Matt Rhule’s rebuilding process with the Carolina Panthers was always going to be a long one. Last year, the team was better than expected on offense, but their defense wasn’t very good at all. They also suffered from inconsistent play from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and the Panthers addressed that problem by trading for Sam Darnold.

But will they be able to bring another passer to Charlotte? With quarterbacks on the rise ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s going to be difficult to pass up if one fall into their lap at No. 8 overall, lest they trade down and capitalize on another team’s desire to take a quarterback.

With Darnold on board, it’s likely Carolina will look to strengthen their once-strong defense, a goal that they attempted to accomplish last year by spending all seven of their draft picks on defense.

Here’s a look at the Panthers’ picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:

MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board

Panthers draft picks 2021: When does Carolina pick?

  • Round 1, Pick No. 8
  • Round 2, Pick No. 39
  • Round 3, Pick No. 73
  • Round 4, Pick No. 113
  • Round 5, Pick No. 151
  • Round 6, Pick No. 193
  • Round 6, Pick No. 222

Panthers 2021 NFL Draft order

Round Pick
1 8
2 7
3 9
4 8
5 7
6 9
6 38 (Compensatory Selection)

MORE: Read the latest NFL Draft news at SN’s draft HQ

Panthers NFL Draft needs

  • Quarterback: Sam Darnold has a second chance to make good on his potential and lead the Panthers to the playoffs, but Carolina may still want a more dynamic passer to groom. Justin Fields and Trey Lance could fit the bill and they also may be interested in Mac Jones, who they coached at the Senior Bowl.
  • Linebacker: In their heyday, the Panthers had Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis patrolling the middle of their defense at the linebacker spots. Now, they have Shaq Thompson and free-agent addition Denzel Perryman. Those two are solid, but adding a do-it-all three-down linebacker that can at least partially replicate Kuechly’s production would be a big win for the Panthers defense.
  • Cornerback: The Panthers never properly replaced James Bradberry after losing him during the 2020 offseason. They’ll have to find a way to do that in 2021 or their secondary could regress.
  • Offensive line: Can the Panthers trust 2019 second-round pick Greg Little to be their starter at left tackle? Sure, but having competition for him that’s better than Trent Scott and Cameron Irving would be a step in the right direction.
  • Wide receiver: D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are a great one-two punch at the receiver spot, but the Panthers lost versatile slot-man Curtis Samuel to Washington this offseason. This is a great draft to land a mid-round slot replacement that would give them a really strong top-three at the WR position.

Panthers mock draft 2021

Here are the latest 2021 NFL Draft projections for the Panthers, according to Vinnie Iyer’s seven-round mock draft:

Round Pick Team Position College
1 8 Caleb Farley CB Virginia Tech
2 7 Pat Freiermuth TE Penn State
3 9 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR USC
4 8 Thomas Graham Jr. CB Oregon
5 7 Jaret Patterson RB Buffalo
6 9 Dez Fitzpatrick WR Louisville
6 38 D’Ante Smith OT East Carolina