CHARLOTTE - It's officially draft month. It's April in the NFL and all eyes are on some of the elite prospects of the college game that will hear their names announced in Las Vegas this month.
As the tops of draft boards churn after a week where media and front offices mixed at the NFL owners meetings, Carolina continues to be tied to offensive tackles and quarterbacks. Mississippi State's Charles Cross and Pitt's Kenny Pickett are the main names this week, while The Athletic listed Malik Willis.
CYNTHIA FRELUND: The Mississippi State tackle allowed just 16 pressures on 719 pass-blocking snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Cross is a great fit for a Panthers O-line that just finished 31st on PFF's year-end rankings.
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Pickett has 49 career starts and is the most NFL-ready signal-caller of the bunch. Maybe it's a slight reach, but we're talking about a QB who could start right away for a team that desperately needs a better option.
WILL BRINSON: Pickett once committed to Matt Rhule out of college and David Tepper is a Pitt alum. It makes too much sense.
JOE PERSON: The Panthers had a large contingent at Willis’ pro day and had to be impressed with his arm strength and the way his teammates responded to him. It was part of Carolina’s quarterback pro day circuit that also included stops at Pittsburgh and Mississippi to watch Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral, respectively. The Panthers’ very public interest in quarterbacks almost feels too over the top and could be smoke to get someone to trade up in front of them (potentially pushing Ekwonu or Neal down) or to trade with them, which would allow the Panthers to recoup some draft capital and still potentially get a tackle like Trevor Penning or Tyler Smith.
BRENTLEY WEISSMAN: Charles Cross will finally give the Panthers a reliable left tackle who will allow their quarterback time to throw. Cross’ ability to mirror in pass protection and climb to the second level in the run game is outstanding and he is only going to get better as he continues to add more functional strength and mass to his frame.
View photos of quarterback prospect Kenny Pickett as he works out at the Pitt pro day on Monday.