Panthers again linked to top OT prospect in The Athletic’s latest mock draft

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After the Carolina Panthers had been matched with just about every major quarterback prospect in the mock draft domain, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. broke up the monotony with an offensive lineman. Fellow analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic did the very same . . . with the very same player.

Brugler’s second mock of the season was released on Wednesday, in which he also handed the Panthers Mississippi State University’s Charles Cross. But before he did, he noted how head coach Matt Rhule and company can’t afford to botch their sixth overall selection.

“If the Panthers strike out on their quarterback options in free agency and on the trade market, this could be the spot where we see the first quarterback drafted,” he notes. “This is Carolina’s only draft pick in the top 100, putting even more pressure on Matt Rhule and the organization to get this selection right.”

2020’s trades for quarterback Sam Darnold and cornerback CJ Henderson have left Carolina without picks in the second and third rounds. So, hopefully for them, they luck out in a case where talent meets need.

“Cross is talented enough to be OT1 on some team’s draft boards,” Brugler added. “He has the athleticism and movement patterns to be comfortable pass-blocking on an island, and his hands are well-timed and precise. Cross should be able to start from day one as a rookie.”

If that ultimately is indeed the case, then the Panthers may finally have their long-term solution at left tackle.

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