Panthers Earn an ‘A-‘ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Panthers, who according to Kiper got an ‘A-‘ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

Like their NFC South rivals in Atlanta, the Panthers went with a wide receiver in Round 1, taking Maryland’s D.J. Moore at No. 24. I’m a big fan of Moore, who is more than a workout warrior, though he put up freakish numbers at the combine with a 4.42 40 time and 39.5-inch vertical. He was productive for the Terps, and he’s great after the catch. He runs through arm tackles, and he’s built like a tailback. The Panthers needed a guy like that for Cam Newton, and it wasn’t going to be veteran Torrey Smith (another Terp), who was brought in last month. Moore could be Newton’s favorite target in a hurry.

After parting ways with Daryl Worley, the Panthers needed cornerbacks to compete for the spot opposite James Bradberry. They added two on Day 2 with Donte Jackson (pick 55), one of the fastest players in this class (4.32 40), and Rashaan Gaulden (85), whom I had rated as more of a sixth-round talent. (Remember that veteran safety Kurt Coleman is no longer with the team.) Jackson is only 5-10 and 178 pounds, but he’s an elite athlete. Ian Thomas could develop into the heir apparent to Greg Olsen, and to get my fourth-ranked tight end at 104 is great value. Marquis Haynes (136) is another good player on Day 3.

If there’s an issue with this class, it’s not getting a pass-rusher. Are they really going to rely on 38-year-old Julius Peppers to play almost 500 snaps again? Mario Addison is also going to be 31 by Week 1, and you face Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston six times a year in that division. I liked the depth of this class, though, and won’t ding it too much. There is value from top to bottom.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/24 D.J. Moore WR MARYLAND
2/55 Donte Jackson CB LSU
3/85 Rashaan Gaulden CB TENNESSEE
4/101 Ian Thomas TE INDIANA
4/136 Marquis Haynes OLB OLE MISS
5/161 Jermaine Carter Jr. CB MARYLAND
7/234 Andre Smith ILB NORTH CAROLINA
7/242 Kendrick Norton DT MIAMI


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