After starting the season 4-2, hopes were high that the Carolina Panthers could return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Unfortunately, the team fizzled out and lost nine of their last 10 games.
On the bright side, the Panthers' 5-11 record gives them the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Last year's first-round pick Brian Burns performed well as a rookie, but who will Carolina add with their first-round pick in April?
Like Cam Newton, Derrick Brown is one of the best players to ever come out of Auburn. Brown is seen by many as the top interior defensive lineman in this year's class. Dontari Poe played well before being put on injured reserve and the Panthers drafted DT Vernon Butler just a few seasons ago.
Regardless, Brown has All-Pro type potential and would likely have an impact from day one. At 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, Brown is one big dude. Pair that with a strong motor, explosiveness and power and the Auburn star could very well help the Panthers defense return to elite form under new defensive coordinator Phil Snow.
Brown was all over the field for the Tigers this season despite demanding double and triple teams in many games and would fit well in Carolina.
Okudah's stock has been on the rise for the past few months, so there's a chance that he may not slip to the Panthers at seven. If he does, Carolina should absolutely pull the trigger. Okudah has been graded as the best cornerback in the 2020 draft class and for good reason.
The Ohio State defensive back has elite ball skills, lightning-quick feet and is a beast in man coverage. James Bradberry and Ross Cockrell are both set to become free agents in March and depending on how that works out, Okudah could step in and make an immediate impact.
One of the most versatile players in all of college football, Simmons showed out for Clemson this year. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Simmons can switch between safety and linebacker (especially now with Luke Kuechly retiring).
This year for the Tigers, Simmons totaled 104 tackles, seven sacks, three interceptions and eight pass deflections. An excellent athlete for his size, Simmons' stock has risen a ton in recent weeks. There's a chance that Simmons keeps moving up and for Carolina's sake, right in the Panthers' hands.
Simmons can do it all and teams always need players like that.