Team-by-Team Draft Review: Carolina Panthers

Eric Olinger


As we start to wrap up our team by team draft recaps, we turn our focus to the Carolina Panthers. With only five selections in this draft, they managed to make fantasy relevant selections with four of five picks. Let’s get to it.

Round one, pick 25- Shaq Thompson, Outside Linebacker

Draftniks were really split on Thompson’s NFL outlook because of his size. At 6’0 and 228 pounds, is he a safety or an undersized linebacker. Being drafted by Carolina was the best case scenario for Thompson. He’ll be able to learn from one of the game’s best undersized linebackers in Thomas Davis, who is 6’1” and 235 pounds. Both have the speed and quickness to be effective pass rushers and both have the ability to drop into coverage with ease.

Adding another quick, athletic linebacker like Thompson to Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly (one of the premier young linebackers in the entire league) and the Panthers will be a very tough defense to move the ball against.

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Round two, pick 41- Devin Funchess, Wide Receiver

Another tweener player, scouts weren’t sure if Funchess would be a wide receiver in the NFL or a move tight end because of his 4.70 sec 40-yard dash at the combine. He was able to improve those numbers to the 4.50 range at his Pro Day. Bottom line, he’ll never be a burner, but speed wasn’t what got him drafted in the first place. Funchess makes his impact closer to the line of scrimmage and running after the catch.

Much like Shaq Thompson and Thomas Davis, Funchess has a similar player to learn from in second year player Kelvin Benjamin. They will team with tight end Greg Olsen to give quarterback Cam Newton a trio of humongous red zone targets. They could also team up to lead the league in dropped passes. Benjamin and Funchess both go through mental lapses and drop passes they shouldn’t, but Funchess should have touchdown dependent fantasy relevance in year one.

Round four, pick 102- Daryl Williams, Guard

Even though Williams will never be on a fantasy roster, he will have a big impact on all the Panthers who are. At 6’5” and 327 pounds of country strong goodness, he was a three year starter at Oklahoma and will be a huge boost to the interior of Carolina’s offensive line. He also offers the versatility to play right tackle, another position of weakness for the Panthers. Regardless of which position battle he wins, you can take it to the bank he’ll be a week one starter for this team and opening lanes for Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton.

Round five, pick 169- David Mayo, Linebacker

Mayo is a high motor overachiever and was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. He has good size and average speed to play inside linebacker in the pros. Nothing more than a depth selection, it was a bit of a surprise the Panthers didn’t draft another body on the offensive line. Even in the deepest of IDP leagues, Mayo is a waiver wire player.

Round five, pick 174- Cameron Artis-Payne, Running Back

I really liked this pick.

When the Panthers finally cut ties with DeAngelo Williams and his ridiculous contract, they needed to add a viable backup to oft-injured starter, Jonathan Stewart. Artis-Payne has the build of an NFL running back at 5’10” and 212 pounds. In his final year at Auburn, he led the SEC in rushing with 1,608 yards 13 touchdowns, including 126 yards and a pair of scores against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

He’ll undoubtedly be the primary backup to Stewart this year but doesn’t offer the all around versatility of J-Stew. He doesn’t have a strong track record of being a pass catcher after only catching 14 passes in college, but just because he didn’t doesn’t mean he can’t. He also didn’t test all that well at the combine with below average numbers in the broad jump and 20-yard shuttle. As GM Dave Gettleman has shown in the past, he’s not really a guy who leans on the Combine or Pro Days as much as game tape, and Artis-Payne has that. The biggest knock on him is the fact he’s a 23-year old rookie running back without a clear path to a starting gig. His dynasty window will likely be a small one.

Follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDP.


eric olinger
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