Grading the Panthers decision to select Derrick Brown


The Panthers used their first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft to take a big step toward rebuilding their defense. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown fills a big hole up front, both figuratively and literally, with the former Auburn star standing at a hulking 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds.

It was clear head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Marty Hurney were thrilled to land Brown, as Hurney called him the best fit for Carolina as well as the best player available at No. 7. But what do some media pundits across the league think about the Panthers' pick?

Let's find out.

Carolina received the highest possible marks from Prisco, who graded the selection one of his two A+ picks for the night. The only other A+ was Miami's decision to draft Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30.

Prisco praised Brown's power, comparing him to the late Eagles All-Pro tackle Jerome Brown, and said he thinks Brown "will be a force in the NFL."

Grade: A+

Tanier was high on Brown from the start, and didn't let Brown's Combine testing sway him. Instead, Tainer evaluated based on Brown's game film from Auburn, and that's why he gave Carolina an A.

"Combine results should be used to verify or reevaluate a player's film, not as poison-tipped darts," Tanier writes. "Brown has the tape of a Pro Bowl defensive tackle."

Tanier noted the Panthers have work to do to rebuild the defense's front seven, but said Brown is the best way to get that process started.

Grade: A

When it comes to laying the groundwork of a new defense, there wasn't a better pick than Brown, as Edholm called the defensive tackle "smart, safe, (and) foundational."

Edholm's overall grade for the pick, a B+, was held back by Brown's still-developing pass-rushing skills, but he notes the upside there. But it's hard to deny the destruction he's capable of bringing to the run game.

Edholm writes: "Brown is an interior dominator who enters the NFL as an excellent, scheme-diverse run stopper, and could develop as a pass-rush talent."

Grade: B+

Like most, Iyer was expecting the Panthers to address the front seven with their first-round choice. His only question was whether that would be at linebacker or along the defensive line. With Brown, Iyer notes the Panthers picked the "most impactful player at his position."

That decision helped Carolina earn an A.

"Brown is a beast against the run with a little interior pass-rush pop to boot," Iyer writes. "He is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield."

Grade: A

Reuter is all aboard the Derrick Brown train. While he says Brown may not tally up the most sacks at the professional level, his pure presence is enough to rattle opposing quarterbacks as they try to keep track of where he aligns.

Just ask offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who called Brown the No. 1 player he had to game plan against last year in the SEC.

"He physically dominated his opponents on a regular basis," Reuter writes. "He's a dude. Sign me up."

Grade: A

It's never a bad thing when you earn comparisons to a five-time Pro Bowler, and that's exactly what Brown has done, as Kadar dubbed him the new version of Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

"Brown is a monster of a defensive tackle," Kadar writes. "Brown is hard to move off the spot and can collapse the pocket with his power."

Kadar said that Brown will instantly help turn around Carolina's run defense, and that if he can adapt his pass rush to the NFL, then he has the chance to be a superstar.

Grade: A-

View photos of Carolina's first-round pick, Derrick Brown, out of Auburn.

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