Christmas came early for Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow. Matt Rhule and General Manager Marty Hurney chose a defensive position for every pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Defense, Defense, and more Defense. It is clear that Rhule and company don’t want a repeat from last season when the Panthers could not stop the run. That need increased further with the retirement of Luke Kueckly, James Bradburry’s departure, Dontari Poe’s departure, and Vernon Butler along with Mario Addison making the move to Panthers North (Buffalo Bills).
The first ever pick for Rhule, and maybe the last first round pick for Hurney, was the 6 foot 5, 326 pound DT Derrick Brown. Pick 7 (Round 1). The All-American out of Auburn has what it takes to be a dominant run stuffer on this new Panthers front. Brown’s strength and speed were the reason that he lined up at different spots along the defensive front for the Tigers. At times he lined up on the outside and even stood up on some occasions. That versatility is a plus and his sheer size will for sure clog up some holes.
Okay, so maybe I’ve been a downer about Derrick Brown. So how about some positives… He once did the Pedigree in a game. A++++ pic.twitter.com/xc5UPTcRez
— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌️ (@PanthersAnalyst) April 24, 2020
Figuring Carolina would go after a cornerback at pick 38 (Round 2), they instead took another defensive lineman. This time Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos. The 6 foot 5, 266 pound edge rusher will work well alongside Brown and will no doubt be a feature in DC Snow’s 4-3 scheme. I really like this pick. He may need to develop a little more but you cannot discount his size and speed.
The Panthers decided to trade up to take Jeremy Chinn with the 64th pick (Round 3). Finally something other than a lineman. The 6 foot 3, 221 pound Southern Illinois safety is a special guy. He hits really hard. He is quick and flashes all over the field. Hopefully he can slow down tight ends that tore up the Panthers last season.
The @Panthers traded up to get Jeremy Chinn and I think it was worth it.
He’s got NFL size and length. Not to mention elite speed. Phil Snow is about to have a field day with him on defense! I absolutely love this pick!#KeepPounding
— Fifth Quarter Carolina Panthers (@FQPanthers) April 25, 2020
A cornerback out of Notre Dame was taken next off the board at pick 113 (Round 4). Troy Pride is a 6 foot, 193 pound speedster who also ran track and field for the Irish. Pride says he has run the 40-yard dash in the 4.2 range. Having speed at that position never hurts. He may need some development.
Shocker, but another former XFL player, was chosen at pick 152 (Round 5). 6 foot 2, 205 pound safety Kenny Robinson. He got a spot on the St. Louis BattleHawks after being dismissed from West Virginia due to academic misconduct. He has owned up to it and hopefully learned from it. The former Mountaineer was All-Big 12 in 2018 and has good range.
Rhule grabbed another one of his guys at pick 184 (Round 6). 6 foot 1, 332 pound defensive tackle Bravvion Roy out of Baylor. Yes, another DT. The former linebacker is a space eating machine and can be a compliment to Brown. The defensive line is rounding out nicely.
BaylorAthletics: RT BUFootball: Best of 2019: Bravvion Roy
— Unbreakable Bears (@UnbreakableBear) April 21, 2020
The Panthers selected another cornerback for their final pick. Out of FIU, the 6 foot, 192 pound Stanley Thomas-Oliver III was chosen with pick 221 (Round 7). He is another former wideout that turned cornerback. Should bring good ball skills and could figure into play at nickel for the Panthers.
Overall I love most of the picks. I would have taken a tight end in Round 7. As the case with later round picks, some of these guys could use a bit of development. I don’t think these additions make the Panthers a playoff team immediately, but the front of Burns, Brown, Matos, KK Short, Roy could be a force to reckon with.