HomeSportsGrading of all five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft class led...

Grading of all five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft class led by Bryce Young of the Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers’ aggressive off-season approach was highlighted During this week’s NFL Draftending in a Five-pick class led by Bryce Young what would be expected Complementing a rebuilding roster at the forefront of the Frank Reich era,

Although “quality over quantity” would probably be a stretch phrase for the five players the Panthers selected throughout the draft weekend, it was clear after each selection that these were the prospects Carolina fell in love with during the draft process. .

The Panthers still have several spots to fill during draft free agency — which began shortly after the final pick in the draft — but the Observer is able to break down and present tentative grades for each of the five selections made from Thursday through Saturday. decided to do.

1st round (1st overall): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

The Panthers traded up to the first overall pick in March in an offensive move that ultimately made him a Heisman Trophy winner with out-of-shape traits. Young was, on tape and paper, the right choice for the Panthers, who didn’t overstate the narrative of size surrounding one of the best college quarterbacks in recent memory.

Young thrives with decision making and off-schedule passing situations. While there is some understandable outside concern about his long-term durability due to his slight frame, Young was able to hold his own in the SEC while facing NFL-caliber talent on an almost weekly basis.

The Panthers won’t be bringing Young onto the field, but given his talent and pedigree, he should be on the turf at Bank of America Stadium in short order. Carolina has Andy Dalton to shepherd Young from a teammate standpoint, which could be just as valuable to partner with a coaching staff featuring Reich, Jim Caldwell and Josh McCown.

In the film, Young was the most dynamic player at the most important position in the game. He came from a powerhouse event at a powerhouse conference – so this moment wouldn’t be too big for him. He is fearless with the ball in his hands and frankly, this mindset is just as attractive as his passing skill set.

Category: A

Round 2 (39th overall): Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss

The size-speed mismatch in the Mingo Ole Miss comes from the Wideout factory. Like DK Metcalf and AJ Brown before him, Mingo is a big, heavy wideout with rare speed at the position. Frankly, he is an athletic freak who should be mismatched in coverage for most defenders.

However, Mingo felt out of reach at No. 39, especially with the other talent on the board at the time. His selection also led to a questionable trade-up situation in the third round (more on that later), which should be a factor in the immediate evaluation of his second-round selection.

Mingo only played in 21 games during his first three seasons at Ole Miss. He had 51 catches for 861 yards and five touchdowns in his breakout campaign last season, so it’s not as if his college production was overly impressive, making his second-round selection feel a little superfluous.

Still, Mingo was clearly a guy the Panthers valued. Reich is a creative play designer, and Mingo’s skill set allows him to be used across the field. Given his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, he had the build of long-range “X” receivers — like Metcalf and Brown — and it was a skill set that Carolina was lacking on the depth chart.

Mingo is very much a projection, which is why his selection is so polarizing. Typically, in the top 40, teams prefer to grab talent at the college level with lots of tape and production. Mingo doesn’t really check that box – at all. But his traits are extremely rare, especially in this class, and the reverse is tremendous.

Mingo was a highlight-reel machine last season, which makes him an attractive playmaker pick. He should also be a key big-bodied target for Young, who will need jump-ball pass-catchers to make up for his off-schedule playing propensity.

But it looked like the Panthers could trade back to get 3 picks on some day before Mingo was selected. But clearly, as with Young, the Panthers had faith in the player and took their gamble, which paid off in the next round.

Category: B-

Third round (80th overall): DJ Johnson, Edge, Oregon

Panthers traded both the No. 93 and No. 132 picks earned in Christian McCrae struck a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to get the Pittsburgh Steelers the 80th overall pick and select Johnson, a project pass-rusher with freakish athleticism but limited film and production.

With several notable prospects at other positions still in need on the board, general manager Scott Fitter moved up 13 spots to land the edge rusher coming off a six-sack senior season. Johnson, a former tight end, moved with the Ducks around the roster during his four years in Oregon, and he is still an “upside down” project at age 24.

Sure, he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, but that athleticism won’t matter until he learns how to play outside linebacker at the NFL level. To the Panthers’ credit, though, it looks like they have a plan and a role for him.

As Reich pointed out after the pick, Johnson will initially be an edge-setter with a power approach. He is more of a power player than a sprinter or a technician. His 7.33-second 3-cone means he has limited turns as a pass rusher, so the Panthers will use him as a run-stopping complement to the likes of Brian Burns and Marquis Haynes, who are speed rushers.

The problem with this pick is twofold. Johnson is already in his mid-20s and is still learning a position. And to make matters worse, the Panthers put extra pressure on him to land him. Trading third and fourth round picks for Johnson, who was considered a fourth round prospect (or worse) by draft analysts, is just terrible optics – right or wrong.

Fitter also admitted that the reason he got traded was because of the 2 day run on pass rushers, which made it necessary to select a draft-eligible edge rusher in the third round pressing. Had the Panthers taken the lead at No. 39 — like, say, LSU’s BJ Ozulari, who was later selected at No. 40 — they would not have been forced to make this move or selection.

For what it’s worth, though, The Observer spoke with an AFC defensive assistant on Saturday who said Johnson’s skill set is a perfect match for Ajiro Avro’s system. The coach, who was allowed anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on any other team’s players, said Johnson ideally fits Avro’s scheme because of his size, speed and heavy hands. The coach believes those heavy hands will make him a strong edge-setter for the team.

Time will tell, but it felt like a massive reach that was amplified even further by the trade, which cost the Panthers a valuable pick in a tight draft class to begin with.

Category: D

Fourth round (114th overall): Chandler Zavala, G, NC State

The Panthers spent a good portion of the draft process examining offensive line prospects. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when he picked Zavala in the fourth round.

Projected as a third or fourth round pick by many analysts, Zavala was an undisputed selection in a situation of need.

Although he played left guard during his two years at NC State, Zavala has the versatility to play on both sides of the line. However, he was a line mate with left tackle Ikki Ekwonu in 2021 and they played next to each other at left tackle before Zavala underwent surgery for a back injury in the middle of that season.

Zavala could serve as starting competition for veteran left guard Brady Christensen. The team has yet to identify a swing tackle, and Christensen has the skill set to fill that role if he loses out on Zavala in a training camp contest.

Either way, with Christensen suffering a broken ankle and fellow starter, right guard Austin Corbett, recovering from ACL surgery, the Panthers made a move to strengthen their depth at a key position. With Corbett sidelined, Cade Mays is likely to take over right guard duties this offseason, but Zavala could be an option there as well.

This pick was good for value, depth and positional need.

Category: A

Round 5 (145th overall): Jamie Robinson, DB, Florida State

The Panthers have rebuilt their safety room this season, and Robinson fits right in as a high-energy, versatile piece in the group.

Robinson has the ability to play safety and nickel corner, though not necessarily a natural fit for either position. Still, as a fifth-round pick, he’s exactly the defensive type to bring into a room that already includes Jesse Horn, Donte Jackson, Xavier Woods, Von Bell, and CJ Henderson.

Robinson, despite having relatively short arms, was a productive ballhawk at the college level. He had seven interceptions, 16 pass breakups and three forced fumbles during his four-year college career. Those are strong numbers for the undersized tweener defensive back.

Known for being an attempted player, Robinson has the right mindset to excel on special teams. He is essentially an advanced depth replacement for Sean Chandler, who remains a free agent in April. While Robinson’s scalability and speed aren’t ideal, his college production and playing personality should fit well with the Panthers’ secondary approach this season and beyond.

He could see playing time at both nickel and strong safety this season, while providing assists on special teams.

Category: b

overall view

While the value of Carolina’s Day 2 selection has rightly been called into question, the five-man total crew from the 2023 NFL Draft takes care of some key needs for the Panthers. Young is obviously the centerpiece, while Mingo and Zavala will provide support on offense. On defense, the Panthers added an upside down pass-rusher and a gritty, high-effort defensive back to the fold.

This is a solid if not spectacular group for Carolina. While most Panthers fans probably expected the team to have more picks, this group should — on the surface — provide some immediate production for the team.

The overall grade: b


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