The Carolina Panthers entered the 2021 NFL Draft with a glaring need along the offensive line, and selected Brady Christensen to bolster the unit. While most fans hoped the BYU product could immediately step in at offensive tackle, head coach Matt Rhule believes that Christensen’s most likely road to NFL success comes at guard.
Matt Rhule: Brady Christensen A Second-Round Guard, Third-Round Tackle
Trying to solidify the offensive line is one of the hardest tasks in the team-building process, as the unit is only as good as its weakest link. It doesn’t matter if four out of the five guys are doing their job on a passing play if the fifth guy gets beat right off the snap. However, some positions are more important than others, with tackle being the most important spot along the offensive line.
Brady Christensen could be Carolina’s long-awaited answer at tackle, but head coach Matt Rhule believes he will be a better fit at guard. Thanks to some released behind-the-scenes draft footage, we can see that the head coach had a second-round grade on Christensen as a guard, but only a third-round grade at tackle.
The Panthers selected Christensen early in the third round, meaning that they got him at a value no matter where he ends up playing. However, this is definitely an interesting reveal, and something that should be monitored moving forward.
What Will the Panthers Do With Brady Christensen?
All early indications suggest that Christensen will compete at tackle, at least in the early going. As mentioned in our Panthers roster projection, the offensive line is a little bit of a mess. Carolina should be focused on finding the best five-man combination possible, and Christensen could be a part of that solution.
At 6’-6” and 300 pounds, Brady Christensen certainly has the size to eventually develop into Carolina’s left tackle of the future. However, he didn’t exactly face off against the best competition in college and isn’t the quickest on his feet. These skills suggest a move to guard is inevitable, as you don’t need to cover as much space against edge rushers.
That said, tackle is the most important position, and Carolina would be foolish not to see if he can become more athletic and hold his own against NFL speed. He’s anything but a sure bet, but the NFL Draft has a lot more to do with luck than actual skill in terms of evaluating talent. Perhaps the Panthers got lucky and Christensen turns into something of a steal.
Chances are, Christensen will spend the majority of his rookie season as a do-everything backup. He has the potential to develop into a starting-caliber guard and tackle, but he is still a relatively raw prospect. Injuries are inevitable in the NFL, and having a player that can fill in at four different positions along the offensive line is an invaluable resource. Look for the BYU product to be the first man off the bench in 2021 before turning into a starter at either guard or tackle in 2022 and beyond.
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