In 2016 the Carolina Panthers went from a Super Bowl team to a 6-10 team picking in the top 10 of this year’s NFL Draft. That was in part because quarterback Cam Newton took a step back, completing a smaller percentage of his passes and throwing four more interceptions than the previous year.
Although the passing offense features receivers Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, and Greg Olsen, it seems to be missing something. With the No. 8 pick in the SB Nation NFL writers mock draft, Jaxon from Cat Scratch Reader makes an attempt at finding that something.
8. Panthers: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Jaxon: With the top defenders off the board, my plan B was to get a playmaker for QB Cam Newton and the offense. While most pundits feel the Panthers will select a RB like Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook, I think they are happy with their current backfield. I think they instead will look to fill a hole in their planned emphasis on two-TE sets and the running game. Tight end O.J. Howard would be a deadly option on the other side of the line opposite Pro Bowler Greg Olsen.
The Panthers got a good look at Howard during Senior Bowl week and came away very impressed. They marveled at his combination of size, speed and, most importantly, the smoothness of his routes and the softness of his massive hands. Howard truly looks like a wide receiver in a tight end body in the passing game. What seals the deal for me is he can also help the running game. While he will need to add some bulk to be a consistent in-line blocker, he is already plenty strong and not afraid to seal the edge in the running game. In that way he brings another element to the offense. It won’t take long into his rookie season for the Panther faithful to love what he brings to the offense.
Analysis: There’s nothing at all wrong with Howard. His draft range is in this area and he should adjust to the NFL effortlessly. I’m just not sure he’s the right fit in Carolina. Howard would be utilized on routes similar to Olsen and Funchess, and might not get much opportunity. The Panthers need a receiver in this draft, but one with speed who can open the field — like John Ross of Washington — could be a better fit.
Dan's top five players remaining
- 2. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
- 7. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
- 8. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
- 9. Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
- 10. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
- 1-8: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
- 2-40: (coming April 13)
What grade should the Panthers get for picking O.J. Howard?
This poll is closed