I'm well aware that we're only roughly a third of the way into the NFL season, and as such making early predictions on the draft is a rather insane process. This time last year Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley were just blips on the radar, while someone like Christian Ponder was seen as a 3rd or 4th round pick at best. Times tend to make the draft fluctuate a lot.
So rather than bombard you week in, week out I thought I'd give a mock now, another following week 10 and finally one more after the final game in 2011 before we go crazy with our pre-draft madness. As it stands I'm assuming the Panthers will finish the season at 5-11, which in the 2011 draft would have awarded them the 6th overall pick.
**TRADE with Seattle**
- This wasn't supposed to happen for Seattle. Currently at 2-3 they were supposed to be in 'Suck for Luck' status, but they are finding ways to win games. I have them finishing the season at 7-9, and having the 10th pick in the draft. Pete Carroll decides to move up to the 6th pick to select either Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, or his former protege Matt Barkley. In doing so the Panthers pick up an additional 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft.
With the 10th pick in the NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers select: Brandon Thompson, DT- Clemson
The 6'2", 310lb defensive tackle is just what the doctor ordered for the Carolina Panthers. While he doesn't have the penetrating ability Marcell Dareus showed at Alabama, he does have the ability to hold up the point of attack. We're still waiting to see if either Terrell McClain or Sione Fua can develop into full time starters, but neither have the top end abilities Thompson has shown for the Tigers.
More after the jump
2,38: Jeff Fuller, WR- Texas A&M
The Panthers' affinity for Aggies continues with the selection of the mammoth WR Jeff Fuller. At 6'4", 215lbs he represents a very similar style player to Vincent Jackson who Rob Chudzinski used to great effect while in San Diego. Out of the gate Fuller is a legitimate #2 receiver, with some potential to develop into a #1 in time. He needs to work on his route running and quicken up his change of direction, but his absolute abuse of Patrick Peterson in the 2011 Cotton Bowl shows his abilities as a WR.
2,42: Jayron Hosley, CB- Virginia Tech
Despite Darius Butler stepping up and Brandon Hogan becoming available soon it's imperative that the Panthers keep their shelves stocked in the secondary. Hosley represents a player with legitimate #1 corner ability, while also having a knack for the ball. His ability to get interceptions is something the Panthers have sorely missed from their cornerbacks, and Hosley has the ability to change the pace of a game quickly.
4,102: Nigel Bradham, OLB- Florida State
Questions still loom about whether or not Thomas Davis can return to the Carolina Panthers, but regardless of whether or not he can return to form the Panthers need some additional outside linebackers. Through five games Bradham has totaled 27 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception for the Seminoles and has the ability to grow into a contributor.
5,134: Rokevious Watkins, OG- South Carolina
An absolute mountain of a guard at 6'4", 340lbs this is the kind of player we need to become a future right guard. Watkins plays with a mean streak and has a road-grader element to him that will be invaluable in the run game. There is a chance Watkins could improve his stock greatly and be a first or second round selection, but as it stands he's trending to be available around this time.
6,166: Duke Ihenacho, SS- San Jose State
If there's one thing we know about Ron Rivera's staff it's that they like to bring in a lot of safeties. Ihenacho has the potential to be a Greg Hardy type pick at SS as a player who was on the pre-season Thorpe watch list, but through some injuries he's falling down the board. This late in the draft it's worth picking a player like this up as he has potential down the road to be a starter.
7,192: Jake Bequette, DE- Arkansas
The 5th pick on the defensive side on the ball is to bring in some help and rotational pass rushers. The 6'5", 271lb DE adds some bulk at a position that has been relying on more slight players like Antawn Applewhite and Eric Norwood. Watching Bequette's game he reminds me a lot of former Panther DE Al Wallace, who was an extremely valuable rotational DE in his time here.
I'm well aware that prospect discussions tend to get things heated. So, lets all breath deep, relax and keep this conversation civil. What do you think? Like the picks? Hate the picks? Now is your time to sound off.