Being the last NFL team to make its first selection the mock draft season has been an exercise in patience for me. Well the time has finally drawn near for me to make a selection and I would like your feedback. The problem is its going to be a little tricky for me to get input from you. See we actually make our picks three days before they are posted at Mocking the Draft, SBN's NFL draft site. As of me putting up this post MTD has posted up to pick #45.
Behind the scenes though I know who has been picked through pick #54 but I can't tell you who that is lest I steal MTD's thunder. So what I can tell you is who is has not been picked but please remember these four teams still need to pick: Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore and New England. This means that at least a couple of names in the poll below could be gone when it actually comes our time. So here's the options at this point in time listed by the Panthers positions of need.
Update: Here's a decent article on Charlotte.com that discusses some of the players mentioned below.
Defensive tackle - The top 5 guys are gone, including Fili Moala. That leaves Jarron Gilbert (6'5", 288) San Jose St. and Sen'Derrick Marks (6'2", 306). Both these guys have 2nd round grades so they could be decent picks.
Defensive End - All the top guys are gone depending on who's rankings you are looking at, including Michael Johnson and Conner Barwin, except for one: Paul Kruger (6'4", 263) Utah who is #4 on Mike Mayock's top 5 DE's. Kruger has a second round grade and may be who the Panthers target in this scenario. Another option is Lawrence Sidbury (6'3", 265) Richmond, who put up one of the quickest 40 times for a DE at the combine (4.64). I'm sure the Panthers would find him intriguing in spite of being from a smaller school.
Cornerback - Amazingly Alphonso Smith (5'9", 193) Wake Forest is still there as well as Jarius Byrd (5'10", 207) Oregon and Victor ‘Macho' Harris (5'11", 197). I haven't been shy about my affection for Smith so if he should still be there I'll have a tough time not taking him based on this board. I also like Harris but at #59 seems a bit of a reach for Harris who might still be there in the 3rd round.
Quarterback - Josh Freeman (6'6", 248) is still on the board. I did a double take and rechecked twice to make sure but yes the big QB for Kansas St is still there. None of the 4 remaining teams to pick before the Panthers seem in need of a QB so I have a feeling he will still be there. I will have to give him serious consideration.
Offensive Line - The Panthers need depth on the line and so there is a chance they grab a guy they feel has a first round grade that has dropped. In the case of this mock there isn't any top talent that has dropped from what I can see. The top remaining tackle might be Jamon Meredith (6'5", 304) South Carolina but a more likely pick would be Andy Levitre (6'3", 305), the top guard on Mayocks' board. I wouldn't be upset at the pick since he's the top guard on the board but we all agree the defense has priority. One last option would be the best remaining center Jonathan Luigs (6'4", 301) Arkansas who I assume could play guard as well. As much as I can't envision the Panthers going offense with the first pick they make, adding Levitre would give us one young but very talented offensive line.
Free Safety - I realize we don't necessarily need a safety but the #3 guy on Mayocks safety list is still there, Rashad Johnson (5'11", 203) Alabama. He has the build of a corner and we know Fox's penchant for moving players around in the secondary. Besides, who's to say Charles Godfrey doesn't end up at the nickel if he is better suited there (or Anderson is a better FS)?
So there's my list of available players for you to choose. I have to make my selection by tomorrow (Tue) afternoon so please give me a comment on why you think I should take whom you picked. I want to emphasize that I want to know who you think we should pick and not who you think the Panthers would pick given this scenario. I realize many of my comments above focus on what the Panthers might be thinking but I've given up actually trying to predict what they might do. If you think I'm missing a potential pick not on the list let me know and I'll respond as to whether they are selected or not and whether I agree.