Jordan Gross is by far the best left tackle in Panthers franchise history and since his retirement following the 2013 season it’s been a long, slow slide down at this critical position. Last year, Carolina started a platoon of different players on the blindside due to injuries and inconsistency. That’s pretty typical for the way things have gone since we last saw Gross suit up.
Heading into the 2021 NFL draft, the Panthers have a unique chance to land a special prospect, though. Gross thinks that his former team should take a left tackle at No. 8 and wouldn’t mind either Oregon’s Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater from Northwestern. Here’s what he told the Charlotte Observer.
“OT all the way. Sewell or Slater. I don’t care who. I’d take either.”
While things have gotten much more interesting since the 49ers traded up to No. 3, it still seems unlikely Sewell will be available at that spot. If that’s the case, Slater should make for a solid consolation prize. Some analysts have suggested his size makes him better suited to play guard in the NFL, but he’s the No. 2 left tackle prospect in this class for a reason.
How it all shakes out will depend a great deal on what San Francisco does. The latest buzz is all about Mac Jones. If Kyle Shanahan really is sold on Jones, there’s a chance Justin Fields could drop to No. 8. If that happens, all bets are off.
If Fields is no longer on the board, we’re expecting a trade down, but it certainly wouldn’t come as a shock if LT is the pick. Carolina could also plan to move into the teens to target another tackle such as Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw or Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC.