JKP's ‘Outside the Box' Panthers Mock Draft
Let me preface this mock draft by asserting that many of you will not immediately agree or care for it. This Panthers mock draft isn't a mere facsimile of the prototypical and mainstream mock drafts and draft views out there. No, we aren't picking Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon in this draft (Sorry to crush your dreams PantherTrain). That's too mainstream. And I don't blindly subscribe to conventional thought. My objective here is to get outside of the box, and present novel and yet rational ideas. After all, looking at recent mock drafts has become a lackluster and dull task because the same players and wisdom are bequeathed upon almost all mocks. Additionally, I disdain merely copycatting other mocks and draft views. Therefore, I forewarn you that this mock draft may not be an immediate favorite because it will buck conventional wisdom.
Immediately, I predict that there will likely be cries that the players that I mock will not be viewed as BPA or of value (I have one specific one in mind, which will soon be quite apparent). However, I'm fine with that. In my mind, the present-day view of player value is more like a popularity ranking system based on ‘stock,' rather than an actual comprehensive review of the player's skills, impact, and ultimate worth. The latter, in my opinion, is much accurate and what I seek to base this mock upon. This mock therefore is based and valued upon my comprehensive analysis and judgment of each player. I know that many will immediately vehemently disagree and dislike this, however...
Let it sink in a little bit...
Disregard conventional thinking, and allow yourself to break free of the confines of mainstream thought...
Then, I encourage you to consider this mock draft, and the avant-garde and unorthodox thinking behind it.
A quick note before mocking: this draft is largely though unintentionally based upon many juniors declaring for the draft, and it is very possible that many players elect to stay at school.
Now onto the Mock:
1st Round: Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington
Told ya! This is what I meant when I said that this won't be the most popular mock draft. I know that most of you are probably instantly perplexed and oppose this choice. Let me explain a little bit first before you post a judgment.
Ta'amu is widely perceived as a late 1st rounder to 2nd and 3rd round potential draft pick. However that may be, I don't consider mainstream draft perspectives to accurately incorporate the value of this player and position. Ta'amu is hands down the best pure nose tackle in the business right now, and he's best the draft will have seen since BJ Raji in 2009, and perhaps even Haloti Ngata in 2006. Right now, I believe that mainstream draft wisdom doesn't accurately take into account that NT is such a valued and rare commodity. It's analogous to the Center position in professional basketball: it's extremely rare to find a dominant big man, and everyone is clamoring for one. In comparison to their peers, Haloti Ngata and Dwight Howard are relatively unrivaled and their teams enjoy a large dominance in the trenches because of them. Teams actually pick dominant NTs fairly early to gain this upper-hand. Raji was a top 10 pick, and Ngata was taken 12th. Accordingly, it's not unreasonable to think that mainstream thought is denigrating the value of the NT position. And it's not unthinkable that Ta'amu could go top 15, perhaps even top 10 because of the value of the NT position.
In my book, Ta'amu is also broadly and significantly underrated. Maybe it's because he's not racking up glamorous stats. But nose tackles hardly do. That's not their job. Instead, they are the guys who get dirty and receive little recognition. Therefore, you really have to look at the tape to truly assess and appreciate Ta'amu's actual value.
Watching the tape, Ta'amu is just a force, and he brings it on every play. This guy doesn't simply command double teams. Rather, he commands triple teams at times, with 3 offensive lineman ganging up on him. And he is still making plays! His impact on the game is measured not by statistics, but rather by his ability to single-handedly dominate the line of scrimmage. He's got a nasty bull-rush and on occasion gets his hands on the ball in the air. On just about every running play though, he is either stuffing any and all holes in the line or engaging the running back. The comparison to BJ Raji bears some discussion. In fact, he's got the exact same specifications as BJ Raji, standing 6-3 and 337. And he has the same impact upon the game, stuffing the run and getting a significant push in the pass rush.
Yes, I know that the Panthers got a NT in 2011. No need to remind me. However, Sione Fua hasn't yet been the game-changer that the Panthers need to shore up the interior of the defensive line. Actually, as you know, the Panthers have been one of the worst run defenses in the league, and this position needs desperate attention. While Ron Fields may come back in 2012 and be a decent player, the Panthers desperately need a solution at this position.
To those who are going to question my selection of Ta'amu in the top 10, I ask you: Was BJ Raji a mistake as a top 10 player? Was Haloti Ngata worth the 12th pick spent on him? I would argue that both were worth far more than that, but I'll leave it up to you.
2nd Round: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
In my dreams, I would love to mock Brandon Thompson to the Panthers here. However, this isn't my dreams. I'm trying to be rational and realistic. Realistically, although I don't see Thompson in the top ten, I'm fairly confident that he'll be gobbled up in the mid to late 1st round. If Corey Liuget and Muhammad Wilkerson can go in the first round, Thompson will.
The Panthers take Jerel Worthy here because of need and value. Although the Panthers drafted Terrel McClain out of USF last year to be their one-gap penetrator, he has yet to really demonstrate that he is the future. In addition to needing a lane-clogging NT, the Panthers also desperately need a quick penetrating 3 technique to patch the porous defense and defensive line.
By the time the second round begins and the Panthers pick, I fully expect teams to plunder the top defensive lineman. Specifically, I fully expect Alameda Ta'amu, Brandon Thompson, Devon Still, and Jared Crick to be gone. Jerel Worthy will then be the best available at the position, as I see him sliding to late 1st or early second.
Jerel Worthy is also quite ‘worthy' of a second round selection. In many ways, he favorably compares to the great Ndamukong Suh. They both are nearly both the same height and weight, around 6-3 and 310. The comparison doesn't stop there though. They both are extremely strong and powerful, and have an elite first step. They both also approach the game with a ton of energy, and an eagerness to get nasty. The comparison pales a little bit further down the road because Worthy is much less developed than Suh, which is ultimately why he'll likely drop to the second round although he is a first round talent. Beyond the comparison to Suh though, Worthy also possesses a robust bull rush, quick swim move, and effective rip. Worthy also greatly affects the game, as he consistently provides penetration though the line, severely disrupting the offense. Worthy though does have his flaws, which are principally mental and fixable, and might prevent him from going in the first round. Therefore, in terms of talent, Worthy has the potential of Ndamukong Suh, however he has yet to put it all together.
In terms of fit, with Alameda Ta'amu, Charles Johnson, and Greg Hardy, the Panthers defensive line would rival that of any in the league. Offenses would have great trouble accounting for these players because all necessitate double teams. Johnson will dominate without a double team, Hardy is learning to do so as well, and teams would be forced to dedicate their center and guard to Ta'amu. Adding Worthy, in addition to Ta'amu, would be pivotal then because the Panthers defensive line would instantly transform from weak to robust, being that all 4 players are legitimate threats.
4th Round: Kenny Tate, OLB/S, Maryland
Let me first say, that while trying to predict the first two rounds is difficult and a likely inaccurate endeavor, trying to predict anything further is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. I'm merely just taking wild stabs from here on out because no one really knows what's going to happen.
A lot of bloggers are eager to find a replacement for TD. Here, the Panthers get their replacement. Tate is very much a Thomas Davis clone. He has played both OLB and S, and has played the hybrid position as of late. Like TD, he is wildly athletic and is neither a prototype LB or S but somewhere in between. While he would likely need to bulk up a little bit from 220, he has the athleticism to play WLB and cover TEs and the speed and strength to engage in the running game. He is by no means a polished prospect, but could be a good fit to be Thomas Davis' replacement.
5th Round: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
You might be asking yourself who this fella is. I'll admit I'd never heard of him until I saw UNC play GT. And this guy dominated the game. He even looked better than Dwight Jones, who's currently thought of as a likely 2nd round selection. Hill is 6-5, 206 and has a dominating presence. Surprisingly he has good speed. I'd venture to say that it's on the verge of 4.4 speed. And he has great athleticism. When he is on, there is no almost stopping this guy. However, Georgia Tech's offense doesn't provide for substantial stats like Oklahoma State does for Justin Blackmon. He also is a Junior, and is just starting to put things together. In my opinion, he's another name that is a little overlooked in the draft pool.
6th Round: Ricky Wagner, OT/G, Wisconsin
The Panthers seem to like to select Offensive Lineman late in the draft. Here I have them going with Ricky Wagner, out of a school like Alabama that seems to be just producing quality linemen. There really is no telling where Wagner will go, if he decides to enter the draft. However, I would think he wouldn't be an immediate selection because he is rather one-dimensional By that, I mean that he is a much better pass blocker than run blocker. He has good size though at 6-6 and 322.
7th Round: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant is yet another player who is a junior and not yet polished. He's got good size at 6-0 and 184 lbs. And he's obviously got the legacy going for him being that his big brother Marcus Trufant was a stud. He's aggressive and got great speed and athleticism, but much like Worthy, Tate, and Hill, he has yet to put it all together. If he decides to enter, he'd probably be a late round flier.