2013 NFL draft: Early Panther 1st Round Prospects

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

With the Panthers sitting at 1-6 and minus a GM Panther fans suddenly find themselves looking to 2013 and the hope every new draft brings. Currently sitting at #2 overall the Panthers would be able to add a top prospect.

Hat tip James and his post earlier postulating on the draft if the order was set by today's standings. I don't want to even think about the draft but seeing us now in line for #2 overall made me pause and optimistically wonder what stud we might get in that spot. Seems the last time the Panthers picked #2 overall they did pretty good.

See the #2 overall pick opens up a new realm of possibility. With two 1st round talented QBs in the draft we could we in line for a deal like what the Rams got last year for giving up the RG3 pick. I mean, I can think of all kinds of wild scenarios for the Panthers with that pick. But I think my view point might be a little rosy and therefore skewed. So instead I posed three pointed questions to SBN's NFL draft Lead Expert Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft to get a feel what he thinks. Dan was kind enough to respond in quick fashion:

Question 1: Do you think another team might trade up to grab Geno Smith (assuming Barkley goes #1 overall) just as the Redskins did last year? Is Smith worth the #2 overall?

Dan Kadar: Given the rookie pay structure, both quarterbacks are worth the pick from a financial standpoint. However, both Barkley and Smith may not be good enough to deserve being drafted with the first or second pick. Because of that, a team will probably only trade up if they're really desperate. Even then, I'm not sure we'll ever see a trade like the Redskins/Rams deal from this year. The Redskins got an amazing player in Robert Griffin III, but there isn't a player in this draft as good as him.

It's still early yet and all it takes is for one GM to fall in love with Smith (or Barkley for that matter). If the Panthers think they can still land the best LT at 8 to 10 they might not ask for the farm to trade back. A new GM should have a hard time not adding another 2014 1st rounder if it's offered if he can still get an elite player a little later.

Question 2: Is there an offensive tackle worthy of the #2 overall? How about a DT?

Dan Kadar: If any offensive tackle will go that highly, it will be Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel. He really helped himself against LSU's big-time pass rusher Sam Montgomery a couple weeks ago. Defensive tackle is much more likely to be considered for that pick. There are two – Utah's Star Lotulelei and Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins – who can be considered that highly. Hankins is only a junior, but most seem to think he'll go pro. He's a bigger body than Lotulelei, but an excellent pass rusher. Lotulelei is more physically dominant, especially at the point of attack.

I really like the thought of a defensive tackle in the mold of Kris Jenkins, which is who Hankins reminds me of. Honestly either one of these guys would be plug and play! Yet a trade back might result in an OT, a position we need to strengthen for the future.

Question 3: If the Panthers stay at #2 and don't go with a linemen who would be your pick?

Dan Kadar: It's difficult to see the Panthers passing on a defensive lineman in the first round. Hankins and Lotulelei are excellent players who should be drafted highly. There just isn't an elite wide receiver worth a pick that high. Joeckel may be a slight stretch for them.

So there you have it. The early short list includes two DTs and maybe a LT. I find getting another 2014 1st round pick intriguing only because its another shot at WR Sammy Watkins.

Hat tip to Dan for his answers!

So while I hope the Panthers finish strong and give us plenty to cheer about in 2012 the worst case scenario would give the next Panthers GM some significant draft picks to work with.

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