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Draft Primer: Rick Gosselin, S.I., PFW, and Panthers team visits

With the draft about 9 days away, I thought we might recap some of the latest revelations from some of the more esteemed draft experts.

Rick Gosselin has released his first mock draft for the year. Bear in mind that he releases three versions using distinct methodologies. The first version follows his draft board which emphasizes B.P.A . The second version has greater emphasis on team needs than value. The third version is his final mock draft - his prediction of how the first round plays out.

Gosselin has the Panthers picking Cam Newton in his first mock draft (the BPA version). He states:

Carolina did not have a quarterback, so the Panthers did not contend. Carolina started three different quarterbacks on the way to a league-worst 2-14 finish.
The Panthers’ reward for that ineptitude is the first overall choice of the 2011 NFL draft — and the chance to select a franchise quarterback of their own.
Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football last season when he quarterbacked the Auburn Tigers to a 14-0 record and a national championship. So pencil in Newton as the first overall pick of the 2011 draft to the Panthers.
Newton is a junior college player who spent only one season at Auburn before deciding to turn pro. His inexperience is his only negative. Athletically and physically he’s off the charts, giving the Panthers hope for a much brighter future.

Newton Nation rejoice - Gosselin seems to have no qualms in the least talking up Newton. He also seems positive that the Panthers will take Newton.

Continued after the jump:

Sports Illustrated has released their rankings for 2011 draft prospects. Top 20 are as follows:

1. Marcell Dareus        DT    3.28
2. Patrick Peterson    CB    3.25
3. A.J.Green        WR    3.24
4. Von Miller        OLB    3.23
5. Nick Fairley        DT    3.22
6. DaQuan Bowers        DE    3.21
7. Julio Jones        WR    3.20
8. Prince Amukamara    CB    3.18
9. Robert Quinn        DE    3.18
10. Cameron Jordan        DE    3.16
11. Blaine Gabbert        QB    3.14
12. Aldon Smith        DE    3.14
13. Tyron Smith        OT    3.13
14, Cam Newton        QB    3.12
15. Ryan Kerrigan        DE    3.11
16. J.J.Watt        DE    3.10
17. Mark Ingram        RB    3.09
18. Cameron Heyward    DE    3.08
19. Muhammad Wilkerson    DT    3.06
20. Anthony Castonzo    OT    3.05

It is revealing when you compare  these guys with the top 10 from 2010. Follows the same grading system.

1.Ndamukong Suh     DT    3.45
2.Gerald McCoy         DT    3.42
3.Eric Berry         S    3.40
4. Russell Okung        OT    3.39
5. Sam Bradford        QB    3.33
6. Derrick Morgan         DE    3.29
7. Joe Haden         CB    3.29
8. Bryan Bulaga         OT    3.28
9. Jason Pierre-Paul    DE    3.28
10. Earl Thomas         S    3.26
11. C.J. Spiller         RB    3.25
12. Dan Williams         DT    3.23
13. Ronaldo McClain    ILB    3.22
14. Brandon Graham     DE    3.21
15. Dez Bryant        WR    3.20
16. Mike Iupati        OG    3.16
17. Carlos Dunlap         DE    3.14
18. Jimmy Clausen         QB    3.13
19. Demaryius Thomas    WR    3.12
20. Golden Tate        WR    3.10

Some comparisons jump out:

  • Joe Haden is in the same range as or marginally better than Patrick Peterson
  • Marcell Dareus is in the same range as or marginally better than Dan Williams. He is rated well below Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Same goes for Nick Fairley.
  • Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton rated in the same range as Jimmy Clausen. 

Position rankings are also revealing. Some thoughts:

  • Undoubtedly, there is a great deal of depth at DT: Jerrell Powe, Jarvis Jenkins, Sione Fua have been graded as potential first year contributors. I expect at least one of them to be on the board at #65.
  • QB: Gabbert, Newton, Mallett, Locker, Kaepernick, Dalton and Ponder are expected to be first year contributors at the very least. Stanzi is graded as a future starter who needs some development. As it is Stanzi is likely to be available in the 3rd round.
  • WR: Lots of good options in the 2nd round, but I don't see us going after any of them.
  • CB: Not much depth. If we want to find a rookie starter, we need a 2nd round pick.
  • TE: D.J. Williams and Lance Kendricks are listed as potential first year contributors. Developmental prospects include Jordan Cameron.
  • O-line: There is a possibility that potential rookie starters like James Carpenter and Orlando Franklin are available in the 3rd round. The former appears to be the best fit for our offense.

Moving on, I take a quick look at the top 100 prospects posted at Pro Football Weekly by Nolan Nawrocki. His top 10 prospects are:

1 OLB
Von Miller
8.50



2 CB
Patrick Peterson
8.00



3 WR
A.J. Green
7.90



4 DT
Marcell Dareus
7.75



5 WR
Julio Jones
6.70



6 DE
Robert Quinn
6.55



7 CB
Prince Amukamara
6.50



8 QB
Blaine Gabbert
6.35



9 OT
Anthony Castonzo
6.30



10 DE
Aldon Smith
6.30



 

The 2010 top 10 in case you are interested:

1. DT
Gerald McCoy
7.50



2. DT
Ndamukong Suh
7.30



3. QB
Sam Bradford
7.25



4. RB
C.J. Spiller
6.85



5. OT
Russell Okung
6.70



6. FS
Eric Berry
6.65



7. OT
Bryan Bulaga
6.60



8. DE
Derrick Morgan
6.55



9. OT
Trent Williams
6.55



10. WR
Dez Bryant
6.50



 

I find it quite incredible that Nawrocki has Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green and Marcell Dareus ahead of Ndamukong Suh. Nolan Nawrocki may be the only draft expert remaining who believes that Panthers are likely to pass on Newton at #1 overall. His latest mock draft has the Panthers taking Marcell Dareus.

Pro Football Talk has also released a pre-draft visits tracker. I don't think it is complete but it is worth looking at. The following players are those who the Panthers have shown significant interest in.

* = private workout only; not a visit to team facility.

+ = BOTH private workout and visit to team facility.

*Newberry safety Ron Parker (3/?).
*New Mexico center/guard Byron Bell (3/?).
*East Carolina offensive tackle Willie Young (3/?).
+Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (3/15, 4/8).
+Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (3/16, 4/5).
+Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert (3/19, 4/?).
California defensive end Cameron Jordan (3/?).
Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones (3/?).
Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (?/?).
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley (?/?).
Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers (4/?).
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson (4/?).
Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara (4/4).
*UCLA kicker Kai Forbath (4/6).
Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green (4/8).
New Mexico State cornerback Davon House (4/13).
Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (4/14).

Some of these guys are/were under serious consideration for the #1 pick and others may be potential targets later on in the draft. But guys like Jerrel Jernigan and Davon House may also have been evaluated as we may have them tagged as targets for our division rivals. PFW value charts suggest both would available in the third round. Cameron Jordan is another guy that is interesting on this list - may have been an option if we were to trade down or perhaps the Saints/ Bucs are very interested in him.

Note that if the Panthers have any interest in looking at Tight Ends or Offensive Line help, they have been very good at hiding it. As far as I can tell, not a single TE or OL prospect has visited with the Panthers - Byron Bell and Willie Young had private workouts.

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