After seven rounds of action-packed selections and trades, Matt Rhule and company have completed their first NFL draft as a member of the new Carolina Panthers front office team. While only time will tell if this draft class will yield success on the football field, analysts and reporters alike can attempt to grade the team’s selections based off of what they know about the draftees at the present time. So today, that’s exactly what we here at Last Word on Pro Football are going to do. Below are the various grades on the Carolina Panthers 2020 NFL Draft class.
Grading the Carolina Panthers 2020 NFL Draft Class
Round 1, Pick 7: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
The Carolina Panthers began the draft off with a bang, selecting Derrick Brown, an interior defensive linemen out of the University of Auburn. Rhule had expressed multiple times during the weeks leading up to the draft that he liked players who are versatile and Brown fits that mold to a tee. Brown has the ability to play all up and down the defensive line and should be a great fit in new defensive coordinator Phil Snow‘s scheme. Brown should help the Panthers stop the run, as he was considered the best run-stopper in college football. The Panthers defense ranked near the bottom of the league in stopping the run last season, so the team is obviously hoping Brown will take their young defensive line to the next level.
Selection Grade: A+
Round 2, Pick 38: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Panthers continued with the defensive trend in the second round, selecting Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos. Gross-Matos clearly fills another position of need for the Panthers after star pass rusher Mario Addison left Carolina to sign with the Buffalo Bills in free agency. Gross-Matos’ great motor and impressive frame make him the perfect EDGE player for Phil Snow. This pick works perfectly for Carolina and Rhule did well with this selection.
Selection Grade: A
Round 2, Pick 64: Jeremy Chinn, Safety, Southern Illinois
After parting ways with Eric Reid this off-season, the Panthers had to find his replacement somewhere. The team went out and signed former Cleveland Browns safety Juston Burris, but they still needed more depth at the position. With a draft class full of quality safeties, the Panthers had plenty of options during this year’s draft. After executing a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to move up in the draft, the Panthers selected their guy. The Panthers drafted safety Jeremy Chinn at pick 64. Chinn played his college ball at Southern Illinois where he became known for his playmaking abilities. This pick makes a lot of sense for the Panthers and Rhule and company made the right decision at pick 64.
Selection Grade: B+
Round 4, Pick 113: Troy Pride Jr., Cornerback, Notre Dame
Going into the draft, the cornerback position was a clear need for the Carolina Panthers. After James Bradberry left the team in free agency and signed with the New York Giants, the Panthers knew they needed to find a solid cornerback in the draft to fill the position. Rhule and company decided that Troy Pride Jr. was their guy and targeted him throughout the draft. When the time came in the fourth round for the Panthers to make a selection, the team pulled the trigger on Pride Jr. The Notre Dame product made his name as a grinder and a weight-room warrior, making him the type of guy Rhule said he likes to have on a team. Pride Jr. fills a clear need for the Panthers and should be viewed as a solid pick. While he still has some development left to do, Pride Jr. has all the intangibles needed to become a solid cornerback at the next level.
Selection Grade: B+
Round 5, Pick 152: Kenny Robinson, Safety, West Virginia
Not only did the Panthers grab a quality player at pick 152, they also set a record. The Panthers became the first team ever to draft a former XFL player. When Kenny Robinson got the call from Carolina, it was an emotional moment. After being released from West Virginia for academic fraud, Robinson found a home in the XFL, where he shined. The Panthers were willing to give Robinson another shot and for good reason. The ball-hawking safety can provide the Panthers with much needed depth at the safety position. This pick makes a lot of sense for the Panthers and new defensive coordinator Phil Snow should be able to have a lot of fun with Robinson.
Selection Grade: B
Round 6, Pick 184: Bravvion Roy, Defensive Tackle, Baylor
In the sixth round, the Panthers once again selected another defensive player and filled yet another position of need. Rhule and company decided to select Baylor defensive tackle Bravvion Roy to help fill out their new-and-improved defensive line. Roy and Rhule have history since Rhule coached the young defensive tackle during his time at Baylor. Roy will provide Phil Snow with a solid rotational piece for the Panthers to use on their stacked defensive line. This pick makes a lot of sense for the Panthers and definitely fills a need for the squad.
Selection Grade: B-
Round 7, Pick 221: Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, Cornerback, FIU
In the final round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Panthers selected FIU cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III. After selecting a cornerback in the fourth round the Panthers decided to double down on the position and select yet another cornerback in the seventh round. This time, the team targeted Thomas Oliver III, a hardworking cornerback to help improve their depth at the position. The FIU product blossomed into a solid defensive player for his college’s squad and, while he has a long road ahead of him if he plans to make the final roster, he has the potential to become a quality player at the next level.
Time will tell, but these are the grades, for now, for the Carolina Panthers 2020 NFL Draft class.