No longer a CSR virgin following my inagural 7 round Panther mock released a few weeks ago, it's time to share the latest and final product following further research that included a wide volume of scouting reports from the internet, magazines, twitter buzz, and a little ESPN and NFL channel after the wife goes to bed and forks over the remote. Lest I remind all that this addiction started when last season was clearly down the drain, a painful memory we all wish to forget. Focus on the 2011 NFL draft became the drug of choice.
Avoiding 3 pages of fine-print that preceded the first product, lets get to it......
Round 1, #1 - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn 6'5"; 248; Arm Length: 33.25"; Hands: 9-7/8"
Although some of you have avoided the hype, this conservative is fully sold on the idea that Panther management has thoroughly investigated Newton and have determined that his dedication and commitment match his "plutonium" athletic ability, thus filling the need for a franchise QB.
Although I admire the QB(s) that make a living off of the drop-back with full reliance on their offensive line, I firmly believe that a QB with ‘smart' wheels presents a dynamic that makes it difficult for defenses to stop, thus opening up the rest of the offense. Although he isn't quite as shifty, imagine a stockier version of 6' Michael Vick at 6'5" that has better visibility over the line and possesses a little more touch on the ball. That's downright scary.
Round 3, #65 - Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida 6'1-5/8"; 297; Arm Length: 32.75"; Hands: 10-1/8"
Please forgive me all Jenkins fans, but I have been preaching Terrell McClain for a while now and firmly believe that after the recent visit with the Panthers he has moved himself up to the top of round 3. That's assuming he is still available. In a blitz heavy defense it's key to have disruptive defensive lineman that can penetrate and create havoc. Although he is questioned for not dominating inferior competition, it appears that he found that extra gear during the East West shrine game and still has one or two more gears yet to use. A quick-twitched athlete, McClain runs a sub 5 second forty, benched 225 pounds 29 times, and squats 600 pounds. Watch well-respected Rod Maranelli druel during a special workout: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTsGNfOdl8g. Note the explosion and speed.
Alternate: DT Jarvis Jenkins; OT Clint Bolling, James Carpenter, Will Rackley;
Round 3, #97 - Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton 6'4-7/8"; 346; Arm Length: 33-1/8"; Hands: 10.5"
Firmly believing that the game is won in the trenches, why not land the second best run stuffer in this draft to complement the penetrating DT McClain. It is against my better judgement to select a player with a questionable history knowing the Panther's conservative draft policy, but with a new coaching regime this one may be too good to pass up. Kendrick and McClain could make life a living hell for opposing offenses, and will provide for greater opportunities from the ends and backfield.
Alternate: offensive playmaker such as RB Taiwan Jones or WR Tandon Doss & Edmond Gates.
Round 4, #98 - Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State 6'0.5"; 197; Arm Length: 32"; Hands: 9"
The trend has started, so why not take yet another small-school standout. Having converted to CB from RB in 2009, Marsh is still developing as a CB but has lots of upside given his outstanding speed, ideal size, proven athletic ability, and solid character. (see explosive combine results) It's to the Panther's advantage that he did not play in the Senior Bowl due to a hamstring injury, otherwise he might be going in the second or third round. Some scouts have ranked him in front of and/or right along Davon House who most have going in round 2. The fact that he has been deemed as very coachable, has NFL blood-lines, is known as a hard-worker , and wraps up on the tackle all add to the interest. With dedicated focus on the defensive backfield this year, this is Ron Meeks' project.
Alternate: CB Chimdi Chekwa, RB Johnny White, LB KJ Wright & Colin McCarthy
Round 5, #132 - Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State 6'4-5/8"; 246; Arm length: 33"; Hands: 10-1/4"
There is a growing trend of former basketball players succeeding in the NFL, and like Antionio Gates, Thomas was an all-star on the court. For those who question the ties between basketball and football, some of the transferable fundamentals include:
- soft hands
- catching the ball away from the frame (not trapping against the chest)
- "posting up" - maintaining a position in front of the defender
- Balance, footwork (moving/sliding), and bending to stay between the offensive player and the basket. These traits transition well to blocking.
- Vertical skills for the jump ball, which for a basketball player may include the skillful use of the arm or buttocks to bump the defender away without using the hands to push off.
Unlike Lance Kendricks, Virgil Green, or DJ Williams, Julius has plenty of room to bulk up his large frame by another 15-20 pounds. In only 1 year on the gridiron, Julius has been characterized as fluid with very good lower body explosion and leaping ability. With soft hands, he catches the ball with ease outside of his frame. A perfectionist with strong character, Thomas has "DRIVEN" tatood on the inside of his arm and scored a 35 on the wonderlic.
With a solid year learning from Shockey who helped mold basketball star Jimmy Graham in 1 year, should we be thinking about Thomas at the top of 4?
Alternate: TE Robert Housler, WR Ricardo Lockette, DT Sione Fua or Ian Williams
Round 6, #166 - Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina 6'5-3/8"; 310; Arm Length: 34-1/2"; Hands: 11-1/4" (bear claws!)
Other than needing to spend more time in the weight room Smith is athletic and light on his feet. PFW also points out that he plays with good knee bend and balance, that he is alert to stunts ("smart"), shows a good work ethic, reflects solid character, and has a passion for the game. The only thing that seems concerning is his 5.4 forty, but yet he shows the ability to hit a moving target. Similar to Ijalana, Willie's arm length works to his advantage in keeping defenders at bay. If nothing else he can blind them with his 11-1/4" bear paws.
Alternate: Kicker Alex Henery, OT Byron Stingily, DT Cedrick Thornton, CB Cortez Allen
Round 6, #203 - Byron Bell, OT, New Mexico 6"5-3/8"; 339; Arm length: 32-3/4"; Hands: 10-1/2"
Rounding out the small-school all-star team is Byron Bell, who projects as a bulldozing guard in the NFL. From what I am hearing the challenge may be in his marginal work habits as he has been able to rely on his athletic ability to pancake lessor competition. See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYd8mzD5qnE
Alternate: Kicker Kai Forbath, CB Ryan Jones & Kevin Rutland, RB Mario Fannin
Round 7, #246 - Craig Cooper, RB, Miami 5' 10"; 205; arm: 31.75"; hand: 9.5"
Watch Cooper's highlight video (link below), and I can almost guarantee you will not second guess my opinion that a healthy Cooper could be one of the greatest steals in this draft and could help fill the void left by a departing Deangelo Williams. Even if it takes another year for Cooper to fully recover from a late 2009 knee injury that hampered his ability in 2010, the risk in taking a late 7th round flyer is minimized by his upside potential . With another 10 pounds on his frame and a fully heeled knee, this man could be a superstar. Despite his timed speed of 4.6 in the 40, I am in great appreciation of his game speed, allusiveness, break away speed, hands, and ability to hit the hole. Outside of the injury bug and a lack of blocking skills, it's difficult to understand why he is down at the the bottom of all draft boards and listed as a FA on most...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnspJ-2Jd3I
Alternate: TE Weslye Saunder, Collin Franklin; DT Adrian Taylor, CB Cory Lindsey