Analyzing all of the Panthers' picks in Dane Brugler's 7-round mock draft (2024)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nothing says spring quite like pollen-covered cars, the return of chirping birds in the trees and … seven-round mocks.

It’s one thing to craft seven-round mocks on individual teams, which this writer has now done on two occasions. It’s quite another to take on every pick for all 32 teams, a 257-player bonanza that The Athletic’s Dane Brugler pulled off this week with aplomb.

We could try to keep waxing poetically on the renewal of life and other deep symbolism related to spring. But you’re here for football. So let’s jump in with analysis on Brugler’s picks for the Panthers — his (via “The Beast”) and my own.

Brugler's mock: Panthers picks




Ladd McConkey





T.J. Tampa


Iowa State



Jonathon Brooks





Ben Sinnott


Kansas State



Cedric Johnson


Ole Miss



Beau Brade





Josiah Ezirim


Round 2, Pick 33

Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

Brugler: He played in just nine games in 2023 (only one start) because of injuries, but there was a noticeable impact when he was on the field. A tough player to cover one on one, McConkey tempos his long speed to get on the toes of cornerbacks, then snaps the break point with his short-area quickness. Although his lack of length and smaller hands hurt his catch radius, he plays with competitive ball skills and doesn’t force the quarterback to be perfect with placement. Overall, McConkey’s size and vulnerability to injuries aren’t ideal, but he is a sudden, skilled route runner and uses synchronized shake to tie defensive backs in knots. He is a quarterback-friendly target with the inside-outside versatility to be a quality No. 2 option for an NFL offense.

Person: If the Panthers stay at 33 and don’t trade the first pick of Day 2, my sense is McConkey could be in play. But as mentioned in this space before, trading back — and still picking just six selections later at 39 — will present Dan Morgan a gift-wrapped opportunity to improve his team now and in the future (with the potential of picking up a Day-2 pick next year as part of a trade-back scenario). Heck, McConkey could still be available at 39 if receiver-needy teams are leery of his diminutive size and injury history. If not, the Panthers can choose from other wideouts expected to be on the board in the second round (Xavier Legette, Xavier Worthy, Keon Coleman, Troy Franklin) or later (Malachi Corley, Devontez Walker, Jalen McMillan).

Analyzing all of the Panthers' picks in Dane Brugler's 7-round mock draft (8)

Ladd McConkey averaged 15.9 yards on his 30 receptions in nine games with Georgia last season. (Sam Navarro / USA Today)

Round 2, Pick 39

T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

Brugler: Tampa has the ingredients to be a press-man corner, but he did his best work on tape from off coverage, where he accurately saw through receivers to the quarterback and overlapped zones to drive on throws. Despite having only three interceptions on his college resume, he plays the ball well, with the timing to attack the catch point simultaneously with receivers. Overall, Tampa gets a little sticky with his footwork at the top of routes, but he doesn’t lose much separation and plays with the size, range and ball skills to be disruptive. He has the tools and potential to be a starting perimeter cornerback in various schemes.

Person: I don’t think it’s a question of if the Panthers take a cornerback in the draft, but when. If it’s as early as Brugler predicts here, it’s probably an indication Morgan and Dave Canales will let a rookie (Tampa in this case) compete with Dane Jackson for the starting spot opposite Jaycee Horn rather than sign veteran Stephon Gilmore. If it’s later in the draft, Gilmore could be in play. It’s difficult to argue with Tampa’s size (6-1, 194) or athleticism. Georgia coach Kirby Smart reportedly made a late push for Tampa after seeing him in a seven-on-seven tournament, while Iowa State coaches initially recruited him as a receiver. And while he didn’t get his hands on many passes, he also didn’t concede much. According to Brugler, Tampa allowed one touchdown catch over his final 934 defensive snaps.

GO DEEPERPanthers' post-free agency depth chart: Where the holes remain before NFL Draft

Round 3, Pick No. 65

Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas

Brugler: Despite a wide gait and long legs, Brooks is a controlled, instinctive runner who forces missed tackles with his subtle ability to set up defenders and string together moves with timely, sharp cuts. He can be inconsistent in short-yardage situations but offers third-down value with his promise as a blocker and natural pass-catching traits. Overall, Brooks is a springy, balanced athlete with a feel for lane development and the elusive traits to create his own yardage, both at the line of scrimmage and on the second level. Stylistically, he reminds me of Kenyan Drake, although Brooks has much better vision and big-play potential (assuming he returns to his pre-injury form).

Person: At first blush, running back doesn’t look like a glaring need for a team that returns its top three backs in Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders and Raheem Blackshear. But given that Carolina reportedly hosted two of the highest-rated backs on pre-draft visits — Brooks and Florida State’s Trey Benson — Canales might be looking for something more for the ground game he’s a proponent of. Brooks started only one year at Texas after playing behind Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, but was in the midst of a big 2023 season before tearing his ACL with three games remaining. He still rushed for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns, while catching 25 passes for 286 yards and another TD.

Round 4, Pick 101

Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State

Brugler: As a pass catcher, Sinnott has strong hands (two drops on 73 targets in 2023) and keeps defenders off balance with his route speed and stem quickness, creating a step of separation at all three levels. He doesn’t have strong sustain skills, but he’s a tough-minded positional blocker who can get in the way and steer in the run game. Overall, Sinnott offers some blocking value, but his controlled athleticism and reliable pass-catching traits project him best as a versatile H-back who can be flexed across the formation. All 32 NFL teams will appreciate his football IQ and pro-ready toughness, although he won’t be an ideal fit for every scheme.

Person: Great minds think alike. So do Brugler and Person. I’ve had the Panthers picking a tight end at 101 in each of my first two seven-round mocks, going with Penn State’s Theo Johnson in the first one and Texas’ Ja’Tavion Sanders in the second iteration. Sinnott is an intriguing pick with (or because of) a great backstory. Sinnott lettered in six sports (that’s not a typo) at his Catholic high school in Iowa, earning all-state honors in football and baseball while also playing hockey, golf, tennis and track. A no-star recruit, Sinnott turned down a scholarship offer at South Dakota and walked on at Kansas State, where he became a two-time, All-Big 12 pick and led the Wildcats with 676 receiving yards and six touchdown receptions in 2023.

Analyzing all of the Panthers' picks in Dane Brugler's 7-round mock draft (10)

Ben Sinnott caught 49 passes for 676 yards and six TDs last season. (Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today)

Round 5, Pick No. 141

Cedric Johnson, Edge, Ole Miss

Brugler: Johnson is still learning how to build an efficient rush sequence, but he has interesting athletic tools, and an NFL team should be able to coach more out of him. Although he might never reach three-down-starter status, he can develop into a serviceable sub-package rusher.

Person: I could see the Panthers taking a flier on a Day-3 pass rusher, especially one who can play special teams. Despite lacking ideal length, the 6-3, 260-pound Johnson averaged nearly five sacks over four seasons in Oxford. He also was the 2023 recipient of an award that goes to an Ole Miss defensive player who embodies courage, leadership and perseverance — good qualities for a Panthers’ team with a first-year coach trying to establish a winning culture.

GO DEEPERPanthers' draft big board: 20 possible targets, including many who could help Bryce Young

Round 5, Pick 142

Beau Brade, S, Maryland

Brugler: Brade needs to be more consistent as a ballhawk and tackle-finisher, but his confident, cerebral trigger and athletic mentality are promising traits. He has the tools for an interchangeable nickel/safety role and will play on special teams from Day 1.

Person: Brade won’t wow you with his size or speed. But he led the Terps in tackles the past two seasons, co-hosts a podcast with another Maryland defensive back and was a team captain in 2023 (see above note about locker room culture).

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Round 7, Pick 240

Josiah Ezirim, OT, Eastern Kentucky

Brugler: Ezirim has athletic tools and outstanding size but is inexperienced and will need time with a patient coaching staff that can continue developing his talent and building his confidence on the offensive line. He is a draft-and-stash prospect with developmental traits.

Person: The 6-6, 329-pound Ezirim has tremendous size but is still raw after moving from defensive line midway through his college career. I’d be more inclined to add a linebacker or defensive back in the seventh round — someone who can help immediately on special teams and potentially develop as a position player.

(Top photo of T.J. Tampa: James Black / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Analyzing all of the Panthers' picks in Dane Brugler's 7-round mock draft (2024)
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