I said in my last post I'd give you one around this time in the season, and a lot has changed since that third way point of the season. I still think a trade is in the cards for the Panthers to move back as they did in 2007 when they acquired what was tantamount to Jon Beason and Ryan Kalil for Darrelle Revis.
I know some of you hate draft talk this early, but the fact is that scouting and projecting is a year round process. The team itself is likely looking forward to the 2013 draft and scouting those prospects while they finalize their evaluations of the 2012 crop. Is it an evil? Perhaps, but a necessary one.
In my scenario I have the Panthers drafting 5th overall, just missing out on Matt Kalil and in limbo in terms of some of the other top prospects.
Jim Harbaugh's 49ers were too competitive for him to land Andrew Luck, but Pete Carroll pushes to get his USC prodigy in town. Carroll has made no bones about going out and getting his former players, even seemingly washed up ones like WRs Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, so the idea of him pushing to get Matt Barkley is completely plausible. This trade recuperates the 3rd rounder spent on Greg Olsen, and adds a much needed 2nd rounder to add to the many needs of the Panthers.
1:12- The Carolina Panthers select Jonathan Martin, OT- Stanford
The need to protect Cam Newton should be the #1 priority. At this stage it's impossible to predict what (if anything) we can salvage from Jeff Otah, and Jordan Gross isn't getting any younger so this move makes sense. While Martin may not be as talented as the younger Kalil, he is a huge reason for Andrew Luck's success at Stanford. He may not be able to be plugged in at LT immediately, but he could start at RT for a year while he gets his footing and then switch tackle spots with Jordan Gross. If Jeff Otah is able to return he would be a natural fit at the RG spot where lateral movement isn't as necessary and his road grading run blocking can be a major asset.
More after the jump
2:37- The Carolina Panthers select Alameda Ta'amu, NT- Washington
The need to get as BW so delicately phrases a 'big fat fatty' is still something the Carolina Panthers have been missing since cutting Maake Kemoeatu. At 6'3", 333lbs he definitely fits that rather large mold. Ta'amu is currently still trending as a 2nd rounder due to questions about his work ethic every down, and his ability to hold the point of attack at times. I think he'll end up being a player who impresses greatly at the combine, but those questions linger and push him to the top of the 2nd round. We have players on the roster with the same work ethic concerns in Greg Hardy and Brandon Hogan, so it wouldn't surprise me if we took another guy with similar issues.
2:43- The Carolina Panthers select Travis Lewis, OLB- Oklahoma
I'm really tempted to mock Alabama SS Mark Barron to the Panthers here, but the problem I have with him is the same I have with Charles Godfrey, he tends to go for the knockout blow rather than the safe tackle. We don't need more explosive safeties like that, so I pass and hit another need- outside linebacker.
Critics will point to his small size (227lbs) but Lewis is lightning quick and fundamentally sound. He wont wow you with his pass rush skills, but he can stop the run as well as any linebacker in this draft and is fantastic at dropping into coverage and hanging with tight ends. Lewis is a football player's football player, and that's why I think Ron Rivera will welcome him to the Panthers.
3:74- The Carolina Panthers select Chase Minnifield, CB- Virginia
Lets face it, the Cavaliers don't exactly produce the best college football players in the world or have the best team, but they are good at churning out one thing- cornerbacks. In the last two drafts Chris Cook and Ras-I Dowling were selected from UVA and both have had decent careers thus far with Cook's being derailed a little due to injury. The 6'0", 185lb Minnifield has the ability to start immediately across from Chris Gamble and excels in playing zone coverage which will help a lot.
4:101- The Carolina Panthers select DeVonte Holloman, SS- South Carolina
Much to the chagrin of Gamecock fans Hollman decides to forgo his senior season hoping to be a day one selection, but ultimately falls to the Panthers at the top of the 4th round. Hollman is a little bit of a problem child like Brandon Hogan, but he's a large 6'2", 232 lb safety who could play immediately and help stuff the run.
5:133- The Carolina Panthers select Marcus Forston, DT- Miami
The cupboard at DT was left completely bare for Rivera and McDermott so they need to keep stocking the shelves and looking for a spark. The raw, technically stunted Forston could be such a player. Heading into this college season he was seen as a player poised to fly up the boards showing technique and poise unseen early in his college career, but it never materialized. That being said, he is still a instinctive player who just needs some polish and he can become effective.
6:165- The Carolina Panthers select Juron Criner, WR- Arizona
Hoping lightning will strike twice Marty Hurney and co. roll the dice on a talented but flawed WR in the 6'4" Criner. In a lot of ways he looks to be a carbon copy of David Gettis, which isn't a bad thing and having an extra set of hands helps. I don't believe he'll ever be a #2, but could see him become a slot receiving nightmare at the next level preying on smaller nickel backs.
7:191- The Carolina Panthers select Ryan Miller, OL- Colorado
It's funny to see a guy like Miller as a tweener at 310lbs, but he doesn't really have the road grading ability to be a true guard at the next level. That being said, I see him a G/T tweener who could develop into Travelle Wharton's replacement in a few years.