2022 NFL Draft: 5 Players the Carolina Panthers Must Target With the No. 6 Overall Pick

The 2022 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and the Carolina Panthers will have a difficult decision to make with the sixth overall pick. Hint: it involves a quarterback, and his last name might rhyme with “cricket.” Or, is it the quarterback whose last name rhymes with “morale?”

Yes, Panthers fans, it’s time to start wondering if Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett or Ole Miss’ Matt Corral will be wearing the Blue and Black next fall. Then again, the team might select an offensive lineman for all we know.

So, who should the Panthers draft at No. 6? As with our mock drafts, we picked players based on need and team fit. Also, all prospects are ranked alphabetically as opposed to preference or potential.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the following story was written with the idea that the Detroit Lions selected Liberty quarterback Malik Willis second overall. Also, offensive tackles Evan Neal (who I have going to the Houston Texans) and Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu (New York Jets) are both off the board. Let’s make things just a bit more challenging, shall we?

Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, we believe the Panthers should target the following players with the sixth overall pick:

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

I’ve talked up Cross in my other draft stories, and I remain extremely high on his NFL future. Whether or not I’m continuing to jinx him remains to be seen.

In all seriousness, the Panthers need offensive line help, and Cross is a bruiser who would be an excellent fit in the trenches. Would it be a reach? Possibly, but the Panthers’ next franchise quarterback will need offensive linemen to keep him on his feet, right? In a situation where Carolina potentially trades down to acquire more picks, don’t be surprised if Cross hears his name called when the two-time NFC champions are finally on the clock again.

Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

I’m not as high on Davis as others are, which means he’s going to wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Still, it appears he’ll have a realistic opportunity to go in the top 10 picks after an impressive final season at Georgia.

If the Panthers want to continue adding pieces to an already talented young defense, Davis could very well be the pick here. The 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) winner clocked in at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds at the NFL Combine and is a stellar run stopper. However, one must seriously question if teams will get legitimate value by selecting Davis this early.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Pickett seemingly remains the favorite to wind up in Carolina, especially considering his pre-existing history with head coach Matt Rhule. The 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist once committed to play for Rhule at Temple before switching to Pitt after the latter took the Baylor head coaching job.

Even if Willis is somehow on the board here, it feels like Pickett is destined to wind up in a Panthers uniform. Still, there’s that nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Panthers shouldn’t take a quarterback here? Rhule is on the hot seat, and if he’s fired, the next coach might not view Pickett (or Corral or Willis) as the long-term option. This is obviously worth monitoring, especially if no quarterbacks are selected within the first five picks.

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Some would argue the Panthers shouldn’t select Hamilton because of the lingering quarterback problem. Others, including myself, would counter that the five-time NFC South champions need to continue creating a young core for the next franchise signal-caller.

Hamilton would be a perfect fit in Carolina, even if he’s not the quarterback that fans eagerly want to take the stage and hold a Panthers jersey on April 28.

Scouts and draft pundits have raved about Hamilton’s size (6-foot-4 and 220 pounds), range, and overall skill set. The former Notre Dame star will give opposing offenses fits, and that in itself might be enough to warrant being selected over a quarterback at No. 6. If the Panthers build the core, an established, veteran quarterback could come.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Would this be extremely early for Corral? Yes. But the NFL draft is a crapshoot, and Corral is the type of quarterback who a desperate team like the Panthers might believe is worth reaching on this early.

Corral completed 67.3% of his passes for 8,281 yards, 57 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions in four seasons with the Rebels. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound gunslinger also rushed for 1,338 yards and 18 touchdowns in 37 career games and earned second-team All-SEC honors last year.

Although Corral is currently expected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early on Day 2, we see quarterbacks fall all the time. Maybe this will be the year where a team shocks everyone and takes a signal-caller far earlier than the football world has projected.

Besides, do the Panthers really want to run it back with Cam Newton next year? I thought so.

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