As the Carolina Panthers prepared to make their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, they were expected to take linebacker Isaiah Simmons. After losing Luke Kuechly, James Bradberry, Ross Cockrell, and Eric Reid, Simmons was a no-brainer. His versatility allows him to line up as a middle or outside linebacker, a safety, or even a nickel corner.
Instead, the team surprised many by selecting Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at number seven. They then selected defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos in the second round. Many wondered when the team would address their glaring needs in the secondary. Finally, with the final pick of the second round, the team drafted safety Jeremy Chinn out of Southern Illinois. This decision will turn out to be a fantastic one for new head coach Matt Rhule. Chinn will become the best draft pick from this class for Carolina.
Chinn’s college pedigree earned him well-deserved praise.
Chinn earned All-American honors as a senior in 2019 and had 13 interceptions over his four-year college career. He was mocked as early as the middle of the first round by some analysts. His incredible range and athletic ability helped set him apart. However, with so many great safeties in this draft class, such as Grant Delpit, Xavier Mckinney, and others, Chinn has pushed down the draft boards. Despite this, Carolina was high on Chinn and has praised his unique versatility since drafting him. New defensive coordinator Phil Snow said there are “multiple things” the team could use Chinn for, adding that there were maybe “three guys in the draft like Jeremy.” In fact, Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater had praise for the young safety as well, even comparing him to Isaiah Simmons in terms of value.
That value, that versatility, is exactly why Jeremy Chinn will end up becoming the best player for the Carolina Panthers from this draft class.
Taking a look at Carolina’s draft class (which became the first in the common draft era to draft all defensive players in one draft), the team selected guys who can immediately make an impact on their depleted defense, which is coming off one of the worst seasons in team history.
A quick recap of their 2020 draft selections:
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
- Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
- Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
- Troy Pride, CB, Notre Dame
- Kenny Robinson Jr., S, West Virginia
- Bravvion Roy, DT, Baylor
- Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, CB, FIU
Brown is a dominant force in the middle, but rarely does a defensive tackle make such a huge impact on any defense (unless his name is Aaron Donald). Gross-Matos has a high upside but looks to be more of a project. Pride and Robinson fall into the same category as Gross-Matos: guys with high upside, but need some work. As for Roy and Thomas-Oliver, they are more depth pieces on a defense lacking and severely needing said depth.
Chinn should start at strong safety from day one. In order to maximize his value, he should be played in multiple positions over the course of his career. For defense in such dire need at multiple positions, he is a perfect fit. He will end up becoming Carolina’s best draft pick from this class.
- Jeremy Chinn Will Be the Panthers’ Best Draft Pick - June 29, 2020