We are at the point in the year where people start looking toward the draft. It is no secret that the Panthers pass rush will need to be addressed. I feel that it could be a very good year for them to bolster the DE position. Carolina will be looking for an every down DE, someone that can play the run and get after the QB. Let’s take a look at my DE rankings. PRE COMBINE, side note: I will not be talking about players that will be drafted higher than our estimated draft position.
1) Emmanuel Ogbah- Very good and very long. He can win with speed rush or bull rush. His build is NFL ready and he only stands to get stronger over the next few years. After 2 consecutive years with 10+ sacks and tackles for loss, he might be hard to get. The fact he struggles in stopping the run, might have him fall down and become available to us. People are saying they can not trust him, based off of other players from his school not working out. That is not a fair way to judge a person’s draft status but some people will look at it that way, which is fine if it allows him to fall to the Panthers. As far as fitting with the Panthers goes I see some of Kony in him but with better pass rushing ability. Both stand 6’4” 280 lbs and have the ability to play all positions along the defensive line.
2) Shaq Lawson- BACKYARD BALLER ALERT!!!! Standing in at 6’3” 270 lbs this Clemson product has a thick build and a smart mind! He knows play in and play out how to disrupt the game! He always played well, causing chaos behind the line of scrimmage during his first 2 years of college totaling 22 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. His junior year he more than doubled those numbers by totaling 24.5 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Lawson is a monster on whatever down you want to play him on. He may fall because he does not posses the long quick athleticism teams seek for top level pass rushers but he does know how to create pressure from all around.
3) Jonathan Allen- Can anyone really say anything bad about a defensive player out of Bama, they are all coachable and very smart. Don’t think Sabin would let anyone go to the NFL if they could not perform and keep his good name. At 6’3” 280 lbs his is very big and very strong, Allen knows how to break down any play and every play! He is strong in run support and his 12 sacks this year proves he knows how to get after the QB. He utilizes mostly the bull rush when he plays and he played mostly the right side in the SEC, he has faced off against future pro tackles for years now. He can easily be available because of the talent in front of him but I do see him as a late first rounder who could add some power rush to this Panthers team.
4) Kevin Dodd- No defensive lineman had a bigger break out game at a better time than Dodd, with a 3 sack 8 pressure performance in the National Championship game. He put the whole country on notice by showing just how dominant he can be. Always doing the dirty work in college, he was willing to help his fellow pass rush guys like Lawson and Beasley, this year he got his shot and made the most of his opportunity by totaling 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He showed his talent this year and looks to be the 3rd Clemson pass rusher taken in the first round in 2 years and the 2nd this year. His 6’5” frame with long arms helps him get past tackles and guards, he wins with both speed and power he plays hard every snap and plays till the whistle doing whatever he can to hit the QB. Looking at the talent in front of him plus his one year production in college this player who draws comparison to to Justin Tuck can very easily end up a Panther.
5) Carl Nassib- standing at 6’7” 270 lbs this one-year wonder is very physically intimidating. He was a walk on at Penn State where he only started this year. When he came to school he was around 210 lbs and has worked the last few years to get his strength up and become the 15 sack physically dominant player he is. Now he is just a one year wonder who put up crazy stats, but the best thing about him is he does not need help physically as coaches say he is always working out, he does not need to get his head right as they say he is very coachable and loves to go hard in practice and watch film. He will need help learning pass rush moves and control when breaking into the pocket as he sometimes will over run his target, but he has all the tools to become a domination DE, and his 19.5 tackles for loss suggest he is no slouch against the run game either.
Every player I have listed he could be in play for the Panthers late in the first round and all of them I believe will fit with not only need but with the other personnel on the field. These players, for either run stopping or pass rushing, some better than others, but any would be welcomed as Panthers in 2016.