by Michael Lowrey
I really don’t get this move. The Carolina Panthers have multiple needs — offensive line, defensive end, offensive line, secondary, maybe even wide receiver, running back, or defensive tackle — yet they opt to take a linebacker with their first round pick. Shaq Thompson is a very talented player, and I get that he gives the Panthers three linebackers that can really cover, which allows the team to keep three LBs on the field more often. The Panthers will still use five defensive backs a lot, which means that Thompson won’t be close to an every down player until Thomas Davis slows done. Thompson is also a bit small for a linebacker, which will limit his effectiveness against the run and in covering big (are there any other sort these day?) tight ends.
Thomas Davis makes a lot of money and his contract is voidable after this year. Maybe the idea is to let Davis go after this season and have Thompson play in his place. Even if that’s the plan, I have to agree with cbssports.com and give this selection a grade of “D” — the Panthers just have too many other immediate holes to fill.