Make the Case: Draft your left tackle in the first round

Sir Purr

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2019

Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater also projects to be the kind of top-shelf starter the Panthers haven't had since Gross. Slater also opted out in 2020, but his work in 2019 against Ohio State's Chase Young earned high marks, and put him on the trajectory to be a top-10 pick.

There are those in the scouting community who think Slater could eventually find his home at guard. He doesn't have ideal length for a tackle, but he is athletic enough to play the position well, and his college film suggests he can do it against the kind of pass-rushers he'd see in the NFL.

But in a deep draft, the Panthers might also try to find help for the offensive line later. Whether it's trading back from eight to the middle of the first round (where Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw would be an option), or simply beginning the search in the second round at 39th overall (and hoping players such as Alabama's Alex Leatherwood or North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz among others are still there) they clearly need to find help.

While they brought back guard John Miller, and signed veteran guard Pat Elflein and swingman Cameron Erving in free agency, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has also talked about the need to get younger on offense this offseason.

They spent every draft pick last year doing the same thing on defense, and while they might not take that kind of wholesale approach to the offensive line, you could easily justify using multiple picks there.

All you have to remember would be Rhule's own words when asked about the Buccaneers and Chiefs prior to the Super Bowl, when he talked about "elite quarterbacks, with really well-invested offensive lines."

"Look at Tampa Bay's offensive line," Rhule said in January. "You have the highest-paid center, you have a first-round draft pick, a second-round draft pick, another second-round draft pick. A really well-invested offensive line and a ton of weapons."

The Panthers have a sufficient stockpile of skill position weapons at the moment.

What they don't have is quantity on the offensive line, or the kind of quality at the most important spot that they used to be able to take for granted.