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NFL mock draft: Carolina Panthers select QB Justin Fields

The Panthers have the draft fall in a favorable way to them.

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Now that the Detroit Lions have made their pick, the Carolina Panthers can breathe. We know the Panthers are a quarterback-hungry team, and while the Lions certainly don’t have to pick a quarterback, it remains within the realm of possibilities.

Interim general manager Erik Schlitt, however, went in a different direction, selecting the best wide receiver in this year’s draft in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase.

The stage is now set for acting Panthers general manager and Pride of Detroit commenter BigJShaky to take their quarterback of the future... if they want. Before we get into the pick, here’s the board thus far:

POD Community Mock Draft picks so far:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota
  4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  5. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  6. Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
  7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

With the eighth pick in the Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Carolina Panthers have selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Here’s BigJShaky’s justification:

It is amazing the level of enthusiasm a new owner, head coach, and now GM can bring to a franchise. David Tepper continues to flex his financial might in re-making the Panthers organization. Matt Rhule developed trust and appreciation from football fans and media alike, lauded for his energy and planning as a new coach. Enthusiasm, money, and strategy can only take a team so far, and the Panthers need to build on their 5-11 record. The opportunity is there in an NFC South division in flux.

Here are the main positions of need as the Panthers head into this draft:

  • Quarterback – While POD’s Ryan Mathews may disagree, Teddy Bridgewater was always meant to mirror his name as a bridge-type quarterback. A true signal-caller of the future is needed.
  • Offensive tackle – The Panthers solidified their right tackle spot by franchising Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton, but Russell Okung remains a free agent. The current options on the roster are depth players at best.
  • Tight end – Dan Arnold? Ian Thomas? These may be okay complementary pieces, but a true top TE would help make this offense special.
  • Wide receiver – Curtis Samuel is a Football Team player now. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore are a nice 1-2 combo, but a third player that brings some elusiveness from the slot would help round out this group.

With the eighth pick in the draft, the Carolina Panthers enthusiastically select Justin Fields, quarterback from the Suckeyes Ohio State University. Our division rival Atlanta Falcons held our draft destiny in their hands, and they opened the door for us to get our future QB when they opted for an offensive tackle. Fields could easily be the second-best QB prospect in this draft, so we will happily pounce on the opportunity provided by the Zach Wilson and Trey Lance hype trains.

Fields’ 2020 season may have been a bit more inconsistent than hoped, but it was a bizarre year in college football. Rollercoaster season and all, Fields guided his team to a national championship appearance. PFF highlights that “His blend of accuracy, arm talent and running ability doesn’t come along every year.” The Ringer’s Danny Kelly notes Fields’ “big arm, pinpoint ball placement, and elusiveness to stress a defense.” Matt Miller even emphasized that Fields and the Panthers represent the best scheme fit. PFF has Fields ranked third on their Big Board; The Ringer has him second. Here’s to hoping those rankings ring true with a steal at pick number eight.

Erik Schiltt’s thoughts:

The inability to trade in this mock draft really played into the Panthers' hands. Florida TE Kyle Pitts was surely very tempting for BigJShaky, but he delivered the correct decision by landing their next face of the franchise in Fields.

BigJShaky listed a handful of Fields supporters above but I’d like to add one more analyst to the mix. When it comes to evaluating quarterbacks, there is no one I trust more than Mark Schofield of Touchdown Wire. Schofield recently released his quarterback ranking for this draft class and he also placed Fields as the second-best signal-caller in this cycle.

“I’ve said before that NFL teams that pass on Fields will one day regret that decision,” Schofield wrote in his conclusion. “Because when you watch him, particularly this past season against Clemson when he was clearly hurt and still was able to help the Buckeyes stave off a comeback attempt from Lawrence and the Tigers, Fields has the traits that matter at the position. He’s someone that teammates want to play for and that coaches want to work with. He could be special.”


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