As we've typically seen the Carolina Panthers and GM Marty Hurney like to run their drafts by picking BPA, or best player available. This method typically results in longer wait times to yield results, but it's also produced players like Jonathan Stewart and Charles Johnson who were forced to wait a little while before become features in the organization.
With Ron Rivera as head coach Marty Hurney isn't afraid to step out and get his opinion out there on what the Carolina Panthers will do, or are planning. For the 2012 draft he's gone on the record as saying the Panthers will be picking straight BPA, which is the smart move even if it means looking for help at DT and CB in other areas, rather than reaching to fill a need.
I know we have a great many draft lovers here at CSR, and as such I'm interested to hear your end (or beginning, if you read this tomorrow) of year BPA lists. I'm looking for just a top 10 list, completely regardless of position or need who you think are the 10 best players in the upcoming draft class. As I'm sure this list could change greatly by April, I'm interested in getting a feel for what everyone's opinion is as it stand.
My ten... after the jump
1. Matt Kalil, OT- USC
I think Kalil is tremendous, it's as simple as that. As it stands he's the only player who I think it's worth trading up for if a decent deal arises, because players like Kalil don't come around very often and I don't think the Panthers will be in a spot to draft an elite LT for the next decade due to their future ability as a team.
Like Jake Long, or Joe Thomas before him I think Kalil is truly a game changing left tackle. Whoever gets hi, will be set on their blindside for the next decade.
2. Andrew Luck, QB- Stanford
I've tried to look for faults in Luck's game, and there really aren't many to speak of. While it will be an adjustment to see him deal with NFL pressure and being protected by a less than ideal offensive line I still think he's a true franchise QB, and the best QB in this class. Whichever team takes him will be hoping he can have the kind of impact Cam Newton had for us this season.
3. Trent Richardson, RB- Alabama
To me, Richardson looks like the next great NFL running back. He'll fall a little due to his position, but make no mistake he is a true Adrian Peterson-esque RB who will be able to make an impact from day one. In a draft devoid of too many 'sure things' he's one of them, and will be a good one.
4. David DeCastro, OG- Stanford
Great guards in the NFL may be more of a luxury than a necessity, but a good RG can be as important to a run-first team as a franchise LT. DeCastro may have some slight issues as a pass blocker, but it's his insane ability as a run blocker that makes him my 4th best player in the draft. A team will need to decide if having that luxury is important enough to them to take him early, and my bet is they wont, in turn causing DeCastro to fall into the teens.
5. Morris Claiborne, CB- LSU
As the NFL moves more an more towards a passing league, the need for teams to find elite CBs is every growing. While LSU's Claiborne may not be accompanied with the same pomp and circumstance Patrick Peterson was a year ago, all in all he's a much more complete true cornerback. This is the kind of guy who will lock onto a player and shut his side of the field down, and that is a gift.
6. Robert Griffin III, QB- Baylor
Prior to the season many didn't know too much about the Baylor signal caller, but a combination of insane accuracy and athletic ability makes Griffin a kind of player who could ultimately be a mix between Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. It will be curious to see how he reads NFL defenses, but as it stands there's no player in the draft with more upside than RGIII.
7. Justin Blackmon, WR- Oklahoma State
While Blackmon may not be the next Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, make no mistake he is the best WR in this draft. Some will point to his diminutive size as flying in the fact of current thinking about the WR position, but his athleticism and speed is what set him apart. When it's all said and done I think Blackmon projects to be a slightly better receiver than Julio Jones, but without the run blocking ability, and based on what Jones has done in 2011 that's a good thing.
8. Jonathan Martin, OT- Stanford
There was a good reason Andrew Luck was able to keep everything but his neck clean while at Stanford, and that was because of LT Jonathan Martin and RG David DeCastro. The latter mentioned DeCastro made my list earlier, now is the time for his partner in crime. There are questions as to whether Martin can become a LT in the NFL, but out of the gate he will be a day one starter at RT for the team who drafts him.
9. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB- Alabama
I've said for a while that I really like Kirkpatrick as a prospect, and that continues. I feel the team who drafts him will get at best a better version of Antonio Cromartie who will use his size and strength to pin WRs and interrupt their routes. There is definite concern that he wont be able to pick this up, however, and if that happens then he has the size, speed and ability to move from CB to FS and immediately become the best safety in the draft. I don't see much downside in a team taking Kirkpatrick, and that's why I see him as 9th best in 2012.
10. Riley Reiff, OT- Iowa
A strong, hard nosed blocker with an aggressive edge- the team who drafts Reiff will get a definite nastiness added to their offensive line, something all teams need. The question I have regards which position he moves to when arriving in the NFL. I don't see the foot-speed needed to be a LT, and at times he has lapses which could end up turning him into a guard at the next level. Regardless of where he ends up playing in the NFL the team who takes him will get a good offensive lineman.
So folks, who are your top 10?