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APC Community Mock Draft: The Panthers are set to pick at no. 6

The Giants selected Travon Walker at no. 5 as the run on edge rushers continued. The Panthers are now on the clock.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The APC community mock draft rolls on to our third selection of the day, the Carolina Panthers with the 6th pick. The Giants nabbed Travon Walker at 5, giving them the dominant presence on the edge that they’ve been lacking for years. He’ll join forces with former college teammate Azeez Ojulari, who set the Giants’ rookie record for sacks with 8 last year.

The Panthers come into the draft with major uncertainty at QB. After getting rejected by Deshaun Watson, they are currently faced with the prospect of rolling out Sam Darnold to start another year. Luckily, they should have their pick from a weak QB class at this spot if they decide to address the position with a rookie. If they wait on a QB until a later round or decide Darnold deserves another shot, offensive tackle is a likely choice as their left tackle spot is in dire need of an upgrade.

Ask five different people and you’ll get five different answers as to who is QB1 in this draft, but what we know is the Panthers have taken a liking to Kenny Pickett. Perhaps the silliest moment of this draft process was Panthers brass asking Pickett to palm the ball at Pittsburgh’s pro day, but maybe that was the convincing the Panthers needed! If they decide they want someone with more prototypical measurements, Malik Willis is still available here. The gunslinger from Liberty is seen as raw but possesses the traits necessary to one day become a franchise QB.

Finally, the Panthers could take a look at Charles Cross, the Mississippi State offensive tackle who has shot up draft boards in recent weeks. Carolina has cycled through left tackles for nearly a decade and could finally shore up the position here to protect whoever their future signal-caller is. You can find our breakdowns of each prospect below and vote on who you think the pick will be.


Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Perhaps no quarterback had a bigger rise in 2021 than Pickett, a four-year starter who was Pittsburgh’s first Heisman Trophy finalist since Larry Fitzgerald almost 20 years ago. Pickett threw for over 4,300 yards as a senior, tossing 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions and helping lead Pitt to a New Year’s Six bowl appearance.

Coming from a pro-style offense, Pickett might be set up well to start early in his career, but he has shown some questionable decision-making skills over the years. He also has notably small hands, measuring in at 8-1/2 inches and leading to endless discussion around the Scouting Combine. Still, his massive production in 2021 is tough to ignore and he has some decent mobility to go along with good arm talent, and all of that could make him an early round one selection.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Willis is a swing for the fences type of pick. A decision that gets GMs fired or given a lifetime extension. Despite poor competition in college, Willis displayed all the necessary traits to be an NFL QB. At times, his escapability, rocket arm, and ball placement downfield worked in unison, resulting in a QB that left scouts foaming at the mouth. The problem, of course, is that interspersed between these high points were a fair share of lows.

Inconsistency and turnovers were the name of the game for Willis in 2021 and cleaning up mechanics will be the first order of business for the team that drafts him. Still, there’s no doubt that all the ingredients are here for a dynamic playmaker, and that unlimited upside will be worth the risk to someone in the 1st round.

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Despite having only two years starting at the collegiate level, Cross jumps off the screen with a level of aggression you love to see in a franchise tackle. Cross is lean but he should have no problem adding weight to his 6’5” frame. He may struggle against speed rushers in the NFL but has displayed the ability to recover well using his length and lateral agility. The Panthers need to find their left tackle of the future and Cross fits the bill. Sam Darnold has had his fair share of struggles in the NFL, but if the Panthers have any hope for him turning things around, an aggressive pass-protector like Cross will be necessary.


Poll

Who will the Panthers select at no. 6?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
    (158 votes)
  • 30%
    Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
    (126 votes)
  • 32%
    Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
    (136 votes)
420 votes total Vote Now

That’s all for our jam-packed day of picks! Will we see the first QB go off the board? Or will the run on offensive tackles continue? Don’t forget to vote here and on Twitter (@acmepackingco) to make the pick and find out. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with another pick for the Giants at 7 and the Falcons' first selection at 8.