The Carolina Panthers selected Forest Park graduate Chandler Zavala in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft Saturday.
The offensive lineman was taken 114th overall. Carolina was one of the NFL teams Zavala took an official pre-draft visit to. He is the second local player ever drafted by Carolina. The other was Osbourn graduate Brandon Hogan, who also went in the fourth round in 2011.
Zavala was scheduled to watch the draft with family and friends in Pittsburgh.
Zavala was the first lineman selected by new head coach Frank Reich and his staff. The Panthers chose Alabama quarterback Bryce Young No. 1 overall Thursday followed by wide receiver Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss wide receiver) in the second round and Oregon linebacker DJ Johnson in the third round.
Zavala is expected to bolster a Carolina line that saw both its starting guards last season go down with injuries in the last game of the 2022 regular-season. Zavala will also be reunited with former N.C. State teammate Iken Ekwonu.
Ekwonu, Carolina’s starting left tackle, was the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2022.
Zavala is the first football player from Forest Park to be picked in the NFL Draft since the Woodbridge school opened in 2000. He is also the first Prince William County selection since three players (Woodbridge’s Da’Shawn Hand, Stonewall Jackson’s Tim Settle and Greg Stroman) were taken in the 2018 draft.
An offensive lineman, Zavala rose up NFL teams’ draft boards after a strong performance at N.C. State’s Pro Day March 28, bench pressing 225 pounds 30 times and posting a 32.5 inch vertical jump and a 5.01 40-yard dash.
The Wolfpack’s all-ACC left guard entered the draft rated among the draft’s top 100 players by a number of publications and was slated to go as high as the third round.