Panthers opt for CB in Daniel Jeremiah’s first 2022 mock draft

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With a handful of needs and not a ton of cap space to address them, the Carolina Panthers may ultimately have to decide between keeping Donte Jackson or Stephon Gilmore this offseason . . . or do they?

Maybe they keep neither and, instead, decide to keep the extra cash to use on offense. And if that’s the case, then NFL.com media analyst Daniel Jeremiah may be onto something with the Panthers’ choice in his first mock draft of 2022—University of Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner.

“The Panthers will likely have their pick of any quarterback in the draft class, but, barring an unexpected move, they’re committed (at least financially) to Sam Darnold for one more season,” Jeremiah writes. “Gardner is the most gifted cornerback in the draft and would team with Carolina’s 2021 first-rounder, Jaycee Horn, to give the Panthers the best young duo in the NFL.”

Gardner, whose nickname “Sauce” should have him pretty high up on everyone’s boards anyway, is fresh off being named a 2021 Consensus All-American and the 2021 AAC Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder—given that insane frame—may also very well fit the mold general manager Scott Fitterer was so accustomed to using during his time with the Seattle Seahawks.

With so many holes on offense, Carolina would have to absolutely nail this selection if they go for a defender. So, hopefully, such a decision won’t mean there’s too much sauce on that side of the ball in 2022.

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