Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Draft Needs: Tight End
This need will depend on how much Matt Rhule decides to use the tight end position, but regardless I don’t see Ian Thomas cutting it. He’s been the backup in Carolina for a few seasons and the injuries to Greg Olsen have given him more than enough opportunities to shine and he hasn’t taken advantage.
If Teddy Bridgewater is the quarterback of the future for the Panthers, then the tight end position could become even more important. During Bridgewater’s 2015 Pro Bowl season in Minnesota, he targeted tight end Kyle Rudolph 73 times, including throwing him five touchdowns.
Should the tight end position become important for the Panthers, then they will need to explore the options of upgrading the position either through free agency or the draft.
If they chose to go the route of the draft, then the tight end position could be an easier one to address in the later rounds. Even the elite talent that is taken at the top of drafts doesn’t always produce the way they are expected and it’s often the late-round selections that produce the most at the position.
Given that this would be a lower-cost investment in the draft with a late-round pick, this is a simple upgrade that the Panthers should look into during the 2021 NFL Draft process.