Carolina Panthers' 2015 NFL Draft Grades

The 2015 NFL Draft is in the books. How did the Carolina Panthers do over the past three days? We hand out our grades for each draft pick as well as an overall grade for the Draft.

First Round, Pick No. 25

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Shaq Thompson
Washington / 6'0 / 228 lbs
  • OLB
  • [1] #25


You could make a strong case that Thompson is one of the finest athletes in this draft class. He’s a converted running back that projects as a weakside linebacker or strong safety depending on scheme. I see him as a more athletic Lavonte David (Bucs LB). The two have very similar measurables at the same stage. Like David, Thompson is somewhat undersized to be a linebacker but plays with outstanding closing speed, instincts and aggression. He makes plays all over the field and plays with a relentless attitude and terrific motor. I know he didn’t test well but just watch the film. Thompson is a big time player who will shine on Sundays in the pass happy league that is the NFL. He’s game is greatly suited for today’s game.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The Carolina Panthers decided to use their first round pick on outside linebacker/safety Shaq Thompson out of Washington. The selection seemed to surprise some and questioned whether or not the Panthers reached on Thompson. There is certainly some questions about what his best position is at the NFL, whether at outside linebacker or safety.

Where there is no question is that he is a fast athlete who can play sideline to sideline. He should be able to step in immediately as a special teams’ player and will make this defense better, particularly against the pass. He fits perfectly into what the Panthers need at this point.

Grade: B+


Second Round, Pick No. 41

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Devin Funchess
Michigan / 6'4 / 232 lbs
  • WR
  • [2] #9


How multi-talented is Devin Funchess? He had 25 starts at four different positions – slot receiver, flanker, split end and tight end. In the right scheme he has a chance to do big things on Sundays because of his combination of size and unique skill set. He’s somewhat of a tweener at 6-foot-4, 232-pounds and the reason why he has bounced around at different positions on offense. Then again, Funchess can also do a bunch of different things and also is a matchup problem for opposing defenses. He has good hands but needs to develop consistency in all parts to his game.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The Panthers made the first of two trades this Draft moving up to pick no. 41 to select wide receiver/tight end Devin Funchess. The former Michigan Wolverine pass catcher is a huge target for Cam Newton and is the third player over 6-4, along with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen that will be catching passes from the Panthers’ quarterback.

Funchess is another weapon for this offense and should be able to create mismatches both on the outside as well as the inside out of the slot. The biggest concern with this selection is what the Panthers gave up, their third and sixth round pick, to move up. In terms of the player, because of his size he should be able to contribute almost immediately.

Grade: B-


Fourth Round, Pick No. 102

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Daryl Williams
Oklahoma / 6'5 / 327 lbs
  • OT
  • [4] #3


Over the last two seasons Williams has not allowed any sacks from his right tackle position. He graded out at 87% and had 91 knockdown blocks and 17 touchdown resulting blocks. In short yardage situaitons he moved inside to right guard and was very effective. For a player north of 325-pounds, Williams moves pretty well. He's long and strong and looks like an ideal right tackle in the NFL.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

Similar to Day 2, the Panthers quickly made noise on Day 3 moving up to the third pick in the fourth round to select offensive tackle Daryl Williams. At the collegiate level he played right tackle and he will be able to compete for the starting job on the Panthers’ offensive line.

Williams comes from a run heavy offense at the University of Oklahoma and has the skill set to fit in nicely for the Panthers. He is an above-average run blocker that should be able to open up huge running lanes for the team’s running backs. He isn’t a great pass blocker but with a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton he is good enough to get the job done.

Grade: A-


Fifth Round, Pick No. 169

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David Mayo
Texas State / 6'2 / 228 lbs
  • MLB
  • [5] #33

The surprise pick of the Panthers draft was inside linebacker David Mayo from Texas State considering this wasn’t necessarily a position of need. There also isn’t a whole lot of information on the former Bobcat. According to he finished last year with 154 total tackles in 12 games, averaging over 12 tackles per game. He finished second in the nation in tackles was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

This is the one pick that I am not completely on board with. The team signed Jason Trusnik this offseason who could, and should, be considered the back up at middle linebacker so I am not sure where Mayo fits into this team. This is the one player I will be watching closely in OTAs and training camp on just exactly how the coaching staff uses him.

Grade: C-


Fifth Round, Pick No. 174

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Cameron Artis-Payne
Auburn / 5'10 / 212 lbs
  • RB
  • [5] #38

The Panthers finally pick of the 2015 NFL Draft addresses the running back position with the selection of Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne. After backing up Tre Mason in 2013 at Auburn, he had an impressive season with over 300 carries and over 1,600 rushing yards.

At 5-10 and 212 pounds he is a bruising running back who isn’t afraid to run it right up the middle and does not get tackled easily. He is not going to be a running back who will hit the big run but the combination of Jonathan Stewart and Artis-Payne should wear down defenses.

Grade: A-



The Carolina Panthers entered this draft with nine picks and left with five players. The team used four of their picks to make two trades (once in the second, once in the fourth) that allowed them move up a combined 38 spots. The front office did a good job of bringing in quality players in free agency and addressed a number of needs prior to the NFL Draft that allowed them to move those picks.

In terms of the players they selected it would not be a surprise to see four, if not all five of them be major contributors as rookies. Shaq Thompson and David Mayo should be key players on special teams as well as Thompson competing for a starting outside linebacker position.

Devin Funchess will be competing for Jarrett Boykin for the number two wide receiver position and even if he is not able to win, I would expect him to be a key target for Cam Newton in the red zone. Cameron Artis-Payne steps in as the primary back up to Stewart and should expect 5-10 carries a game.

Daryl Williams is an above-average run blocker and will be competing for the starting right tackle position with Nate Chandler and Mike Remmers. Overall, GM Dave Gettleman and the Panthers’ front office did an excellent job of addressing needs and finding starting talent at almost level of the Draft.

Grade: B+


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