June 25, 2024

The Carolina Panthers made significant investments in their offensive line during free agency, particularly focusing on the interior positions. They acquired Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis to solidify the line, while also planning to transition guard Austin Corbett to center, a position he’s relatively new to but will maximize the team’s talent on the field. While the lineup appears strong on paper, injuries are inevitable for offensive lines, and the longevity of free agent signings is uncertain.

With three selections between the 33rd and 65th picks in the draft, the Panthers have an opportunity to add young talent and depth to their interior line. Here are a few prospects they may consider:

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Graham Barton, from Duke, and the following player on our list are potential targets for the Panthers, even though they are often projected to be selected in the late first round. However, draft night can bring surprises, making it plausible for one or both of them to be available at the 33rd pick. Barton primarily played left tackle at Duke but is expected to transition to center in the NFL.

Known for his technical skills, Barton has the versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line, with his strongest long-term projection at center. This aligns well with the Panthers’ strategy of selecting the best available player while addressing their needs. Barton would compete for the starting center position as a rookie and provide valuable backup depth across the line if needed, with plans for him to assume the starting role in his second season.

Jackson Powers-Johnson from Oregon is another intriguing prospect for the Panthers. He was awarded the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center following the 2023 season. While he may not possess the same level of technical proficiency as Barton, Powers-Johnson compensates with exceptional strength and power. Although he may not have the versatility to play tackle like Barton, his strength and aggressive style make him a suitable fit for any interior position on the line.

Zach Frazier out of West Virginia presents an interesting option for the Panthers, albeit in a somewhat uncertain position. He falls slightly below Barton and Powers-Johnson in terms of prospect ranking, making him a candidate for selection with one of the team’s second-round picks. However, he may not be compelling enough to warrant choosing him over a player addressing a more immediate need. Similar to Powers-Johnson, Frazier is known for his tenacity and power, although he may face challenges in the NFL due to certain physical limitations.

Cooper Beebe from Kansas State offers versatility as he doesn’t solely play center, which may slightly diminish the urgency of drafting him compared to other prospects. Nonetheless, Beebe’s reputation for strong run blocking makes him a valuable addition to provide depth along the interior line and potentially fill in at right tackle when needed. He could be a viable option for the Panthers’ third-round pick.

Finally, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger from Georgia stands out as a potential mid-round selection for the Panthers. With three years of starting experience in one of college football’s toughest conferences, Van Pran-Granger’s accolades include winning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy for his outstanding performance as an offensive lineman in the SEC. While he may possess average physical attributes, his proven effectiveness at a high level of competition makes him a promising candidate to develop into a starter, particularly with the Panthers’ pick at 65th overall.

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