Top mock drafters make final predictions for Panthers’ 1st-round pick

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What the Carolina Panthers will do with the sixth pick of the 2022 NFL draft remains one of the event’s most intriguing mysteries. So, let’s see if the best of best draft detectives have figured it out.

Here are the final predictions for the Panthers’ first-round selection from the sport’s top mock drafters of the past three years.

Josh Norris (Underdog Fantasy): Ikem Ekwonu

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

“A nightmare scenario for the Panthers exists if all three OTs are off the board by this pick. Alternatively, this is the best-case scenario. Grab your LT who is a mauler in the running game and trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield at a reduced price. I would be stunned if the Panthers select Kenny Pickett with the No. 6 pick. Follow the paper trail. They are the only team in the league that created enough cap space to take on Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo.”

Published April 27

Dane Brugler (The Athletic): Kenny Pickett

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

“There is zero consensus around the league on where the run on quarterbacks will start, so it is tough to feel confident about this projection. There’s a decent chance I won’t have a quarterback here in my final mock draft, but the Panthers haven’t been coy about their interest in the quarterback prospects in this class.”

Published April 14

Scott Smith (Action Network): Charles Cross

AP Photo/John Amis

“Kenny Pickett has been heavily linked to this pick while other pundits think Malik Willis is a better fit in Carolina, but offensive tackle is an urgent need for the Panthers. Taking Cross here is a bet that acquiring either Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo is a better plan for head coach Matt Rhule if he wants to keep his job.”

Published April 22

Jason Pruett (DRAFTPLEX): Ikem Ekwonu

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

“The Panthers have been all over the quarterbacks in this class, but at this point, I really wonder if they will go all in here when the time comes Thursday night. Having Ikem Ekwonu and Evan Neal (or potentially Charles Cross) still on the board only makes that decision more difficult. If they stand in and pick, I think they pass on a passer and draft a tacklein this case, Ekwonu.”

Published April 24

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (USA TODAY): Kenny Pickett

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

“Frozen out of this offseason’s great quarterback reshuffling, Carolina appears to be headed into the draft in a place of desperation. General manager Scott Fitterer acknowledged this week that this pick will essentially boil down to taking a signal-caller or a left tackle. But in assessing his team’s outlook behind center, Fitterer said, “at some point, you have to take a shot.” Given the urgency to repair the passing game and the clear discomfort with Sam Darnold, the Panthers seem like a natural fit for Pickett, a four-year starter and school record holder. Pickett might be in for a rough transition if not afforded proper protection to help him speed up his processing, but he’s the kind of gamble Carolina might have to embrace at this spot.”

Published (updated) April 10

Benjamin Allbright (KOA Colorado): Kenny Pickett

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Published April 27

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Charles Davis (NFL.com): Evan Neal

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

“I’ve been stuck on the Panthers taking a QB in this spot (namely, Malik Willis of Liberty). I’m officially unstuck. Here, an all-star from Alabama brings his talent, versatility and winning ways to Charlotte. Running back Christian McCaffrey is surely smiling.”

Published April 27

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