<
>

Carolina Panthers 2019 draft: Analysis for every pick

play
NFL draft profile: Brian Burns (0:55)

Brian Burns is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker prospect from Florida State. (0:55)

Breaking down the Carolina Panthers' class in the 2019 NFL draft.

Round 1, No. 16 overall: Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State

My take: New Panthers owner David Tepper said before the draft that his responsibility in the draft room was to make sure "we don't do anything incredibly stupid." It would have been hard to do something stupid with the way the board shaped up. The Panthers had their choice of a much-needed offensive tackle or edge rusher. Ultimately, the need to pressure the quarterback was greater than finding a potential player to protect Cam Newton. Burns has elite speed and position flexibility, meaning he can play outside linebacker and end, which fits what coach Ron Rivera is trying to do with the defense. He can make an immediate impact on a team that finished 27th in the NFL in sacks last season. When general manager Marty Hurney said he was "thrilled" that Burns fell to No. 16, he really meant it.

Size concerns?: Burns weighed 249 pounds at the NFL combine and 242 at Florida State's pro day, a concern for some who considered him undersized to face huge tackles. The Panthers are perfectly comfortable with Burns playing in that weight range because they'll ask him to drop back into coverage as well as rush the passer and hold the end in the run game. They don't want him to bulk up at the risk of losing speed. Burns was an every-down player at FSU, and the Panthers believe he'll be able to do the same for them, though they often use a four-man rotation.

Spider-Man: The Panthers have one superhero in Newton, aka Superman. Burns says his alter ego is Spider-Man. He even wore Spider-Man socks for the draft. His long wing span and ability to get to the quarterback fast does resemble his hero's traits. "I always loved Spider-Man as a kid," he said. Burns is quite familiar with the Panthers, by the way. His brother, Stanley McClover, was a seventh-round pick by the organization in 2006. So he has been to Charlotte more than once.

Round 2, No. 37 overall: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

My take: Offensive tackle was the second-biggest need outside of an edge rusher, which the Panthers got in the first round. So it should come as no surprise that GM Marty Hurney traded the 47th and 77th picks to move up 10 spots to 37 to get Little, huge at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds. His strength is pass protection, and protecting Cam Newton has been a priority since the offseason began. Hurney believes Little will compete immediately at left tackle with either Taylor Moton or Daryl Williams, so the trade seems worth the risk. Remember, Williams is coming off an injury and both have played predominantly right tackle.

play
1:03

NFL draft profile: Will Grier

Will Grier is a quarterback out of West Virginia who has a quick release, adequate arm strength and the ability to extend plays.

Round 3, No. 100 overall: Will Grier, QB West Virginia

My take: It was time. The Panthers hadn't drafted a quarterback since making Cam Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft. With Newton coming off shoulder surgery, turning 30 next month and his contract up after the 2020 season, the organization needed to look at a long-term option as an insurance policy. GM Marty Hurney said Newton "has known this was a possibility." But Hurney insisted the move was about improving depth at the position, not Newton's health. Grier has been in multiple schemes at Florida and West Virginia, so he should have no problem adapting to Carolina's scheme. He grew up in the Charlotte area so he's familiar with the organization. He actually watched the draft a few miles from Bank of America Stadium.

Round 4, No. 115 overall: Christian Miller, OLB, Alabama

My take: Like first-round pick Brian Burns, Miller is another edge rusher as the Panthers transition to multiple defensive fronts. He is 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, so he could play outside linebacker or end, depending on the formation. He's got ties to the Carolina as a Columbia, South Carolina, native. He also has good pedigree as the son of former South Carolina player Corey Miller. Rushing the passer is his strength and that's what the Panthers are trying to bolster after finishing 27th in the league in sacks last season.

Round 5, No. 154 overall: Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida

My take: The Panthers want to find a back with a similar skill set as Christian McCaffrey to give the 2017 first-round pick a break from the 91.3 percent of the snaps he played last season. Scarlett is similar in size at 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds. He has good speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the combine. He hasn't shown McCaffrey's ability as a receiver, catching only 10 passes for 84 yards last season. One draft report said he had "dreadful hands.'' Scarlett's also not squeaky clean like McCaffrey was coming out of Stanford. He was cited for marijuana possession his freshman year and was a part of a credit card fraud scandal with several other teammates in 2017 that led to a suspension. His skills as a runner is why he is here.

Round 6, No. 212 overall: Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina

My take: One of the goals of this draft was improve depth on the offensive line. Daley is the second player with left tackle experience. The 6-foot-5, 317-pounder faced some of the best pass rushes in the country while playing in the SEC. He will be a project, particularly in pass protection, which is considered a weakness. But he did hold his on this past season against Clemson end Clelin Ferrell, the fourth overall pick of the draft.


Round 7, No. 237 overall: Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia

My take: You figured the Panthers would take a receiver in the draft, and they did with their final pick. Godwin is a more of a slot receiver whose senior season was slowed by leg injuries. He'll have to compete with Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright and Chris Hogan for a spot on this roster if he is to make it in the slot. At 5-foot-11 with a 40-yard dash time of 4.55 seconds, he has decent speed, but not as fast as most of those he'll be competing against.