PERSONNEL NEWS

Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

A closer look at the Panthers’ picks:

Round 1/24 – D.J. Moore, WR, 6-0, 210, Maryland

The Panthers were serious about upgrading at receiver as Moore was one of only two receivers taken in the first round. They were surprised he was still available, so it made the selection easy. His arrival to the organization is endorsed by QB Cam Newton, so that’s a nice side benefit.

Round 2/55 – Donte Jackson, CB, 5-11, 178, LSU

Jackson ran 4.32 in the 40 at the Combine, so there’s the speed element that the Panthers have been coveting. He could immediately contend for a starting role and he’s bound to arrive with the confidence that will be necessary to handle that. The Panthers aren’t concerned with his size, knowing the speed is a difference-maker.

Round 3/85 – Rashaan Gaulden, S, 6-1, 197, Tennessee

There’s versatility here with a player who was often molded as a nickel back in college. He should fill the gaps from a physical standpoint, something that might have been lost with the departure of veteran Kurt Coleman. His biggest asset could be the flexibility he might provide in the secondary.

Round 4/101 – Ian Thomas, TE, 6-4, 259, Indiana

His size and athleticism are bound to create some attention. He has been on a fast track while taking a junior college route, and there should be time to groom him behind Greg Olsen. He isn’t as polished as some tight ends who were drafted before him, but the Panthers are OK with that because they see the potential.

Round 4/136 – Marquis Haynes, DE, 6-2, 235, Mississippi

The Panthers will be excited to see how his quickness translates at this level because that’s one of his assets if he remains at defensive end. There were some projections that he might be shifted to outside linebacker, so that could be worth monitoring. His 32 career sacks are an Ole Miss record, eclipsing the total of 26.5 set by former Panther Greg Hardy.

Round 5/161 – Jermaine Carter Jr., LB, 6-0, 228, Maryland

He’s a college teammate of the Panthers’ first-round pick. The Panthers know the importance of stocking the linebacker position and this was the first step in doing that. There’s no lack of production from this guy who plays with a relentless style that would be expected of a team leader.

Round 7/234 – Andre Smith, LB, 6-0, 237, North Carolina

He went out with a knee injury early in the 2017 season and then opted to enter the draft. He has a high motor and he’s full of confidence. His leadership skills could blossom, but it will be worth seeing how he handles pass coverage roles at this level.

Round 7/242 – Kendrick Norton, DT, 6-3, 314, Miami

He might be the run stuffer that the Panthers could require because some offseason moves meant a need to replenish depth in the middle. Norton has been a mainstay in the lineup since his freshman season and his mobility is perhaps sometimes underrated. Norton is the grandson of former heavyweight champion Ken Norton. He’s a former teammate of LB Andre Smith (also taken in the seventh round) at Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Fla.

PLUG AND PLAY

WR D.J. Moore: The Panthers won’t need to wait for Moore to be groomed before they find a role for him. His selection was in large part based on an immediate need for production at the receiver position particularly after that unit was severely depleted by the past season’s end. Perhaps the only question will be if Moore begins on the outside or is slated for a slot role.

WILL SURPRISE

LB Jermaine Carter Jr.: He led his Maryland team in tackles for three consecutive seasons so he’s accustomed to being in the middle of things. Panthers LB Thomas Davis, who is near retirement, will sit out the beginning of the season with an NFL suspension and LB Luke Kuechly has been prone to injuries in recent seasons. It figures that Carter could find his way onto the field for meaningful snaps if he catches on.

WHAT THE HELL?

LB Andre Smith: He would seem to have a hard time rising on the depth chart, particularly when the Panthers picked another linebacker ahead of him. He played on a college team at North Carolina that has had some significant defensive deficiencies and he’s coming off a season-ending injury that cut short the ability to show his full talent. It seemed like there might have been other areas to shore up that might have been more pressing for the Panthers.