There is a controlled chaos to the NFL draft when it comes to pundits and prognosticators, meaning they control how the general public react, yet their methods are completely chaotic. That being said, Gil Brandt hit it out of the park this time last year when he swam against the tide and openly stated that the Carolina Panthers needed to select Cam Newton with the #1 overall pick. At that time he saw what nobody else did... an elite talent. It was only later that pundits started to join the party, and finally when it seemed like an inevitability that the Panthers would take Newton then they started to say "This is the right choice".
While I was in Australia I missed posting on the first edition of Brandt's 'Hot 100' in which he gives his 100 top prospects. After the jump I'll look at Brandt's top 15 and see how could potentially land in Carolina.
More after the jump
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
With a 71.3 completion percentage, 10,043 total yards and 80 touchdown passes, this kid is the complete package.
2. Matt Kalil, OT, USC
A first-team All-Pac 12 selection, Matt is the younger brother of Panthers Pro Bowl lineman Ryan Kalil. He plays like him, too.
3. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
His timed speed could drop him some, but it's hard to ignore 121 catches and 18 touchdowns last season.
4. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
He's the dual threat as a passer (72.4 completion percentage, 32 touchdowns in 2011) and runner (699 yards, 10 TDs) every coach dreams of.5. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
A first-team All-ACC selection in 2010 and 2011, he's an all-out every-down player.
6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
A first team All-SEC selection last season, he had six interceptions. He's not very big at 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, but he can return kicks.
7. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Reiff is a very good athlete who was a three-time South Dakota state wrestling champion.
8. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
He's very smart, an excellent athlete and has the ability to take off if necessary.
9. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
He wasn't as good in 2011 as he was in 2010, and he's gained some weight since then. Still, he's a playmaker.
10. Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
He's a good weak-side linebacker who was named first-team All-ACC last season. Nobody is likely to draft him in the top 10, though.11. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Just how good is Upshaw? He's better than former Crimson Tide linebacker Rolando McClain, who was a first-round pick in 2010.
12. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
A two-year first team All-Pac 12 selection who made 36 career starts, Martin is a very good run blocker.
13. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Floyd's had some off-field problems, but he is a very good athlete who made 100 catches with nine touchdowns in 2011.
14. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
He finished with 191 tackles, 12 of them for loss, and had three interceptions last season. The only thing that could hurt him is a lack of speed.
We're starting to see the same names for a reason- boards are starting to shape up. One curious absence from the top 15, a defensive tackle. Brandt has Devon Still as the top DT at #19, followed by Jerel Worthy at #20 and Michael Brockers at #25.
If the Panthers were to look on offense and they have a similar board to Brandt's it appears that Reiff, Jeffrey or Martin could all potentially be available, especially if QBs go earlier than expected... which they always tend to do.
One thing that's really exciting me about reading recent reports are the players that are slipping. It seems almost a lock that Clemson DT Brandon Thompson would be available in the second round, same with Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley. I've also read scouting reports that project Alshon Jeffrey and Luke Kuechly falling to the 2nd due to speed concerns- either in the 2nd round has me salivating!
What do you think of Brandt's list?