Happy New Year CSR!!! I'd like to ring in the new year with my own version of the 2012 draft as many of you, my fellow CSR members, have so competently and bravely done. As you peruse my draft, keep in mind that I am choosing these picks based on the fact that I believe the Panthers should primarily look for some experienced, under-the-radar defensive talent in free agency. This will give you a better sense of why I mocked the draft the way I did, especially in the first two rounds.
1st - OG David Decastro Stanford
Why not take potentially the best guard to come out of college in a decade, which will continue to solidify the offensive line that protects our dynamic franchise quarterback and open the lanes for our two stud running backs.
2nd - OT Zebrie Sanders Florida State
This massive offensive tackle has spent time playing well at both right and left tackle throughout his tenure at Florida State. That type of versatility coupled with Otah's propensity to get injured, makes this a prudent pick. He would also have the potential to become the Panther's future left tackle, because of his athleticism and said experience.
**3rd- CB Jonathan Banks Mississippi State This pick was obtained in a previous trade back scenario in the first round.
This tall(6' 2"), play-making cornerback may not come out early, but he would be a steal in the third round if he does. His senior stat line goes like this: 5 INT, 8 TFL, 3 Sacks, 9 Passes Broken Up, 3 QB Hurries, and 3 FF.
4th- ILB Audie Cole NC State
Cole would be a nice pick in the fourth round, not only because he is an excellent player, but because he would provide an instant replacement for Dan Connor while providing depth and insurance at the middle linebacker position.
5th- OLB Sammy Brown Houston
I'm not sure how this guy falls to the fifth with the senior season he had. The following numbers are ridiculous no matter what position or conference you happen to play at or in: 13.5 Sacks, 30 TFL(yes, you read that right), 3 Passes Broken Up, 17 QB Hurries
6th- FS Eddie Whitley Virginia Tech
Sherrod Martin: Meet your competition and possible replacement.
6th(comp.)- DE Jake Bequette Arkansas
He was first team All-SEC with some impressive stats, which included being seventh nationally in both sacks and forced fumbles per game. Kraken might have some competition at defensive end.
7th- P Drew Butler Georgia
Drew is the son of former Chicago Bear kicker, Kevin Butler, and he is the best punter in this draft. I think we all can agree we need an upgrade at this position.
7th(comp.)- CB Robert Blanton Notre Dame
Why not take a chance on another tall(6' 0") cornerback who is a native of North Carolina? Charlotte to be exact.