FanPost

Carolina Panthers Draft Forecast Version 2.0

2010 Carolina Panthers Draft Prediction 2.0

March 20, 2010

            Panther Fans, the combine is now over, most of the big name free agents have signed, and the NFL draft is just a few weeks away.  This is a prediction of how the Panthers will do come Draft Day in late April.  This is actually my second draft prediction, and unlike my last one, where I predicted the Panthers trading next years’ first rounder, I will predict what will happen under the Panthers current picks, assuming no trades happen.  Let me know what ya’ll think, and I would love to see ya’lls draft predictions.

Team Needs: Well, a lot actually…with the spring roster cleaning and youth movement, many starter positions are open to competition, and quality backups are needed.

High Priority: WR, DE- In my last prediction, I predicted DE being our greatest need with only Johnson and Brown having some playing experience.  The re-signing of Tyler Brayton gives the Panthers a little more quality depth, and makes the need not as dire, but still very much needed.  DE now takes a backseat to the need of a WR, but it is a close second b/c the Panthers do need another DE.  WR is obviously a need with no proven player opposite Smitty.  Thus, WR is now the Panthers greatest need.  Again, both positions are such an area of need that might require spending multiple picks.

Medium Priority: LB, CB, QB, KR- The Panthers recently said in a press conference that they let many of the veterans go because they wanted to give their younger players a chance, and I think they were indicating that they would like to give players like Jarrett and especially Connor the chance to start.  Moreover, the Diggs firing was likely directly correlated to letting Connor start next year.  With Connor at SLB, we are going to need some quality depth at LB besides James Anderson to back up our LBs.  Although Marshall hasn’t yet signed his tender to my knowledge, it looks like he won’t be going anywhere.  With Marshall, Gamble, and Munnerlyn, we have a nice trio of CBs, but you can never have enough, and beyond them our quality drops off a bit.  As we face New Orleans twice a year, who goes often with 4 WR sets, we need another CB.  Not pressing need, but need some more depth at CB.  With Delhomme gone, backup QB is now a big need.  If Moore should unfortunately go down, or even if he doesn’t do as well as everyone thinks, we need a backup QB.  Kick returner is an issue, but Panthers will likely draft someone with KR potential who also plays another position, and not a simple KR.

Regular Priority: DT, OL - Have depth at OL, but can always add more talent.  If need any depth at OL, it is at guard.  Still aren’t sure yet if Bernadeau is the starter, or if Robinson can actually handle the NFL, so OG is a need.  The firing of the older DTs like Kemo and Lewis are not only intended to let our gaggle of young DTs fight it out in camp, but maybe to better suit Meeks style of fast, aggressive defense.  DT isn’t as great a need as many predict, b/c we have a horde of young DTs, but if a high-value one should slide to us, don’t be surprised to see the Panthers shoot for one.  Unlike most Draft forecasters, I don’t expect DT to be selected early because we have 5 or 6 guys at the position already, and we traded for new, young guys last year.

No Priority: RB, FB, MLB, S –Plenty of talent here, no need to spend draft picks on them.  With 3 good safeties, no need to spend pick here but may draft a player in the mold of a CB/S.

Round

Player

1st

No Pick (2009 Trade w/ SF)

 

2nd

 Damian Williams, WR, USC

In my last draft, I predicted the Panthers would take Damian Williams here, and I still believe that they will.  Opposite Smitty, we need a big, blocking WR.  Damian Williams perfectly fits the mold of Muhammad and Keyshawn Johnson.  Not a Jacoby Ford track star, but has respectable speed and runs immaculate routes, selling them to the defense before the catch.  Also has very reliable hands, great size, and sufficient blocking technique.  Williams has also proved that he is a great WR and playmaker in college, doing so at both USC and Arkansas.  Also, has been consistently good in every game.  Is polished, NFL ready, and ready to step in and contribute from Day 1.  Don’t be fooled, he is one of the top 4 elite receivers this year, so if he is available when Panthers pick, I imagine it would be too tough to not pick him.

Other Possible Picks:

DE: Should any potential 1st rounders fall to the 2nd, the Panthers might be quick to pick them up.  Jason Pierre Paul (USF) is freakishly athletic, and similar to Peppers, although is raw as an oyster.  Derrick Morgan should be the 1st DE chosen, and Everson Griffen and Brandon Graham should go in the 1st or early 2nd.  JPP may go mid first, or slide to the second.  If he slides to the middle of the second round, the Panthers would have to pull the trigger on this prospect. 

Carlos Dunlap (Florida) is another DE who could slide to us in the 2nd round.  Has prototypical size (6-6, 290) and great athleticism, but has bouts of lazyness and taking plays of like Pep did.  Beyond this, he is still an elite DE prospect. Does his best in big games, and has good strength, and explosion off the snap.  Dunlap is also a HUGE Panther fan, so I would have to think that Hurney and Foxy like that!  His DUI and arrest, and questionable work ethic will push him down in the draft, likely to the second.  Also isn’t great against the run, but could become better.  Also, Florida DE’s haven’t really panned out in the pros (Derrick Harvey, Jarvis Moss), so teams may pass on him initially.  Panthers would have to take a good, long, hard look at this athlete if available when picking.

Tyson Alualu of Cal deserves consideration in the second round.  If the top WRs are gone and Dunlap and JPP are gone, Alualu, who will be available in the second round is a great value.  Played DE in Cal’s 3-4 defense, but had great production in a normally block-consuming role in the 3-4.  Is 6-2, 291 with great versatility.  He will be targeted by many teams because of this.  He can continue to play in a 3-4 in the pros, or can play 4-3 DE or be a 3 technique DT.  This is why the Panthers could pursue him, because he could help out at tackle, or be a great addition at DE.

WR: Brandon LaFell, LSU

Damian Williams would probably be the Panthers first choice, but I have also heard that they are high on LaFell.  Also, a lot of teams most likely have Damian on their radar, notably NYJ, NE, TB, and Miami.  LaFell hasn’t produced like the other top WRs, but is still a top WR.  Isn’t as fast as most (40 time: 4.6), but has surprising lateral quickness and agility for his big frame (6-3, 206).  Very physical, great blocker, and will go up to snatch that ball out of the air.  Some have compared him to an Anquan Boldin type WR.  So if not Damian, most likely this 2nd rounder will be LaFell, if he’s there. 

Demaryius Thomas, GT

‘Bay-Bay’ rounds out the top 5 elite WR prospects in the draft, and is the last one with 2nd round value.  Although doesn’t really know how to run actual pro-style routes thanks to Tech’s trip option and quick routes, is an incredible athlete.  Does his best after the catch, but isn’t the physical blocker he should be for his size (6-3, 225). Is nursing a broken bone in his leg, so he wasn’t able to work out at the combine.  Not sure he fits the Panthers style, but is a great WR.  If these 3 WR’s are gone (assuming Dez and Tate went in the 1st), then the Panthers will probably wait till the 3rd to get a WR, because others may not be worth picking in the 2nd.

3rd

Jason Worilds, DE, VT

This pick really revolves around what happens in the 2nd.  If we get a WR, we’ll be looking for a DE here, and vice versa.  Since I have the Panthers taking a WR in the first, I have them going with a DE here.  Jason Worilds is a great DE that draws a lot of similarities from Everette Brown.  Worilds is strikingly quick (4.47 40 time) and explodes of the snap.  Gets great leverage against the tackle, and has surprising strength for a bull rush or rip.  Like Brown, also possesses a variety of pass rush moves.  Can be pushed around against the run, but did okay in college.  Probably needs to add 10-15 pounds for the pros to be able to handle full-time end duties.  Worilds is a great DE, although his production last year was down.  Consistently plays well and hustles, and doesn’t disappear throughout games or the season.  Worilds drops to the 3rd because of drop in production, and also because he is a ’tweener prospect.  Is 6-2, 252 lbs, but looks stronger and bigger on tape.  Although he is very quick, he might have trouble transitioning to the 3-4 rush linebacker.  Therefore, Worilds is much like Everette Brown, and would be a perfect fit for Meeks’ defense and great backup/rotational player behind Everette Brown.

Other Possible Picks:

DE: Greg Hardy, Ole Miss

When healthy, Hardy can be a dominant DE, but his problem has been staying healthy the entire season.  Hardy has speed off the edge, good moves, strength, agility, and leverage, but can disappear at times.  Also, has not survived a full college season without being injured.  Has had two surgeries on his foot, but he attributes his injuries simply to the nature of football, and he could be right but he is simply injury prone.  Should be a first round prospect, but his medical issues will make teams nervous.  The Panthers, on the other hand, need a great DE, and he is a great value here.  Also, the Panthers are not like most other teams, and aren’t scared to take a player with a checkered medical history (i.e. Sherrod Martin, Jonathan Stewart, Bruce Nelson, Eric Shelton, and many others).  Hardy would be a great value here, and the Panthers need a player like Hardy, so they might take him and cross their fingers.

QB: Tim Tebow, Florida

Regardless of what anyone thinks about Tebow, he has consistently produced and dominated in college every year, and against the best teams in the best conference.  Tebow also is a natural leader, tough, hard worker, big, strong, and just plain likeable (from a Coaches’ perspective).  Great arm strength and can run with the ball, although has an odd and long cock-and-release and never really took snaps from under center.  Though he fits this college type system, he has shown the work ethic to change his setup and release, and to translate to the NFL style offense.  No one really knows where Tebow is going to go, but he will most likely go as early as the mid-second round.  The Panthers could take him in the 2nd, but they also have bigger needs, such as WR and DE, so they would probably wait to see if he falls to the 3rd.  Although no teams have shown open interest in Tebow, besides speculation with Jacksonville, many teams like him.  John Fox watched Tebow at his pro day, which shows that the Panthers have interest in him.  Tim Tebow’s personality is a lot like Jake Delhomme’s: he is a strong, tough, hard working leader.  And John Fox may have a slight crush on Tebow, so Tebow could be Foxy’s rebound bromance…

WR: Mardy Gilyard, Cinncinati

If the Panthers go DE or something else in the 2nd, Gilyard or a WR could be the choice here.  Dez, Tate, Damian Williams, LaFell, and Bay-Bay will most likely be chosen before Gilyard. And scouts think Benn, Shipley, Taylor Price, and Mike Williams may be taken before Gilyard.  So, Gilyard has a good chance of being available in the 3rd.  Gilyard produced wild numbers for college football, but he was in a pass-happy offense and had a good QB in Pike.  He can beat the press, has great agility and elusiveness, and is similar to Eagles WR Desean Jackson with his small size.  Doesn’t have Jacoby-Ford like speed for a smaller guy, not a great blocker, and can get worn down by physical CBs.  Gilyard also possesses a great work ethic, as he slept in his car and worked part time jobs just to play college ‘ball.  Can also return kicks.  If he falls to the 3rd, and the Panthers haven’t taken a WR yet, they might look at him.

Carlton Mitchell, USF

The Panthers might also look at Carlton Mitchell for a number of reasons.  One, Gilyard, although he can return kicks, can’t block, a necessity in the Panthers offense.  And Gilyard would make us have more of a Eagles type offense, which strays from our running philosophy.  Secondly, Mitchell is more of a Muhammad type WR: excellent route-runner, possession, blocking WR.  At 6-4, 212, Mitchell would be a suitable replacement for the now departed Muhammad.  His speed is surprising, and can simply work a cornerback.  Was streaky in college though, and has more potential as an athlete than production.  The Panthers need a WR, and they need a big, blocking one, so Mitchell could be an option in the 3rd.

4th

Rennie Curran, LB, UGA

The Panthers need LB depth, and Curran is the type if LB that the Panthers like: Ferocious, fast, and instinctive.  Curran will be available late because of the depth at LB, and especially because he is undersized.  The Panthers love getting good value, especially in later rounds, and this suits the Cats needs.

Other Possible Picks:

WR: Riley Cooper, Florida

DE: Brandon Lang, Troy

LB: Darryl Sharpton, The U

5th and 6th

Bill Stull, QB, Pitt

I don’t think the front office will go with a guy like Snead or Levi Brown, who haven’t performed well or done well against good teams.  Stull seems more like a guy that fits the Panthers’ mold.  Stull played at Pitt, where they employed a more pro-style offense, taking snaps under center and dropping back to make passes similar to those in our offense.  His production has also been good: in 2009 he had a 65.1 comp %, 2633 yds, 8.2 YPA, 150.61 QB rating, and a TD-to-INT ratio of 21 to 8.  Is 6-3, weighing 215.  Longest ball thrown was 79 yds, so he can throw the long ball.  Also played well consistently throughout the year and against a variety of teams. Therefore, Stull could stay a Panther…

Other Possible Picks:

DE: Lindsey Witten, UConn

CB: Crezdon Butler, Clemson

LB:  Pat Angerer, Iowa

OL: Marshall Newhouse, TCU

6th and 7th

Armanti Edwards, QB / WR, ASU

Previously, I did not believe the Panthers had ANY interest in App State QB Armanti Edwards.  But, after the Panthers watched Edwards perform, and after Edwards noted that the Panthers seemed the most interested in him, I now accept that drafting him is a real possibility.  Edwards draws many similarities to Michael Vick.  Like Vick, he has a strong arm and sometimes his passes are even too hot.  Unlike Vick, Edwards actually looks to pass before taking off.  Needs to work on accuracy, especially on deeper routes.  Is very elusive, and accurate on the run.  A threat every play.  Can set up situations through running too.  Size is an issue though, a bit small, and some wonder if he can handle the punishment of the pros.  Could translate to KR or PR duties, but actually is a legitimately good QB.  Just plain amazing athlete with over 10,000 passing yds and 4,000 rushing yds.  Behind only Steve McNair in total offense, which is a very big honor.  Panthers may be looking at him either for QB or just for his crazy athleticism that could let him translate to WR or even KR duties.  Bottom line here is that the Panthers are interested, and although many other teams are also fascinated with his athleticism, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this local prospect in black and blue.

Other Possible Picks:

CB: Walter Thurmond III, Oregon

LB: Reggie Carter, UCLA

OL: Thomas Austin, Clemson

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