Derrick Brown was the seventh rookie to come off the board this year and the first to sign his rookie deal. On Friday, the Panthers inked the Auburn defensive tackle to his rookie contract – a four-year, $23.62MM pact, in accordance with his draft slot.
Everyone knew the Panthers were targeting defensive players in the draft, but it was still a surprise to see them go defense all throughout draft weekend. Brown was the first one up, placing a promising young talent alongside Kawann Short, a two-time Pro Bowler eager to get back to form after missing the bulk of the 2019 season.
While Short draws lots of attention, Brown will look to be a difference maker, particularly against the run. The Panthers weren’t the only team chasing him – at least a couple clubs inquired on trading into the Top 10 for his services and the Lions reportedly thought about him at No. 3, though they ultimately went with their longtime draft crush Jeff Okudah.
Brown might not have the upside of, say, Isaiah Simmons, a jack-of-all-trades defender with absolutely freakish athleticism, but he was regarded by evaluators as one of the safer picks near the top. With that high floor, he’ll look to justify GM Marty Hurney‘s big decision.
“We had them very close together, obviously,” Hurney said of Brown and Simmons after the draft (via ESPN.com). “We believed you start building from the front. Derrick not only helps [Short] and the rest of the line… he helps the linebackers. He’s a big, powerful player. He’s got a good first step. He’s a three-down player. He obviously helps against the run, but he really gets push up the middle. ”
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