed on a better talent in Kenneth Gainwell in my opinion.
- The next few picks they went back to defense getting a great value pick in Daviyon Nixon who has all the tools to be a great tackle, but comes with some attitude issues. Which is why he drops a lot further than he probably should go. If he can be coached up they could have gotten one of the bigger steals in the class. While Keith Taylor fits that press man coverage system they want to deploy on defense. He is a bigger corner with long arms that could develop into a nice one-two punch with Jaycee Horn. They flip back to offense with Deonte Brown who could be a quick starter at guard that they found in the 6th round. He is not a special talent, but he has a lot of experience and is pretty good in the run game. I can see him being a nice find. Same goes for Shi Smith who could be a nice chain moving slot receiver. They have done well to enhance the receiving talent over the middle of the defense with this draft. Fletcher is a throw away long snapper and I doubt Hoskins finds the field any time soon.
- Overall, despite my hesitations with them passing on Fields and Slater they actually came away with a pretty good draft haul. However, if Fields is destroying the league in a year or two and Darnold flames out the Panthers will have to be kicking themselves for passing up on him. They did fill out the meat of their roster with good potential starter talent and some that could border on becoming stars if they develop well. All in all if Darnold can workout the Panthers could turn into the team to beat in the NFC South once Brady finally retires.