TAMPA, Fla. — The Panthers figure to be active in free agency, but they’re going to have an excellent chance to fortify the roster in the 2022 NFL Draft.
After Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers left them 5-12 on the regular season, the Panthers will have the sixth overall choice in the annual selection meeting on April 28-30 in Las Vegas.
That puts them in the range to find a top offensive tackle such as Alabama’s Evan Neal, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross, or N.C. State’s (and Charlotte’s) Ikem Ekwonu.
And in a muddled year for quarterbacks, it could allow them the chance to have their pick of the class, which includes Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Nevada’s Carson Strong, or Ole Miss’ Matt Corral.
The Panthers have six total choices in next year’s draft, after a flurry of trades last year.
They own their own first- and fifth-rounders, the Rams’ fourth (from a trade with Houston), the Jaguars’ fifth-rounder, the Raiders’ sixth-rounder, and the Titans’ seventh-rounder (from a trade with Miami).
Of course, they’ll actively try to restock draft capital between now and then. Last year, they had seven picks the week before the draft, and ended up taking 11 players.
Jacksonville (3-14) will pick first overall, followed by Detroit (3-13-1), Houston (4-13), the Jets (4-13), and the Giants (4-13).