Like BWSmith and James Dator, I have simulated the Panthers draft by using Nolan Nawrocki’s draft value chart. The only exception to the draft value chart is that I have the Panthers selecting (SPOILER ALERT!) Stephen Paea with the 65th pick, which goes against the draft value chart, being that he’s rated as a 1st round talent there. I am probably the only person who thinks Paea will slide this far here, however I give solid reasoning for his slide with the pick. With that said, I have made these selections while trying my absolute best to bypass my emotions and biases. These selections are who I think the Panthers WILL pick, not who I would LIKE for them to pick. Heck, I’m not crazy about Vincent Brown OR Jerrel Powe, however I think that the Panthers would select them (being that they are rumored to be highly interested in Brown and being that Powe will likely last long enough for the Panthers to rationalize spending a late round flier on him). Also, I would love to have Kenrick Ellis on our team, however I just don't see us drafting him.
Without further adieu, here’s who I have the Panthers selecting:
1st round, 1st Overall: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Sorry Panther fans, no team trades up for the 1st pick. So, Hurney and Rivera choose to go with Newton. It turns out that they weren’t lying all along, they actually really like Cam Newton, just as former Cowboys Scout Gil Brandt, Superbowl winning coach Jon Gruden, and former Falcons HC Dan Reeves do.
They say the NFL is a “copycat league,” and it’s the truth. QBs like Roethlisberger and Freeman are the prototype QBs of the future. Towering, extremely mobile, and armed with a cannon, these QBs are extremely dangerous. And this is what the Panthers see in Newton. They see a 6-6, 250 lb Quarterback who can bomb it deep with ease, make a strike to a WR on an out route, make finesse passes close, and make plays with his feet when needed. They also see a leader, as Cam Newton single handedly rallied the Auburn football team the second he arrived at Auburn, as he demonstrated to his teammates the meaning of the words ‘hard work’ by being in the gym day-in and day-out. Additionally, Jon Gruden pointed out that Newton just has ‘that look’ in his eyes, a look of eagerness to prove the naysayers wrong and excel.
Sure there are risks associated with Newton. But there are also plenty of reasons to ignore and discount these risks. To start, the entire pay for play issue is sketchy. To be fair though, that’s more of an issue with Newton’s father than Newton himself. Furthermore, his remarks about being an ‘entertainer’ and ‘icon’ could perhaps show that he is self-centered and egotistical, however many top players like the Panthers own Steve Smith have this cocky attitude, and some maintain that this attitude is needed to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Additionally, those comments were made in response to his Under Armour sponsorship, not how he views himself as a football player. And although Newton comes from a spread offense that really doesn’t translate to the NFL, he does demonstrate professional passer qualities such as having good pocket presence, not making bad decisions, being an accurate passer, having a howitzer for an arm, and the finesse to put it anywhere on the field. Although there are concerns with Newton, Rivera and Hurney have fully vetted him and his character, and they decide that they simply cannot pass on this player.
My apologies to BWsmith & James Dator, Blaine Gabbert fans, and Cam haters, but Cameron Newton will be the 1st pick in the NFL draft. Mark my words. Mark the words of the sports betting in Vegas. Mark the words of Gil Brandt, who said he would be ‘shocked’ if Newton was not picked first. I know many of ya’ll would prefer Gabbert and ya’ll will cringe when he goes somewhere else, but it will be Newton, barring an unlikely trade of huge proportions. Sorry.
3rd Round, 65th Overall: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon
Most scouts and experts, like Nolan Nawrocki, have Paea going in the first or second round. In my opinion, I don’t think there’s a way he is selected in the first round. The DT position is too deep and there are flashier, more well rounded candidates. He very well could go in the second round, but for some reason I just think he’ll slide out it. Other candidates such as Marvin Austin, Phil Taylor, Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Drake Nevis will probably go before Paea in my opinion. These candidates are flashier and more well-rounded. Paea also has knee problems, scheme restrictions, shorter stature, less upside, and is more of a one-trick pony. This leaves Paea at the beginning of the third round, where the Panthers will snatch him.
Strong, squatty, and nearly immovable, Paea is just what the Panthers ordered. They need a clogger in the middle, and Paea is adept at holding the pile. When facing the run, he’s like a embolism in the coronary arteries, nothing’s getting through and it’s wrecking havoc! Although he’s shorter, he’s built like a vending machine, and was the strongest competitor at the Combine’s bench press drill. Now, he’s no Nick Fairley, and doesn’t have much of a push in the passing game, but he is still developing and his run clogging abilities are enough to get him on the field. For a team sorely lacking anyone in the middle of the line, Paea is a godsend.
3rd Round, 97th Overall, Supplemental Pick: Benjamin Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova
Like Paea, Ijalana is another player who’s often mocked and though of as a late 1st/2nd round pick. However, Ijalana will likely fall come draft day. Just as there is a bevy of quality DTs, there is a plethora of quality OT/OGs in the early rounds of the draft. Ijalana will likely be a victim of that. He’s also a victim of being a small school player, as big school guys like Castonzo, Carimi, Tyron Smith, and Solder will likely be drafted far before Ijalana. And lately, there have been reports that many teams are being turned off by Ijalana’s ‘soft’ demeanor. All of this makes me think Ijalana’s falling. Falling right into the hands of the Panthers, who grab him.
Overall, the Panthers line is pretty solid. They have two Pro Bowlers in LT Jordan Gross and C Ryan Kalil. LG Travelle Wharton is no slouch himself, and works very well in tandem with Gross on the left side. On the right, Jeff Otah can be a beast, but only if healthy. Last year, he didn’t play one snap, not even in practice. This leads me to wonder if he’ll be ready next year. If not, then the Panthers will need somebody to step in at RT. There’s also a RG slot up for grabs. Therefore, the Panthers could use either a RT/RG or both, which Ijalana could fill.
Although he played LT in college, he’s thought of as a better fit for G because he might not have what it takes to handle LT. He could very well play RT or G though in the Pro’s. At 6-4, and 320, he’s got great size and athleticism. While he might have been a little too nice in team interviews, Ijalana is nasty in the run game and is tough and overpowering. Ijalana should be a good fit for the Panthers who can utilize his skills on the right side.
4th Round, 98th Overall: Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State
Though the Panthers selected 3 WRs in last year’s draft and still have aging stud Steve Smith, it looks like the Panthers are still looking to add to their WR corps. AJ Green, Julio Jones, and many other wideouts have either recently been in Charlotte or had meetings with the team. Vincent Brown is one of the guys who the Panthers have shown a lot of interest in. Unless there is some crazy value in a WR early on, I’m not sure the Panthers will go WR early, it just wouldn’t make much sense. A WR, like Brown, in the middle rounds sounds more realistic for the Cats. Personally, I would rather have Kris Durham, who I’m crazy about, however I think the Cats go for Brown.
Vincent Brown, a 5-11 185 lb wideout from San Diego State, has what the Panthers are looking for: the ability to get deep. This is a highly desired quality for the Air Coryell offense the new HC will be implementing. More fast than quick, Brown is a little bit like Steve Smith in that he plays bigger than his smaller size. A very productive WR for the Aztecs, Brown projects to be a solid number 3/4 receiver who could develop into a quality number 2. Brown should be a good fit in the new Panthers offense, however he might have to bulk up a little to avoid being tossed around by stronger corners in the NFL.
5th Round, 132nd Overall: Chykie Brown, CB, Texas
CB is another position the Panthers have shown blatant interest in. They’ve had dinner with Patrick Peterson and are rumored to be high on early/middle rounders Shareece Wright and Davon House. Those two should be gone by this time though, and the Panthers will have to look elsewhere to fill some holes in the secondary.
Although Curtis Brown is rated as the better corner from Texas, Chykie (pronounced Shock-e, like the TE) is just as good, and might have been rated higher if he hadn’t broken his arm in his senior season. Chykie is althetic and fluid, and a competitive player. He’s one the Panthers would like because he has good football IQ and intangibles. Very productive in his junior year (48 tckls, 2 ints, and 8 pd).
6th Round, 163rd Overall: Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
While the Panthers are pretty well stocked at LB, Herzlich would be a great addition to the Panthers already strong LB corps. One of the most competitive and mentally tough (obviously, because he won his bout with cancer), Herzlich would fit well as a backup SLB and special teamer while developing into a starter on the strong side. Might not be the most athletic LB in the draft, but plays with a tough physicality and intelligence. A mid-to-later selection, Herzlich could get his name called by the Panthers.
6th Round, Supplemental Pick: Jerrell Powe, DT, Ole Miss
Powe is a guy that I’m not crazy on. If I was the signal caller here, looking at the draft chart, I’d probably go with Martin Parker from Richmond, the All Star of the East West Game. However, I think the Panthers take a flier on Powe, being that he lasts this long.
Powe is a pure NT. A massive man, Powe weighs in at 330 and uses it well to anchor the line. Can get off the line in a hurry, and is somewhat athletic. Concerns abound with Powe though: weight problems, potential character problems, possible IQ troubles and mental capacities.
7th Round: Pierre Allen, DE, Nebraska
Contrary to most experts who thought the Panthers would take Bowers with the number 1 pick, I don’t think they’ll go DE too early because there’s too many other needs and because of a lack of mid-round talent. Cliff Matthews and Pierre Allen are two guys who I think they’d look at and are guys who fit our system. I have them taking Allen here.
Allen has the frame and athleticism to be good, however it just doesn’t seem like he has put it all together yet. Hasn’t put up great numbers (51 tckles, 5 sacks, and 12 tfl his junior year), however he is a strong run defender and is disruptive in passing lanes. Needs to hit weight room and gym more often, and really learn how to beat one on ones.
7th Round, Supplemental Pick: Jarrard Tarrant, S, Georgia Tech
The Panthers seem to have some interest in picking up a safety, so I have them going with a DB late in the draft. Tarrant is an athletic CB/S who has just begun to grow into the position.