Tom Sorensen

How athletic is 6-5, 290-pound Panthers DT Drew Iddings? Well, this athletic ...

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Drew Iddings, right, is a very large man, but that’s only half the story.
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Drew Iddings, right, is a very large man, but that’s only half the story. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

There’s a Panther you don’t know. But you might. He brings a singular set of skills to his job.

His name is Drew Iddings. He is 6-5, 290 pounds, and plays defensive tackle. In high school, at a weight of 220, he twice won the South Dakota state high jump championship. I know, I know, he jumped higher than the other two guys in the meet. But he leapt 6-9 inches. Let’s see Julius Peppers do that.

At Stevens High School in Rapid City, S.D., Iddings also competed in the shot put and broad jump. He played football collegiately for South Dakota and competed for the track team one season there.

Not drafted, he went to the camp of the Oakland Raiders in 2016 and lasted until the final cut.

The Panthers brought him to rookie camp in early May, but did not sign him. New Orleans brought him to camp that same month and decided that, along with being a pass rusher, a high jumper, a shot putter and a broad jumper, he was an offensive lineman. Collect the whole set. The experiment lasted three weeks, and the Saints cut him.

Carolina had 89 players on its roster last week. There was one opening, and the Panthers brought Iddings and two other candidates to camp last Thursday. They tried out Friday. Carolina offered Iddings a contract the same day, and on Saturday morning he reported to his first practice.

Who did you work against?

“I didn’t know their names,” Iddings says.

He wears a Coyotes Football (that’s South Dakota’s nickname) T-shirt, and takes up most of a small table in Wofford’s Campus Life Building.

The offensive linemen you went against – were they big guys, kind of mean?

Iddings smiles and says they were.

I know who they are.

Iddings ran a 4.7 40 at the NFL scouting combine. That’s flying. He’s fast, he’s strong enough to have auditioned for the Saints’ offensive line and he can jump to the roof. As a South Dakota senior, he blocked two passes, two punts and a field goal.

A few weeks ago he was playing basketball with friends and, at 295 pounds, went up for a dunk.

Let’s put this in perspective. Iddings, still 6-5, weighs almost 300 pounds. LeBron James, a big man, is 6-8 and weighs 250.

The Charlotte Hornets’ biggest big men are Dwight Howard, 6-11 and 265, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. Both 7-feet, Zeller and Kaminsky weigh 240. Could they dunk if they put on 55 pounds? Can Iddings?

“I wanted to see if I still had it,” he says.

Do you?

“I do.”

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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