Round 6, 189th Overall: Amare Barno, OLB/DE, Virginia Tech
As mentioned above, Haason Reddick left the Carolina Panthers this offseason to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. Brian Burns is a terrific edge rusher, but the Panthers need another player who can pressure the quarterback on the opposite side to prevent teams from incessantly double-teaming Burns. Enter Amare Barno of Virginia Tech.
In what seemed to be a theme for Scott Fitterer, he again prioritized speed with his selection of Barno. The 6’6”, 246-pound edge defender ran a sizzling 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest time for a defensive lineman since 2003.
There are a few reasons I have this pick graded higher than the Brandon Smith selection. First, the Carolina Panthers didn’t have to trade up for this pick. They simply stood pat and made their selection. Second, taking an edge rusher typically grants higher upside than taking an off-ball linebacker.
Third, when betting on speed like Carolina did, it’s less of a risk in the sixth round than the fourth round. Fourth, betting on traits as an edge rusher is usually a better play than prioritizing traits on a linebacker. There’s more technical football skill involved at the linebacker spot than the edge rusher spot. With all that being said, the Panthers did need an edge rusher, but they may have been better off taking an interior lineman with this pick. They did just that with their second sixth round selection.