Let's pretend for a moment that DE Julius Peppers never discussed his desire to leave the franchise and instead we simply have a contract stalemate, similar to the Panthers issues with Jordan Gross last year. We just decided to franchise Peppers and pay the franchise amount of $16.7M for his services this year until we can work out a deal later. So how does that now impact our planning for the draft?
Well first of all it ruins any thought of getting a 1st round pick this year. I'm okay with that, RT Jeff Otah and his value to the Panthers running game was worth it. It would also mean the Panthers only have 5 total picks in the coming draft. In case you forgot, here are the picks:
2nd Round - #59
3rd - #93
4th - #124
5th - #155
6th - #189
So here's a recap on the mock draft predictions I've seen around the web for those mock drafts that go beyond the 1st round:
Starting with Walter Football:
#59 - Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
I love the pick but the latest buzz is that Hood will not fall this far now after a good Senior Bowl and Combine.
#93 Mark Parson, CB, Ohio - At this selection, Carolina needs to address the defensive end or corner position. Ken Lucas is as good as gone, and Richard Marshall apparently doesn't have what it takes to start at corner in this league.
I don't agree with the assessment of Marshall but I can't prove it otherwise either. I also like the pick of a CB but know nothing of this kid. I would prefer someone I've heard of, like USC's Captain Munnerlyn or VT's ‘Macho' Harris.
#124 - Kevin Ogletree, WR, Virginia - I'm not crazy about this pick. We have a couple young WR ‘projects' in Jason Carter and Ryne Robinson. I'm thinking offensive line depth here. Some names still on the Walter board at this point are tackles Joel Bell and Jason Watkins and G Trevor Canfield. It seems we need a back-up at Center in a hurry too.
#59 Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Johnson has been everyone's favorite whipping boy this draft season. Once considered a sure 1st round pick he has plummeted down everyone's board. I've watched him play for three years at GT and I don't understand the criticism. Regardless, I don't like this pick because Johnson will languish on the bench all season as I see him more of a project. He will need to put on some weight.
59 - Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
Questions about Julius Peppers' future with Carolina still remain. Julius Peppers may only be in Carolina for one more season and with that they need to add depth at DE. Many experts Ayers to go as high as #30 to the Titans.
Ayers value has been placed all over the place. He seems more ready to play immediately than some other prospects he is competing with. I find it hard to question picking a pass-rusher at any point.
#93 - Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Jake Delhomme seems to be at the end of his career and with that the Panthers hoped they found his eventual replacement. White has been impressive this offseason. Even if he doesn't ever play QB, could help as a receiver.
I lot of scouts are very impressed with White but I just can't see the Panthers making this move.
#124 - Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina
Was the stud WR before he got injured, giving way to Hakeem Nicks. He could be a steal if he recovers from his injury.
Are we ready to risk a 4th rounder on a guy recovering from injury? The Panthers have made this gamble before and won (Otah, Stewart).
#59 - Nate Davis, QB, Ball St.
Sorry but I'm not feeling this one.
59 - Kyle Moore, DE, USC
Peppers is likely gone, so Moore can help ease the transition.
With DT's Ron Brace and Fili Moala still on the board I don't like this pick. Moore is graded 3rd round or lower on most boards
I could keep going but we will stop here. Which one to do you like the best?