2021 NFL Draft

Former Katy star Fisher signs with Panthers

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/1/21

As a kid growing up in Katy, Paddy Fisher once dreamed of having his own NFL trading card, with measurables and stats on the back. He’s a step closer to having that fantasy become reality.

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2021 NFL Draft

Former Katy star Fisher signs with Panthers

Posted

As a kid growing up in Katy, Paddy Fisher dreamed of having his own NFL trading card. An intimidating, awe-inspiring game-action photo on the front. Measurables and stats on the back.

He dreamed of opening up a pack of cards and seeing his name among the best of the best, a collector’s item for all.

Fisher is a step closer to having that fantasy become reality.

The former Katy High star and Northwestern standout middle linebacker signed with the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, May 1, as an undrafted free agent upon the conclusion of the 2021 NFL draft. Carolina’s coaching staff got a close look at Fisher when they coached him for a week at the Senior Bowl in January.

Fisher was ranked by The Athletic NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler as the No. 25 linebacker prospect going in the draft and was projected to be a seventh-round pick or priority undrafted free agent. Based on teams he had talked to, Barry Gardner, Fisher’s agent, said he thought his client could go anywhere in rounds four through six, but also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher went in the seventh round or undrafted due to the happenstance of the draft.

Carolina went 5-11 in 2020 in former Baylor coach Matt Rhule’s first season. In the 2021 draft, Carolina prioritized offense. Of the Panthers’ 10 picks, only four were defensive players. None were linebackers.

The Panthers run a base 4-3 defense. Northwestern also ran a four-man front defensively. Going into the draft, Carolina’s depth chart at middle linebacker was thin, according to NFL scouting service ourlads.com, with only six-year NFL veteran Denzel Perryman and rookie Daniel Bituli on the depth chart.

Prior to the draft, Fisher said his preference was not necessarily the highest slot he could be picked or the place where he could get the most money. It was about the opportunity to play.

“I’d rather go to a place where I can contribute and play and be welcomed into a culture of football, opposed to being picked by a team who will pay me, but I won’t play,” Fisher said. “I want to contribute, whether it be special teams or the defensive side. I really want to contribute right away.”

Fisher was a leader on Katy’s 2015 undefeated state championship team, regarded as one of the best high school football defenses ever. Fisher totaled 250 tackles, eight sacks and eight forced fumbles as a three-year varsity letterman at Katy and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school.

At Northwestern, Fisher was a three-year captain, two-time All-Big 10 selection, the 2020 Big 10 Linebacker of the Year, and the 2021 Ronnie Lott IMPACT trophy winner, awarded to the defensive player with the biggest I.M.P.A.C.T. (integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity) on his team.

Prior to the draft, Fisher sat down for interviews and had follow-up Zoom meetings with Minnesota, Arizona, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants.

Carolina has a rookie minicamp scheduled for later this month. After that, the second stint of the voluntary offseason program takes place before OTAs (Organized Team Activity) start May 24.

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