Carolina Panthers A Possible Draft Destination For One Of UGA's LBs

Carolina Panthers A Possible Draft Destination For One Of UGA's LBs

Football

Carolina Panthers A Possible Draft Destination For One Of UGA's LBs

This past week, former Georgia and current Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis announced that 2018 would be the last season of his NFL career. The Panthers will be looking for a potential replacement in the upcoming NFL Draft and UGA linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Roquan Smith, Reggie Carter, and David Bellamy are all viable options for the Panthers. Both players are high character guys who could help fill the leadership void Thomas Davis will leave.

The Panthers are stacked at linebacker, with Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, and David Mayo, and have the 23rd Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Many mock drafts expect Roquan Smith to be off the board, but the linebacker position is one of the lesser valued positions in football and a lot will change in the months leading to the draft.

Having already spent first round picks on linebackers in 2012 (Kuechly) and 2015 (Thompson), the Panthers clearly put a premium on the linebacker position. The Panthers 4-3 defense depends on linebackers who can play zone coverage and stop the run with sideline to sideline speed. Smith would serve as a better fit for this defense, but will probably be gone before the Panthers’ pick. Smith is currently projected by many outlets to be taken 10th overall by the Oakland Raiders.

The Panthers have much more pressing needs than LB, so I’d expect them to plan to not select a LB until later in the draft. That being said, the Panthers have unexpectedly taken an LB in the 1st Round (Shaq Thompson) when they didn’t need one in the past. Still, it is far more likely the Panthers take a flyer on a late round LB from UGA, like one of the Carters or Bellamy, than trade up for Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith.

According to Walter Football, Lorenzo Carter is projected to be drafted in rounds 2-4. This projection seems spot on, I expect Carter’s draft stock to be boosted by an impressive NFL combine performance. At a third round price tag, the Panthers could be enticed to take Carter as a potential OLB with pass rushing skills. He additionally has the speed to be an excellent special teams player.

Reggie Carter should be available later on draft day, unless he has an impressive combine, scouts will likely doubt if he has the sideline to sideline speed necessary for LBs in today’s NFL. He would be more of a developmental prospect, who would benefit from watching Thomas Davis for a year before stepping into a bigger role. Look for him to be a Day 3 prospect, but one who is capable of filling in when necessary.

Lastly, David Bellamy is another potential prospect the Panthers could look to draft with pass rushing skills. He would cost them a mid to late round pick. Although he is best utilized as a 3-4 edge rusher, he could help the Panthers give opposing offenses unique looks. Bellamy’s versatility is something NFL teams will value, additionally, he could gain strength in the upcoming year in order to be more of a terror off the edge.

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