Getting to Know The Panthers Rookies
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
With some exciting new names on the Carolina Panthers roster, it's time to do a deep dive on all the new Rookies ready to re-invigorate the franchise.
The Panthers 2021 Draft Class Embodies Matt Rhule's Vision
Going into the draft, the Panthers could have gone a number of ways, but with Penei Sewell coming off the board at pick number 7, all eyes were on the Queen City. As we discuss below, they grabbed a potential lockdown corner in an explosive NFC South while finally shifting focus to the Offensive side of the ball. Some of these rookies should be able to contribute immediately while others are solid development prospects. Coming into year two, we're excited to cover every aspect of the Carolina Panthers organization as Matt Rhule and David Tepper's foundation is coming together little by little. With a 2020 year in review, we've already discussed the state of the Carolina Panthers; now, we get to break down the 2021 rookies who are going to help build upon Matt Rhule's vision.
CB Jaycee Horn – Round 1, Pick 8
As the first defensive player selected off the board, Jaycee Horn is the real deal. Horn A.K.A. "The Seatbelt" is a 6'1 200 lb CB and son of former NFL wideout Joe Horn. Jaycee is looking to make his presence known in the Panthers secondary. In 2020, the Panthers corners allowed a league high 3.3 yards of separation, which led to the selection of Horn, who the coaching staff believes is a plug-and-play immediate impact starter. Over the course of his career at South Carolina, Horn was tasked with the responsibility of shutting down the opposing number one receiver. This is where scouts took notice, as he proceeded to lock down players such as Jerry Jeudy, Ja'Marr Chase, Devonte Smith and the newly selected 4th overall pick Kyle Pitts. Jaycee has the measurables, the skill-set, and most importantly the edge it takes to be a lockdown corner in the NFL for years to come. Buckle up!
WR Terrace Marshall Jr. – round 2, pick 59
After trading down two separate times and waiting 50 picks, the Panthers grabbed Terrace Marshall Jr. out of LSU. This 6'2 200 lb receiver was the counterpart to Jamar chase at LSU. While Chase grabbed most of the headlines, Marshall was tearing apart defenses under the radar. In 2019, on a team which included Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, he was still able to haul in 13 touchdowns. Then in 2020, with Chase taking the easy route and opting out, Marshall was out there doing work against the SEC. I love the selection for the Panthers and matching him up with his old LSU coordinator Joe Brady could be a homerun. In an offense that includes DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and CMC, Marshall could once again fly under the radar and contribute. I'm predicting multiple touchdowns out of this rookie.
OT Brady Christiansen – round 3, pick 70
The Panthers finally addressed their offensive line in the third round with the selection of Brady Christiansen. This mammoth 6'6 300 lb Left Tackle was the blindside protector of the number 2 overall pick, Zach Wilson at BYU last year. He's a large body that moves well and will be in competition for some starting time this year. Matt Rhule has stated he sees Christiansen as more of a right side of the line tackle or a guard position. Regardless of position, he adds some depth to a line that could definitely benefit from extra bodies.
TE Tommy Tremble – round 3, pick 83
I love this pick. Tommy is a 6'4 250 lb beast from Notre Dame. He did not have eye-opening stats receiving the ball in college, but he was known as a hard-nosed, versatile player who excelled in blocking. He has the skill-set to develop as a pass catcher (4.5 40-yard-dash and a 37 inch vertical) and the mindset to just run people over on every play. Although listed as a tight end, Tommy can line up as an H-back/Full-back and I see him being utilized in the Joe Brady offense in multiple ways. He could be a high impact player as well as bringing in the attitude of knocking someone's head off.
RB Chuba Hubbard – round 4, pick 126
I think the Panthers got another steal here in Round 4 by taking Hubbard. After a somewhat quiet senior year due to a couple injuries, Hubbard flew under the radar. People forget he led the FBS in rushing in 2019, running for over 2,000 yards and tearing apart his opponents. I think he's going to be a great complement, just to spell CMAC for a couple plays here and there. And you never know with Joe Brady. He could turn Hubbard into a major X-factor.
DT Daviyon Nixon – round 5, pick 158
This is another steal here by Scott. Nixon was given a possible Round 2 grade and the Panthers scooped him up on day 3. A consensus All American and Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, Nixon is an intriguing pick here in round five. 5.5 Sacks and 13.5 TFL had him in the top 15 in the country last year and it is evident he can get into the backfield. His 70-yard interception return for a touchdown displays his athleticism as well. The only reason I could find for him to fall to Round 5 were questions surrounding his character. This is an easy fix in the right coaching environment, which I believe we have. This is a low risk, high reward pick.
CB Keith Taylor – round 5, pick 166
At 6'3, the Panthers grab another long corner in Keith Taylor out of Washington. A four-year player at Washington, Taylor had a solid last two years starting all 20 games. This is one of the players that Matt Rhule fell in love with while coaching at the Senior Bowl, and I don't think you can go wrong adding more depth to a secondary that needed a lot of work. I'm interested to see if Taylor can use his length to cause some problems for the opposition when he gets his chances.
OG Deonte Brown – Round 6, Pick 193
If there is one word to describe Brown, it would be "Enormous". At 6'4 350 lbs, Brown is large and in charge. This behemoth went up against tough SEC competition week-in and week-out, including his new teammate Derrick Brown while at Auburn. He has upside because of his size and is considered to be a steal by some, including Charles Davis of NFL network, who said it was the best pick of the 6th round.
WR Shi Smith – Round 6, Pick 204
Here is another guy who Matt Rhule fell in love with at the Senior Bowl. This 5'10 190 lb WR has potential to play some slot receiver this season. He was a productive receiver while at South Carolina and has the ability to find a niche in this Joe Brady offense. He was also a teammate of Jaycee Horn in college and had the benefit of being able to go up against him in practice every day. Smith and Horn are very close and Jaycee has nothing but high praise for this young receiver.
LS Thomas Fletcher – round 6, pick 222
"Dude I'll walk my happy ass to Carolina right now!" The Draft Day phone call to Thomas Fletcher went viral and just hearing the kid's enthusiasm got me excited for the season. Whether he makes the team or not as a long snapper, at least he will have that phone call. I'll be pulling for him.
DT Phil HOskins – round 7, pick 232
Rounding out the draft, the Panthers took Phil Hoskins out of Kentucky. "Big Snac" Hoskins is a nickname given to him by his father and he will be another big body up front that was coached by Rhule in the Senior Bowl. Seventh round picks usually need to prove themselves during training camp in order for a shot at some playing time during the year, so we will keep an eye on Big Snac during the preseason. It will be hard to miss him.