Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera on his expectations for the future
The minds behind the Senior Bowl deserve credit for the names they’ve attracted to Mobile over the past few years and the 2019 edition of the pseudo all-star game is no different.
Will Grier. Jarrett Stidham. Deebo Samuel. Montez Sweat. These were some of college football’s biggest stars this season — but you already know who they are.
Here are a few players Panthers fans may want to get familiar with this week as Senior Bowl practice begins.
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Allen was one of the best defensive ends in a conference sending several of them to the NFL. But unlike ACC counterparts Clelin Ferrell, Brian Burns and Austin Bryant, Allen did not play for an attention-grabbing program. Still, he’s a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds who shouldn’t be on the board after the first round. He’ll need to showcase an ability to win around the corners rather than with power but Allen is a realistic option for Carolina at No. 16 overall.
Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
The Panthers have a center-in-waiting in Tyler Larsen, but they’ll need to add depth at the position following Ryan Kalil’s retirement. Bradbury is a local product who executed one of the more impressive transitions in recent memory — he left Charlotte Christian a three-star tight end but leaves N.C. State a Rimington Trophy winner and consensus All-American. That kind of versatility suggests he could play either interior offensive line position but he would add quality depth at center, regardless.
Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
He. Is. Huge. The former Husky needs to shore up his pass blocking against speed rushers but at 6-foot-8 and 324 pounds his sheer size has won him his fair share of matchups. If Michaelangelo himself were asked to chisel a left tackle, the statue would probably have a similar physique to McGary’s. It’s possible he could thrive at guard given his power in the run game — but only if he struggles to improve as a blindside protector. There are plenty of defensive ends in Mobile who should test him this week, but he’s worth a mid-to-late round flier.
Mark Fields, CB, Clemson
You might be familiar with his father of the same name, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2003. He returned to the field and made the Pro Bowl in 2005, and the Panthers could have a spot for his son in a thin cornerbacks room. Fields played primarily on the outside at Clemson but at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds he has a nickel back build. He’s quick enough to keep up with shifty receivers and has above-average ball skills. There are some character concerns that limited his time on the field at Clemson but he finished his career with his best performance against Alabama in the College Football Championship Game.
David Sills V, WR, West Virginia
All this guy does is score touchdowns — 33 of them over the past two seasons, to be exact, eight more than any other player in the FBS over that time frame. The former quarterback prospect found his calling as a vertical threat and can go up and get the ball in traffic. He’s especially lethal in the red zone, where the Panthers could use another big body with Greg Olsen’s status for 2019 unclear. Sills is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and could take the place of free agent Devin Funchess, who is not expected to re-sign with Carolina.
Also keep an eye on...
Wes Hills, RB - Slippery Rock
Michael Deiter, OG - Wisconsin
Juan Thornhill, S - Virginia
Tyree Jackson, QB - Buffalo