CHARLOTTE - After a week of new player signings and trades across the NFL, we dive back into the mock drafts for a post-free agency edition.
With just over one month before the NFL Draft, consensus is nowhere to be found with so many questions among all of the teams in the top half of the draft. Quarterback and offensive tackle are still the heavy emphases with ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. throwing in Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker.
DANIEL JEREMIAH: The Panthers have been doing their homework on the quarterbacks in this class, and I won't be surprised if they go in that direction. However, Neal would be a Day 1 starter up front.
MEL KIPER JR.: The Panthers have struck out in the quarterback trade market so far -- although Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are still available -- but they are clearly trying to upgrade over Sam Darnold. Could they take Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett here? It's possible. Coach Matt Rhule is on the hot seat, and this could be his attempt at a big splash for 2022. Still, if he wants to win now, he's probably better off trading for a veteran and staying away from a rookie signal-caller. Carolina could instead take a sizable edge rusher who is still growing into his 6-foot-5 frame.
Walker just keeps rising in the pre-draft process, as tested extremely well at the combine. He didn't put up "wow" numbers in college -- he had six sacks for the national champs last season -- but that's because of how dominant the entire Georgia defense was around him. He could put up better numbers in the NFL, and he's stout against the run too.
PETE PRISCO: They have to solve their quarterback situation and Pickett is the best of a bad class. Even so, they have to take the swing.
DANE BRUGLER: It is no secret that the Panthers are looking to upgrade the offensive line, but the better question is do they see a lineman worthy of this pick? Although still raw in areas, Penning is an above-average athlete at 6-7 and 325 pounds with the competitive on-field temperament that fits what head coach Matt Rhule covets at the position.
SETH GALINA: Some believe that Ekwonu is the best tackle prospect in the draft, so the Panthers would be wise to select him at sixth overall. He’s a mauler in the run game but still has some kinks to work out in pass protection. However, if Carolina wants to get the best out of whoever is starts at quarterback, finding a franchise tackle is key.
DAMIAN PARSON: A quarterback is a need, but with Willis off the board, I decided to add a temperature-changer on the offensive line. Ikem Ekwonu’s physicality, grip strength, and athleticism will help in the run and passing game.
View photos of tackle prospect Trevor Penning and his teammates as they worked out at Northern Iowa's pro day on Monday.